The Average White Band got its start in Glasgow, Scotland with founding members Alan Gorrie, Roger Ball, Michael Rosen, Onnie McIntyre, Malcolm Duncan and Robbie McIntosh playing to small clubs in Europe and American Army bases in Germany in 1972. In early 1973 Hamish Stuart replaced Rosen and the band was on its way. Bonnie Bramlett as in 60’s folk duo Delaney & Bonnie, came up with the Average White Band moniker and it stuck. Then, Eric Clapton got wind of the band and invited them to open for him at a 1973 concert in London that included Delaney & Bonnie. Their first LP, “Show Me Your Hand” was released by MCA records but did not produce any hits, not even after touring to support it with instruments provided by The Who. Working as session musicians, Onnie McIntyre and Robbie McIntosh played on Chuck Berry’s surprise #1 pop hit, “My Ding A Ling” in 1972. Enter Jerry Wexler (Aretha Franklin) who signed the band to Atlantic in 1974 and put Arif Marden in the producer’s chair that finally gained the recognition they had been looking for. The tight soulful funk with one hell of a saxophone hook and a pair of dueling guitars put them in the #1 pop position for the week ending February 22, 1975. This glorious achievement was tempered with the death of Robbie McIntosh who died from some strychnine laced cocaine he had shared with bandmate Alan Gorrie. Robbie went back to his hotel room while Gorrie stayed with the party. Another guest, Cher, saw that Alan was in trouble and kept him moving until the crisis passed. McIntosh’s body was discovered the next day alone in his room. The band was heartbroken and dedicated their next LP “Cut The Cake” to him. In retrospect the title “Pick Up The Pieces” seems to echo the “Keep On Truckin'” sentiment, with its impossibly upbeat funky sound. What is the first thing to do after you’ve been shattered by life’s cruel pranks? You pick up the pieces, just as AWB did by adding Steve Ferrone to the group and soldiered on. “Cut The Cake” a sly, slinky song peaked at #10 later that year, as did “If I Ever Lose This Heaven” (#39 Pop) then “Schoolboy Crush” (#33 Pop) and finally “Queen Of My Soul” reached #40 Pop in late 1976. Dwindling concert crowds and record sales led to the breakup of the band in 1983. However, in 1989 they reformed and have been recording and performing concerts since, with original members Gorrie and McIntyre being the only constants. It was used as the opening theme in the 1990 comedy “Spirit Of “76” which starred David Cassidy, Olivia D’Abo, Leif Garrett, Julie Brown, Tommy Chong, Barbara Bain, Devo, Don Novello, Carl Reiner, Rob Reiner and Moon Zappa. Its not a classic, but its pretty funny and a bang on gentle poke at the excesses of the 70’s. Check it out sometime.
The Ultimate Band
As I live and breathe