Amen Corner Biography

Formed in Cardiff, Wales, in 1966, this R&B-styled septet comprised Andy Fairweather-Low (Andrew Fairweather-Low, 2 August 1948, Ystrad Mynach, Hengoed, Wales; vocals), Blue Weaver (b. Derek John Weaver, 11 March 1947, Cardiff, Glamorgan, Wales; organ), Neil Jones (b. 25 March 1949, Llanbradach, Wales; guitar), Clive Taylor (b. 27 April 1949, Cardiff, Glamorgan, Wales; bass), Allan Jones (b. 6 February 1947, Swansea, Glamorgan, Wales; baritone saxophone), Mike Smith (b. Michael Joseph Smith, 4 November 1947, Neath, Glamorgan, Wales; tenor saxophone) and Dennis Bryon (b. 14 April 1949, Cardiff, Glamorgan, Wales; drums), all of whom were veterans of local Welsh bands. The band, which was named after a 1954 play by James Baldwin, signed to Deram Records in May 1967. After hitting the UK Top 20 with the classic ‘Gin House Blues’ three months later, Fairweather-Low became a pin-up and the band swiftly ploughed more commercial ground with a succession of UK hits including ‘The World Of Broken Hearts’ (number 24), a cover version of the American Breed’s ‘Bend Me, Shape Me’ (number 3) and ‘High In The Sky’ (number 6).

What the pop press failed to reveal was the intense power struggle surrounding the proprietorship of the band and the menacingly defensive tactics of their manager Don Arden. After all the drama, the band moved from Decca Records to Andrew Loog Oldham’s Immediate Records label and enjoyed their only UK number 1 with ‘(If Paradise Is) Half As Nice’ in early 1969. Following one final UK Top 5 hit, the energetic ‘Hello Susie’, they split. Ironically, their pop career ended on an anti-climactic note with the inappropriately titled Beatles cover version, ‘Get Back’. Fairweather-Low, Weaver, Bryon, Taylor and Neil Jones formed Fairweather, before the lead singer embarked on a solo career. Blue Weaver found his way into the Strawbs, where his keyboard work on 1972’s Grave New World was particularly noteworthy. The brass section, Jones and Smith, formed Judas Jump with Andy Bown. In later decades, various line-ups of Amen Corner have taken to the nostalgia circuit.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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