JW: I was a Beatles boy, but influences were Beethoven, Bach, Beach Boys, and European church music in general: Pergolesi, Vivaldi, Tallis, Handel all feature prominently. I switched from piano to bass guitar originally because it was a cool thing to do while singing. I was always interested in the song; that was the most important thing, and pretty much what I bring to the party.
RTH: The Family records I own strike me as working in a heavy folk-rock vein, similar to Jethro Tull, Fairport Convention, and Traffic, rather than what we’ve come to describe as “progressive rock.” Today, rock critics and other obsessives categorize various forms of English progressive music from the early ’70s in various ways, but at the time did you feel you were consciously venturing into new territory, or was what you were doing was a natural extension of psychedelia, blues-rock, and the like?
JW: There was an explosion of musical activity, a volcano which happened in Britain, and particularly in London, in the late ’60s/early’70s, where US blues was forged with European classical, and that was really what we know now as progressive music. “Whiter Shade of Pale” ushered in the Bach flavouring; King Crimson, borrowing heavily from Beatles hooks and classical landscapes, recorded the Daddy of progressive albums, In the Court of the Crimson King.
RTH: There’s an amazing clip on YouTube of you and your fellow guitarist in Family each playing double-neck guitars for “Between Blue and Me,” with you on a bass/6-string and him on a 12-string/6-string. Did you often employ those guitars on the same song?
JW: Yes, this was an axe that went with the gig. I also learnt violin for some of Family’s repertoire. Charlie Whitney‘s was the iconic Gibson SG double-neck, mine was a slightly more ungainly Gibson, and agony to play for long periods.