Danny Willson joined Showaddywaddy in 1995 to replace Ray Martinez on lead guitar, and stayed with the band for 14 years.
As well as being a fantastic guitar player Danny is also a talented vocalist and performed lead vocals on a number of live Showaddywaddy tracks, the most notable being "I Hear You Knocking".
Showaddywaddy recorded four albums during Danny's stint with the band, and he can be heard singing "Aint That A Shame", "Tulane", "I Hear You Knocking", "Claudette" & "Apron Strings".
Danny also provided the vocals for "Woo Hoo", a bonus track on Showaddywaddy's last chart entry, a number 54 hit in the album charts at Christmas 2004.
Left: Danny on stage at Holsterbro, Denmark, 8th August 2009, his last Showaddywaddy gig.
I interviewed Danny in July 2000 and this is what he had to say:
"I started playing the guitar at about 8 years old along with my younger brother Rick and have been gigging non - stop since age 10! That's over 30 years, no wonder my ears are on the way out!
Eventually I turned professional 2 years after leaving school, aged 19. The band at that time was called Kipper and we gigged all over the UK and had a sizable following. In those days you could quite easily play every night of the week if you were good enough.
After getting a record deal the name was changed to Brooklyn and we recorded an album and a couple of singles in 1980, which unfortunately sank without trace! Oh well, we tried, and at least we made a decent living and had plenty of fun. We had our own 52 seater coach with all mod cons which we used to live in for weeks on end! The original new - age travellers!
After Brooklyn split I was gigging with various bands for a while which didn't pay the mortgage, so I went into painting & decorating and at the same time formed a trio called The Chase with 2 of my old friends. We gigged 2 or 3 nights a week from 1985 to 1995 mainly in pubs, and had a large & crazy following everywhere we went!
Then in 1995 I got a call from Dave Bartram who asked where my band was playing. I sent him a list of gigs thinking that he might have some work for us through his agency. Wrong! They were looking for a new guitarist, and a local music store had recommended me, God bless 'em! So Dave, Al & Trev came to see The Chase. I must have played in tune 'cos they offered me the job!
At 38 I had the chance to turn pro again - you just never know what's round the corner do you! Anyway as you know, I accepted & the rest is history."
A more recent interview with Danny can be found on Martin Turner's Wishbone Ash's website, here.
In the spring of 2008, Danny was offered the chance to play with Martin Turner's Wishbone Ash, and performed with the band at a number of gigs when they didn't clash with Showaddywaddy's shows. He even had time to go into the studio in July 2008 to record for the band's "Argus: Through The Looking Glass" album.
However, the announcement came on 28th August 2009 that Danny had decided to join Martin Turner's Wishbone Ash on a permanent basis. He played his last Showaddywaddy gig, outdoors and in the lashing down rain at Holsterbro, Denmark on 8th August 2009. His last UK gig was at the Assembly Rooms, Tamworth, on 9th July 2009, in which Danny's replacement (unknown at the time), David Graham, joined Showaddywaddy on stage for one track, "Under The Moon Of Love".
Left: Showaddywaddy in Weisswasser, Germany, 22nd May 2009, L-R: Paul Dixon, Danny Willson, Rod Deas, Romeo Challenger, fan Torsten Pohl, Dave Bartram.
I caught up with Danny in September 2009:
"Yeah it was a very difficult decision, and I spent many a sleepless night contemplating whether to move on or not!
As you know I've been combining both bands for the last 18 months & would loved to have continued to do that, but the diary was at times getting very messy, with gig clashes becoming more frequent. Getting deps in for either band wasn't an ideal option really, so I eventually decided that, after 14 years, it was probably time for a change. And if I didn't do it now, then I would probably never do it as I'm not getting any younger y'know!
Maybe its fate & all that but the way things have worked out means the Waddies actually sound more like they did on the original hits now they've got a sax player! Funny how things turn out eh? The recent theatre shows were so successful that there's already loads booked in for next year. So things are looking pretty good for the band at the mo, which I'm so pleased about.
Its been a great 14 years though Paul, loads of fun & great gigs in places I would never have dreamed of visiting, and although its only a few weeks since my last SWW gig, I'm missing the lads already. We'll keep in touch though, that's for sure, and as soon as I get the chance I'll be checking their new show out!"
The band are sad that Danny has taken this decision, but he left to join a band who perform the kind of music he was influenced by as a young guitarist. Showaddywaddy and all fans wish Danny the very best for the future.
Danny's profile on MTWA's web-site can be found here.