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Biography

"Doug Fowlkes formed Wess & The Airedales in 1961 as the Airedales. In the mid-60s the band ended up in Italy due to a military tour of duty where they added singer and bassist Wess Johnson who took over the band.

For generations the music and influence of black America has penetrated the ears of music lovers all over the world. During the ‘60s and ‘70s, as radio & TV communications and record distribution improved, more people than ever before were able to groove to the jazz of Blue Note, the soul of Motown, and the funk of James Brown…

It wasn’t just the head-nodders and dancers that would get down to these exciting new American exports. Singers and musicians on all six continents, having only been exposed to traditional or classical music, would listen with a keen ear to draw much-needed inspiration. The many styles of funk, soul, jazz and rock pouring out from the US during the incredibly fertile ‘60s period meant that there was a LOT of music to be inspired by, but as you can imagine the biggest and the best were the ones who made their point most known – in the case of Italian Soul band Wess & the Airedales, the tremendous power of James Brown’s trademarked production, arrangement and instrumentation was a major influence.

The many incarnations of Wess & the Airedales started in the US, in the year of 1961 when founder Doug Fowlkes fronted his Airedales band, recording a solitary 45 on the Viva label. More recordings followed with singer Rocky Roberts at the helm, and things continued despite his relocation to Italy due to military service. The band inevitably took on some Italian members, and in 1967 Italian vocalist and bassist Wess Johnson took over the role of Roberts. The American influence is obvious with the band performing and recording many more LPs, Eps and 45s of American-style Soul music - sung in Italian!

Any self-respecting US funk band at the time of recording – 1970 – would have been envious of the tight rhythms, sharp horns and super-clean production. Even Mr Brown himself! They are a band that is truly together. The music they’ve created clearly displays the level of talent & ingenuity that’s managed to bridge the gap between Italian and American interpretation of a cutting edge sound, regardless of geographical location.

A perfect example of foreign talent that has managed to capture the very essence of deep, hard & raw American funk."

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