Supercharge were put together in early 1974 by Liverpool tenor-saxophonist Albie Donnelly and drummer Dave Irving after they had both left cabaret band ‘The In Crowd’.
They were a very popular band with a good following in Liverpool performing regularly at ‘The Sportsman’ in the city centre and also in the Speke area at ‘The Dove & Olive’ a large public house close to the airport.
They later established themselves on the college and university circuit in the UK from which their first album, ‘Between Music and Madness’ soon followed and was produced in Liverpool.
Originally the band members consisted of Albie Donnelly (vocalist, tenor sax), Austin J Yue, (Ozzie) guitar, vocals), Allen Gaskell, (Gaz) tenor sax, guitar, harmonica, vocals), Alan Peters (trumpet), Bob Robertson (baritone sax), Pete Newton (bass guitar), Tony Dunmore (bass) and Dave Irving (drums).
The band quickly gained a reputation as one of the UK’s best live bands playing on the London live circuit regularly performing at popular venues such as The Marquee Club, The Hope & Anchor and The Nashville Rooms to enthusiastic crowds.
It was no surprise then that they were soon spotted and signed up to Virgin Records with Virgins newest record producer Robert ‘Mutt’ Lange.
He was to produce a number three hit for them in Australia in 1977 with a track taken from their first album entitled ‘You’ve Gotta Get Up and Dance’ which featured Ian Bradshaw on keyboards.
Later however, it became ironic that most of the original band did not get to participate in the following number of successful Oz tours after the band’s first album ‘Local Lads Make Good’ went gold in Australia.
Disappointing Record Sales
Back at home in the UK sales of their records were disappointing although they were still extremely popular on the live circuit including opening for rock band ‘Queen’ at the Hyde Park Festival in the mid 1970’s.
Richard Branson, head of Virgin Records was prepared to offer only Donnelly and new addition Karski a continuous deal forcing Donnelly to create a new lineup. Needless to say the original band were not very happy about this situation but Donnelly had no choice but to take a scratch band to complete the Aussie Hit tour.
He also understood some time later that Virgin did not really know what to do with the group and they eventually parted company during the Punk era.
At the end of the 1970s to early 1980s, the band toured Europe and included a number of different musicians all taken from the Merseyside talent pool. The band also produced two new albums during this period ‘Now Jump’ and ‘Kingsize’ (Criminal Records/Intercord).
Later in 1983, Donnelly and his then manager ‘Memo’ Rhein struck a deal with Liverpool band ‘Juke’ to work together under the new guise of ‘Supercharge 84’.
This version of the band was so popular that they stayed together for nearly eighteen months and performed at well over 200 European gigs together. Many of these gigs were performed for well known and very rich clients including Tina Onassis, Gunter Sachs and Adnan Khashoggi.
Groovers In Paris
They produced their 1984 album ‘Groovers In Paris’ at this time which remains the bands top selling rhythm & blues album.
From mid 1985 the Supercharge line-up changed again and they moved away from the ‘horn driven’ rhythm & blues format and instead concentrated on new material written by the then guitarist/vocalist Colin Frost and pianist Tony Judge, also featuring bassist Brendan O’Connor.
Later again in 1986/87 a different version of Supercharge became a major player on the European Jazz, rhythm & blues live scene with the addition of guitarist Dave Shepley, previously of ‘Juke’ and ‘Supercharge 84’ and also John ‘Fat Ted’ Lewis (guitarist/vocalist).
This powerful version of the band with a combination of various other musicians at varying times provided Donnelly with just the right mix to secure a number of major tours with legends such as B.B.King and Chuck Berry and allowed him to take the band back to bigger concert hall and stadium gigs.
In the late 1980s Greg Barrett a Nashville keyboard player/vocalist produced a more soulful side when he joined Donnelly along with Paul Owens (baritone sax), Dick Hansen(trumpet), Roy ‘The Boy’ Herrington(guitar), Wolfgang ’Bolle’ Diekman(bass) and Tony Lunney(drums).
Donnelly also began experimenting with a smaller outfit, ‘Albie Donnelly’s Big Three’ which became quite popular and included Gregory Gaynair on keyboards and Wolfgang Diekmann on bass guitar.
Albie Donnelly continues to front the band which now has a number of top German rhythm and blues musicians in its line-up and Donnelly also remains to be an official endorser for saxophone companies such as Yamaha and Keilwerth.
In its history so far, the band have produced a number of 17 albums, one EP and released 4 singles between 1974 and 2005. It has also provided regular work over the years for a number of very talented musicians from Liverpool.
January 2011 and Supercharge are once again back on the scene in Liverpool playing live gigs.