Once upon a time …
In a galaxy far, far away from iPods.
Two cousins sat down in the Old Mill Tavern in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. The year was 1969. They ordered a pitcher of beer and complained of the lack of momentum their music had gathered.
They thought of putting a new group together. A band which would consist of the brother of one of the beer drinkers on drums and the other; a former member of the other ale quaffer’s band.
They ‘stole’ the singer / guitarist away from his band in Cape Breton, started rehearsing in one of their parents’ basements in Sackville and – just like that, one of Canada’s most successful rock bands were born …
The men in question were David Henman on guitars and vocals, Ritchie Henman on drums, Jim Henman on bass and Myles Goodwyn on vocals and guitars. The name of the band …?
” Myles agreed to join us, and we had planned to start out as a cover band. That all changed the moment Myles played us a couple of songs he wrote.” Says David Henman. “All of us have slightly different memories of how we formed but these are the basic facts.”
According to David ; Myles, long known as the leader and principle songwriter of April Wine, took control from the beginning in the songwriting department.
“He very quickly established himself as the most gifted and most driven musician and songwriter in the group. No one questioned that fact.”
April Wine hosted a lot of their own shows in the early days and one of the very first gigs Henman remembers was for a theatre group. The band had became involved with the actors at the Neptune Theatre and wrote music for a 13th (?) century play called; “The Lion in Winter.”
Aside from particular items like the above, Henman’s memories of the first four years of the group are vague. He does remember being obsessed with writing songs and recalls why he and Myles were worlds apart in their songwriting ideas.
” Myles was more commercially – oriented and I was more experimental.” States Henman on the two very different approaches to songwriting.”I was also into music like Captain Beefheart and Frank Zappa while Myles was into r and b and blues.”
Goodwyn’s technique is apparent from the start of Wine’s career. ‘Fast Train‘ was one of the first songs Myles wrote and evolved into the band’s first hit. A song which to this date – remains David’s all time favourite April Wine song.
A fast train was what April Wine was now on in the music business. The year was 1970 and things were going quicky …
“We signed with Terry Flood management and Aquarius records.” Says David . “We recorded our first album; ‘April Wine’, with Bill Hill producing. The second one – ‘On Record’, was produced by Ralph Murphy and it marked the first without my cousin.”
Jim Henman, one of the founding members – left and was replaced by Jim Clench.
As the band were recording their third album; ‘Electric Jewels‘ – David and Ritchie left the band in a mutually – decided split.Myles was now the last original member when he and Clench decided to keep the band going …
“I was invited to join a reformed April Wine but my brother wasn’t.” Says David . “Ritchie and I have always been pretty loyal to each other, so I decided to abstain”. All these years later, David Henman has no regrets for his decision to not rejoin the band just before they hit it big.
“No. No regrets. I was young and given to temptation. My sense is that I ‘d have ended up a casualty ( of rock ).” Declares David.
Despite the split, David and Ritchie have kept in touch over the years with Myles. David says they are, in many respects – a family.
” I have been a fan and an admirer of Myles Goodwyn from day one. We often run into each other and these past couple of years he has invited me to join the band on stage.” An offer which Henman took with a smile.
Ritchie and David Henman’s departure from one of the-soon-to-be iconic Canadian Rock Bands did not dissuade the duo from carrying on.
The brothers formed a band named ‘Silver’ following their departure and the band played constantly for a couple of years. The music was a mixture of covers and David Henman originals. Once that music formation ran it’s course, the brothers discovered themselves playing with a familiar name to April Wine fans;
‘All the Young Dudes’, the brother’s new band which performed all originals during it’s year of existence, featured Bob Segarini and a young guitar player named Brian Greenway ( Brian eventually landed with April Wine in 1977 and remains to this day).
In 1976, David then struck out on his own with ‘The Debutantes’.
Between then and now – bands with names like; ‘Sensible Shoes’,’ Dancer’ and ‘The Business’ came and went.
Finally, in 2003, David Henman starting recording and playing under his own name. Something he continues to do in his basement studio in Bolton, Ontario.
In a galaxy far,far away from turntables!
Please stay tuned for part two and more of Henman’s story ….
Photos courtesy of David Henman