ANDY WARD DRUMMER
A DRUMMERS’S TALE
Born: September 28th, 1952 – Epsom (England)
Bands: Brew (1968-69), Camel (1971-83), Marillion (1983), Various bands including those of Stoffer Blegvad, Jeremy Harrington, Viv McAuliffe) mid-1980’s, Skaboosh! (1987-88), Mark Hewins’ FF, (1990) Going Going (1990), Caravan Of Dreams (1991-94), Mirage (1994) Bevis Frond, (1994-2002) Yukio Yung, (Terry Burrows, 1995-1999) Steve Adams Band (2002)
From his schooldays, Andy’s sole ambition was to play the drums. Having seen Frankie Fox-Wilson playing his kit at school with fellow pupil Eddie Offord on guitar (who later went on to become Yes’ producer) Andy assembled his own kit at home from biscuit tins with lorry tyre inner tubes stretched over them. Although not particularly known as a musical breeding ground the school (The City of London Freemen’s School in Ashtead, Surrey) did yield another famous musician: John Mellor who was later better known as Joe Strummer.
Andy’s long-suffering parents bought Andy his first proper kit and it was not long before he was playing it professionally. At age 15 he met Geoff McCelland who had recently been ousted from the fledgling John’s Children by a young Marc Bolan. Together they formed Misty Romance (ahh!). Doug Ferguson was the bass player.
Misty Romance disintegrated and Doug moved to Guildford where he met Andy Latimer. Ferguson and Latimer formed the Brew and invited Andy to join. Brew gigged around the South of England and when Doug left the country temporarily Andy answered an ad. in the Melody Maker for a blues band requiring a drummer. He was now 16 years old. The band – called Shades – was legendary blues singer Champion Jack Dupree’s backing band and Andy’s first taste of stadium rock was in Germany when Champion Jack Dupree played a three-day rock and blues festival at the Gruggehalle in Essen. They played between Deep Purple and Pink Floyd but their brand of blues did not go down well with the audience.
Back in blighty Andy and Andy Latimer re-united and, with an American bass player called Paul St.George, recorded an album of early Latimer compositions: Abraham, for a German record company. This album has never seen the light of day.
When Doug returned Brew reunited and, with the addition of Peter Bardens, Camel was born.
Fast forward……..line-up changes……..The Snow Goose……..Royal Albert Hall……..Gold Records……..more line-up changes……..Andy leaves Camel
The Nude tour, the last tour Andy did with Camel, was particularly gruelling for him. What wasn’t known at the time was that the illness which was to continually afflict him was beginning to manifest itself quite dramatically. Manic depression, also known as bipolar disorder, ricochets the sufferer from one end of the emotional scale to the other. On the tour Andy had all of the delusions of grandeur one expects from this illness. He could do no wrong, he felt. Whilst the mania drove some quite extraordinary showmanship on stage, his offstage grandiosity was difficult to take for the other band members.
Manic depressives often fuel their euphoric feelings with alcohol and/or drugs and Andy was no exception, particularly with drinking and it was the drinking that masked the underlying illness for so many years. Whilst he could appear witty and charming and great fun, he was a royal pain for those close to him. But shortly after the tour he hit the rock-bottom lows and the ‘injury to his hand’ which was the tactful reason given for his not appearing on ‘The Single Factor’ was in actual fact self-inflicted in a desperate suicide attempt.
The Priory, not yet invented, was unavailable at this time, but after a few months in a psych. ward, Andy was let loose again.
Having bowled along to the studios where he lodged his drums he found Marillion were in, rehearsing for a forthcoming tour. They needed a drummer, Andy joined them.
Although he never recorded with them, there are doubtless bootlegs of the gigs he played with Marillion. These included The Marquee, Glastonbury, the Reading Festival and a tour of Scandinavia and the US. He can also be seen prancing about in The Garden Party video (from the album ‘Script for a Jester’s Tear). Too many differences, both musical and personal, meant that Andy’s time with Marillion was short.
Fast forward……..playing in pubs……..Skaboosh: penniless in Germany and busking in Milan……..working in a factory……..Canterbury.
Andy already had a strong relationship with Richard Sinclair (Caravan, Hatfield and the North) from Richard’s time with Camel.
These two got together with Hugh Hopper and guitarist Mark Hewins to play a few gigs as Going Going, one of which (and the reason for the name) was in support to Gong at The Fridge in Brixton. Andy’s girlfriend of the time, and later wife, had managed Gong for a while and the combination of progressive and psychedelic rock music led to a truly magical evening. So magical it led to the formation of Richard Sinclair’s Caravan of Dreams.
Caravan of Dreams gigged extensively in Europe and the US as well as recording an album. Andy was accepted as an honorary member of the Canterbury scene and strengthened his musical relationships with many of those gifted players who at one time or another find themselves in that far South East corner of England.
It was through a stalwart Canterbury fan that the band Mirage was assembled. With Peter Bardens and Dave Sinclair on keyboards, Rick Biddulph on Bass, Pye Hastings on guitar and vocals, Jimmy Hastings on saxophone and flute and Steve Adams on guitar, as well as Andy Ward on drums, one could be forgiven for thinking this was the Canterbury Dream Team. But it was never properly financed and after a few heavy meetings in pubs, unanswered phone messages and rumours that the t-shirt guys were going to knee-cap whoever they could get hold of, Pete Bardens took control and moved Mirage from the UK to the States with a US based line-up. Dave Cohen replaced Andy Ward on drums.
Fast forward……..mini breakdown……..Todd Dillingham……..Bevis Frond
It was through his Canterbury connections that Andy met London boys Nick Saloman and Adrian Shaw, the Bevis Frond. It was love at first sight. Andy played many tours and festivals with the mighty Frond in the UK, Europe and the US as well as appearing on a number of albums.
By 1998, however, the bipolar disease was again getting to Andy. He had not yet been diagnosed but it was clear to all that there was something very wrong. Even heavy-drinking drummers don’t go quite that loopy.
After a few sessions with the wrong psychiatrist Andy finally found the right one who correctly diagnosed his illness and started him on the right medication. He also put him in The Priory for a few weeks and so started the long haul to recovery.
With the illness now under control Andy is free to concentrate on what he really wants out of life. Although he would love to tour, the simple truth is that he cannot. Touring is gruelling for anyone – too much uncertainty, too little security, lack of sleep and irregular eating patterns are difficult to bear. For anyone with manic depression it adds up to another bout in the madhouse, so, those spectacular performances from Andy will be few and far between and limited to just a few select concerts.
If the road is too undisciplined for Andy’s health, the studio is his ideal environment. Born to play the drums, Andy is never far from a set of sticks. In early 2003 he reunited again with Camel’s precursor band, Brew and, he, Andy Latimer and Doug Ferguson recorded an album of completely new material which will be released in early 2004. Watch this space.
Peter Bardens died in February 2002. He is sadly missed.