Ritchie Henman along with his brother David and cousin Jim, were the founding members of April Wine.
According to Ritchie who currently resides in Dorval,Qc – Wine was created to ‘not be a cover band’ any longer.
” When we disbanded our group Prism in the fall of ’69, I was in engineering at St. Mary’s University in Halifax as was cousin Jim. He and David had tired of playing covers at teen dances and felt the time had come to do something with their songwriting. Despite David’s claim that AW began as a cover band, it was actually formed specifically to cease playing covers once and for all.”
Myles had become the principal songwriter of the band because he wrote the most commercial music but according to drummer Ritchie – the original group was always a democracy and David was the unofficial leader for business purposes
” I didn’t write at all back then except for a minor contribution to “Wench” on the first LP. AW hardly played at all around Halifax before moving to Montreal to try our luck at getting a record deal.”
The brothers’ and cousin’s plan was to form a band with a “neutral” name which would provide a platform for songwriting. To allow a situation that would enable the writers to move on to personal projects within three to four years.
Within a few weeks of arriving in Montreal, the band recieved the attention of DKD, which at that time was still a booking agency. Their first big gig was Canada Day ’70 – three months to the day since leaving home. April Wine played with groups from each of the other nine provinces and performed before 20,000 screaming fans at Place Des Nations. The group representing Nova Scotia.
The headliners were the Guess Who.
DKD was part of a group of companies that included Aquarius Records and Terry Flood Management. By August the group had signed contracts with both of those companies.
Says Ritchie; “We had accomplished what we had set out to do by ’73. By that time the live performances had begun to suffer as a result of lackluster attitudes and it was time for me to move on. David was also keen for a change.”
By ’73, April Wine had established themselves as a successful enough outfit to go to the next step. In September of that year, the members simultaneously quit the band.Two months later Myles and Jim Clench decided to form a new band and asked David and Ritchie if they intended to keep the name; April Wine. The brothers replied; “take it and good luck.”
The original April Wine’s final meeting took place at The Maidenhead Pub in Alexis Nihon Plaza.
“It was a very amicable separation.” Says Ritchie.. “Lots of laughs and good memories. I came to enjoy the band a lot more after I left and we always remained friends”.
Myles and Jim would go to watch David and Ritchie in their new band ‘the Dudes’ and also jam with the band.
“Later on, when I was in a group called Cruiser, Myles called to congratulate me on our ’80 release, “Rollin’ With The Times”. An album which Myles felt was one of the finest ever Canadian LPs at that time.
Ritchie Henman lives in Dorval ,Qc.and reminisces of his early days as a drummer.
“My first favourite drummers were the drummer for The Ventures and,locally (Halifax) Tim Garigan, who at that time (’62) was the drummer for a local band – The Esquires. They went on to become The Great Scots and Tim went on to play with Pepper Tree who released one Lp in ’71.”
By the late sixties, Henman had graduated to Joe Morello (Dave Brubeck) and his first pro drum kit was ordered to be identical to his set. It was a ’68 Ludwig Silver Sparkle.
And the beat goes on …
Photos courtesy of Ritchie Henman.