Ritchie Henman – The Beginning of April Wine

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.”

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Jim and Dave Henman;Prism

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.”

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April Wine; Looking for a record contract in Montreal

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.”

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Myles Goodwyn and Future Mrs. Ritchie Henman backstage Montreal Forum 72'

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”.

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April Wine - Backstage 72' Tour

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.

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68' LUDWIG Silver Sparkle

And the beat goes on …

Photos courtesy of Ritchie Henman.

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7 thoughts on “Ritchie Henman – The Beginning of April Wine”

  1. Watched you all evolve throughout the years in Nova Scotia. Grew up listening and seeing you all over the Maritimes. What a blast!

  2. Wish I have been there to watch the evolution of the band and Richie. For me this is not a term that get’s used alot, but here is a true Canadian Icon.

  3. I remember when they left the Maritimes to go to Montreal. Hi to Ritchie if you read this from Tony and I…

  4. If only time were reversible, Love the band April Wine, your Cousin Jim and I have been friends since the early eighties and have done some playing together. I so miss the days when raw talent was everything. God bless you all, my childhood Hero’s Much love

    Rodney Greg Holly,

  5. I lived in Dorval in 1974-75 and happened to be in the same apartment building as Richie, on Lakeshore Drive. Nice people. Now I live in Halifax, where the whole April Wine thing started and some members live here.

  6. I remember you Ritchie, about a year before you returned to Halifax, when you were part of F troop at PWC, St. John’s, the Rock, and you and I were two young long haired dudes who could play the sports but would wonder what the hell we were doing in grade 11 gym class when what we wanted to be doing was to be playing rock n roll music. cheers !

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