Blackfoot is an American Southern rock musical ensemble from JacksonvilleFlorida organized during 1970. Though they are primarily a Southern rock band, they are also known as a hard rock act.[1] The band's classic lineup consisted of guitarist and vocalist Rickey Medlocke, guitarist Charlie Hargrett, bassist Greg T. Walker, and drummer Jakson Spires.

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

History[edit source | editbeta]Edit

Early years[edit source | editbeta]Edit

During the spring of 1969, Rickey Medlocke and Greg T. Walker met New York City native Charlie Hargrett in Jacksonville and organized the band Fresh Garbage with Ron Sciabarasi for keyboards, Rick for drums and vocals, Greg for bass and Hargrett for lead guitar, playing mostly at The Comic Book Club on Forsyth Street.

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

About the beginning of 1970, the band relocated to Manhattan after a friend, who was working in a music publishing company, told her boss about the band and he had them move to New York City. During the early spring of the same year, the band, after learning of another band on the West Coast named Hammer, decided to change their name to Blackfoot to represent the American Indian heritage of Walker, Spires and Medlocke (Spires is part Cherokee, Medlocke part Sioux, and Walker part Eastern Creek, a Florida Indians tribe). When the band failed to acquire a contract as a result of their relocation, Gibbs quit the band and Medlocke began playing rhythm guitar full-time.

During the spring of 1971, Medlocke and Walker accepted an offer to join Lynyrd Skynyrd and Blackfoot ended for a time. There was a brief attempt to regroup during 1972, but Medlocke quit again and Walker joined The Tokens, who soon changed their name to Cross Country. Hargrett remained in the north, living in Hackettstown, New Jersey. During August 1972 Blackfoot's old friend and roadie, John Vassiliou, visited Hargrett with Reidsville, North Carolina bassist Lenny Stadler from the band Blackberry Hill. Hargrett decided to relocate to North Carolina and invited Medlocke, who'd quit Lynyrd Skynyrd by this time, to reform Blackfoot with Stadler for bass guitar and Jakson Spires for drums. Danny Johnson (later with the bands Derringer and Steppenwolf), from a Louisiana group, Axis, was employed as second guitarist. But Medlocke soon decided to be both main vocalist and guitarist again, so Johnson was employed only briefly.

During the summer of 1973, Stadler quit the band after a tumor was discovered on one of his lungs (it later dissolved). But Stadler decided to leave secular music to join a gospel group. He eventually became aMethodist minister. Greg T. Walker was invited to rejoin at this juncture.

By 1974 the band had returned their base of operations to the Northeast (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 brief time, Medlocke was able to sing again and Jude was dismissed. Soon afterward, 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 Lynyrd Skynyrd. No Reservations was released by the company Island Records during 1975 as part of a deal organized by Blackfoot's then manager Lou Manganiello, and their second record album, Flying High, was vended by Epic Records company during 1976. Both record albums were produced by Johnson and Hood.

Mid 1970s[edit source | editbeta]Edit

By late 1975, the group was living back in Gainesville, Florida. During 1977 they communicated with Black Oak Arkansas' manager, Butch Stone, who hired them as the backing group for one of his clients, Ruby Starr, who had been a backup singer for Black Oak but was now becoming self-employed. After the stint with Ruby ended during 1978, they met Brownsville Station manager Al Nalli and his partner Jay Frey, who got them a contract with the company 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. The song "Train, Train", written by Rickey's grandfather, "Shorty" Medlocke, became their first success and best known song. "Highway Song" proved to be another success for them later that year.

The group toured frequently during 1979; late during the year they opened for the band The Who at the Silverdome in Pontiac, Michigan while developing their next album, Tomcattin, which was released during 1980. They went on to release the album Marauder during 1981 and Highway Song Live during 1982.

1980s[edit source | editbeta]Edit

During the early 1980s the "southern rock" genre was considered passe by the pop music press, so the band began attempting to change their style somewhat. They decided to add keyboards to the group once again. Organist Ken Hensley (ex-Uriah Heep) was contacted and agreed to join during 1982 in time for their next record album, Siogo. But the poor sales for Siogo had the band thinking they might have to "modernize" for the new MTV generation. It was thought that perhaps Hargrett with his "biker type" appearance might not be appropriate for television. Hargrett reluctantly decided to end his employment with the band during January 1984 having not played on their next album, Vertical Smiles, which had been recorded in Atlanta in late 1983 with former Yes band's engineer Eddie Offord. This album was rejected by Atco. But the revamped version, which was released finally during October 1984, also failed to sell well.

Ken Hensley, not accustomed to Blackfoot's intense tour schedule, quit by late 1984 and was replaced by former Axe band's singer/guitarist "Bobby" Barth. But by December 1985, with their popularity waning and good-quality engagements becoming few, the band decided to quit. During February 1986 the Blackfoot company was dissolved. Medlocke decided to continue with a new team that included Doug "Bingo" Bare (keyboards, synthetics, backup vocals), Jerry "Wizzard" Seay (from Mother's Finest, bass guitar, backup vocals) and Harold Seay (drums, percussion). For their 1987 album Rick Medlocke and Blackfoot (their final album for Atlantic Records), the new group was attempting a more radio-style 1980s rock music sound. Many of the group's fans were not all that happy with the changes.

During 1988, Wizzard and Seay quit and Gunner Ross (drums, percussion), bassist Mark Mendoza and Neal Casal (guitar) were employed. Mendoza quit by the end of the year and Rikki Mayr (ex-Lizzy Bordenband) began playing bass for the band during early 1989.

1990s[edit source | editbeta]Edit

During 1990 a new album, Medicine Man, was released by the independent Loop company.

By 1992, Medlocke had revamped the team 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 for earlier albums) and Tim Stunson for bass guitar. Another new album, After the Reign, was released during 1994 by the company Wildcat and, like Medicine Man, had something of the band's old style. During 1994, also, the Rhino Records collection Rattlesnake Rock N' Roll: The Best of Blackfoot was released.

By 1996, Blackfoot was: Medlocke, Stet Howland, John Housley (from Ragady Ann) for lead and rhythm guitar and Bryce Barnes (from Edwin Dare) for 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 Lynyrd Skynyrd.

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

2000-2011[edit source | editbeta]Edit

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

During 2006 the band toured and was joined by Southern Rock All Stars's Jay Johnson (the son of Jimmy Johnson, their original co-producer) for guitar and vocals after Barth was sidelined for a shoulder and neck operation. Barth resumed performing later that year. During November 2006 Ullman left to return to Austria and was succeeded by Mark McConnell. In April 2007 Blackfoot dismissed Johnson and McConnell. 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 was employed as drummer.

During the spring of 2010, Barth was forced to undergo emergency back surgery. Former Lynyrd Skynyrd guitarist Mike Estes was then employed for lead vocals/guitar and Kurt Pietro replaced Scott Craig on drums. In the summer of 2011 Charlie Hargrett was replaced by Randy Peak.

2012-present[edit source | editbeta]Edit

The year 2012 introduced a completely new line-up personally chosen and to be produced by founding member and front man Rickey Medlocke. The new line-up was modeled after the live high energy version of Blackfoot in the early 80s. Blackfoot is in the process of booking a full line up of live dates, which can be viewed on their new website:

Walker, Hargrett, Estes and Pietro subsequently regrouped under the band name Fired Guns, whilst Ricky Medlocke continues to perform with Lynyrd Skynyrd and is producing the new line-up of Blackfoot.

Members[edit source | editbeta]Edit

Current members
  • Sean Chambers - lead vocals, guitar (2012–present)
  • Tim Rossi - guitar, vocals (2012–present)
  • Brian Carpenter - bass, vocals (2012–present)
  • Matt Anastasi - drums, vocals (2012–present)
Former members
  • Rickey Medlocke - vocals, guitar, dobro, mandolin, drums (1969–1971, 1972–1997)
  • Charlie Hargrett - guitar (1969–1971, 1972–1984, 2004–2011)
  • Greg T. Walker - bass, backing vocals (1969–1971, 1973–1986, 2004–2011)
  • Ron Sciabarasi - keyboards (1969)
  • Jerry Zambito - guitar (1969)
  • Jakson Spires - drums, percussion, backing vocals (1969–1971, 1972–1986, 2004–2005; died 2005)
  • Dewitt Gibbs - keyboards, backing vocals (1969–1970)
  • Leonard Stadler - bass (1972–1973)
  • Danny Johnson - guitar (1972)
  • Patrick Jude - vocals (1974)
  • Ken Hensley - keyboards, guitar, backing vocals (1982–1984)
  • Bobby Barth - lead vocals, guitar, keyboards (1984–1986, 2004–2006, 2006–2010)
  • Doug Bare - keyboards, backing vocals (1986–1992)
  • Jerry "Wizzard" Seay - bass, backing vocals (1986–1988)
  • Harold Seay - drums, percussion (1986–1988)
  • Gunner Ross - drums, percussion (1988–1992)
  • Neal Casal - guitar (1988–1992)
  • Mark Mendoza - bass (1988)
  • Rikki Mayr - bass, backing vocals (1989–1992)
  • Benny Rappa - drums, percussion (1992–1994)
  • Mark Woerpel - guitar, synthesizer (1992–1996)
  • Tim Stunson - bass (1992–1996)
  • Stet Howland - drums, percussion (1994–1997)
  • John Housley - guitar (1996–1997)
  • Bryce Barnes - bass (1996–1997)
  • Christoph Ullmann - drums, percussion (2005–2006)
  • Jay Johnson - guitar, vocals (2006–2007)
  • Mark McConnell - drums, percussion (2006–2007; died 2012)
  • Michael Sollars - drums, percussion (2007–2009)
  • Scott Craig - drums, percussion (2009–2010)
  • Mike Estes - guitar, vocals (2010–2011)
  • Kurt Pietro - drums, percussion (2010–2011)
  • Randy Peak - guitar (2011)

Discography[edit source | editbeta]Edit

Studio albums[edit source | editbeta]Edit

Live albums[edit source | editbeta]Edit

  • Highway Song Live (1982)
  • Live on the King Biscuit Flower Hour (1998)
  • Train Train: Southern Rock's Best - Live (2007)
  • On the Run - Live (2004)
  • Fly Away - Live (2011)

Singles[edit source | editbeta]Edit

  • Railroad Man (1975)
  • Highway Song (1979) US No. 26
  • Train, Train (1979) US No. 38
  • Spendin' Cabbage (1980)
  • On the Run (1980)
  • Dry County (1980)
  • Fly Away (1981) US No. 42
  • Searchin' (1981) US No. 108
  • Send Me an Angel (1983)
  • Teenage Idol (1983) US No. 103
  • Morning Dew (1984)
  • Guitar Slingers Song and Dance (1990)

Compilations[edit source | editbeta]Edit

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

Radio shows[edit source | editbeta]Edit

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

Rare items[edit source | editbeta]Edit

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

DVD[edit source | editbeta]Edit

  • Train Train (2007) Atco Records
  • Blackfoot: Live in Kentucky (2008)
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