The Canadian rockers formed in 1969 in Nova Scotia with the original lineup of brothers David (guitar), Richie (drums) and cousin Jim (bass) Henman, with Myles Goodwyn on lead guitar, keyboards, and vocals, as well as the main songwriter. Debut April Wine came out in 1971, and Jim Henman left shortly thereafter. The releases On Record and Electric Jewels followed, and singles "You Could Have Been a Lady," "Weeping Widow" and "Just Like That" proved extremely popular...but within Canada only.
More lineup changes followed, leaving Goodwyn as the only original Wino by 1973. The next few years saw more albums (including Stand Back and Forever for Now) and Great White North hit singles ("Tonight is a Wonderful Time to Fall in Love," "Oowatanite"), but U.S. success still proved elusive in further lineup changes.
April Wine caught a break when they were chosen to "headline" a charity event at the El Mocambo club, where they would record a live album. A group called the Cockroaches were slated as the opening act. In a poorly-kept secret, the bug band turned out to be the Rolling Stones. Later that year, a lineup solidified with Goodwyn, Gary Moffet (guitar), Steve Lang (bass), Jerry Mercer (drums) and new recruit Brian Greenway (guitar, vocals).
It was this lineup in 1979 that would finally crack U.S. charts with the record First Glance and boogie-laden hit single "Roller." Soon, the band took on a harder sound, opening for acts like Rush, Journey, Styx, and Nazareth. 1979 saw the release of Harder...Faster and two years later The Nature of the Beast gave the group charting hits with the power ballad "Just Between You and Me" and prog-rocker "Sign of the Gypsy Queen." Exhausted, Goodwyn called for a break, which lasted a year and a half.
"Comeback" record Power Play, however, did not measure up critically or in sales to previous efforts, and following records offered diminishing returns as tensions within the group rose, causing more defections. By 1986, April Wine had gone sour.
Why should I care?
In addition to opening doors for fellow MOR Canuck rockers like Loverboy and Bryan Adams, April Wine's main foray into harmony-vocal, melodic pop metal ("I Like to Rock" "This Could Be the Right One") would prove a poplar sound by the late '80s. However, the band just couldn't come up with enough really solid material to sustain mass popularity. And hey, if you saw the flick Joe Dirt, then you also heard "Roller."
Where are they now?
Goodwyn and Greenway both released solo records, but resurrected April Wine in 1992, and more releases followed. But the band found its biggest success right back where they started - on mostly-Canadian stages with stints in Europe and the U.S. According to postings on an April Wine message board, Moffet continued to play some guitar, but concentrates on giving lessons and producing. Lang became a successful financial advisor outside of music, and Mercer occasionally drummed. Their last CD was 2006's Roughly Speaking, and the current April Wine lineup includes Goodwyn and Greenway, along with Blair Mackay and Breen LeBoef.
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Essential listening, viewing, surfing
The Nature of the Beast (1981) - Their studio pinnacle.
Classic Masters: April Wine (2002) - Single disc anthology of prime years, though a bit skimpy with only 12 tracks
April Wine - Live in London (2008) - Full concert DVD of a 1981 show