February 4, 2017 – Steve Lang, (April Wine) was born Stephen Keith Lang in Montreal, Quebec on March 24, 1949. The band that gave him fame as a musician, was formed in late 1969 in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The original members, the three brothers Henman with friend vocalist/guitarist Myles Goodwyn soon moved the band to Montreal to gain more exposure. They scored their first hit with “Fast Train” followed by a self-titled debut album.
The next year brought the band’s first Canadian number one single, “You Could Have Been a Lady,” which had been a hit in Europe for the band “Hot Chocolate”.
Brothers David and Ritchie Henman left the band they had founded before the next album, Electric Jewels, could be recorded; they were replaced by Jerry Mercer and Gary Moffet. After April Wine Live (1974) and Stand Back (1975), Steve Lang came in to replace Jim Clench, who left to join Bachman-Turner Overdrive and later Loverboy and in turn had replaced the third Henman brother a couple of years earlier.
In 1976, The Whole World’s Goin’ Crazy became the first Canadian album to go platinum and their resulting tour was the first to gross one million dollars. Life for 26 year old Steve Lang was about to resemble a roller coaster. Another album ‘Forever for Now” appeared in 1976, followed by ‘April Wine Live‘ at the El Mocambo in 1977. This was the year that the band received an enormous push in promoted visibility. As it happened, the Rolling Stones were testing some old and new material in small club gigs and had selected the El Mocambo Tavern in Toronto as a solid venue for a charity concert. For the occasion they had called themselves The Cockroaches for the two gigs on March 4 and 5, 1977, and they were to be opening for April Wine. The event became known as the April Wine Charity Concert. The entire affair even blew up to gigantic proportions as press and photographers were trying to get a glimpse of a rumored affair between Canada’s first lade Margaret Trudeau and her alleged paramour Rolling Stone frontman Mick Jagger. Obviously this type of exposure put April Wine in the focus of music lovers all over North America. The result; their first U.S. hugely successful tour, opening with the Stones, followed by subsequent U.S. tours with groups like Rush, Styx and Journey. To round out the live stage sound guitarist Brian Greenway was added to the line up, making the band a sextet/guitar army in the style of Lynyrd Skynyrd and the Outlaws, so popular in the era..
Lang played on seven April Wine albums: 1976’s The Whole World’s Goin’ Crazy, 1977’s Forever For Now, 1978’s First Glance, 1979’s Harder… Faster, 1981’s The Nature Of The Beast, 1982’s Power Play and 1984’s Animal Grace. April Wine’s success catapulted into global audiences, when the song “First Glance” broke the Top 30 in the U.S. and remained on Billboard’s Hot 100 Singles chart for 11 weeks in 1979, a turn of events that would lead to them becoming international stars, in turn leading up to playing the inaugural historic Monsters Of Rock festival at Castle Donington in 1980, which also featured Touch, Riot, Saxon, Scorpions, Judas Priest and Rainbow.
Their next summit was reached when “Just Between You and Me” became April Wine’s biggest U.S. hit. The song (one of three Top 40 American singles by the band) propelled the 1981 ‘Nature of the Beast’ album to platinum record status. Power Play followed in 1982, and 1984’s Animal Grace was their last album as a band. Slacking sales and too much touring and recording pressure for too long created tensions and the band broke up in late 1984.
Steve Lang went back to his investment and financial services background and quickly build a new existence and career, while still playing with local outfits on a amateur basis.
Myles Goodwyn recorded his first self-titled solo album in 1988.
In 1992 all the original April Wine members regrouped for a Canadian tour, the results of which convinced them to resume recording. Steve Lang was offered a position back in the band by lead vocalist Myles Goodwyn, but ultimately, Lang, decided to stick with his investment business and Jim Clench was drafted back into the new lineup. The reformed group proceeded to record their “If You Believe in Me,” the band’s first single in eight years, which was followed by 1993’s Attitude. Jim Clench died in 2010.
April Wine has been nominated for 11 Juno awards but to date has never won one. In 2010, they were inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame.
April Wine’s longtime vocalist and guitarist Myles Goodwyn reported that Lang had been suffering from Parkinson’s disease for quite a few years.
Goodwyn said in a statement: “My dear friend Steve Lang passed away this weekend. Steve played bass with April Wine for years and his musicianship was exceptional. Steve was a very intelligent guy who used his smarts to do well in the music industry as a player and writer, and later, in the world of finance.
“He was a nice man – a real gentleman. The last conversation I had with Steve was wonderful, I’m so happy that we had the chance to have had it.”
Steve Lang died on February 4, 2017. He was 67.