BYRDWATCHER: A Field Guide to the Byrds of Los Angeles
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MUSICIANS ASSOCIATED WITH THE BYRDS

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Fever Tree

Kim Fowley

Richie Furay




Fever Tree

San Franciscans Fever Tree had one great moment in rock history: the psychedelic 1968 single, "San Francisco Girls (Return of the Native)," which can be heard on Nuggets Volume 11: Pop Part Four (Rhino, 1988). They released four albums between 1968 and 1970.


Kim Fowley

Of all the names that appear in the credits of the Byrds' albums, none is more out-of-place or more reviled than the name Kim Fowley. Musician, producer, writer, impresario, and master manipulator, Fowley is one part Malcolm McLaren, one part Phil Spector, and one part the diabolic protagonist of "Sympathy for the Devil," turning up time and again at important moments in musical history across several decades.
Born in Manila in 1942, Kim Fowley is the grandson of noted composer Rudolf Friml and the son of actor Douglas Fowley, who played "Doc" on Wyatt Earp. Fowley grew up in the decadent Los Angeles portrayed in his song "Citizen Kane," and made that town his home base in later years.
In the '50s, Fowley sang with a black vocal group, the Jayhawks, then played with the band the Sleepwalkers, along with future instrumental hitmaker Sandy Nelson ("Teen Beat," 1959) and future reclusive genius producer Phil Spector.
In 1960, Fowley produced "Alley Oop" for the Hollywood Argyles. Their lead singer Gary Paxton had been Skip Battin's partner in the duo Skip and Flip. In the next few years, Fowley produced several other hit singles, many of them novelty numbers: "Nutrocker" by B. Bumble and the Stingers, "Popsicles and Icicles" by the Murmaids, and "Papa Oom-Mow-Mow" by the Rivingtons.
During the mid-'60s, he produced such groups as Family, Slade, Soft Machine, the Seeds, Gene Vincent, Warren Zevon and Johnny Winter. He also had a minor hit single ("The Trip," in 1966), released a handful of LPs under his own name, and collaborated with Skip Battin on several lame Byrds songs on their last three LPs, (Untitled), Byrdmaniax and Farther Along. Other Fowley compositions were recorded by the Beach Boys, Them, and Cat Stevens.
In 1973, Fowley produced sessions for Jonathan Richman's Modern Lovers, which were later released on The Original Modern Lovers (Bomp!, 1981). (These were alternate versions of the John Cale-produced tracks that eventually became the group's first LP, The Modern Lovers (Beserkley, 1976).)
In 1975, looking for the next big thing, Fowley assembled all-girl group the Runaways, who split up after a handful of albums that blurred the lines between heavy metal, glam, pop, and punk. Former Runaways Joan Jett and Lita Ford would go on to commercial success without the help of Fowley as Svengali.
After the Runaways, Fowley devoted his attention to other products (the Quick, Venus and the Razorblades, and the Orchids) but never achieved even the low-level success he found with the Runaways. Around the same period Fowley released a number of LPs in a calculated "new wave" style.
For several years, Fowley kept a low profile, though he did work with Helen Reddy, of all people. In 1995, he released a new album, Let the Madness In (NA, 1995) which features guest appearances from Toyah Wilcox and Andy Bell of Ride.
As his curriculum vitae shows, Fowley's ambitions went far beyond fouling up a few Byrds albums.


Richie Furay

Richie Furay was born in Ohio and moved to New York in 1964 to make his way as a folksinger. There he joined the Au Go Go Singers, a commercial folk team à la the New Christy Minstrels that also featured Stephen Stills.
In 1965, Furay followed Stills to LA to form a rock band. With Neil Young and Bruce Palmer they founded Buffalo Springfield, which released three classic albums in two years. The third, Last Time Around (Atco, 1968) was produced by Jim Messina and featured a Furay composition, "Kind Woman," to which a session guitarist, Rusty Young, added pedal steel -- the first time pedal steel was used on a major rock album, by most accounts.
After the breakup of Springfield, Furay, Messina, and Young started a new group, to be called Pogo. (Gram Parsons approached Furay about starting a country rock group, but it never panned out.) "Pogo" became "Poco" when cartoonist Walt Kelly's syndicate objected to the use of their name.
Young brought along George Grantham, drummer from his old band Boenzee Cryque, and Randy Meisner of the Poor joined on bass. This team released one LP, Pickin' Up the Pieces (Epic, 1969), after which Meisner departed for Rick Nelson and the Stone Canyon Band, Linda Ronstadt, and eventual fame with the Eagles.
Timothy B. Schmit was Meisner's replacement on bass; that quintet released two albums, after which Messina left to find fame in Loggins & Messina. His replacement was Paul Cotton; that version of Poco released three more albums before Crazy Eyes (Epic, 1973), the title song of which was about Gram Parsons.
After that album, Furay left. His tenure is summed up nicely on The Forgotten Trail (1969-1974) (Epic/Legacy, 1990). Poco enjoyed huge but brief success with "Crazy Love" in 1979 before petering out in the early '80s.
Furay joined J.D. Souther and Chris Hillman in the Souther Hillman Furay Band, which went gold with its first album. After a second LP, Furay injured his hand chopping wood. By the time it had healed, he decided to pursue a solo career.
After three lackluster albums by the Richie Furay Band, Furay retired from music. Eventually he became a minister in Boulder, Colorado. His new profession did not preclude a brief reunion of the five original members of Poco in 1984. The original quintet reunited again in '89, this time making the Top Twenty with their single "Call It Love."
You can find out more about Richie Furay on the Poco Home Page.


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Related Musicians | Musicians Associated with the Byrds | F

Welcome | News | LPs | History | Members | Spinoffs | Related | Reference | Sanctuary | About | NEXT SECTION

Artists Covered | Other Influences | Associates | Musicians Influenced | Byrd/Not a Byrd | NEXT CHAPTER

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