The Average White Band (a.k.a. AWB) is a highly acclaimed and veteran Scottish R&B/blue-eyed soul group with signature classic funk grooves and punchy instrumental arrangements that became famous during the mid and late 1970s. The band reportedly got its name from an audience member who was so impressed that he remarked
this is too much for the average white man. AWB's best known songs include the jazz-infused "Pick Up The Pieces" (1974) and the suggestive "Cut The Cake" (1975).
Formed in 1972 in London by Alan Gorrie (guitars, vocals, bass) and tenor saxophonist Malcolm "Molly" Duncan (August 24, 1945 - October 8, 2019), the original members also included Roger Ball (alto saxophone, keyboards), Owen "Onnie" McIntyre (guitars, vocals), Michael Rosen (trumpet), and drummer Robbie McIntosh (May 6, 1950 - September 23, 1974). Rosen remained with the band for only a very short time through early 1972 and was replaced by Hamish Stuart (guitar, bass, vocals). McIntosh died in 1974 of a drug overdose and was replaced by Steve Ferrone (drums). The band signed with MCA Records and in 1973, released its debut album, "Show Your Hand." AWB's big break came later that year when they served as a supporting act for Eric Clapton at his comeback concert and came to the attention of his tour manager, Bruce McCaskill, who became their manager and arranged to have them sign with Atlantic Records.
The Average White Band debuted on the U.S. charts in late 1973 with "The World Has Music," which became a minor hit on Record World. After scoring another minor hit (on Cash Box) with "Nothing You Can Do" (1974), the band's fame took off in late 1974 with "Pick Up The Pieces," which topped the Pop/Rock charts, made the R&B Top 5, and became the band's greatest hit and a funk instrumental standard. This smash, which soon after went gold, also became a top hit in the U.K., Canada, and Australia and was followed soon after by "Cut The Cake" (1975), which made the Top 10 on both the Pop/Rock and R&B charts. Other top hits through 1980 on both charts include "If I Ever Lose This Heaven" (1975), "School Boy Crush" (1975), "Queen Of My Soul" (1976), "A Love Of Your Own" (1977), a disco remake of Dionne Warwick's "Walk On By" (1979), and another disco smash, "Let's Go 'Round Again" (1980). The band had one final hit in 1988 on the R&B charts with "The Spirit Of Love" (with Chaka Khan and Ronnie Laws).
The Average White Band split in 1983, and the classic lineup of Ball, Duncan, Ferrone, Gorrie, McIntyre, and Stuart reunited for one final performance in 1988 at the Atlantic Records 40th Anniversary Celebration at New York City's Madison Square Garden. AWB reformed in 1989 as a septet with original members Ball, Gorrie, and McIntyre, and the band has continued to perform and record actively to the present day, with a number of personnel changes along the way. The current lineup, also a septet, consists of Gorrie and McIntyre, along with Rob Aries (bass, keyboards), Rocky Bryant (drums), Brent Carter (vocals), Cliff Lyons (alto saxophone), and Fred Vigdor (tenor saxophone, keyboards).
- For more info about the history of The Average White Band and current projects, visit averagewhiteband.com.
- AWB co-founder Malcolm Duncan reveals how the band got its name and discusses other topics in an interview with The Guardian (August 14, 2017).
- The Telegraph remembers Malcolm Duncan.
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- Cut The Cake 1975
- If I Ever Lose This Heaven 1975
- Pick Up The Pieces 1974
(This funky instrumental, in which the saxophone is prominently featured, topped the charts. At several points during the song, the band members can be heard yelling out the song title.)
- School Boy Crush 1975
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