Tony Ashton was for much of his life a well – kept secret, respected by many of our finest musicians, but apart from his moment in the sun with his 1971 hit single, Ashton, Gardner & Dyke’s “Resurrection Shuffle” (without doubt one of the finest of all hit singles), he remained fairly unknown to the public at large.
Tony’s roots were jazz, soul and the blues. In his teens he founded his jazz trio before joining The Remo Four who became the resident bond at The Star Club in Hamburg, then it was off on a U.S tour accompanying The Beatles. In the late 1960s he played on the George Harrison “Wonderwall” album before forming Ashton, Gardner & Dyke and having “Resurrection Shuffle” make Number 3 on the UK chart and go top 40 in the U.S .
Tony met Deep Purple, established a long-term close friendship with Jon Lord, played on his albums and formed a band with Jon, Ian Paice from Deep Purple and future Whitesnake guitarist Bernie Marsden. Come the 1980s and Tony was co-hosting a TV Show called “Gastank” with Rick Wakeman.
I met him through our mutual friend, Peter York and always enjoyed time spent with him and was far more than delighted when he agreed to play on our Chick Willis album, “Things I Used To Do”, recorded in 1997 but first released just this year.
Typical of Tony Ashton’s innate ability to not take himself seriously was a card he and his lonely wife Sandra used to send messages. It featured a caricature by Tony and of Tony, funny, yes, but not at all resembling that fine but neglected musician.
Tony Ashton died from cancer in May 2001 at his London home, aged just 55.