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Sons of Champlin - Minus Seeds and Stems (1970)



The Sons of Champlin is an American rock band, formed in the late 1960s and hailing from the San Francisco-Bay area. They are fronted by vocalist/keyboardist/guitarist Bill Champlin, who was also a member of the rock band Chicago.

Champlin started his musical career in high school as a member of a popular local band, The Opposite Six. One of his teachers encouraged Champlin to drop out of school and pursue music full-time. In 1965 the draft claimed the drummer and bass player of the Opposite Six, and Champlin joined forces with guitarist Terry Haggerty, sax player Tim Cain, bassist John Prosser (who played with the Warlocks, and the The Grateful Dead) and drummer Jim Meyers in the band that became the Sons of Champlin. By late 1967 the lineup had changed to include keyboardist/saxman Geoff Palmer, trumpeter Jim Beem, bassist Al Strong, and drummer Bill Bowen; to create a funky Hammond B-3-and-horns sound that was distinctive from the rest of the Bay Area’s psychedelic guitar bands (one bandsman[who?] referred to the music as "acid jazz").

The Sons recorded their first album in 1967 for Trident Records, owned by Kingston Trio manager Frank Werber. They released a single, "Sing Me a Rainbow," (B-side "Fat City") which got airplay in the Bay Area but did not crack the national charts. The plan was to follow this release with another song from the album, a Barry Mann/Cynthia Weil composition called "Shades of Grey." Unfortunately for The Sons, the Monkees released their version before this could happen. The album was not released and the Sons left Trident Records. A few years ago, this collection was released under the title, Fat City, and is now available on CD.


During the late 1960s, The Sons of Champlin performed regularly at the San Francisco venues, the Avalon Ballroom and the Fillmore West. They shared billing with, among many others, the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Country Joe and the Fish and The Youngbloods. They were also the opening act at The Band's first concert with the name The Band along with The Ace of Cups.

In 1968, the Sons of Champlin signed with Capitol Records, releasing Loosen Up Naturally in January 1969. Two more Capitol albums followed, The Sons and Follow Your Heart. In 1970, the band broke up and Bill Champlin moved to Santa Cruz, where he joined Moby Grape guitarist Jerry Miller in a short-lived project called The Rhythm Dukes.

The Sons reformed in 1971 as a five-piece band with Bill Vitt on drums and David Schallock on bass. Briefly, the group went by the name Yogi Phlegm, as which they played one of the last concerts at Bill Graham's Fillmore West on June 30, 1971. In 1972 James Preston replaced Bill Vitt on drums, and the band once again went by the name Sons of Champlin.

After recording their 1972 Columbia album, Welcome to the Dance, as a five piece, The Sons once again added a horn section, which included Mark Isham, now a film scorer and composer, on trumpet and synthesizer.

In 1975, The Sons recorded The Sons of Champlin in their own studio, and released it on their own label, Goldmine Records. This was purchased and re-released by Ariola America. The next two albums, Circle Filled With Love and Loving is Why, were also released on Ariola.

In 1977, the Sons of Champlin played what many assumed to be their last gig at the Kirkwood Meadows ski resort.The Sons released seven albums between 1969 and 1977, including Loosen Up Naturally, Welcome to the Dance, and Circle Filled With Love. The albums were generally well-reviewed, but were low sellers. In 1977, Champlin went solo, recording Single (1978) and Runaway (1981), before joining Chicago in 1981.

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