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I sang with Jimi Hendrix

By Exeter Express and Echo  |  Posted: October 10, 2013

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THERE aren't many people who can croon a pre-war flavoured character study, accompanied by pattering mandolin, then roar through an R&B scorcher, while making like Ike Turner on guitar, and who can wail a heat-sore country classic like Don Gibson too.

In fact you can count him on one finger – Andy Fairweather Low, and Devon audiences will get to hear him later this month when he heads to Budleigh Salterton with his band of co-conspirators, the Low Riders.

When I caught up with him for a chat he was in the middle of a recording stint with fellow Welsh man Tom Jones.

As well as creating his own music he is the go-to man when a rock legend is looking for a killer guitar player with a rangy, soulful, R&B wail and a hip musical education.

Andy first gained prominence singing with Cardiff-based, soul-inflected 60s pop outfit Amen Corner on hits such as Gin House, Bend Me, Shape Me, High in the Sky and their huge chart-topper (If Paradise were) Half as Nice.

He then formed Fairweather before forging a successful solo career with A&M, scoring hits with Reggae Tune, La Booga Rooga and the timeless pop classic Wide-eyed and Legless.

As a session musician he has recorded with a Who's Who of rock/pop glitterati including Elton John, Bee Gees, Gerry Rafferty, Leo Sayer, Joe Satriani, David Crosby, George Harrison, Jimi Hendrix; toured The Wall and Dark Side of the Moon with Pink Floyd's Roger Waters, toured with Eric Clapton, with Procul Harum's Gary Brooker, and with Bill Wyman's Rhythm Kings.

I ask Andy about Hendrix.

"In '67 we had a Wednesday residency at the Speakeasy in London. If you were gigging somewhere you'd go down there for a drink and something to eat," he said.

"One time Jimi came down and asked if he could play bass. We were doing a batch of Otis Reading numbers. He wanted to do Can't Turn You Loose so I sang and the band played, with Jimi on bass.

"In '69 I was in New York and I got a phone call from the studio saying 'Jimi wants to know if you'll come down and sing'. He was re-cutting Stone Free and when I arrived Roger Chapman was there – lovely man. We both sang backing vocals. It definitely wasn't better than the original version, but we were there. Fantastic memories."

Why the Bessie Smith song Gin House as Amen Corner's debut single? Not an obvious choice?

"Zoot Money, Georgie Fame and Herbie Goins were bands that would travel to the provinces, and luckily we got to see them play in Cardiff," said Andy. "I saw Zoot Money at The Mayfair Ballroom in Newport and his bass player Paul Williams sang Gin House' in the set. That's where I first heard it."

So who did Andy first copy on guitar?

"The first person I seriously copied was Keith Richards and his solo on Route 66… that's the one I bunked off school to learn," he admits. "I waited until my mother went to work and sneaked back in."

"I've been lucky to play with some fantastic musicians. I've been in the presence of greatness and I'm not that! But I figure I must be fairly good... I've been doing it for 49 years. And you know what? I'm not finished yet!"

Andy Fairweather Low & the Low Riders play Budleigh Salterton Public Hall on Sunday, October 27. Tickets £20/22.50/£25 on door. Tel 01395 443419 or 07891 663044, or visit: www.eastdevonhub.co.uk

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