Ystrad Mynach born Fairweather Low originally came to fame as vocalist and leader of the Cardiff pop group Amen Corner. The band had four Top 30 hits – a sequence starting on Decca’s subsidiary Deram label with ‘Gin House Blues’ in 1967 – before leaving at the end of 1968 to join Andrew Loog Oldham’s pioneering indie, Immediate. Amen Corner were instantly rewarded with a UK number one, ‘(If Paradise Is) Half As Nice’ in early 1969 but, despite another Top Five hit with Roy Wood’s ‘Hello Suzie’ the band did not survive success.
By the following year Amen Corner had split, with Andy Fairweather Low escaping the teenybop grind by forming the simply named Fairweather, a band signed to RCA’s shiny new progressive label, Neon. Fairweather reached number six in the UK singles chart with ‘Natural Sinner’ during the summer of 1970.
It was to be, however, the band’s only hit. One album later and Fairweather came to an end. Andy Fairweather Low then became somewhat of a refugee from the music business, eventually emerging three years later as a solo artist with an album called ‘Spider Jiving’ on A&M.
The album was produced by Elliot Mazer – best known for his work with Neil Young – and featured some heavyweight backup support from the likes of the Memphis Horns and Area Code 615 featuring Nashville legend Charlie McCoy on harmonica. ‘Spider Jiving’ included the wah-wah driven ‘Reggae Tune’, a UK Top 10 hit in September 1974.
Andy Fairweather Low was on something of a roll. The following year, 1975, he released his second solo album, ‘La Booga Rooga’, which eventually emerged as his most successful record. Produced by the celebrated Glyn Johns – at that time fresh from working with The Eagles – ‘La Booga Rooga’ featured such stellar musicians as ex-Eagle Bernie Leadon (guitar), Dave Mattacks (drums), Kenney Jones (drums), John ‘Rabbit’ Bundrick (keyboards), BJ Cole (steel guitar), Gallagher & Lyle and Georgie Fame (keyboards). Among the tracks was ‘Wide Eyed and Legless’, a Top 10 hit for Fairweather Low at the end of 1975.
Johns was also at the helm for ‘Be Bop ‘n’ Holla’, Fairweather Low’s 1976 album. It was followed, in 1980, by ‘Mega-Shebang’, recorded for Warner Brothers and destined to be Fairweather Low’s final solo album until 2006. In between ‘Be Bop ‘n’ Holla’ and ‘Mega-Shebang’, however, Fairweather Low sang backing vocals on The Who’s 1978 ‘Who Are You’ album – the start of a relationship which also saw him playing guitar on the band’s 1982 album, ‘It’s Hard’, and appearing with Pete Townshend on his 1993 ‘Psychoderelict’ tour.
That work with The Who set the direction for Fairweather Low’s next moves. He became the ultimate guitarist of choice, building an extraordinary reputation which has endured to this day.
Most notably, Fairweather Low was a stalwart of Eric Clapton’s band since the early Nineties, touring with him constantly up to 2004 and then on and off right up until 2018. He recorded with him for the ‘Unplugged’, ‘From the Cradle’, ‘Pilgrim’, ‘Riding with the King’, ‘Reptile’, ‘One More Car One More Rider’, ‘Me & Mr. Johnson’, ‘Back Home’ & ‘I Still Do’ albums and appeared on three Crossroads Festival and The Live in Hyde Park DVD releases. Eric himself has been very complimentary in print to Andy about his role on the Unplugged album being something more than that of guitar player.
Fairweather Low was also a regular player with George Harrison, appearing on his ‘Live in Japan’ album, a concert at the Royal Albert Hall in aid of the Natural Law party and guesting together with George at a Gary Moore concert also at The Royal Albert Hall. In 2002, Fairweather Low played several of the lead guitar parts for the Harrison tribute, ‘The Concert for George’.
One of Fairweather Low’s longest musical relationships, however, has been with Roger Waters. The two worked together since Waters’ ‘Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking’ tour of America in 1985. Since that time Fairweather Low has contributed to two of Waters’ albums – ‘Radio K.A.O.S’ in 1987 and ‘Amused to Death’ in 1992 – and he played guitar and bass on the 1999-2002 ‘In the Flesh’ world tour and ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ tours in 2006.
Fairweather Low was also a regular member of Bill Wyman’s Rhythm Kings, the happy consequence of another relationship that stretches back to the mid-Eighties. Fairweather Low and Wyman first worked together at the Small Faces’ legendary bass player Ronnie Lane’s A.R.M.S. – Action for Research into Multiple Sclerosis – benefit concert at London’s Royal Albert Hall in 1983 prior to touring the USA with the same tour. It was a charity cause that Wyman revisited in 1985 with Willie & The Poor Boys, a Fifties’ style rock ‘n’ roll concept band featuring Fairweather Low. Since that time Fairweather Low was frequently involved in Wyman’s projects, touring with the Rhythm Kings and most recently Bill’s 80th birthday bash at the London O2 Arena in October 2016.
But perhaps it was inevitable that one day Fairweather Low would be tempted to return to the studio in his own right and that time came in 2006 with the recording of ‘Sweet Soulful Music’ reuniting him with friend and producer Glyn Johns – and featuring bassist Dave Bronze, drummer Henry Spinetti and keyboard player John ‘Rabbit’ Bundrick together with Roger Waters’ singers Katie Kissoon, Carol Kenyon and PP Arnold.
Twenty-six years is a long wait but ‘Sweet Soulful Music’ signaled a welcome return for one of the UK’s most distinctive artists, as heartily endorsed by many of the world’s greatest talents.
The touring band is always a who’s who of the best players on the rock scene, initially joining Andy on Drums was Paul Beavis, on Keyboards was Paul ‘Wix’ Wickens and on Bass Dave Bronze. For the next tour Chris Stainton took over on Keyboards and was replaced for one tour by Hammond Organist Richard Dunne before Nick Pentelow became the permanent replacement joining in 2009 on Sax and Clarinet. Ian Jennings replaced Dave Bronze on Bass in 2020 and in between times Richard Milner was added on Hammond Organ & Backing Vocals in 2016. Andy also tours a big band setup with additional horns, the band being extended by the Hi Riders Soul Revue.
Intertwined with his ever developing Low Riders touring base Fairweather Low was also involved in two other major projects the first as a member of the Gaddabouts together with Edie Brickell, Steve Gadd & Pino Palladino, making three albums and then later, together with Nick Lowe & Paul Carrack in an acoustic trio ‘Low, Carrack & Lowe’ which played Glastonbury & several other major summer festivals in 2015.
Since that initial inspiring and overdue return to writing, performing and touring his own music on his own terms Andy Fairweather Low has developed and maintained a very healthy fan base both here in the UK, in mainland Europe and in Japan and has done hundreds of shows all to ecstatic audience response. He has toured every year since 2007 (lockdown apart, although he did perform a successful internet streamed show with the big band during lockdown) having released six CD albums with the Low Riders, two live concert DVD releases and a double Vinyl LP.
During Lockdown he needed to work but could not tour and so set about his next project ‘Flang Dang’, upon which he wrote, played and produced everything apart from the drums where Low Riders band member Paul Beavis officiated. ‘Flang Dang’ is a true solo record, and is being released in February 2023 not as a band release but as an Andy Fairweather Low Solo album.
It is not widely known that Andy Fairweather Low was the first established performer to record at Rockfield studios, ‘having been there before and opened the doors for’ (as Owner Kingsley Ward puts it) Artists such as Dave Edmunds who lit the blue touch paper for the recognised ‘Rockfield Story’ Artists and he has maintained a strong friendship with Co Founder & Owner Kingsley, indeed it was during a lockdown conversation between the two of them that it was agreed Andy should for this very special Solo project return to his roots at Rockfield Studios and Flang Dang was set upon its path to life with the Legend back home working in the Legendary studio again.