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About The Long Ryders

The Long Ryders are an American alternative country and Paisley Underground band, principally active between 1982 and 1987, who have periodically regrouped for brief reunions . In 2019 they released a new studio album – their first in 32 years – and played a series of tour dates.

The Long Ryders were originally formed by several American musicians who were each multi-instrumentalists and influenced by Gram Parsons, the Byrds, country music and various punk rock groups. They were named after the Walter Hill film, the Long Riders. The band featured Sid Griffin and Stephen McCarthy on vocals and guitar; Des Brewer on bass ; and Greg Sowders on drums.

Although two members were transplants from the American South, they became a popular Los Angeles rock band, forming in the early 1980s and originally associated with a movement called the Paisley Underground. With a sound reminiscent of Rubber Soul-era Beatles, electric Bob Dylan, Buffalo Springfield and the Flying Burrito Brothers, but with a harder edge, they anticipated the alternative country music of the 1990s by a decade. Their early work contained influences of both punk and old-school country . Former Byrd Gene Clark joined them on their first full-length album, 1984's Native Sons, adding vocals to the song "Ivory Tower". Their initial studio release, the 10-5-60 EP, consisted of Griffin, Brewer, McCarthy, and Sowders. Brewer left after the release of 10-5-60. He was replaced by Tom Stevens, and that line-up remained in place as a recording unit until their eventual demise.

The Long Ryders' roots can be traced back to 1960s garage rock revivalist the Unclaimed, who formed in Los Angeles in 1979. After one EP, Kentucky-born guitarist and vocalist Sid Griffin and Kansas-born bassist Barry Shank left the Unclaimed in November 1981 with intentions to form a new band. Griffin: "I had this idea of what would happen if the top of the band, the guitars and the vocals were very West Coast , punchy and beautiful, but the bass and drums were as aggressive as a punk band. Early rehearsals included Unclaimed drummer Matt Roberts and future Dream Syndicate guitarist Steve Wynn. Drummer Greg Sowders, a native of Los Angeles, had met Griffin through a mutual friend and joined the band in February 1982 after an informal audition. The band rehearsed shortly as a trio before guitarist and vocalist Stephen McCarthy completed the lineup after answering a musicians wanted ad in March. Originally from Virginia, McCarthy had recently moved to Los Angeles and was looking for something "a bit rockier" after playing in country and western bands in New York City and Nashville. They soon settled on the name the Long Ryders, named after the Walter Hill film the Long Riders. The band wrote a letter to actor Stacy Keach, who had starred in and produced the film, asking for his approval to use the name. Keach was "honored" but had suggested a different spelling for legal reasons. The band then decided on the "y" spelling as an homage to the Byrds.

The Long Ryders were initially linked with the neo-psychedelia of Los Angeles' Paisley Underground scene, but McCarthy's arrival soon brought a country element to the band. Griffin: "His Clarence White-style country guitar-playing gave us a direction that nobody else had." Shank left the band in August 1982 to go back to college and was replaced by British expat Des Brewer. Later in the year, the new lineup entered producer Ethan James' Radio Tokyo Studio in Venice, California to record a three-track demo. Two of the tracks, "Still Get By" and "And She Rides", later appeared on the various artists compilation albums The Radio Tokyo Tapes and The Rebel Kind – A Collection of Contemporary Garage and Psychedelic Bands in 1983.

In September 1983, PVC Records issued the band's self-funded 10-5-60 EP, which was produced by former Sparks guitarist Earle Mankey at his home studio in California. Griffin was working for PVC's parent label Jem Records, an import and distribution label, who agreed to take on distribution. Griffin: "I got us on the in-house label, and they did it as a favour. ... it did really well, and they couldn't believe it". The EP showed a strong 1960s influence, from garage rock and psychedelia to Byrdsian folk and country rock. It was well received by critics, prompting the band to tour the US. Brewer, who was not committed to touring, left after the EP's release and was replaced by Don McCall, who only lasted 3 months before he was asked to leave. "His playing and my drumming never quite clicked," Sowders explained. Tom Stevens from Indiana became the Long Ryders' new bassist in late December, playing his first gig with the band in January 1984, after recommendations from mutual friends. "I didn’t even have to formally audition," Stevens said. "The Long Ryders had gigs coming up in the San Francisco area and needed someone quickly."

This article uses material from the Wikipedia article "The Long Ryders", which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.

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