WOODY WOODRICH (Nickname "Wyatt") - Bass Guitar and Vocals.
Born in Minneapolis, Minnesota on July 20, 1948, Woody was part of the Minneapolis scene at an early age. His first group was of the Folk variety not unlike "The Kingston Trio" and "Four Freshman". Playing a variety of instruments including folk guitar and 4 and 5 string banjo, young Woodrich also had seven years of piano lessons under his belt. His first guitar came as a gift from his parents when he was just 12 years old. It might be of note here to mention that one of the other young musicians in his folk group, "The Paupers" (ironically named), was none other than Al Struthers who later co-penned William with "Zip" Caplan and Woody for "White Lightning" and is the B side to Warren Kendricks' Of Paupers and Poets.
Woody's first experience in the rock and roll vein was with an oddly named group "The Malibus". The band's name, which indicates surfing music, seemed a strange choice since this was actually a Beatle's style group. From there Woody progressed to "The Reactions" playing bass guitar. A high school friend of Woody's, also "The Reactions" lead guitarist, was Ronn Roberts who later joined Woodrich in the 5 piece "Lightning".
During this period of time, in the mid-60's, Woody would often fill in with other well known local acts whenever their guitarists couldn't make it. Woody most often could be seen with "The Chancellors" subbing for an absent David Rivkin (later known as "Prince's" engineer David Z).
Eventually Woody landed in a band called "The Group". Playing the Minneapolis bar circuit Woody fine tuned his bass playing skills while continuing his friendship with Ronn Roberts, which eventually led to his meeting "Zip" Caplan.
Through his affiliations with so many local area bands and Ronn's connection with "The Litter", it was inevitable that Woody and "Zippy" Caplan would meet and in the natural progression of things would find themselves jamming together on many occasions.
By the late summer of 1968 "Cream" had become "Superstars" and music was being stretched to limits far beyond the simpler melodic songs then heard by "Herman's Hermits", "The Monkee's" and other such pop groups. Jimi Hendrix was making a name for himself and 3 piece groups like "Blue Cheer" were pounding out heavy rhythms with long stretched out guitar solos. This seemed to fit perfectly into what both Woody and "Zip" Caplan were feeling during those jam sessions. With no other instruments to hold them back, the decision was made. "Zip" left "The Litter" and "White Lightning" was formed in August 1968.
Woody's influence on "Zip" and the group's direction led to a free expression in their music. As evident in the group's early writing efforts various time signatures and moods were explored while a basic foundation was kept with Mick Stanhope's melody lines and song arrangements. The fact that Woodrich had also played lead guitar enhanced his bass abilities by allowing him to compliment many of Caplan's guitar riffs with those of his own on bass. This interaction between the two musicians is what allowed "Zip's" rendition of an old classical piece to be reworked into what became the final version of The William Tell Overture. Caplan once put it like this, "I don't think there is another bass player out there that could play this piece with me as perfectly as Woody does".
When the band expanded to 5 piece Woody stepped back, singing harmony on only a few tunes, and concentrated on his bass work which had become much more intricate as the group's material became more sophisticated.
After the "Lightning" LP release and an extensive tour of the East Coast, the band began going in different directions. Woody had become fascinated with "Emerson, Lake and Palmer" and because Bernie Pershey's drumming was also leaning in that direction, the band's rhythm section began to move away from the hard driving 4/4 beat that had made them so popular. When you consider "Zip" Caplan was heavily influenced by Johnny Winter and Eric Clapton at that time and Ronn Roberts was pushing for his material written in the mellower stylings of "Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young", with Mick Stanhope trying to accommodate everyone, it is little wonder the band slowly dissolved.
Woody was finally presented with the option of moving to L.A. with "Zip", Mick and manager Pat Rains in order to regroup and look for a new record deal. He declined.
In the years that followed, Woody continued to play on a part-time basis with "Phoenix" a rock and roll club band. Eventually he left the music business to help run his father's construction business.
Woody came back in the mid-70's to appear in the first round of dates on the "Lightning" reunion tour, but it wasn't until 1989 when Woody and "Zippy" Caplan were finally reunited as they put together a "for the fun of it" 60's band playing "Cream", "Hendrix", "Mountain" and of course some of the old "Lightning" tunes.
By the following year, 1990, "The Litter" reunion was taking shape and Woody was asked to take over Jim Kane's spot on bass. Although Kane appeared for the live reunion concert as guest bassist on 3 songs, Woody continued to interact with "The Litter" reunion project lending his talents to some bass work on the work tapes for the upcoming "Old Dogs New Tricks" album and again on stage for the live show at Minneapolis' venue First Avenue kicking off K-Tels release of $100 Fine on CD.
Since Woody's devotion to his family prevented him from going on the road, he was replaced by Rick Ottum on bass. Even though he could no longer take an active part in "The Litter", Woody continued his friendship and association with "Zip" Caplan throughout the year long recording process for the new album. "Zip" would consult with Woody periodically on song arrangement, recording techniques, bass and lead guitar parts and various mix-downs as each song was completed.
To this day Woody keeps in touch with both Mickey and "Zippy" Caplan and even more so recently as the "White Lightning" and "Lightning" material is newly released on both vinyl and CD.
Woody still resides in Minneapolis with his wife Vickie and their twin boys James and John. While Woody is busy these days acting as a Medical Group Administrator, his sons have taken to listening to his old music. Could "White Lightning" II be very far behind -time will tell.