David Henman of The Dudes – The Influence of David Bowie

In the early seventies, Montreal and various ‘other’ places benefited from two bands. One evolving into another. Each one took David Bowie’s courage, songwriting and performance style onto themselves.

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Please listen below as David Henman, co-founder of April Wine and member of The Dudes ( among other bands) , discusses Bowie’s influences, Ian Hunter and how the band chose the name based on a David Bowie tune.

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Thanks for listening ! Talk soon …

 

 

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Ritchie Henman; The Beginning and End of the Dudes

Before disbanding in the fall of ’73, AW took the summer off for everyone to clear their heads. The band had toured almost non-stop since fall ’70.

” I went camping and fishing with Claire ( my wife) for a few weeks and when I got back I was contacted by a band from California called “The Wackers“. They were living and working out of Montreal and their drummer had broken his left wrist in a diving accident. I filled in alongside Ernie until that group disbanded in October.” Explains Ritchie Henman – the original drummer of April Wine.

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At that point David and Ritchie Henman  started “Silver” with Danny Ceaser on bass and George Mack on keys. George had played with the brothers and Jim Henman in “Prism” in ’68-’69.  Silver and the new version of the Wackers (with Bob and Kootch from the original group along with local drummer Wayne Cullen and Brian Greenway on guitar), began jamming at Smitty’s, a country bar in NDG.

Says Ritchie;

“The bar allowed us the run of the place on Monday nights. Neither band was accomplishing much on its own and it wasn’t long before the principal songwriters got together on the notion of joining forces.” He continues. “We originally called the group “All The Young Dudes” to draw a lawsuit from Bowie’s company. Thereby drawing attention … ”

The stragedy sort of backfired when the band was notofied that Bowie loved the name! Nonetheless, the members shortened it to “the Dudes” which had always been the plan.

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“We quickly became the number one unsigned band in all of North America and spent several weeks in the Twilight Zone entertaining obscene offers from almost all the major U.S. labels.” Explains Henman.

” Finally, with New York Attorney Nat Weiss (the former partner of Brian Epstein) doing our bidding, we signed a historical contract with CBS in New York. We ate, drank and made merry while leaving the production of our debut LP to one Mark Spector, a terrific guy personally (very personally) selected by the current head of CBS.”

According to Ritchie, Mark was in way over his head with that band and the LP tanked.

“We did that one magical tour with the Bee Gees…  nicest guys ever, and had some great gigs and get – togethers with our manager’s other acts. Groups such as Blood, Sweat and Tears and Ian Hunter.”

By the fall of ’77 the group saw no point in carrying on. They did one last set of recordings at Le Studio with the top engineers from Criteria Sound in Miami. It was a study for CBS to decide what should be done with the band and the resulting recommendation was that they should have been self-produced from the start.

“CBS took a pass and cut us loose and we went our separate ways. I started a few original projects for the next two years and had some great experience, enough to keep my hopes alive for one more “career” group.

Late in ’78 I was asked to join a local group called Lyrock who had an eastern tour booked but were losing a few members. I went to see them play and saw for the first time Don Beauchamp on keys and some vocals as well as old acquaintances Wally and Tom Rathie who had been in Frames, our fave opening act during the Dudes period.”

Interspersed with Lyrock’s cover songs were several originals by Don and Wally and Ritchie was blown away. This was the music he had looked for.

” I took the tour gig but as soon as I got back to Montreal I got in touch with the Rathies and managed to get an audition for their new group.” Continues Ritchie. ” They chose a local jazz drummer over me and I was quite devestated but a few weeks later I was called back. It hadn’t worked out and I was in!”

As Ritchie had expected, the group’s music got immediate attention and they organized themselves with an indie label and local production Guru; Guy Rheaume.

” Our first LP, ‘Rollin’ With The Times was an instant in-trade hit.” Says Ritchie.

“The entire Canadian radio industry seemed to adore us. Unfortunately, our manager, fearful of financial ruin refused to sign off more than 5,000 units for our first pressing. This – despite urging from people who didn’t even have a stake in it, to guarantee at least 20,000 units.”

He goes on.

“Incredibly, just as we were charted with heavy rotation on 52 stations coast to coast, our distributor went bankrupt. It took our manager six weeks to find a new distributor and during that time the available pressings sold out. This forced the stations to drop it..Crash and burn … another one-hit wonder.”

Ritchie had been through this type of thing before but for the other four members of Cruiser ( this being their first real crack at the high-end of the entertainment industry), Henman believes they were devastated.

“Don left town shortly afterward and Wally, Tom, Ed and I did some studio sessions together but it was never the same and we drifted away from it by ’82.

Says Ritchie; “Even for me the project remains both the best and worst I have ever experienced.”

The first LP was finally released on CD three years ago as was the never-released second LP, Strange News.

” And I’ll go on record as saying they are both masterpieces!” Adds Henman. “To this day, the best players I have ever worked with are Ed Stevens on guitar, Tom Rathie on bass, Walter Rathie on keyboards and Don Beauchamp on vocals”.

For this statement, Ritchie Henman does not have to clear his head …

All the Young Dudes; Part Two

‘All the Young Dudes’ are a perfect example of what can happen when art and business meet. The right and left sides of the brain are in those positions for a reason …

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Henman

Wayne Cullen, one of the two drummers in the band, reminisces on what a drag the whole ordeal became;

“There were enough completed, fully-produced tracks for a second album.” Explains Cullen.” Columbia decided not to release another lp rather than spend more money promoting the band any further. This was a shame because the band was very happy with the work we had done for the second album.”

The band had produced six of the tracks on their own and another five tracks had been produced by the well-known production team of Ron and Howie Albert. Two brothers who had been engineers at Criterion Studios in Miami under the tutelage of Tom Dowd and Karl Richardson.

The siblings had participated in the recording of the Derek and the Dominoes’ song Layla as well as recordings by Stephen Stills, the Allman Brothers and others.

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Segarini

“The brothers were asked by Columbia to supervise the production of some tracks for us after Columbia decided the six we had produced ourselves were inadequate.” Says Cullen. “When the Albert Brothers listened to the same six tracks they wondered aloud why they were asked to preside. They believed the self-produced tracks were excellent and they doubted they would be able to improve on what they had heard.”

Despite Columbia not knowing what was right, the ‘Dudes’ gave their all and have nothing but fond memories of the time spent together. According to David Henman, most of the funny memories took.place on stage …

“The band was quite spontaneous. In the middle of a set, Segarini would suddenly request that a table and six chairs be brought on stage so we could just sit, drink and goof around. Sometimes, when we used to perform downtown Montreal at the Moustache club, the next days’ newspaper would often arrive. Segarini would aks for it to be brought to the stage, whereupon he would put his own spin on the stories”. Laughs Henman.

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The Bee Gees

One tale which Segarini or anyone else do not have to conjur was meeting and hanging out with the Bee Gees. A memory which floats dearly in Henman’s conscience.

“I was very sick during the Bee Gees tour.” Says David. ” Somehow, I always ended up in Barry Gibb’s hotel suite after the show sitting between him and his wife and passing out on his shoulder. We were fans before the tour and by the end, we practically idolized them. Barry, especially – one of the most down to earth people I’ve ever met. The effect they had on audiences was pure magic.”

David did not stay in contact with all the Bee Gees. Barry did invite him to le Studio in Morin Heights when he was recording the album “Nights on Broadway”.

Says Henman. “I sat with him at the console while he chain-smoked Panama Red and conducted a string section. He then went into the studio and without any warm up – sang like an angel.”

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Ian Hunter

Henman and his fellow ‘dudes’ also met Ian Hunter. David became acquaintances with the singer and an opportunity to replace future Bowie guitarist Mick Ronson in Hunter’s band presented itself. Unfortunately, Henman was too shy to grab the opportunity.

Following the release of their first album, ‘the dudes’ thought about re – recording their first record.. A record which had and continued to have so much promise.

“Bob was on the phone constantly”.Says Henman. “Demanding that we be able to at least re-mix that album. If I am not mistaken, the guys at le Studio in Morin Heights offered to re-mix it for free.” He continues. “I think at least one other studio in Montreal made that offer as well but we were up against Columbia Records, a gigantic corporation at that time. We were told: “hey, Columbia Records insists that this album is going to be a huge hit and, well, they oughta know…” so, we backed down…”

Henman’s advice to young musicians and the lessons learned;

” If you are the artist, you should make the rules…”

Please stay tuned for more on ‘ the Dudes’..

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