April Wine began in late 1969 in Waverley, Nova Scotia (a suburb of Halifax). The band’s name was chosen simply because members thought the two words sounded good together. The original members were brothers David Henman on guitar and Ritchie Henman on drums.
Their cousin Jim Henman joined in on bass and Myles Goodwyn completed the sound on lead vocals and guitar. In early 1970 the band relocated to Montreal. Shortly after arriving in their new home the band was signed by Aquarius Records.
April Wine recorded their second album, titled On Record. The first single from the album was a cover version of the song “You Could Have Been a Lady”, originally by the band Hot Chocolate.
The record was a commercial success, hitting number 5 on the Canadian charts, as well as cracking the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the United States where it stayed for 11 weeks, peaking at No. 32. Immediately following that triumph, April Wine released a second single from On Record, titled “Bad Side of the Moon.”
This song, written by Elton John and Bernie Taupin, also got much airplay on Canadian radio stations and was a minor hit in the U.S. as well. Both tracks remain staples on classic rock radio stations in Canada.
April Wine made history in ’76 with THE WHOLE WORLD’S GOING CRAZY. Backed by the power of the title track, the record was the first by a Canadian group to go platinum (one million sales).
In retrospect it may have been a bad decision on the part of management to release FOREVER FOR NOW that same year, as it failed to build on the momentum gained by its predecessor, though it did have “Lady Run Lady Hide” as a single. Originally intended as a Myles Goodwyn solo project, the record possessed less of a moderately heavy sound, leaning more to the eclectic personal tastes of Goodwyn.
In mid-1977, April Wine was booked to play a charity concert at the famed El Mocambo Club in Toronto, Ontario. Co-headliner on the bill was a band called “The Cockroaches,” who turned out to be The Rolling Stones.
The pseudonym was a poorly kept secret and huge crowds turned out for the event. April Wine’s performance was captured and released as the album Live at the El Mocambo. The band got its first chance at touring the U.S. following the El Mocambo gig, first opening for The Rolling Stones, then for various popular headliners, including Styx and fellow Canadian band Rush.
April Wine traveled to England to record THE NATURE OF THE BEAST early the next year. Relentless air-play given to the sappy, tacky and downright annoying if heard too often “Just between You and Me” pushed the album platinum almost instantly.
That God-awful tune was however the band’s first number one single in the States. What’s that tell you? But it’s the sheer presence of the rockers “All Over Town”, “Future Tense”, “Crash and Burn” and “Tellin Me Lies” that make it most critics’ pick as their best work, as well as the better of the two singles, “Sign of the Gypsy Queen”. By this time April Wine was headlining major gigs all over Europe as well as here in North America.