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Jay Ferguson (born May 10, 1947, Burbank, California, United States) is an American rock and roll musician, known for his work with Spirit and Jo Jo Gunne, and his 1978 solo hit "Thunder Island". His later career has been as a composer of music for television programs and films.[1]

Contents

Childhood and early musical career

He was born in Burbank, California, in the San Fernando Valley. He grew up in the cities of Van Nuys and then Canoga Park. At the age of twelve, Ferguson's parents encouraged his musical abilities with classical piano lessons. At age sixteen, Ferguson's interest transferred to the banjo. Along with his brother Tom, an accomplished fiddle player, he formed a bluegrass group called The Oat Hill Stump Straddlers including Michael Fondiler and Steve Fondiler. Ferguson was a member of local garage bands, Western Union and The Red Roosters.

He also held part-time jobs at different points as a theater usher and architect's assistant for his father John Ferguson, taught piano in a music store, and studied at UCLA after high school.

Spirit

Spirit was founded in the mid 1960s. Practically every musician of the time cited The Beatles and their music as an influence, and Ferguson was no exception. Reuniting with longtime musician friends Randy California and California's stepfather Ed Cassidy, Ferguson joined with them to form a jazz influenced rock group that was originally called Spirits Rebellious, after a Khalil Gibran passage. With the general consensus that the moniker was too long, they later shortened the name to Spirit. Ferguson was the last member to actually join the band and found himself in the position of lead vocalist and percussionist.

Ferguson shared singing and songwriting duties with California, writing most of the songs on their first album. Spirit began playing at various nightclubs and concerts in the Los Angeles area, especially the ones along the Sunset Strip, including the Whiskey-a-Go-Go. At one of these shows, French film producer Jacques Demy saw Spirit perform and decided he wanted them in his next film. This led to a cameo role for the band and a short speaking part in which Ferguson played a character based loosely on himself in the film Model Shop. Spirit also provided much of the instrumental soundtrack. Spirit went on to tour and recorded several albums.

Jo Jo Gunne

Ferguson and Andes decided to leave Spirit in the early 1970s and form their own band.

Ferguson became the sole songwriter for Jo Jo Gunne, serving as its only lead vocalist. Jo Jo Gunne became the second artists signed to the Asylum Records label. The band scored a moderate hit with "Run, Run, Run" from their debut album.

With the first record and some touring already completed, Andes decided to leave and join a band that would later become Firefall, with brother Matt staying behind with Jo Jo Gunne. Jimmie Randall, an Austin, Texas bassist was recruited in his place.

Jo Jo Gunne toured all over the US and Europe for the next three years, and recorded three more albums. Matt Andes left the band after the third album and was temporarily replaced with Star Donaldson on lead guitar, and then, later, John Staehely. After a four year existence, the group split up in the mid 1970s. Jo Jo Gunne reformed in 2005, and recorded a new album, Big Chain, which included both new material and new versions of several old Gunne songs.

Solo career

Ferguson took a year and a half off for rest, until record producer Bill Szymczyk asked Ferguson to come down to his Miami, Florida, recording studio. Ferguson recorded three studio albums and a limited-run live album for Asylum. He scored a Top 10 hit with the title song on his second solo album, Thunder Island, which peaked at #9 in the US, and another hit with "Shakedown Cruise" from his last Asylum album, Real Life Ain't This Way. After his recording contract for Asylum was completed, Ferguson changed record labels, and recorded two more solo albums for Capitol Records.

Soundtrack composer

In 1982, after his sixth and last solo album, White Noise, Ferguson decided to become a soundtrack composer for movies and television. To date, he has written music for over 15 feature movies and many TV shows. His most recognizable composition as a TV and film scorer is the theme to the US version of The Office, which won him the 2007 Film & TV Music Award for Best Score for a Comedy Television Program. He recently has begun producing CDs for other artists. He is the composer of Terminator's (1984) soundtrack Pictures of You and of the main theme from A Nightmare On Elm Street 5: The Dream Child (entitled "Prologue/Elm Street Kids").

Discography

  • All Alone in the End Zone (Asylum Records, 1976)
  • Jay Ferguson Live (Asylum, 1977) [Promotional Issue Only]
  • Thunder Island (Asylum, 1978) U.S. #72
  • Real Life Ain't This Way (Asylum, 1979) U.S. #86
  • Terms and Conditions (Capitol Records, 1980)
  • White Noise (Capitol, 1982) U.S. #178

References

External links

  • Bio from Jo Jo Gunne! Website
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