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Ash

1995: In March, Infectious releases Kung Fu Wheeler’s paean to martial arts hero Jackie Chan and The Ramones. Eric Cantona’s infamous flying kick dons the cover art. He berates the band, faxing the label, “I spit on your record”.

After leaving school in June and embarking on a sold out riot around the UK, Girl From Mars crashes into the UK Top 20, and establishes Wheeler as a writer of truly great pop tunes. At home the parents watch in disbelief as their sons appear on BBC institution, Top Of The Pops.

The band sign to Warner Records in the US and NASA uses Girl From Mars as hold music on their phone systems! Kung Fu is also picked up by Jackie Chan himself and the song is used in the title credits to Rumble in the Bronx.

Their first raucous appearance at Reading Festival is so dangerously over-packed and out of control, security stops the show twice! The band commence their first world tour, and Angel Interceptor, the third in a wonderful series of singles, continues the band’s trajectory along with a swift but bone-shattering UK tour.

1996: After 3 months in Rockfield Studios with maverick Oasis producer Owen Morris the band emerge with their debut album, 1977, this being the year Wheeler and Hamilton were born and the year Star Wars was released. The album shoots straight to the top of the UK charts and their nihilistic teenage rampage becomes a press sensation as covers on Smash Hits, NME, Select and Kerrang hit the shelves.

The summer of ‘96 belongs to Ash. They scalp 2 UK Top 5 hits with, Goldfinger and Oh Yeah, and sell out 5 consecutive nights at the London Astoria. The festival season crescendos at Reading, with over 60,000 heat-scorched bodies singing along to, Oh Yeah, the anthem of the summer.

The on-going tour excess is documented on film. Narrated by Ewan (Obi-wan) McGregor the self funded, Teenage Wildlife is yet to be released due to concerns of family disownment! 1977 goes on to sell over a million copies worldwide.

1997: Glastonbury, June ‘97. It’s the year of the mud and Steve Winwood pulls out at the last minute. On site, and having already headlined The Other Stage on the Friday night, Michael Eavis offers them chance to make history… Ash close the Pyramid stage on Sunday evening to become the first act to headline the mega festival twice in one year.

With the addition of guitarist Charlotte Hatherley, poached from London outfit Nightnurse, the three become four… Her first gigs are in front of 40,000 people at the V97 Festival and under the huge arches of U2s Pop set at Botanic Gardens, Belfast and Lansdowne Road, Dublin.

Written for the film of the same name, single A Life Less Ordinary, produced by Arthur Baker, hits the UK Top 10; it marks the end of the 1977 chapter.

With a career spanning 20 years, and Top 18 40 hits, Irish rock group Ash have lost none of the energy that saw them debut on Top Of The Pops whilst awaiting their ‘A’ level results and since notch up 5 studio albums (and a mini-album) together. Heralded as ‘the ultimate singles band’ the 3-piece turned their back on the traditional route of recording an album every couple of years and set up their own studio and label, Atomic Heart Records. This newfound freedom enabled the band to record and release songs at will. Thus was born the A-Z Series – a collection of 26 songs released fortnightly for an entire year. In 2012 Ash celebrated their 20th birthday and to coincide with the #ASH20 celebrations the band released an EP of cover versions entitled ‘Little Infinity’. 2013 will see the band return to the studio.

 

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