Myles Goodwyn’s rock band April Wine has sold millions of records worldwide. He’s won six SOCAN Classics Awards, and earned the SOCAN National Achievement Award in 2002, as well as the East Coast Music Awards’ Dr. Helen Creighton Lifetime Achievement Award in 2003. April Wine were inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame at the JUNO Awards in 2010. In 2009, at Canadian Music Week, the band earned the Lifetime Achievement Award and were inducted into the Canadian Music Industry Hall of Fame in 2009. Here, in an excerpt from his 2016 memoir, Just Between You and Me, Goodwyn describes the band’s decision, taken at its origin, not to perform any cover songs.

With April Wine, the idea that we would play only original material and not other bands’ tunes right from the get-go is true, kind of… at least, I think so. Jim [Henman, bass] remembers that we wanted to do only originals. He said he didn’t think I would want to join the new band otherwise. I believe Ritchie [Henman., drums] feels the same way in that we decided to do only original tunes and no cover tunes. But David [Henman, guitar] remembers things a bit differently.

David recalls that we had our first rehearsal in his mom and dad’s basement in Lower Sackville [Nova Scotia] and that our plan was to be original, but to play it safe and still do cover songs. The decision to go entirely original happened – or at least was put forth – when they heard me play a riff of a song I was working on. He says they were floored by how heavy it rocked, and that was the inspiration for the declaration by all of us that we would, henceforth, be a 100 percent original group.

Myles Goodwyn Book Cover“We sat down and Myles started playing a riff he was writing, and right away, the four of us looked at each other and said, ‘Okay, that’s it… no cover songs! This is what we want to do.’ We were so excited by this riff; it opened up all the doors.”

This is the way I remember it – David’s version. As a new band, April Wine needed to build a repertoire from nothing, so doing a mixture of original and non-original songs made sense. That was the initial plan, but that changed after I played an idea I had for a new song at that early band rehearsal.

The bottom line is that April Wine decided to perform only original material, and therefore, in the beginning, we didn’t have 90 minutes of original music for a concert, or even enough for several sets working in clubs. We needed lots of songs in order to make a living as a live band. We didn’t have lots of songs in the beginning, but we did have some.

Ritchie Henman says the band was pretty clearly defined from the start. “David and I were the avant-garde side of things, Jimmy was going to contribute the folky aspect, and Myles was going to keep us grounded in rock ’n’ roll.”

I thought of April Wine as a rock band. I wanted to play music that was rock, and it didn’t matter to me at the time whether it was a fast tune or slow tune, heavy or otherwise, as long as it was in the rock vein. But I think I was the only one who felt the direction should be that simple.

I thought this new band was worth a try, as I wanted no part of a cover band. In my entire career, to date, I only spent approximately one year playing in a cover group professionally, which I consider an accomplishment of no small claim. I wasn’t great at learning other people’s material, I don’t think. I didn’t mind giving a song I liked a new arrangement, but re-creating a musical piece, note for note, was not my cup of java.

April Wine played original material all right, and the new material was the result of the diverse influences and writing styles of David, Jim, and me. Ritchie would later recall in an interview with Music Express magazine that “the sound of the band then was very heavy, very complex, a hybrid of a dozen different styles filtering through three very different songwriters. Definitely a band with no direction.”

I disagree that early April Wine was really heavy, although I concur with Ritchie that we were without a unified direction. We never really did find common ground during our short time together.