Ex-CRGS pupil Joe returns as Wishbone Ash drummer

Joe Crabtree, drummer with Wishbone Ash, who is from Read and a former CRGS pupil

Joe Crabtree, drummer with Wishbone Ash, who is from Read and a former CRGS pupil

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Joe Crabtree has circumnavigated the globe more times than Michael Palin’s passport – but the Wishbone Ash drummer will land back on home turf next week.

Crabtree, from Read, replaced the band’s long time sticks man Ray Weston in 2007, and since then the Clitheroe Grammar School old boy has toured the world with one of the most unlikely heroes of British rock.

Wishbone Ash,

Wishbone Ash,

“I’m 35, and Wishbone Ash had been playing 10 years before I was born, and I find that amazing,” he said.

“The funny thing was my Uncle Peter, who lives in Burnley, was always a huge fan of the band – they were his favourites – so when I got the job he thought it was pretty cool. It was one of the reasons I joined Wishbone Ash. He comes to a lot of our gigs. The whole thing is a bit of a dream really.”

Joe recalls asking his parents for a drum kit at Christmas when he was just 10, adding: “I never thought I’d get one, but a couple of days before Christmas I found it in the spare room, so I had to fake surprise on the big day. I got drumming lessons from a Lancashire musician, Harry Hindle, and when I was 28 I joined Wishbone Ash.”

The powerhouse drummer has also played for Pendragon and the David Cross Band, but admits he is acutely aware of Wishbone Ash’s enduring legacy. Wishbone developed their sound in the ’60s and ’70s and and as pioneers of the twin-guitar rock that influenced groups from Thin Lizzy and Iron Maiden to Metallica. They stop off at The Grand, Clitheroe, next Wednesday (November 19th) on their “Live Dates Live” world tour.

“Wishbone Ash are a world renowned rock band and there is still a great thirst for their music,” added Crabtree. “I’ve played on three new albums since I joined them, and while it is fun to play the old stuff, the fresh material has also been very well received by fans from every generation.”

Wishbone Ash are, of course, no strangers to the Ribble Valley venue – they recorded a live album there in 2010 and as well as performing the Live Dates album they will be showcasing songs from their new studio offering, Blue Horizon.

“It is incredible to be playing at The Grand because when I went to Clitheroe Grammar School I’d often go to the pictures there,” Joe said.

“It was a fun place to visit, but now it is this incredible venue with bands from all over the world playing there. Although I still live locally, I’m away six months of the year touring with Wishbone Ash – so I’m really looking forward to my home gig.”

Wishbone Ash, The Grand, Wednesday November 19th. (£17.50 advance). Box Office: 01200 421599 or online www.thegrandvenue.co.uk.