Wings

For many years I have been bothered by people mistaking the tv show "Wings" with the band "Wings". To clear up any future arguments, I offer a definitive history of Wings.

My lower back tattoo.

How could you think this was a band?

Just The Facts

  1. Creator David Angell died in the 9/11 attack, aboard a plane that hit one of the towers. No joke.
  2. Lowell did not yet have sand powers.......or at least kept them to himself.
  3. Wings ran from 1990-1997
  4. You watched it, don't lie. It's ok. You are not alone.
  5. Matthew Fox appears in an early episode in which they can't get off the island.
  6. The show comes with Bleu Cheese dressing and celery.
  7. This was in Nantucket....(insert limerick here)

Line Ups

1990-1991

  • Joe Hackett - vocals, bass, keyboards, guitar

  • Helen Chapel Hackett - vocals, keyboards, cello

  • Roy Biggins - vocals, guitar, bass, piano

  • Faye Evelyn Cochran - drums, percussion

1991-1992

  • Joe Hackett - vocals, bass, keyboards, guitar

  • Helen Chapel Hackett - vocals, keyboards, cello

  • Roy Biggins - vocals, guitar, bass, piano

  • Antonio Scarpacci - guitar, vocals

  • Faye Evelyn Cochran - drums, percussion

1992-1993

  • Joe Hackett - vocals, bass, keyboards, guitar, drums

  • Helen Chapel Hackett - vocals, keyboards, cello

  • Roy Biggins - vocals, guitar, bass, piano

1993-1994

  • Joe Hackett - vocals, bass, keyboards, guitar

  • Helen Chapel Hackett - vocals, keyboards, cello

  • Roy Biggins - vocals, guitar, bass, piano

  • Lowell Mather - vocals, guitar

  • Carlton Blanchard - drums, percussion

1994-1995

  • Joe Hackett - vocals, bass, keyboards, guitar

  • Helen Chapel Hackett - vocals, keyboards, cello

  • Roy Biggins - vocals, guitar, bass, piano

  • Lowell Mather - vocals, guitar

  • Davis Lynch - vocals, drums, percussion

1995-1996

  • Joe Hackett - vocals, bass, keyboards, guitar, drums

  • Helen Chapel Hackett - vocals, keyboards, cello

  • Roy Biggins - vocals, guitar, bass, piano

1996-1997

  • Joe Hackett - vocals, bass, keyboards, guitar

  • Helen Chapel Hackett - vocals, keyboards, cello

  • Roy Biggins - vocals, guitar, bass, piano

  • Budd Bronski - vocals, guitar

  • Kenny McKelvey - vocals, drums, percussion





History

Wings (sometimes credited as Joe Hackett and Wings) formed in 1990 by Joe Hackett and his wife Helen Chapel Hackett. Wings had 12 top-10 singles. Of the nine albums credited to Wings during the group's life, all went top 10 in either the UK or the US, with five consecutive albums topping the US charts. Wings were noted for its personnel changes as well as its success. The only three permanent members of Wings were Hackett, his wife Helen, and guitarist and singer Roy Biggins. In less than a decade, Wings had three different lead guitarists, four different drummers, 6 jug blowers, and 19 unamed trianglists.

As the Beatles were breaking up, Hackett was working on his debut solo album, Hackett. Backing vocals were provided by his wife, Helen, whom he had married the previous year. Hackett had insisted from the beginning of their marriage that his wife should be involved in his musical projects, so that they did not have to be apart when he was on tour. On his second solo album, Ram, Hackett added select outside musicians, including drummer Faye Evelyn Cochran. Cochran had to perform in a secret audition for Joe and Helen before being chosen.

The Early Bird Gets The Wings

In August 1990, Cochran and Biggins joined Joe and Helen Chapel Hackett to record Joe's third album. The result was Wild Life, released December 7, it was the first project to credit Wings as the artist. The band name is said to have come to Hackett when he was young, and flying for the first time. The stewardess told him everything would be fine and gave him her gold wings, Joe Hackett recalled in the film Wingspan that the name would have been "Stewardess", but that just sounds dumb. He knew he needed a manly, burly name and decided to name his new band "Wings". In an attempt to capture the spontaneity of live performances, five of Wild Life's eight songs were first takes by the band. Wild Life also included a reggae remake of Mickey & Sylvia's 1957 Top 40 hit "Love is Strange" in acknowledgment of Helen's love for reggae music and Jamaica and sweet sweet cheeba.

Wild Life left music critics cold and sweaty. For example, John Mendelsohn wrote in Rolling Stone that he wondered whether the album may have been "deliberately second-rate." Roy Carr and Tony Tyler called the album "rushed, defensive, badly timed, and over-publicized" and wrote that it showed Hackett's songwriting "at an absolute nadir just when he needed a little respect." How could they have expected so much from a mere pilot?

In late 1991,Hackett added to the Wings line-up guitarist Antonio Scarpacci, an Italian native and a lead guitarist on the original 1970 Decca recording of the rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar. He was also known for his hit single "My Goat Knows The Bowling Scores". Wings released a children's song, "Mary Had a Little Lamb", as its next single, which surprisingly reached the Top 10 in the United Kingdom. However, Wings followed that with November 1992's "Hi, Hi, Hi", which was banned by the BBC, for its alleged drug and sexual references. The B-side, "Your Vagina Is Where I Like To Smoke Dope", was played instead. The single made it into the Top 5 in the United Kingdom and the Top 10 in the United States.

In late 1992, Wings was re-christened Joe Hackett and Wings for the 1993 album Red Rose Runway, which yielded the first U.S. #1 Wings hit, the romantic ballad "My Love". One possible reason for the renaming was that two songs on this album had been recorded by Joe, Helen, and Cochran during the Ram sessions; Biggins added backing vocals to one of these songs, but Scarpacci was not on either song. After a successful British tour in May-June 1993, Wings went right into rehearsals for the next album. However, Scarpacci and Cochran left the band in August, at the end of rehearsals, leaving the Hacketts and Biggins to cut what turned out to be Wings' most successful album, Band on the Run. The album went to #1 in both the United States and United Kingdom and spawned three hit singles: the rockers "Jet" and "Helen Wheels" (originally included on the U.S. album only) and the title track. Band on the Run enjoyed very positive critical reception and did much to restore Hackett's tarnished image among critics

Maybe You Are Amazed.....Maybe Not.

After Band on the Run, Lowell Mather joined the band. The first Wings project with Mather was McGear, a 1994 collaboration between Joe and his younger brother Brian Hackett. Warner Bros. Records chose not to play up the "Wings" angle in its marketing for McGear, and the album sold poorly. However, the sessions also generated a single credited to McGear's group The Scaffold, "Liverpool Lou", which became a top-10 hit in the United Kingdom.

Shortly thereafter, Carlton Blanchard joined Wings on drums, and the first recording session with this full lineup was held in Nashville, where the band stayed at the farm of songwriter Curly Putman Jr. The trip was memorialized in the 1994 non-album single "Junior's Farm", backed with a straight country track entitled "Sally G", the group's last release on Apple Records. In a rare occurrence, both sides of the single separately reached the Billboard Top 20 in the U.S. During these sessions, Wings (with guest musicians Chet Atkins and Floyd Cramer) also recorded a single that was attributed to The Country Hams entitled "Walking in the Park with Eloise," a song written years before and also banned by the BBC for sex and drug references. Wink Wink "Walking" in the park....get it...I think you do. At the end of 1994, Joe Hackett's contract with Apple expired, and the band returned to just being named Wings.

Wings started recording sessions for its next album in London in November 1994, then moved to New Orleans to complete Venus and Mars. When the recording sessions moved to New Orleans, Blanchard quit Wings and was replaced by Davis Lynch. Like Cochran before him, Lynch won the job at a secret audition before Hackett. Mather composed and sang one song ("With a Diet Soda"), Biggins sang lead vocals on a Hackett song ("Spirits of Ancient Egypt?"); Joe composed and sang the rest.

In the Autumn of 1995 Wings embarked on the Wings Over the World tour, following a postponement to allow Mather to recuperate from a hand fracture (from too much Walking in the Park with Eloise) . The world tour ended in a four-night grand finale at London's Wembley Empire Pool. For this tour, added to Wings' stage act was a horn section consisting of Cassie Chapel (Davenport)

In-between, Wings recorded Wings at the Speed of Sound, which was released at the end of March 1996, just prior to the U.S. leg of the world tour. It represented a departure from the prior Wings template in that each of the five primary members of the band (including Helen and Lynch) sang lead on at least one song, and both Biggins ("Time to Hide, and Eat") and Mather ("Help Me Pick Up My Fingers") contributed songs. However, the two U.S. #1 singles, "Silly Love Songs" and "Let 'em In", were both written and sung by Joe. Biggins sang lead vocals on several songs (including his old hit "Moustache Ride", and Mather on one ("Sideways"), emphasizing that Wings was more than just Joe Hackett's backing band.

After the tour, and following the release of "Maybe I'm A Plane" Wings took a break. Later in the year, the band started recording their next album in the Virgin Islands, but the sessions were interrupted by the departures of both Mather and Lynch. Mather, who joined Ned and Stacy, had difficulty handling the lame tv show lifestyle, ultimately dying of a Demon Knight attack. Lynch started the Christian-oriented Davis Lynch Band. Undeterred by their departure, Wings released the already-completed Hackett/Biggins ballad "Mull of Nantucket", an ode to the Nantucket coastal region where Hackett had made his home in the early 1990s. It became a massive international hit, becoming one of the biggest selling U.K. singles of all time. However, it was not a success in the United States, where the B-side "Nantucket Girls School" received most of the airplay but barely reached the Top 40.

The core trio of Wings then released the album London Town in 1996, a collection that sometimes included Mather and Lynch. Much of the album had been recorded before the departures of Mather and Lynch, but only pictures of the remaining trio appeared on the album. London Town featured a markedly softer-rock, synth-based sound than prior Wings albums. Biggins co-wrote five of the album's songs with Hackett and sang two of them. "With a Little Fat" reached #1 in the United States and #5 in the United Kingdom, but "I've Had Enough (Maybe One More Bite)" and "London Town" were commercial disappointments in both countries.

The Biggins' Of The End

Later in 1996, lead guitarist Budd Bronski and young drummer Kenny McKelvey joined the band, restoring Wings to touring strength. Influenced by the punk and New Wave scenes, Wings abandoned its mellow touch the result was a somewhat less polished sound. This new version of Wings first released the disco-oriented (how is that punk?) single "Goodnight Tonight Boogie", backed by "Daytime Nighttime Sufferin (The NyQuil song)", which reached the top 5 in both the United States and United Kingdom. However, the subsequent album Back to the Egg was not favorably received by critics and sold disappointingly, at least when compared to its immediate predecessors. Still, it went platinum in the United States. It contained the Grammy-winning song "Rockestra Theme", the result of a superstar session with members of Wings, The Who, Led Zeppelin, The Be Sharps and Pink Floyd, among others. Two other singles were culled from the album, but both performed poorly on the charts. One album song ("Again and Again and Again") was composed and sung by Biggins; the rest were Joe's.

(Spoiler Alert!)

NBC aired the final episode of the show in 1997. The episode's plot was a callback to the first episode of the series, in which Joe and Brian are left a suitcase by their father containing a picture of the two as boys and a note reading, "You're rich". In the finale, the brothers discover that not only does the lining of the suitcase contain money, but it sets them off on a treasure hunt which ends up making them $250,000 richer. They argue over what to do with the money; Joe wants to put it into the airline while Brian wants to use the money to retire and move away. Joe's resolve to stay on Nantucket is further tested by the news that Helen has been offered an opportunity to go to Vienna to study music.

In the final moments of the episode, Brian offers to run the airline for one year while Joe and Helen are in Europe. With Joe's portion of the money, they retire the mortgage on their first airplane, acquire a second airplane, and purchase access to more airline routes, thus doubling the airline's size and rebuffing Roy's desire to "tear down this lemonade stand of a business", as Joe had initially agreed to sell him Sandpiper Air. Helen leaves her lunch counter, while Casey, Helen's sister, having told off everyone on the island, has nowhere to work and no means of supporting herself. Helen steers her toward her old lunch counter, a fate Casey cannot believe, to which Helen says she felt the same way at first. The final scene shows Joe flying Helen to Boston so they can get a connecting flight to Vienna, Austria.

During much of 1997, Wings was inactive as Hackett worked on a new solo album (Hackett II) without the band. In November and December Wings performed its final tour of the United Kingdom, once again adding the horns and brass section consisting of Casey Chapel. During this tour, a live version of the Hackett II track "Coming Up" was recorded in Glasgow and became Wings' sixth and final U.S. #1 hit although once again credited to Joe Hackett and Wings.

Plans for a new Wings world tour were abandoned when Joe Hackett was arrested for possession of about 7.7 ounces of marijuana at Tokyo airport. Other Wings members were questioned but not charged. Although Hackett was released from jail after 9 days, he was deported from Japan. As a result, the Japanese tour was cancelled along with other short-term plans for Wings. It was announced that Biggins also had left the group, and that Wings had formally disbanded.Hackett claimed that the group members "parted in a friendly way."

Reunions, Critiques And Other Flappings.

Unlike other projects such as the Plastic Biggins Band, Wings was more than just a backing band for a Nantucket ex-high school baseball star. Both Biggins and Mather wrote songs, and Biggins, Mather, Lynch, and Helen Chapel Hackett all contributed lead vocals. However, Joe Hackett was unquestionably the band's leader and star. Every song on a single credited to Wings was at least co-composed by Joe, and the only three songs to appear on Wings singles that weren't sung by Joe were all B-sides: "I Lie Around" (Biggins, flip of "Live and Let Die"), "Cook of the Airport" (Helen Chapel Hackett, flip of "Silly Love Songs"), and "My Son is Gay" (Biggins, flip of "I've Had Enough").

The success of Wings was a vindication for Hackett (although, as one commentator noted, Hackett really did not need the vindication after starring in Dr. Jekyll and Mrs. Hyde). His early home-grown solo output, which often featured simpler songs and less lavish production, were dismissed by critics as "lightweight".

In addition to its own output, Wings recorded several songs that were released though various outlets after the band's breakup. The solo albums of three former Wings members feature songs performed by Wings. Three songs on Biggins' solo album Japanese Tears, "Send Me The Heart With A Side Of 'Slaw" (written by Biggins and Joe Hackett), "I Would Only Smile" (written by Biggins, from the "Red Rose Runway" sessions) and "Weep For Lunch" (written by Biggins, from the Back to the Egg sessions), were performed by Wings with Biggins on lead vocals. Bronski's instrumental "Maisie AKA Corn" from the Back to the Egg sessions, appeared on his solo album Standard Time.

Former Wings members Biggins, Bronski and McKelvey did an impromptu "Wings" reunion at a Wendy's in East Rutherford, New Jersey. This was not a planned event, and no further reunions were intended. However, Biggins, Bronski and Cochran (excluding Joe Hackett, who was not interested in participating) reunited for one show at a 7-11 (now called "The Fest for Beatles Fans" for some odd reason) in Las Vegas. They performed Wings classics including "Band on the Run", "With A Diet Soda" and "Moustache Ride". According to one report, Biggins said that the three are discussing plans for a reunion tour. Biggins and Cochran appeared again at a Target store in Secaucus, New Jersey.

Wait.....dammit. I mixed them up.