Durable British Rock Guitarist (b. 1948)
Andy Fairweather-Low has had the good fortune to play guitar alongside some of the absolute greatest talents in the history of rock and roll music—
Pete Townshend, David Crosby, Roger Waters, Jeff Lynne, Bill Wyman, Jeff Beck, Stevie Nicks and Eric Clapton (to name but a few!). Even so, you've probably never heard of him, especially if you are not from the UK. Such is the lot of a sideman.
Fairweather-Low was born in 1948 in Cardiff, Wales and showed an early musical ability. In the late 1960s, he formed Amen Corner, a seven-piece band noted for their distinctive saxophone sound. Amen Corner's first single was Gin House Blues and they enjoyed some chart success six times between 1967 and 1969. (If Paradise is) Half as Nice was their biggest hit and World of Broken Hearts was another song that showed up on the charts.
At this time, Andy Fairweather-Low got quite a reputation as a teen idol, even passing out photographs of himself to fans at shows. His poster graced the walls of many a teen girl's bedroom.
The Seventies: Fairweather and Solo Pursuits
In 1970, after Amen Corner drifted apart, Fairweather-Low formed the short-lived prog rock band Fairweather. They had one minor hit in 1970, Natural Sinner, before breaking up.
Fairweather-Low then embarked on a solo career which was well-received in the UK, but little-noticed abroad. His solo albums were Spider Jiving (1974), La Booga Rooga (1975), Be Bop & Holla (1976), Andy Fairweather Low (1976) and Mega Shebang (1980). He had a couple of hits on the UK charts with Reggae Tune and Wide Eyed & Legless.
The Life of a Sideman
Around 1980, Andy Fairweather-Low began working as a sideman and session player for some of the notables in the world of British blues-based rock (and more than a few rockers from across the pond as well). He worked with Roger Waters (late of Pink Floyd) on the phenomenal solo album the Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking and toured with Eric Clapton on the 1983 Concert for ARMS. This author was lucky enough to see this concert when it swung through the state of Texas (and for several years thereafter, could be occasionally seen wearing his "Concert for ARMS: the British Are Coming!" T-shirt).
From about 1985 to 1995, it seemed like every time there was any kind of session band on TV, the boyish, if nondescript Welsh guitarist would be somewhere on the stage. He played with Willie And The Poor Boys, Bill Wyman's band in the late 80s. In the early 1990s, he toured with George Harrison and has played in Eric Clapton's backup band since that time. When Clapton went Unplugged for MTV and performed his extremely famous acoustic version of Layla, Mr. Fairweather-Low did the backup guitar and background vocals.
More recently, he has played with the Big Town Playboys in 1997, toured with Roger Waters in 1999 and has continued to play with Clapton's band, making him Eric Clapton's longest-running second guitarist. Mr. Fairweather-Low also played at the Concert for George (Harrison) in 2003.
Andy Fairweather-Low will doubtless continue bringing his distinctive brand of blues-rock guitar to audiences for many years to come, retaining his role as one of the most important musicians in the world (that most people have never heard of!).
Special thanks to wertperch for the idea to do this writeup
Marsh, Dave and Swenson, John (eds.), "The New Rolling Stone Record Guide" (Random House, New York, 1983).
Arts Direct bio: http://www.artistdirect.com/nad/music/artist/bio/0,,428897,00.html#bio
From I Was a Teenaged Chart Freak … http://www.iwasateenagechartfreak.com/1-THE-ALLISONS-to-BLOOD-SWEAT-AND-TEARS
Jr. Swellbone's (that name!) Eric Clapton site has info and pics of Mr. Fairweather-Low: http://clapton.onecom.com/band/aflow.htm
Discography at: http://art.staviator.com/A/Andy_Fairweather_Low.html
And conversations with JCP, my pal who seems to know an awful lot about such things