Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Remembering Tony Ashton

Edward Anthony Ashton was born March 1, 1946 in Blackburn, Lancashire, England. He took piano lessons as a child and when he dropped out of school at the age of 15 he was already an accomplished pianist. He played jazz piano in a group he formed ‘The Tony Ashton Trio’. He then joined ‘The Remo Four’ as an organist/vocalist. The group was the house band for Hamburg’s Star Club. They toured the U.S. with the ‘Beatles’ recorded singles and released an album called ‘Smile’ in 1966.

In 1970 along with drummer Roy Dyke and bass player Kim Gardner he formed a group called ‘Ashton, Gardner and Dyke’. They recorded three albums and gained recognition in the U.K. in 1971 with their single ‘Resurrection Shuffle’ which reached #3 on the U.K. charts. A fusion of R&B and jazz they were far ahead of their time. Even with their success they failed have anymore hit singles and the group broke up in 1973.

Ashton would go on to play with ‘The Executives’, ‘The College Boys’, “Mastersounds’ and as a session musician backed such artists as Jerry Lee Lewis, George Harrison, Eric Clapton and Paul McCartney. Ashton met Jon Lord in 1973 when they collaborated on the soundtrack for the Euro-western “The Last Rebel”. Ashton and Lord would go on to record an album together. Later after the break up of ‘Deep Purple’ Ashton, Lord and Ian Paice formed the group ‘P.A.L.’ Also joining the group was Bernie Marsden and Paul Martinez. They scheduled a tour of the U.K. after they recorded ‘Malice in Wonderland’ but it was canceled halfway through because of financial problems. The group disbanded and Tony then co-hosted with Rick Wakeman the TV show “Gas Tank”. In 1986 he married Sandra Naidoo and adopted her daughter. During the 1990s he turned to painting while still playing in a few gigs. By 1999 he was seriously ill with cancer and a benefit concert was given in his honor. Tony died from the disease on May 28, 2001. He was only 55. Today we remember Tony Ashton on what would have been his 65th birthday.

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