In the heady days of seventies Southern California, David Geffen, businessman and music lover started his own label, Asylum records, originally because he couldn’t get anyone else to sign Jackson Browne. He also signed The Eagles, Joni Mitchell, Judee Sill, Bob Dylan (for two albums), Linda Ronstadt, Tom Waits and Warren Zevon, all of these achieving major success, cult or legendary status. His second signing to the label, Jo Jo Gunne, didn’t manage any such accolades. They were formed in 1971 after Jay Ferguson, keys, guitar, vocals and Mark Andes, bass, vocals had decided to leave Spirit after the classic 1970 album, The Twelve Dreams Of Dr, Sardonicus.
Adding Mark Andes’ brother, Matt on guitar (Really, why not call them both Mark or both Matt?) and drummer Curly Smith, the band only released one album with this line-up before Mark Andes left (appearing again with his brother Matt on Spirit’s first reunion album, Farther Along in 1976). With a changing line-up they made four albums under the Jo Jo Gunne name, Matt Andes leaving after their third album Jumpin’ The Gunne.
Their only real hit was in England, Run Run Run reaching No. 10 in 1972. It was also Top 40 in the US with the debut album reaching No.57 but each album after did consecutively worse. I must have heard it on the radio and I bought the single, I always had a soft spot for the song, rather out of context from what I was listening to at the time. It’s not really Californian, it has more of a Southern Rock feel but I always loved that papery snare and drum roll intro, the rising slide guitar and the melodic lead breaks. The song also came in at under three minutes making it a lightning fast jab of catchy Pop Rock.
Jay Ferguson went on to have hits on his own, Thunder Island was a US No.9 in 1978 and Shakedown Cruise No.31 in 1979. He also rejoined Spirit on different occasions for reunions. In later years he has written film soundtracks and televison themes his most well known being for the US version of The Office. Mark Andes joined Firefall where he had major success and later Heart throughout their most commercially successful period. Curly Smith became a session drummer.
Note: Jo Jo Gunne is the name of a Chuck Berry song from 1958.
I remember buying the Thunder Island 45 in 1978 . . . but I prefer Run Run Run and that slide guitar!