Alasdair Mackie Ward, aka Algy Ward, passed away last week at the age of 63. Best known for playing on pioneering recordings with The Saints and The Damned, he also embraced his Metal roots when founding the NWOBHM band Tank. MetalTalk’s Alex Eruptor spoke with Evo from Warfare, who shared a deep friendship with the iconic bassist spanning over 40 years.
“Algy wasn’t just a brilliant musician,” Evo told MetalTalk. “He was just such a dear friend to me. We just gelled from the moment we met in 1979/80. We did some crazy things. Fucking crazy but happy memories.
“I was just thinking today about when I lived in Croydon. We were jamming in my lounge in the flat. We were playing When All Hell Freezes Over, a brand new song Algy had written for the next Tank album. What the shops below thought, I really don’t know or care because obviously, it was really loud.”
The shared, weird sense of humour between Algy and Evo still radiates now. “If you look at some Warfare pics, you’ll see me wearing a clothes peg somewhere on my body. If you look at Algy, especially on the Metallica tour, he had two clothes pegs on all the time. We called it our secret code.”
Evo talked fondly of going for a curry one night, but the restaurant was closed, and as the pair read a sign on a shop window, which read ‘we are apologies,’ a dog barked loudly. “That became a chord forever more,” he says. “If we were in the pub and someone was talking a load of bollocks, we never said that. We just [Evo woofs]. It goes on forever, some of the things we did.”
Evo last spoke to Algy in January. “He was really ill, and he knew he was gonna die. We talked about all our adventures and roared with laughter, only stopping to fill our glasses.”
Algy had ear problems for over 25 years as well. “I was one of the lucky ones,” Evo said. “I played loud all my life. In fact, I’ve been really loud. When we did what I call the blues EP [Damned Unto Death by Evo/Algy] it wasn’t Tank, and it wasn’t Warfare. It was two best friends jamming together. That’s what we were like – telepathic. He was very ill then, but as soon as he plugged in and that thunderbird started, and that racket started, he just became the enigma he is… was.”
Sadly Algy never heard the recent Warfare Lemmy Sessions release. “Algy played on the very first Warfare demo,” Evo said. “He played on and produced Pure Filth. He played on the Hammer Horror record for me. He played keyboards on the Radio One session. He played guitar on Addicted To Love. He produced Total Death. Oh, goodness me, we did the Evo/Algy thing together. We did the Warhead thing together with Würzel….”
During the making of Pure Filth, Evo had a problem with wasps in his flat. “Algy came up with this crazy idea. He said we would buy a tin of Ambrosia Creamed Rice, eat half of this, just go halfway down the tin, put it on the window sill, and we’ll catch the wasps. I said, ‘You fucking nut case. That’s not going to catch wasps.’ Anyway, we came back from the studio, and sure enough, there were hordes of them. It was like the full hive had dropped in this rice.”
Evo spoke at length about the fun of two young lads discovering music and friendship. Evo tells the story of taking Algy to his first working men’s club, where Algy ordered a shandy as he was “feeling a bit rough. He got a shandy with brown ale and cider.”
There were tales of travelling up and down the now defunct Addiscombe Line from Croydon to London, where the pair would sit in the buffet car drinking double brandy before getting directly on the return journey to do the same.
“It was just a fantastic time to grow up,” Evo said, “Even his brother ‘Kipper’ helped me so much as well because I was younger than them. Tank were established. I don’t get sentimental over death, as it were, but it’s sad that he was so young.”
Evo joined the Angelic Upstarts, and his first show was at Leeds Queens Hall, supporting The Damned in front of 15,000 fans. “I had to rehearse with them on Tuesday,” Evo says, “but it wasn’t really official that I was with them because I hadn’t passed the audition. They were short of a drummer in any case.”
Algy helped Evo pass the audition. “How many people would have given up the Monday to come around my flat and jam with me?” Evo says. “‘You’re gonna get the gig. There’s no problem,’ Algy said. “I went on the Tuesday and fucking blew them away. But little things like that…
“When we weren’t together, we were together in a strange kind of way. I can’t explain it. You never get a friendship in life like that.”
Born in 1959, Algy Ward’s passion for music ignited at a young age. Throughout his life, he became a driving force in the punk and Metal scene, leaving an indelible mark on the industry. With The Damned, his innovative bass playing and creative contributions helped shape the sound of the band and set them apart from their contemporaries.
In the early 1980s, he formed the band Tank, where he assumed the roles of vocalist and bassist. Tank quickly gained recognition as a pioneering force in the emerging genre of British Heavy Metal. Algy’s thundering bass lines and commanding stage presence solidified his reputation as a powerhouse musician.
Throughout his career, Algy collaborated with numerous talented artists and bands, lending his expertise and distinctive sound to their music. His contributions extended beyond the studio and stage, as he often mentored aspiring musicians, sharing his knowledge and encouraging them to pursue their dreams.
Algy Ward will forever be remembered for his dedication to his craft, his unwavering passion for music, and his larger-than-life personality. His impact on the world of punk and Metal is immeasurable, and his influence will continue to reverberate through the generations.