A short flashback: In the early 70s a young band from Scotland started to conquer the U.S. with their seductive mix of crossover R&B and funk – its name: the Average White Band. Singer and guitarist of the band was a young Glaswegian named Hamish Stuart, who played soul and pop tunes in various bands around Glasgow before he joined AWB in 1972. After the breakthrough in the UK, the band relocated to Los Angeles and released their second album “AWB” – better known as the White Album – on Atlantic Records in 1974, produced by legendary Arif Mardin. The million-selling single “Pick Up The Pieces” put the band finally on the map.
In September ‘74 AWB gave on their first U.S. tour an energetic concert at the Troubadour club in West Hollywood, Los Angles. On this evening Eagles-frontman Glenn Fry and his friend Ned Doheny stood in the audience and were absolutely stunned by the show of this six funky Scotsmen.
Ned Doheny, a Beverly Hills native, had already taken his first musical steps as a songwriter. His song “On And On” was recorded by Dave Mason and Cass Elliot from the Mamas and the Papas. After an episode in London, where he met music legends of the 60s like Eric Clapton and members of The Beatles, he returned to Laurel Canyon, California and became the first artist signed to David Geffen’s Asylum label. In 1973 the talented singer-songwriter released his eponymous folky debut album.
The L.A. concert of AWB became a triumph for the band and a formative experience for Doheny. But the success was overshadowed by the fate of AWB drummer Robbie McIntosh, a close friend of Hamish Stuart, who died in consequence of a drug overdose at a party following the show.
In this hard times Hamish Stuart and Ned Doheny became friends and soon musical collaborators. Only two songs resulted from this songwriting partnership: “A Love Of Your Own” and “Whatcha’ Gonna Do For Me” – both became timeless classics, recorded by the AWB and Doheny as well as numerous artists like Chaka Khan, who had a hit with “Whatcha’ Gonna Do for Me” in 1981.
The careers of both artists developed from then on in different ways. The Average White Band became one of the most influential and successful crossover R&B/ funk bands of the 70s. After the band disbanded in the early 80s Hamish Stuart decided to concentrate on songwriting and moved to L.A., where he wrote songs for artists like George Benson, Atlantic Starr and Diana Ross. In the 90s he joined Paul McCartney’s band and played all over the world. Later on he played as a solo-artist and with The Hamish Stuart Band. In 2017 Stuart returned finally to his soul and funk roots and released together with his old AWB-colleagues Molly Duncan and Steve Ferrone the sublime new album “Three Sixty”.
Two years after the Troubadour episode, in 1976, CBS released Ned Doheny’s second album “Hard Candy” – a R&B-inflected West Coast masterpiece, produced by Stax-legend Steve Cropper. Although it included Doheny’s version of “A Love of Your Own” and featured guests like Stuart, Glenn Frey, Don Henley, Linda Ronstadt, Tower of Power and J.D. Souther the album failed commercially.
His following album “Prone” was only released in Japan in 1979. In the 80s Doheny found a grateful audience after turning his focus from the US to Japan, where he became a host of a popular radio show, named “Postcards from Hollywood”. Only sporadic album releases followed during the past 20 years.
In the last ten years Ned Doheny experienced an unexpected renaissance, especially in Europe. Thanks to numerous releases like the compilation series “Too Slow to Disco” by DJ Supermarkt, the critically acclaimed retrospective “Separate Oceans” (Numero Group, 2014) and not at least the excellent work of the London based label Be With Records, which reissued Doheny’s first three albums on vinyl, a new generation of music enthusiasts has the chance to re-discover his musical oeuvre.
In August 2017 Ned Doheny came to UK to play three concerts in London and Manchester, supported by a live band, led by his old friend Hamish Stuart. A rare opportunity to speak with both musicians about their past, present and future.
A key member of the California West Coast scene in the 70’s, Ned Doheny reached cult status thanks to his 1976 album “Hard Candy”.
Born in Glasgow, Scotland, Hamish Stuart shot to fame in the 1970’s as the falsetto voice of The Average White Band, his distinctive songwriting and guitar style paving the way for the band’s worldwide success.
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