SPIRIT was a great but underrated California Psychedelic, Jazz, Progressive Rock Band. The original line-up of Spirit: Randy California (guitars, vocals), Mark Andes (bass), and Jay Ferguson (vocals, percussion) with California's stepfather Ed Cassidy on drums and keyboard player John Locke. Cassidy was known as "Mr. Skin" because of his shaved head and penchant for wearing black, but he beat those drums with vigor.
Spirit's eponymous first album, SPIRIT, did relatively well, landing on the Charts in the mid-30's, but their second album, "The Family That Plays Together," produced by the great Lou Adler and driven by the single, "I've Got A Line On You,"
went Top 20 in 1968, sold a lot of records and put them on the map leading to opening for Led Zeppelin on their next tour. (Jimmy Page's use of a theremin has been attributed to his seeing Randy California use one that he had mounted to his amplifier.)
In 1970 Neil Young recommend that Spirit have David Briggs produce their next album, "Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus," that included Randy California's composition, "Natures Way." The album was certified Gold in 1976, and is considered to be "Art Rock" due to it's themes about the fragility of human life, and concerns about damaging the environment.
Over the years Spirit released many albums and toured tirelessly, leading Randy California to retire to Hawaii for a time. The band had many musicians come and go, and Randy returned for a while, but then in 1997 he drowned off the coast of Hawaii...he was swimming with his son whom he shoved to safety and lost his own life. Then John Lock died of lymphoma in 2006, and the daddy of drummers, Ed Cassidy, died at 89 in 2012. Spirit was no more.
Fun Facts: The name came from the Kahlil Gibran book, "Spirits Rebellious," and was shortened. Early demos of the band were made by their room-mate Barry Hansen, later known as radio personality, Dr. Demento, So here's Spirit performing Live many years later on a rare TV video from 1970, doing a medley of "1984" and "I've Got A Line On You." Rock On!
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