Alan Gorrie

Hamish Stuart

Onnie McIntyre

Steve Ferrone

Roger Ball

Malcolm Duncan


What does one associate with Scotland in the north of England? Various tartans and clans? Tossing the caber? Well, it is the home of cultural icons such as Rob Roy, and the inventor of television John Logie Baird. And surely, it is also a home for…funk music?

From the very beginning, the Average White Band were something out of the ordinary. Guitarist Onnie McIntyre and pianist-stroke-saxophonist Roger Ball co-founded the group as the 1970s were underway. Joining them, Alan Gorrie on bass, Malcolm Duncan on sax, Robbie Macintosh on drums, and Mike Rosen on lead guitar. But he was soon replaced by Hamsih Stuart. They signed to MCA while their debut LP, Show Your Hand, emerged in 1973. The cover featured a white gollywog dressed as Uncle Sam. They later moved onto the roster of Atlantic Records, where they were produced by the late great Arif Mardin, resulting in their homage to James Brown, the multi-platinum single Pick Up Pieces. It was a world-wide hit, peaking at number 6 in the UK, and also managing to top the American singles chart. Along with Person To Person, You Got It, Got The Love, and Work To Do which was originally performed by The Isley Brothers. It later appeared on their self-titled second LP, AWB, which also topped the album charts in the US.

After the untimely death of Robbie Macintosh in 1975, Brighton based rock drummer Steve Ferrone took over for a brief period, which then became permanent. They were no longer totally white or average, and the irony of their name wasn’t lost on them, especially in America where they ultimately chose to reside. The continent's music charts were, and still are, very segregated. And the notion of a predominantly caucasian group, making what was considered as music for blacks only, was shocking to some.

The titular track of their Cut The Cake LP in 1975, proved to be very popular also, along with the much-sampled cut Schoolboy Crush. And If I Ever Lose This Heaven was later covered by Maxine Nightingale, who was at the time a young singer from Wembley in north London. Stuart and Gorrie wrote most of the songs for the set, and three more albums with Mardin at the helm followed thereafter: 1976's Soul Searching included the rapper's delight I'm The One, Queen Of My Soul and A Love Of Your Own which was co-written by Hamish Stuart and rock musician Ned Doheny. There have been numerous versions of the song, including one made 10 years later by Milli Scott, a singer who began her career in the 1960s. Mardin's considerable talent, and access to LA's best session musicians, also contributed to 1977's live LP Person To Person, and 1978's Warmer Communications set.

Their self-produced LP Feel No Fret appeared in 1979, after a move to RCA. Stop The Rain, a cover of Dionne Warwick's Walk On By, and Atlantic Avenue were three more outstanding tracks, and the band undertook a European tour onwhich they were joined by legendary soul singer Ben E King, with whom they had earlier recorded the LP, Benny & Us. That set featured Get It Up For Love, which was written by the aforementioned Ned Doheny, and later recorded by Tata Vega.

Unfortunately, hits were not forthcoming from the previously mentioned albums, until Let’s Go Round Again which appeared on their Shine LP in 1980. The band disproved many of the nay-sayers, who discounted them as one-hit-wonders, when It became yet another American number 1. The LP's third track, Whatcha Gonna Do For Me, also appeared on Chaka Khan's album of the same name in 1981.

Their next set, 1982's Cupid's In Fashion, featured Love's A Heartache, You're My Numer One, and a version of The Four Top's Reach Out (I'll Be There).

A hiatus in the band's output occurred at this point in the decade, and Gorrie produced his own R&B album in 1985.

Their Aftershock LP in 1988, appeared almost half a dozen years after their last album. Chaka Khan sang on the tracks Spirit OF Love and Let’s Go All the Way. But the real shock, was that Hamish Stuart did not appear on the album. He had moved on, to writing and producing for other artists.

There was yet another, much longer hiatus between Aftershock and their 1997 CD Soul Tattoo, and Gorrie released another solo set. Two more years passed before their White album saw the light of day, but the remaining members Gorrie, McIntyre, and Ball along with two new musicians, are still active on the touring circuit.

Thanks to re-issues, rap and dance music artists and their samplers, the Average White Band's catalogue can still be enjoyed in new forms today.

*Updated 8 November 2014

Show Your Hand LP


The album which upset James Brown

Person To Person

Warmer Communications LP

Shine LP from 1980