Saturday, 2 May 2015

Ash - 1970 - Sable


This Melbourne-based hard rock band, which operated between 1969-72, was strongly influenced by Hendrix, Led Zeppelin and Jethro Tull. There were three different lineups, the second (1971) included several members of noted Sydney band Lotus. The central member, and the only person common to all three lineups, was vocalist Criston Barker (also known as Criston Somerset) but the second lineup is also notable for the presence of drummer Derek Pellicci, who went on to play with Mississippi and LRB.

The Ash's debut single "Avignon" / "Sable", produced by John Farrar, is credited as one of the first locally-produced 45s to be released in a picture sleeve -- packaging which until then was usually only used for EPs.

The group also made a promotional film-clip for "Avignon". Criston has archived a copy on YouTube, and it can be viewed by clicking HERE

It was the inaugural release for the newly established Havoc label, which was set up by Melbourne jazz saxophonist Frank "The Lion" Smith and agent-manager Rod De Courcy. Although the label lasted only four years (folding ca. 1975 after Smith died suddenly in 1974) Havoc was notable for concentrating on new releases by Melbourne-based rock bands of the period, and their LPs, which were pressed in New Zealand, were renowned for their superior quality compared to the local product.
There was a major lineup change after the single came out, and by the time they recorded their next single the group consisted of Criston (vocals), Ron Hood (guitar), Gary "Boofhead" Porterhouse (bass) and Derek Pellicci (drums); Peter Gregory (ex The Expression) filled in on guitar for a short time.

The second Ash single "Midnight Witch" -- written by Doug Ford of The Masters Apprentices -- was produced by Havoc house engineer Gil Matthews (The Aztecs). I

However Criston says the band was disappointed both with the production and a perceived lack of commitment from the label, so he and Derek moved to Sydney, hoping to make a new start. There they hooked up with Kim Dawson (guitar) and Warwick Wilkes (organ) both formerly of Lotus, plus noted bassist Tim Partridge, to become the the third and final lineup of The Ash. They performed regularly at Whisky A Go-Go, Chequers and numerous other Sydney venues until the group ended in 1972.

Criston Barker (aka Christon Somerset) (vocals)
George Edwards (guitar)
Dennis Johns (drums)
Ian Ryan (bass)

Criston Barker (vocals)
Peter Gregory (guitar)
Ron Hood (guitar)
Gary Mason (bass)
Derek Pellicci (aka Derek Allen) (drums)
Gary Porterhouse (bass)

Criston Barker (vocals)
Kim Dawson (guitar)
Warwick Wilkes (Warwick Ford) (organ)
Tim Partridge (bass)
Gary "Boofhead" Porterhouse (bass)
Derek Pellicci (drums)


  1. You might find this Picture Sleeve for "Avignon" interesting

  2. Very Interesting AR a bit daring for the time especially here in OZ.