Myles Goodwyn, who helped found the Canadian band April Wine and served as the band's lead singer, primary songwriter, and guitarist from 1969 until his retirement in March of this year, has died of complications from cancer at the age of 75.
Goodwyn's death was confirmed by his publicist, Eric Alper, who praised his client on X/Twitter, writing, "Myles Goodwyn’s voice is as distinctive and immediately recognizable as his song writing skills are prolific."
Born on Miles Francis Goodwin on June 23, 1948, in Woodstock, New Brunswick, Canada, Goodwyn co-founded April Wine in 1969 with bassist Jimmy Henman, guitarist David Henman, and keyboardist Ritchie Henman...and, yes, smart-aleck, they were related: David and Ritchie were brothers, and Jimmy was their cousin. The band earned a recording contract with Aquarius Records by famously receiving a rejection letter which they mistook as an invitation to come to the record company’s offices in Montreal.
“We got a very polite letter back from them, saying, ‘If you’re ever up this way, drop in and see us,’” Jimmy Henman told Amplify. “That was not meant to be a positive letter. Not the way we took it. But we decided we were taking off. They were shocked to see these four kids from Nova Scotia show up at their office. I think out of compassion they found us a place to live. They put us up in a ski shack in St. Sauveur. Their play was, ‘Let’s get them a couple of gigs, see how people respond to them live.’ They gave us a chance, they were really kind. Eventually, they saw some potential and gave us a recording contract.”
Straight out of the gate, April Wine scored the first of what would ultimately prove to be 21 Top 40 hits in Canada, and while “Fast Train” may have only gotten them to #38, their second single, “You Could Have Been a Lady,” not only took them all the way to #2 on the Canadian Singles chart, but it also provided them with their first US hit, climbing to #32 on the Billboard Hot 100.
It would be seven more years before April Wine made it back into the US top-40 with “Roller,” which hit #34, but two years after that, the band would have their biggest American hit with “Just Between You and Me.” Taken from their 1981 album The Nature of the Beast, the success of that single coupled with its follow-up, “Sign of the Gypsy Queen,” also served to provide the band with their most successful LP in the States. (The album climbed to #26 and ultimately went platinum.)
Back in their native land, however, April Wine’s success was decidedly more substantial: their chart peak came with 1976’s The Whole World’s Goin’ Crazy, which hit #1 in Canada and went platinum. Additionally, their 1975 album Stand Back went double platinum (even though it topped out at #21), as did The Nature of the Beast, which hit #11.
After a disappointing showing with 1985’s Walking Through Fire, April Wine went on hiatus, thereby providing Goodwyn with an opportunity to go solo. His self-titled 1988 album proved to be a minor success, spawning two minor singles – “Are You Still Loving Me” (#88) and “Do You Know What I Mean” (#47) – and a top-20 Canadian single, “My Girl.”
In 1992, April Wine reformed, releasing a new album, Attitude, the following year, with the band hitting the road to support the album. They continued to tour and would sporadically record new albums along the way, including Frigate (1994), Back to the Mansion (2001), and Roughly Speaking (2006). In addition, Goodwyn venturing back into recording the occasion solo album, releasing two volumes of Myles Goodwyn and the Friends of the Blues, the first in 2018 and the sequel in 2019.
In December 2022, Goodwyn announced his impending retirement from April Wine, saying in a statement, "I've had a long career, happy, fulfilling. I've seen much of the world and I'm grateful to continuing support of radio and our fans worldwide, but touring has been very difficult in recent years because of my diabetes and my health comes first, so unfortunately, my touring days are officially over." His final show with the band took place on March 2, 2023.
In an email conversation with Billboard Canada in regards to Goodwyn's passing, Martin Melhuish - the writer who worked with Goodwyn on the latter's memoir, Just Between You and Me - penned the following farewell to his former collaborator:
“Like many who achieve fame, Myles was an enigma. He could often be irascible and tactless and, for many years, was prone to the excesses of the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle, but beneath the surface lay the enduring sensibilities and sensitivities of the kid from humble beginnings in Waverley, Nova Scotia, who lost his mother at the age of 11 and sought solace in music. Self-characterized as isolated and a loner in those days, he would often escape from the world with his guitar and get lost in his thoughts atop a very large white granite rock that was embedded at the summit of a forested hill overlooking Lake William.
“That kind of introspection remained a part of his artistic make-up over the years, and no doubt played a large part in his prolific career as a songwriter. His greatest source of pride when it came to his professional career was his recent induction into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame. In the past few years, the affairs of April Wine and his solo projects had taken on relative predictability, and his personal life was in fine fettle in no small part as the result of his 13-year relationship with his girlfriend Kim Nyles, who became his wife six days before he died. He faced his final hours, which came with unexpected rapidity, with inspiring stoicism and philosophical outlook.”