1972 Jo Jo Gunne – Run, Run, Run
Jay Ferguson was born in Burbank and grew up primarily in the Los Angeles area. He began learning to play piano with classical lessons at age twelve, but his interests ran more towards the banjo by the time he was 16. Jay’s brother played the fiddle, and the two of them formed The Oat Hill Stump Straddlers, a bluegrass band. Jay went on to play in other bands, including Western Union and The Red Roosters.
The Red Roosters recruited a few more musicians and began playing jazz/rock fusion. They called their new band Spirits Rebellious but later shortened the name to Spirit. Barry Hansen (who later became Dr. Demento) produced a few demos for the group. The demos helped the band sign with producer Lou Adler. Jay wrote most of their material and usually sang the lead vocals. Their self-titled first album contained the single I Got a Line on You, which reached #25 on the Hot 100 in January 1969.
Spirit played at several concerts alongside Led Zeppelin. The song Taurus from Spirit’s first album contained an acoustic guitar line written by Randy California that sounds very familiar to anybody who has heard Stairway To Heaven. A lawsuit by Spirit seeking partial credit for Zeppelin’s song failed to prevail in court and an appeal failed to change that result.
In 1971, Jay and Mark Andes left Spirit and recruited Mark’s brother Matt and William “Curly” Smith to form the group Jo Jo Gunne. They took the group’s name from a 1958 song by Chuck Berry. Once again, Jay wrote most of the band’s material and sang lead vocals. The single Run Run Run from their first album peaked at #27 in 1972. The group recorded four albums but never had another single that charted. They disbanded in 1974.
Jay then began working on a solo career. In 1975, he sang and played guitar on Joe Walsh’s live album, You Can’t Argue with a Sick Mind.
Jay recorded three solo albums in the next few years. He wrote and recorded the single Thunder Island, which reached #9 in 1978.
He had one other top forty single in 1979 when Shakedown Cruise snuck up to #31 on the HOt 100. If, like most people, you ignore that last single and consider Jay’s solo career to qualify as a one-hit-wonder, Jay became one of the few artists involved with three separate one-hit-wonders.
By 1982, Jay gave up working on albums and began working as a composer for soundtracks for films and television shows. He composed part of the music on The Terminator, composed the entire score to A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child, and gave us the theme to the US version of The Office. He currently creates the soundtrack for NCIS: Los Angeles.
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