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Pure Prairie League

Despite significant personnel changes, Pure Prairie League maintained itself as a successful country-rock band during the 1970s and early '80s, releasing ten albums and enjoying hits -- including "Amie" and "Let Me Love You Tonight" -- with different configurations of the group.

Pure Prairie League was formed in Columbus, Ohio, in 1969 by singer/songwriter/guitarist Craig Fuller (born July 18, 1949, in Portsmouth, Ohio), singer/guitarist George Powell, bass player Jim Lanham, and drummer Tom McGrail, who gave the band its name, which was the name of a women's temperance group in the 1939 Errol Flynn movie Dodge City. Pure Prairie League built up a following in Ohio, playing around Cincinnati for a year before earning a record contract with RCA Victor. By that time, McGrail had left and been replaced by Jim Caughlin, though Billy Hinds had also drummed with the band for a time. Adding steel guitar player John David Call, the group went into the studio and recorded its self-titled debut album, which was released in March 1972 with a cover depicting a Western character named Luke, an illustration drawn by famed naturalist painter Norman Rockwell that had first appeared on the cover of The Saturday Evening Post in 1927. Luke would turn up on all the band's subsequent album covers, giving them a distinctive visual conception.

Pure Prairie League did not sell well enough to reach the charts, and the group fragmented. Lanham, Caughlin, and Call left, and remaining members Fuller and Powell brought back Hinds, who in turn recruited a friend, keyboard player Michael Connor, to play on the second album, Bustin' Out, and subsequently become a full-fledged bandmember. Among the other session musicians on the album was David Bowie associate Mick Ronson, who played guitar and arranged the strings. Though later considered a landmark in country-rock, Bustin' Out initially suffered disappointing sales upon release in September 1972, and RCA dropped the group. But they added a second friend of Hinds', bassist Michael Reilly, and continued to play around the Midwest. During this period, Fuller encountered legal difficulties over his claim of conscientious objector status to avoid the draft, eventually serving two years in a hospital instead. (He was later pardoned by President Ford.) This forced him to leave the group, and he was replaced by Larry Goshorn. Call also rejoined.

In late 1974, Pure Prairie League's touring began to pay off as radio stations started playing "Amie," a song from Bustin' Out, leading RCA to issue the song as a single, reissue the album, and re-sign the band. Bustin' Out entered the charts in February 1975, nearly two and a half years after its release, and rose into the Top 40, eventually going gold. "Amie" charted in March 1975 and became a Top 40 hit. Of course, the song had been written and sung by Fuller, who was no longer in the band. (He would resurface in 1976 in the band American Flyer.) Instead, the sextet of Call, Connor, Goshorn, Hinds, Powell, and Reilly made Pure Prairie League's third album, Two Lane Highway, joined by the country stars Chet Atkins, Emmylou Harris, and Johnny Gimble. It was released in the spring of 1975. The title track became a minor chart entry, and the album reached the Top 40.

Pure Prairie League's fourth album, If the Shoe Fits, was released in early 1976 and was another Top 40 hit, spawning a minor country chart entry in a cover of the Buddy Holly hit "That'll Be the Day." The band's fifth album, Dance, followed in the fall of 1976. It was a disappointing seller, only getting into the Top 100 of the pop charts, though it became Pure Prairie League's first album to reach the country charts. A similar level of success greeted the two-LP concert recording Live!! Takin' the Stage, released in the summer of 1977. After that album was released, Call left the band and was replaced by Goshorn's brother, Tim. Pure Prairie League's seventh album, Just Fly, was released in the spring of 1978 and was another modest seller.

At this point, the band fragmented again. The Goshorn brothers decamped to form their own band, and Powell retired to spend more time with his family, depriving the group of its last original member. The remaining trio of friends Hinds, Connor, and Reilly were left in possession of the band's name but in need of a new frontman. They held extensive auditions that resulted in the hiring of Vince Gill (born April 12, 1957, in Norman, Oklahoma) as lead singer and guitarist, followed by reeds player Patrick Bolin. This quintet released Pure Prairie League's eighth album, Can't Hold Back, in the spring of 1979. Its sales were disappointing, and the group left RCA and signed to Casablanca Records, a label better known for disco than country-rock. In early 1980, Bolin was replaced by Jeff Wilson, a singer and guitarist, and Pure Prairie League recorded its Casablanca debut, Firin' Up. The album was preceded by the single "Let Me Love You Tonight," which became a Top Ten hit, pulling Firin' Up into the Top 40 in the LP charts. A second single, "I'm Almost Ready," made the Top 40, and a third single, "I Can't Stop the Feelin'," also made the charts.

Pure Prairie League returned with its tenth album, Something in the Night, in the spring of 1981, prefaced by the single "Still Right Here in My Heart," which made the Top 40, followed by the chart entry "You're Mine Tonight." The album didn't do as well as its predecessor, but it did chart in the Top 100. Unfortunately, this marked the end of Pure Prairie League's national prominence, as Casablanca went bankrupt and Gill left the band, eventually becoming a successful country solo artist. Songwriter Gary Burr became the lead singer in 1982, remaining until 1985, when Fuller rejoined, remaining until 1987 and then moving on to the re-formed Little Feat, where he replaced the late Lowell George. At that point, Pure Prairie League dissolved.

In 1998, however, Reilly and Fuller launched a new edition of the band. The lineup also included Connor, Rick Schell, Fats Kaplan, and Curtis Wright. This version of the group began work on a new album in 2002, but abandoned the sessions. Connor passed in the fall of 2004 after a long struggle with cancer. With a lineup of Fuller, Reilly, Schell, Wright and Kaplan, Pure Prairie League released a new album, All in Good Time, in the fall of 2005 on the tiny Drifter's Church imprint. The band continued to do shows in various configurations, settling on a lineup, as of 2012, of John David Call, Mike Reilly, Scott Thompson, and Donnie Lee Clark. ~ William Ruhlmann, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

Comments

Seen them at LEGEND VALLEY with Outlaws, Molly Hatchet, and Allman Bros ..in 80 I think.
They were from Ohio.
I like the guy to love the mcuie
Love these guys!
I grew up in the early 60's and 70's. There is one group that I can't find anywhere. John Manning. White Bear. Hard on the road to New Mexico ,brings many memories back to my sixty year old mind. Does anyone know where I can order a cd. I have the album, the original.
bake1878
These groups are some of my favorites
That's some mean guitar pickin' on Amie. I like country rock.
Seen ppl at towson univ. mid to late 70's vince was not there
pretty good
Pretty good
milosdad
Saw these guys on my 14th birthday with Maria Maldaur opening. Great show. One of those feel good, hippy experiences.
Garth Brooks Does A Great Job On Amie On Blame It On My Roots
sure do
lochravens13
Don't read this because it actually works. You will be kissed on the nearest possible Friday by the love of your life. Tomorrow will be best day of your life. However if you don't post this you will die in 2 days. Now you've started reading this don't stop. This is so scary. Post this on at least 5 songs in 143 minutes. When done press f6 and your lover's name will come up on the screen. This is so scary because it actually works. F6
This was our wedding song my wife's Amy.
The B side of Bustin' Out is straight ahead rock and roll. We are still listening to this album. By the way, I am Seventy.
gaycalderon
Don't read this because it actually works. You will be kissed on the nearest possible Friday by the love of you life. Tomorrow will be the best day of your life. However if you don't post this you will die in 2 days. Now you've started reading so don't stop. This is so scary put this on at least 5 songs in 143 minutes. When done press f6 and your lover's name will come on the screen in big letters. This is so scary because it actually works
I forgot about Amie until it played on here. I loved this song when it was popular.
12 when this came out was turned on to it when i was about 14. great song ,brings back good memories
vivianamiami
This is real music!
Loved my best friend Amy!
meadowshire5
Amie = one of my FAVORITE songs of all time!
Too bad they (Pandora) doesn't list their first self titled album w/ Country Song
Don't read this because it actually works. You will be kissed on the nearest possible Friday by the love of you life. Tomorrow will be the best day of your life. However if you don't post this you will die in 2 days. Now you've started reading so don't stop. This is so scary put this on at least 5 songs in 143 minutes. When done press f6 and your lover's name will come on the screen in big letters. This is so scary because it actually works
mrcivilengin e e r
Was one of the first 8-track tapes I purchased.
southworthan d r e w
great song. Were there any members who remained throughout?
walldad
Use to drink with Craig Fuller at bars around the U of Cincinnati when he was doing his conscientiou s objector time.
nuttjerry
from Waverly, Ohio, Home of most of the founding members. First album is awsome. Grew up listening to it over and over.
stasalynn
You can hear Vince singing backup in Amie.... really surprised he was not listed in the bio!
Yes dtill330 Vince Gill was in P.P.L. in the 70's. Great memory!!
RCRIS45! Sorry to tell ya this,this ISNT southern rock! This song and band was COUNTRY ROCK from Cols,Oh!
Such a great song!
dtill330
wasnt Vince Gill in this band in the mid late 70's?
bryans730
Wow this plays on rocky99,1025 d v e , 1 0 3 k v e , m e g a rock 105.5 and the rock station 97.7 and its classic rock!
rcris45
God Bless Dixie & Southern Rock Bands
I was 61 now I'm 19 !!!
I work with Tom McGrail!!
My 70 SS Camaro and I will forever be greatful to PPl - Two Lane Hwy ! Yee Haw
tomcat535
Who knew in the 70's the music we called Progressive Country would be todays Americana music. They finally found a home and a place to call their own.
AMIE NEEDS TO PLAY MORE ON THE RADIO, SO PEOPLE CAN HEAR THE GENIUS OF THIS BAND!!

525433228
OK now photo's posting. Amie. I love this song. It's one of my favorites.
slieser
I was suddenly a 20- something all over again. Amy....one of the great songs of the 70s/80s and it sounds just as great tonight.
rbriggs93
I loved Two Lane Highway, the album. PPL was a great band.
The California Missions Road Trip 1980
525433228
i'm a woman by the way. my picture never posts like it's supposed to.
525433228
I LOVE THIS SONG. GOOD BAND. WHAT? I THINK I COULD STAY WITH YOU FOR AWHILE MAYBE LONGER IF I DO. I GREW UP WITH THIS BAND.
I'll fix your flat tire...bette r with a joint then a drink I think!!
VOTE FOR CHANGE VOTE FOR RON PAUL,SO SAYS PCD!!!!!!! ! !
dirks.hirepo w e r
such a happy song
gmann557
My fave album of theirs is Dance. And you never see it, like it never happened. Wish I still had it.
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