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Found in a garbage Can
Spirit was a highly regarded rock band that achieved modest commercial success, charting 11 albums in the U.S. between 1968 and 1977. Founded in Los Angeles in 1967 by musicians who had a mixture of rock, pop, folk, blues, classical, and jazz backgrounds, and who ranged in age from 16 to 44, the group had an eclectic musical style in keeping with the early days of progressive rock; they were as likely to play a folk ballad featuring fingerpicked acoustic guitar, a jazz instrumental full of imaginative improvisation, or a driving rhythm tune dominated by acid rock electric guitar playing. The diverse tastes of the original quintet produced a hybrid style that delighted a core audience of fans but proved too wide-ranging to attract a mass following, and at the same time the musicians' acknowledged talents brought them other opportunities that led to the breakup of the original lineup after four years and four albums, then kept them from committing fully to regroupings as their music began to be recognized in later years.
|Spirit - Clear Spirit Advertise 1969|
Randy California was born Randolph Craig Wolfe on February 20, 1951, in Los Angeles, CA. His mother, Bernice Pearl, was the sister of Ed Pearl, who owned the Ash Grove, a nightclub in Hollywood, and California, who began playing guitar as a child, grew up listening carefully to the folk, blues, and jazz musicians who performed there. In early 1965, the Rising Sons, a folk-blues group featuring Taj Mahal and Ry Cooder, played the Ash Grove; the band's drummer was Ed Cassidy (born May 4, 1923, in Chicago, IL; died December 6, 2012, in San Jose, CA), who met and married California's recently divorced mother, becoming his stepfather. Cassidy had been drumming professionally since his teens in almost every conceivable style, though lately largely in jazz groups before he joined the Rising Sons. He left the band after injuring his wrist during a solo.
Meanwhile, California had met two aspiring musicians from the San Fernando Valley, singer/percussionist Jay Ferguson (born John Arden Ferguson, February 5, 1947, in Burbank, CA) and bassist Mark Andes (born February 19, 1948, in Philadelphia, PA) at a folk music camp, and in September 1965, along with Cassidy and a second guitarist, they formed a band called the Red Roosters that played the Ash Grove.
|Spirit Advertise 1970|
|Spirit - German Single 1969|
SpiritAdler produced the self-titled debut album Spirit, which was released in January 1968. (Most of the songs were written by Ferguson, though California contributed a delicate instrumental called "Taurus" that would prove inspirational to Led Zeppelin, which based the introduction to the 1971 standard "Stairway to Heaven" on it.)
|Spirit - Billboard Advertise 1972|
Clear With the accelerated schedules typical of record releases in the 1960s, Spirit had to have another album ready quickly, and Clear appeared in July 1969. The album led off with the California/Ferguson composition "Dark Eyed Woman," another rocker in the "I Got a Line on You" mold that was released as a single but did not hit; the LP also contained material written for the Model Shop score that, not surprisingly, sounded like background music.
|Spirit - Billboard Magazine Advertise 1968|
FeedbackSpirit toured in support of the album during the winter and spring of 1971, but Epic failed to break a successful single from the LP, and it peaked at number 63 in February. Ferguson and Andes, frustrated at the band's lack of broad commercial success, quit Spirit to form a new band, Jo Jo Gunne, with Matt Andes and drummer Curly Smith. Initially, Spirit hired bassist John Arliss and played as a quartet. Then, California quit to launch a solo career. Remaining members Cassidy and Locke brought in two new musicians, brothers Al Staehely (bass) and Chris Staehely (guitar), and in November they began recording a new Spirit album.
|Spirit Album 1968|
Meanwhile, California had signed a solo contract with Epic and in the fall of 1972 he released his debut album, Kapt. Kopter & the (Fabulous) Twirly Birds. He reconnected with Cassidy, and the two hired a bass player, Larry "Fuzzy" Knight, to tour Europe during the spring of 1973. They also worked on a concept album called Potatoland, but Epic rejected it, and California temporarily dropped out of the music business and moved to Hawaii. Epic released a compilation album, The Best of Spirit, in the summer of 1973 and saw it reach the charts along with a single release of "Mr. Skin," a song from Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus that was a sly allusion to Cassidy's shaved head. Epic also released a two-fer LP combination of Spirit and Clear, and it too got into the charts. Responding to the resulting demands for a live act, Cassidy, having reacquired legal right to the name Spirit from the Staehely brothers, teamed up again with Knight and added some side musicians to hit the road from July 1973 to April 1974.
|Spirit Advertise August 1972|
SPIRIT, Paramount Theatre, Seattle, Washington
KSIW-Broadcast 1971. It's a Radio-Broadcast-Show. The Sound Quality is near excellent.
Hey Joe is incredible.
♣ Randy California - guitar, vocals
♣ Ed Cassidy - drums, percussion
♣ John Locke - keyboards
♣ John Arliss - bass
01. Radio Comment > Something You Must Say (9:40)
02. Nature's Way (2:53)
03. Just Care About Me (8:02)
04. Hey Joe (9:02)
05. Improvisation (11:32)
06. Veruska (3:15)
01. Going Away Somewhere (5:23)
02. Tow The Line (5:46)
03. It's All The Same (14:29)
04. I Got A Line On You (3:52)
05. Set Me Free / Comment (9:33)
1. Spirit Live 1971
2. Spirit Live 1971
|Spirit Concert Poster |
(Sound Factory Sacramento 1968)