It’s Time To Enshrine Spirit!

spirit-1969

Spirit was one of the most entertaining American bands to come off the West Coast in the late 1960s.  Sorry, Dead and Airplane fans – Spirit, based out of Los Angeles, had the best players.  Led by singer Jay Ferguson and guitarist Randy California (who was apparently a protege of Hendrix), Spirit played progressive and psychedelic music but always anchored its albums with some crankin’ rock tunes.  They should certainly be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Ferguson was the better songwriter in the group, but California penned Spirit’s biggest hit, “I Got A Line On You,” from 1968.  The group peaked with the psychedelic album 12 Dreams Of Dr. Sardonicus (1970) with standout Ferguson tunes like “Animal Zoo” and California’s moody “Nature’s Way.”  Spirit’s drummer was bald-headed Ed Cassidy, California’s uncle, and the bassist was teenaged Mark Andes. 

Andes and Ferguson would leave shortly after Sardonicus to form the group Jo Jo Gunne.   Ferguson would, of course, go on to solo fame with “Thunder Island” and “Shakedown Cruise.”  Now he is a composer for film and TV; his most famous music today is the theme from “The Office.”  Andes later joined Firefall and played with Heart for about a decade – today, he lives in Austin and plays with Ian McLagan’s Bump Band.

Cassidy and California would endlessly reform Spirit with new personnel, and there are more than a dozen albums out there with the revolving lineup.   The last four songs included on our post represent this period.  California fronted the band until he drowned in a riptide off the coast of Hawaii in 1997. 

If you don’t think Spirit’s music was prescient, take a listen to California’s “Taurus,” from 1968.  Its guitar riff should be very familiar – to fans of Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway To Heaven.”   California often said that people asked him why “Stairway” used the identical guitar line as “Taurus,” and his only explanation was that Led Zeppelin’s first American tour was as the opening act for Spirit, and they often played Spirit songs as part of their set.   Plant and Page, well-known pilferers of other songs, have a secure place in music history – and so should Spirit.

MP3: “I Got A Line On You”

MP3: “Animal Zoo”

MP3: “Uncle Jack”

MP3: “Morning Will Come”

MP3: “Taurus”

MP3: “Turn To The Right”

MP3: “Hard Love”

MP3: “Rapture In The Chambers”

MP3: “All Along The Watchtower”

3 Responses to “It’s Time To Enshrine Spirit!”

  1. realgreecer Says:

    saw your article on enshrining spiriit . Thought you might be interested in a petition going around on this very topic. Go to http://www.petitiononline.com/12dreams/petition.html
    and sign the petition to put spirit into the hall of fame.

    Pass it around to others and maybe do a followup blog on the issue

    RG

  2. Thanks, good idea. We will be seeing Mark Andes in a couple of weeks and hope to get an interview with him. That would be a perfect opportunity for a followup.

  3. realgreecer Says:

    ever have any luck with that interview?

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