Spirit was a highly acclaimed and influential rock band from Los Angeles with a unique sound that also combined elements of jazz, blues, folk, and psychedelia. Formed in 1967 by then 16-year-old Randy California (February 20, 1951 - January 2, 1997, b. Randy Craig Wolfe) and his stepfather, veteran jazz and rock drummer Ed Cassidy (May 4, 1923 - December 6, 2012), the band's other original members included Mark Andes (bass), Jay Ferguson (vocals, percussion), and keyboardist John Locke (September 25, 1943 - August 4, 2006). Prior to forming Spirit, the precocious California had played guitar with Jimi Hendrix as a member of the short-lived Jimmy James & The Blue Flames. Best known for the hard-driving rock classic, "I Got A Line On You" (1969), Spirit also released a string of critically acclaimed albums beginning in 1968 with the band's self-titled album which spent over six months on the Billboard 200 and became a mainstay on many progressive rock FM radio stations around the country.
Spirit debuted on the Pop/Rock charts in 1968 with "Mechanical World," which became a minor hit. The band's fame took off in early 1969 with the California-penned "I Got A Line On You," which peaked at #25 on the Billboard Hot 100 and became Spirit's biggest hit single. The band's hits, which continued through 1976, also included "1984" (1970), "Animal Zoo" (1970), "Mr. Skin" (1973), "Nature's Way" (1971), and "Farther Along" (1976). In addition to its 1968 debut album, Spirit's many Billboard 200 charted albums included "The Family That Plays Together" (1968), "Clear" (1969), "Twelve Dreams Of Dr. Sardonicus" (1970), "Feedback" (1972), "Spirit Of '76" (1975), and "Farther Along" (1976).
Spirit continued to tour and record actively through 1997, with a number of breakups and reunions over the years as well as many personnel changes and additions. Founding member Randy California also pursued a solo career and released several albums. His untimely death by drowning in 1997 put an end to Spirit as a band, although many previously unreleased studio and live recordings dating back to its founding have continued to emerge since then.
- For more info about Spirit and the band's co-founder, Randy California, visit randycaliforniaandspirit.com.
- The New York Times remembers Spirit drummer and co-founder, Ed Cassidy.
- The Independent remembers Spirit frontman and co-founder, Randy California.
- The Independent remembers Spirit keyboardist and later member of Nazareth, John Locke.
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- I Got A Line On You 1969
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