Blackfoot (band): Wikis


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Blackfoot at the Poncan Theatre in Ponca City, Oklahoma on June 21, 2008.
Photo Credit: Hugh Pickens
Background information
Origin Jacksonville, Florida
Genres Southern rock, Hard rock, Heavy metal, Southern metal
Years active 1970-1971
Associated acts Lynyrd Skynyrd, Uriah Heep
See here
Former members
See here

Blackfoot is a Southern rock band from Jacksonville, Florida formed in 1970. Though they are a Southern rock band, at their peak, they were more popular as a hard rock band.[1]

They had a number of hit albums in the 1970s and early 1980s (including Strikes (1979), Tomcattin' (1980) and Marauder (1981).

The original lineup broke apart by late 1985, though not before former Uriah Heep keyboardist/songwriter Ken Hensley had joined the group during their last couple of years together.



Early years

In the spring of 1969, Rickey Medlocke and Greg T. Walker met former New York City native Charlie Hargrett in Jacksonville and formed the band Fresh Garbage with Ron Sciabarasi on keyboards, Rick on drums and vocals, Greg on bass and Hargrett on lead guitar, playing mostly at The Comic Book Club on Forsyth St. In downtown Jacksonville and with their friends The One Percent(who would soon rename to Lynyrd Skynyrd) at the Sunday afternoon "be-ins" in the local parks.

That fall, Sciabarasi left Fresh Garbage and lead guitarist Jerry Zambito (ex-Tangerine) joined as a new band, Hammer, was formed with Medlocke on lead vocals fronting the band (playing almost no guitar); Greg T. Walker on bass and backup vocals; Jakson Spires, from Tangerine, on drums and backup vocals; DeWitt Gibbs, also from Tangerine, on Hammond organ, Fender Rhodes electric piano, and backup vocals; and Hargrett on lead guitar. They soon relocated to Gainesville, Florida to be the house band at the near-legendary Dub's, a topless bar on the outskirts of town.

In the early spring of 1970, the band, after hearing of another band on the West Coast named Hammer, decided to change their name to Blackfoot to reflect the Native American heritage of Walker, Spires and Medlocke (Spires is part Cherokee, Medlocke part Sioux, while Walker's blood ties are to the Eastern Creek Florida Indians). By this time, the troop had moved to Manhattan after a friend, who was working in a music publishing company, told her boss about the band and he had them relocate to New York City. But when that connection failed to pan out, Gibbs quit the band and Medlocke began playing rhythm guitar full time. Thus was born the classic lineup of Blackfoot.

In the spring of 1971, Medlocke and Walker accepted an offer to join Lynyrd Skynyrd and Blackfoot broke up, for the time being. There was a brief attempt to regroup in 1972, but Medlocke ended up returning to Lynyrd Skynyrd while Walker joined The Tokens, who soon changed their name to Cross Country. Hargrett remained up north living in Hackettstown, New Jersey. In August 1972, Blackfoot's old friend and roadie, John Vassiliou, showed up in town with Reidsville, North Carolina. bassist Lenny Stadler from the band Blackberry Hill. Hargrett decided to move to North Carolina and invited Medlocke, who'd left Skynyrd, to reform Blackfoot with Stadler on bass and Jakson Spires on drums. Danny Johnson (later with Derringer and Steppenwolf), from a Louisiana group, Axis, was brought in as second guitarist. But Medlocke soon decided to be both front man and guitarist again, so Johnson only lasted a short time.

In the summer of 1973, Stadler left the band after a tumor was discovered on one of his lungs. Fortunately, the tumor disappeared. But Stadler decided to leave secular music to join a gospel group. He eventually became a Methodist minister. Greg T. Walker was invited to rejoin at this juncture and the classic Blackfoot lineup was reborn.

By 1974, the band had returned their base of operations to the Northeast(to Northern New Jersey) and Medlocke developed nodes on his vocal cords and temporarily lost his voice. Another singer, Patrick Jude, was brought into the band. After a short time, Medlocke was able to sing again and Jude was dropped. Soon after, Medlocke and Walker sent producers/session players Jimmy Johnson and David Hood a copy of Blackfoot's material. Johnson and Hood had worked with Medlocke and Walker in Muscle Shoals, Alabama when they were there recording with Skynyrd. No Reservations was released on Island Records in 1975 in a deal organized by then manager Lou Manganiello and their second album, Flying High,also signed by manager Lou Manganiello came out on Epic Records in 1976 . Both were produced by Johnson and Hood.

Mid 1970s

By late 1975, the group was living back in Gainesville, Florida. In 1977 they contacted Black Oak Arkansas' manager, Butch Stone, who took them on as the backing group for one of his clients, Ruby Starr, who had been a backup singer for Black Oak but was now going out on her own. After the stint with Ruby ended in 1978, they met Brownsville Station manager Al Nalli and his partner Jay Frey, who got them signed to Atco Records.

Blackfoot Strikes, produced by Al Nalli and engineered by Brownsville Station drummer Henry Weck, was recorded in Nalli's basement studio in Ann Arbor, Michigan and was completed by January 1979. It was destined to be the band's most commercially successful effort. "Train, Train", written by Rickey's grandfather, Shorty Medlocke, became their first hit and best known song. "Highway Song" proved to be another hit for them later that year.

The group toured heavily throughout 1979 and ended the year opening for The Who at the Silverdome in Pontiac, Michigan while working on their next album, Tomcattin, which was released in 1980. Marauder followed in 1981, as did Highway Song Live in 1982.


In the early 80s the "southern rock" genre was thought to be passe, so the band began looking to change their sound somewhat. They decided to add keyboards to the group once again. Organist Ken Hensley (ex-Uriah Heep) was contacted and agreed to join in 1983 in time for their next record, Siogo. But the poor sales for Siogo had the band thinking they might have to "modernize" their look for the new MTV generation. It was thought that maybe Hargrett with his more "biker type" appearance might not fit into the new look. Hargrett reluctantly decided to step down in January 1984 and was not present on their next effort, Vertical Smiles, which had been recorded in Atlanta with former Yes engineer Eddie Offord. This album was rejected by Atco and sent back for retooling. But the retooled version, which finally appeared in October 1984, also failed to sell.

Ken Hensley, not used to Blackfoot's heavy tour schedule, left by late 1984 and was replaced by former Axe singer/guitarist Bobby Barth. But by December 1985, with their popularity waning and quality bookings drying up, the band decided to call it quits. In February 1986, the Blackfoot company was dissolved and the others walked away while Medlocke decided to continue with a brand new lineup that included Doug Bare (keyboards, synths, backup vocals), Wizzard (bass, backup vocals) and Harold Seay (drums, percussion). On their 1987 album Rick Medlocke and Blackfoot (released on the Wounded Bird label), the new grouping was exploring a more radio friendly 80s rock sound with their former southern rock approach now all but gone. Many of the group's fans were not all that happy with the changes and newer fans were slow to materialize.

In 1988, Wizzard and Seay were out and Gunnar Ross (drums, percussion), bassist Mark Mendoza and Neal Casal (guitar) were in. Mendoza left by the end of the year and Rikki Mayer (ex-Lizzy Borden) took over bass in early 1989.


In 1990 a new release, Medicine Man, was put out on the independent Loop label.

By 1992, Medlocke had revamped the lineup yet again and hired three other players: Benny Rappa (drums, percussion), Mark Woerpel (an ex-Whiteface guitarist who had done some studio work for Medlocke on earlier albums) and Tim Stunson on bass. Another new album, After the Reign, was released in 1994 on the Wildcat label and, like Medicine Man, was enthusiastically greeted by fans as more of a return to form. 1994 also saw the release of the Rhino Records collection Rattlesnake Rock N' Roll: The Best of Blackfoot.

By 1996, Blackfoot was: Medlocke, Stet Howland, John Housley (from Ragady Ann) on lead and rhythm guitar and Bryce Barnes (from Edwin Dare) on bass guitar. That same year, Medlocke rejoined Lynyrd Skynyrd, this time as a guitarist. But he continued to tour with Blackfoot honoring all dates booked through 1997 then disbanded the group to concentrate on Skynyrd full time.

Live On The King Biscuit Flower Hour, a 1983 concert recording, was released in early 1998, and EMI released Live in 2000, also culled from the band's heyday.


In 2004 a second resurrection of Blackfoot took place with founding members Jakson Spires, Greg T. Walker and Charlie Hargrett. Medlocke was not available, so the vocals role was given to Bobby Barth. In March 2005, Spires died suddenly of an aneurysm, but the band decided to persevere for the time being. Following the will of Spires, Austrian drummer Christoph Ullmann was hired as the new drummer.

In 2006, the band toured and was joined by Southern Rock All Stars' Jay Johnson (the son of Jimmy Johnson, their original co-producer) on guitar and vocals after Barth was sidelined for a shoulder and neck operation. Barth returned to the stage later that year. In November 2006, Ullman left to return to Austria and was succeeded by Mark McConnell. In April 2007, Blackfoot let Johnson go. That year, the band toured and consisted of bassist Walker, Hargrett, Barth and drummer Michael Sollars. Later that year a live DVD was released. In 2009, Scott Craig took over as drummer.

Band members

Current members

  • Bobby Barth, guitars, vocals
  • Greg T. Walker, bass, backing vocals
  • Charlie Hargrett, guitars
  • Scott Craig, drums, percussion

Former members

  • Rickey Medlocke, vocals, guitars, mandolin
  • Jakson Spires, drums, percussion, backing vocals
  • Dewitt Gibbs, keyboards, backing vocals
  • Leonard Stadler, bass
  • Danny Johnson, guitar
  • Patrick Jude, vocals
  • Ken Hensley, keyboards, guitar, backing vocals
  • Doug Bare, keyboards, backing vocals
  • Wizzard, bass, backing vocals
  • Rikki Mayer, bass, backing vocals
  • Gunnar Ross, drums, percussion
  • Mark Mendoza, bass
  • Bryce Barnes, bass
  • Mark Woerpel, guitars, synthesizer
  • Christoph Ullmann, drums, percussion
  • Jay Johnson, guitars, vocals
  • Tim Stunson, bass
  • Neal Casal, guitars
  • Harold Seay, drums, percussion
  • Benny Rappa, drums, percussion
  • Stet Howland, drums, percussion
  • John Housley, guitar
  • Mark McConnell, drums, percussion
  • Michael Sollars, drums, percussion
  • Jerry James, guitar
  • Gary Howard, Drums, percussion


Studio albums

  • No Reservations (1975)
  • Flying High (1976)
  • Strikes (1979)
  • Tomcattin' (1980)
  • Marauder (1981)
  • Siogo (1983)
  • Vertical Smiles (1984)
  • Rick Medlocke and Blackfoot (1987)
  • Medicine Man (1990)
  • After the Reign (1994)

Live albums

  • Highway Song Live (1982)
  • Live On The King Biscuit Flower Hour (1998)


  • Rattlesnake Rock N' Roll: The Best of Blackfoot (1994)
  • Greatest Hits (2002)

Radio shows

  • Blackfoot Interview {1978}
  • Blackfoot - Johnny Van Zant (1979 [Reading Festival])
  • Blackfoot - Stevie Ray Vaughn KBFH (1980)
  • Blackfoot - Truimph KBFH (1981 [Best of the Biscuit])
  • Blackfoot KBFH (1982)

Rare items

  • Maxi single (1980)
  • Wishing Well/Highway Song Japanese (1979)
  • Blackfoot Picture Disc


  • Train Train


External links

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