Monday, February 4, 2013

Jay Ferguson--Thunder Island (1978)

     Jay Ferguson had his first and only hit with this song in 1977, but had been a long respected vocalist/keyboardist in rock circles for quite a long time  before then.
      Born in California, he grew up having taken piano and banjo, and in fact was in a bluegrass duo with his brother Tom (fiddle), called, The Oak Hill Stompers. Along with others however, he was inspired by the Beatles, and along with Randy California, Mark Andes, and Ed Cassidy formed The Red Roosters in 1965, but broke up later that year as Cassidy and California (who was still a young teen at the time). A couple of years later, both men were back on the west coast and ran into Ferguson and invited him to join a new band called, "Spirits Rebellious", later shortened to "Spirit". He became their lead vocalist and percussionist.
     They released a series of albums which, although not very successful commercially, were critically acclaimed and their mix of rock with jazz leanings has held up very well over the years. This failure to make it in a commercial way (and some band in-fighting) led Ferguson to leave the band in 1971 and form Jo Jo Gunne, taking Andes along with him. The group's self titled album in 1972 produced a top 40 hit, "Run Run Run", but spent the next few years spinning their wheels before breaking up in 1975. Andes went on to join Firefall and then Heart in later years.
     Ferguson's debut album, "All Along in the End Zone" had a heavy contribution from Joe Walsh, but showed the singer moving away from the straight ahead rock of Jo Jo Gunne and into a more Southern California pop/rock vein. It was a couple of years later that he hit big with the top 5 single, "Thunder Island". He had a successful follow-up with, "Shakedown Cruse" in 1979, but by the early 80's began to gravitate towards film and television music. His credits can be found in many places over the last 30 years as he continues to work in this field today.



Post a Comment