La Paz were formed in Lanarkshire, Scotland in the early 1980's by Chic McSherry, Doogie White and Alex Carmichael. We'd all been playing in the local music scene for a number of years and had run across each other often enough but the time hadn't been right to work together until then.
We hit it off immediately on a personal level, we liked the same music and we had the same influences and heroes (Purple,Rainbow, Journey, Gary Moore) so we started to recruit other members to try to form a band and go do some gigs. We decided to add keyboards right away as, at that time, the "classic" guitar/keys combination had declined from favour and it would immediately make us different from the other all-guitar bands that dominated the circuit at that time.
We auditioned several keyboard players before we were introduced to Andy Mason and he fitted in from the start, even though he was a public schoolboy and we were just a bunch of schemies from Motherwell, Wishaw and Viewpark. He was still at school when he joined, it's hard to imagine that he was allowed out on his own never mind with us lot. He likes to think that he brought an air of civilised sophistication to us but we have some photographic evidence that proves we corrupted him totally...in reality we saved his life because a career in the Civil Service clearly beckoned before he met us.
Drummers were a different matter and, over the life of the band, La Paz amassed almost as many as Spinal Tap, although none of them (as far as we know) died in bizarre gardening accidents or spontaneously combusted. The alien being that was Spanky Harrison (drummer number 4 and the only one that never divulged his first name) remains unaccounted for so there is still time for an urban legend to emerge. As well as him, there was Dougie "The Brickie" Hannah (drummer number 1), Stuart "Bunty" Brown (drummer number 3), Colin "To" Morrow (drummer number 5 and still playing in Crossfire with Alex). Unquestionably the loudest and the most accomplished was/is our current drummer: Paul McManus (drummer number 2) originally and the only one not to get a pejorative nickname.
The band name was actually chosen last of all and it came quite by chance.Chic was "accidentally" reading page 3 of "The Sun" (the "accidental"bit was that he was reading it rather than just looking at the topless model) when he noticed that the strapline for that day's lovely, Caz Carrington, read: "Ever been to La Paz, Caz Has". It may have been Ms.Carrington's obvious charms that swayed him of course, but Chic claims he just liked the rhyme of it and so La Paz was born.
La Paz played live regularly, felt like constantly, sometimes playing over a hundred gigs in a year throughout Scotland. We also did the world-famous Marquee Club in London as well as at some festivals inMilton Keynes. Although we never played outside the UK, we felt that we had played in the USA by proxy as we were regulars at various US military bases in the UK and we had a huge fan-base amongst the enlisted men stationed here. These gigs were marathons - sometimes we played up to three one hour sets per night - but they were the only ones on the circuit that paid good money and it was from those earnings that we funded all of our recordings.
We were featured regularly in Kerrang (Derek Oliver becoming a big fan of the band) and attracted interest from a number of UK and US record companies, finally agreeing terms with one of them for a three album deal. But it was not to be: for reasons which were never explained properly to us by the record label the deal fell through at the very last minute and without warning leaving us back at square one.
These things happen inthe music business but after five or six years of hard graft it was areal blow and sadly the band didn't survive for very long after that.We did our last gig on 15th October 1988 in Falkirk (always a favourite town of ours) and then Doogie moved to London to join Midnite Blue and eventually Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow.
That was pretty much that, apart from a single reunion gig about a year after the split and a brief appearance at a Glasgow rock club on Chic's 40th birthday.
And then legendary DJ Tom Russell of 96.3 Rock Radio called Doogie and asked him if he would do some acoustic numbers at The Garage in Glasgow for Rock Radio's Birthday Bash in January 2008. Doogie agreed and asked Chic to play guitar. It was a big ask: almost 1000 people, Doogie singing and Chic with one flamenco guitar!
"We had such a blast and it woke up so many great memories in both of us that we decided to give it a go with the full band for my 50th birthday in November " said Chic.
And so we started to rehearse (mainly Chic, Alex and Paul) the covers set that we'd decided to run with initially and, after the first rehearsal, it was clear that we could still play a bit. Three dates were booked, not in November 2008 as we'd planned due to Doogie's touring schedule, but early in 2009 and Doogie flew in from London the night before the first show to rehearse with us for the first time, the truth is that we had such a brilliant time we will definitely be doing more.
The point of doing these gigs is simple: to have fun. We're not out to prove anything or to recapture our youth or to answer any critics or even to look for a new audience. It just feels great to be doing something again that was so important to us all and was such a big part of our lives. We won't be writing any new material or rushing into the studio to record a new track - those days are long gone. But we know from the reaction so far that lots of people want to hear us play again and that is just fantastic...and a long the way we're hoping to raise alittle money for some kids in La Paz, Baja California Sur, Mexico.
The plan is to do three or four shows back to back twice or three times a year and if/when it stops being fun or if/when people stop coming to hear us then we'll stop doing it.
That doesn't mean to say that we're not serious about the music - it's not an "open-mike" jam session that meanders down memory lane. It is a tight, professional show and we aim to make sure that everyone who comes to see us us gets full-value for their ticket price and that they go away happy...even if their hearing is impaired for a few days.
Band line up
Doogie White - vocals
Chic McSherry - guitar
Paul McManus - drums
Alex Carmichael - bass
Andy Mason - keyboards
La Paz "What do you say"
Doogie with Ritchie Blackmore
All of the info on this page was kindly provided by Chic McSherry.
"The Garage" 2008 performance for the 96.3 Rock Radio birthday bash.