Ignored Obscured Restored
In 1974, the ironically named Average White Band (AWB) released their second album, AWB, that contained their biggest hit – “Pick Up the Pieces.” The song reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100.
During my freshman year in college – 1974-75 – “Pick Up the Pieces” was ubiquitous. It was on the radio, on friend’s turntables, and always playing in bars and clubs where it was certain to fill the dancefloors. Since those were the days of “disco sucks” and I was a rocker, you would think that I’d hate this song. But I don’t. It’s just too good!!!
The songwriting credit on the album was given to “R. Ball, H. Stuart & AWB.” (Hamish) Stuart wrote the guitar part. Sax player (Roger) Ball wrote the horn melody. But the tenor sax solo was played by Malcolm “Molly” Duncan. And it’s a killer!
Duncan died a little over a year ago, on October 8th, 2019, of cancer.
Tragedy visited the band early on. On September 22, 1974, AWB played a sold-out show at Hollywood’s Troubadour club. After their performance, the band and friends went to a party at the home of Wall Street “whiz-kid” Kenneth Moss. Many guests snorted white powder from a vial they thought contained cocaine, but it was heroin. AWB drummer Robbie McIntosh died from an OD the next day. The band’s bass player, Alan Gorrie, also might have died, but Cher took him back to her place and kept him up and walking until the drugs wore off.
Oh yeah, and the band’s name… It has been attributed to Bonnie Bramlett, of Delaney & Bonnie, because she was amused that these pale-skinned, Scottish boys played such convincing soul music.
Enjoy… until next week.