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Sons Of Champlin

The Sons of Champlin did not rank in the first tier of the San Francisco psychedelic rock bands of the '60s with the Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane, but they did qualify for the second tier along with Moby Grape and Quicksilver Messenger Service, playing a more soul- and R&B-influenced style of music than their peers. Despite a somewhat lackadaisical attitude toward the demands of a professional career, they managed to chart a handful of albums in the late '60s and ‘70s.

The group was formed out of the remnants of the Opposite Six, an earlier band led by singer/keyboardist Bill Champlin, playing its first show at the College of Marin in Marin County, CA, in the spring of 1965, with a lineup also including saxophonist Tim Caine, guitarist Terry Haggerty, bassist Al Strong, and drummer Jim Myers, later replaced by Bill Bowen. (Although still a teenager, Champlin was married and a father, which inspired the band name.) By July 1966, they were playing at the Fillmore Auditorium in San Francisco. They released their debut single, "Sing Me a Rainbow," on Verve Records in March 1967, but when it failed to chart, a full-length LP was shelved. (It later earned release under the title Fat City.) Undaunted, the group added two horn players, Geoff Palmer and Jim Beem (who left in 1969), and turned to a more R&B/jazz-oriented style. It took more than a year before they got another chance to record, signing to Capitol Records in 1968 and releasing their label debut, the double-LP Loosen Up Naturally, in April 1969. It peaked at number 137. The band quickly recorded a second album, for which they temporarily shortened their name to the Sons; the LP, released in October, bore that name. It reached number 171. Tim Caine left the band after the album's release.

The Sons toured to support their second album and played in the Bay Area in the winter of 1970, but then broke up. Various members played in other bands until the fall, when they were called back into the studio by Capitol, which demanded another album on their contract. Thus, their third LP (again as the Sons of Champlin), Follow Your Heart, appeared in April 1971. It did not chart, and the band broke up again after a few promotional shows. Champlin, Haggerty, and Palmer continued to perform together, however, adding bassist David Schallock and drummer Jim Preston. They were at first reluctant to use the old group name, but eventually relented, reverting to calling themselves the Sons of Champlin in 1972. In 1973, they signed to Columbia Records and cut their fourth album, Welcome to the Dance, released in April. Hailed by many as their best album, it unfortunately got lost in corporate politics as company president Clive Davis was ousted; it peaked at number 186.

The Sons responded to the debacle by forming their own label, Gold Mine Records, for their next LP, titled simply The Sons of Champlin and released in 1975. By that time, they had added a horn section consisting of Phil Woods, Mark Isham, and Michael Andreas. The independent release attracted sufficient attention that the Sons were able to sign a regular recording contract with Ariola America, which gave the LP a national release. In the run-up to their next album, Schallock left the group along with the horn section. The new bassist was Rob Moitoza (formerly of the Opposite Six), while saxophonist Steve Frediani also joined, followed by trumpeter David Farey by the time A Circle Filled with Love, the sixth album, was released in May 1976. For the disc, the Sons turned to producer Keith Olsen, just off producing Fleetwood Mac's big-selling self-titled album, in search of a more commercial sound. The LP reached number 117, the band's highest chart ranking, as the single "Hold On" got halfway up the Hot 100 and "Here Is Where Your Love Belongs" also charted. The Sons released their seventh album, Loving Is Why, in April 1977, and when it turned out to be a commercial disappointment, peaking at number 188, Bill Champlin, who had been doing session work in Los Angeles, decided to leave the band and did so at the end of their promotional tour for the LP.

The Sons of Champlin tried to carry on with other singers, but soon disbanded. There were occasional one-off reunions over the years, and the group finally reorganized on an ongoing part-time basis in the late '90s, as Champlin was able to fit it in around his solo career and membership in Chicago. A concert album fittingly called Live was released in 1998 by Arista Records. By 2002, Haggerty had dropped out and been replaced by Tal Morris, who appeared on a second live album (with accompanying DVD), Secret. DIG Music released a new Sons of Champlin studio album, Hip Li'l Dreams, in 2005. ~ William Ruhlmann, Rovi
full bio

Comments

ah i twaz '69 in modesto & the lightz were zinnging, what a sound!
ketziamenkhu s
Possibly the worst bio I've seen on Pandora - totally misses the phenomenon and the following, their influence on other musicians and bands of the era, and even spells band members names wrong.
@rmartin8472 - I should have known it was you!
OK probably the most underrated band of there time. Take in a show with the Sons of Champlin , Lidia Pense and Cold Blood with a Tower of Power Horn section at the Lyon Share in San Anselmo (40 seats) 1976. Then we'll talk!!!!!
Hey Pandora - Pleeeezzzze add some other Sons albums/CD's to the discography. Don't make me come over there!
@rmartin8472 - I don't usually follow stations but I checked it out and I will be making an exception in the case of Blue Rat. My kind of picks! Thanks!
mark.flory
The biography is full of typical critic speak. According to what reality does music have tiers, and according to what measure are the Sons of the second tier? I love the GD and Airplane, but by any rational measure, the Sons were as great as either. Career-wise, I suppose, they were not as successful. But if that's your measure of great music, yer an idiot.
Glad to see Pandora adding more good music instead of the loser bands from the 90's and 2000's that seem to infiltrate my station.
Hello Deke,

You will enjoy my new station, The Blue Rat of San Francisco.
One of the most criminally neglected, un-sung, and under-apprec i a t e d bands of all time. These guys were monsters live. Great players, excellent songwriting, and a great, great singer not to mention a guitar player as good as anybody you can name.
Hey Pandora, could you please add Welcome to The Dance, Loosen Up Naturally, et al to the discography please? (Hey, I said please didn't I?! Don't make me come over there!)
patstrople3
met these guys after the show @ Aquarius in North Seattle 1975? up to the white house in Lynnwood to jam W/ Roadside Attraction, it was high,high,hi g h Great people super live band.
love Sons Of Champlin, just listened to Hold On (Live) ; great version, takes me back to the 60's
icebluez
I grew up in the Bay area, cut high school on Thursdays to go to the park and listen to the dead,airplan e , q u i c k s i l v e r , t h e fish and the sons,ALWAYS a great show by the sons
sleeppingdog
the favorite band in our little neighborhood (St.Louis). Saw them everytime they played here and shared the 420 with a few times. OUTSTANDING jams and T Haggerty was a genius on the guitar. Still remember the first 3 rows leaving after the Sons played and before brownsville staion came on stage . Approriately .
capeflattery 0
I saw the Sons several times, and although they were just about the loudest band I ever heard (yikes!), they NEVER failed to get the audience jumping out of their seats, often much more entertaining than the main act when they were the lead-in. Loosen Up Naturally is still one of my favorite albums.
The Sons of Champlin could be one of the most soulful and under rated R&B infused rock bands of all time. Bill Champlin is a great vocalist and composer...I think he co-wrote "Turn this Love Around" (? I think that's the name)Great band...I wish they'd have a reunion tour
karmacreatio n s
Loosen up naturally and Welcome to the Dance were always my favorite. These guys could just play their butts off. I like the live album done in the 90s. Hard to believe they still sound great. A friend turned me on to "Loosen up Naturally" while smoking some ( well you know what, LOL) Loved them ever since. Great Musicians Bill Champlin has done some nice work with "Chicago" over the years. He is a special musician. Luv the Vibe work by G Palmer too.
tombalek
yes! please! I have the "Welcome to the Dance" LP, all scratched up and warped. I still dig it out and play it once or twice a year. That album is the heart and soul of the Sons. Are you listening, Pandora?
I agree with previous comments concerning the bio posted by Pandora. Kind of off-base but as many things with the Sons, you had to be there to really get it. Terry Haggerty is respected as a guitar player's guitar player. If you have ever seen him live, especially with the Sons, then you know what I mean. If you haven't, do yourself the favor. They jammed with purpose - more Jazz improve than Rock and the songs are F*&kn' great! Pandora - please add Welcome To The Dance to their albums.
tombalek
Long live the Champlin family - an American treasure. I was covering their wonderful songs out here in the middle of nowhere in the 70s, and still do. Fabulous songwriting and arrangements , blue eyed funk and soul.
I loved the S O C in high school in 1970. Loosen Up Naturally was a favorite and still is.
I had the privilege and honor of sharing the stage with Terry Haggerty once. Not only is he one of the best guitar players on the planet but one of the nicest and humblest guys you'd ever want to meet. The Sons were way ahead of their time and of their time all at the same time.
I first saw this band in 66 at Bill Quarrey's Teens and Twenty's in Hayward , CA- they were the 2nd band up with "The Seeds" as headliners. The Seeds were late... so the Son's had to stay on the stage- they played the best version of "The Pink Panther Theme" I've ever heard!!! Blown away by the performance I was a fan from then on!!!
I grew up to this band in the Sacramento area in the late sixties. Unbelievable . . . c a n still listen with the same excitement and passion in 2010. Had a brother in law that sat in on drums for them in San Rafael for practice sessions. Great memories!
they were awesome..... . l o v e d their jams, and horn section. I definitely would not call their songwriting half baked, but innovative, creative and timeless,the y are awesome and still continue to be so!!!
Biography is WAY off the mark...their "meandering jamming" was highly respected and loved as sophisticate d players working amazing s**t out together. Bill Champlin has been many prodcutive years with Chicago now and Terry Haggerty still stands out as a unique guitar player.
In my opinion,One of the best bay area bands to come out of there..Freed o m and Get High are timeless...W e used to call them the Psychedelic( s p ?)Chicago..S o it was kind of Ironic when Bill joined the band....Sons forever !!!
meandering jamming? well at least they jammed and with more heart than most bands from that era! they were and are truly one of the best live bands out there! didn't mention there complex harmonies and yes bill can let it hang with the best.. just ask chicago? is this how the biographers treat everyone around here?
I grew up listening to the Sons, and followed Bill through his solo career and even through Chicago (has it been 27 years already Bill?). I disagree to the comment of half baked writing. The songs were fun and Bills voice went from great to extraordinar y over time.
The Live 1998 record really doesn't capture the heart of this band, since it's a canned road version with mostly studio musicians not in the original lineup...try Loosen Up Naturally (1969) for the real deal. Or for a compilation, try the 'Capitol Gold Series' greatest hits disk ('93). Loyal fans might not agree that the vocals did not stand up, as Bill Champlin went on to become lead singer for Chicago for many years (and remains).
I miss the Hag, I wish that Bill and Terry could work all that stuff out. Haggerty is the X factor in that band.
karmacreatio n s
I have 2 second that comment from Rick. These guys were great and the "Loosen Up Naturally" Album changed me as much " Sgt. Peppers did. Jazz,Soul,& Rock, its all there. with great musicianship . Live album from 1998 is a great performance after so many years. The Deads favorite band.
One of the greatest and most innovative bands of all time. Loosen Up Naturally and Follow Your Heart were the best of their time!

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