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Jo Jo Gunne


Here was a band that should have been huge - at least on paper. Talented musicians. Cool name taken from a '58 Chuck Berry song. Rock music wheeler-dealer David Geffen (and his Asylum Records) behind them.

Singer Jay Ferguson and bassist Mark Andes had been in Spirit, a band known for infusing Jazz elements into their sound. As a result, Spirit failed to have much success until they dropped the Jazz and played straight-ahead Rock, as on their biggest hit "I Got A Line On You." Lesson learned.

Following Spirit's "Twelve Dreams Of Dr. Sardonious" album Ferguson and Andes formed Jo Jo Gunne with Mark's brother Matt, a guitarist, and Curly Smith on drums. The reference to Chuck Berry in the group's name clearly stated the group's intent. No musical excursions this time around. After all, Spirit had been a financially marginal experience and now it was time for Ferguson and Mark Andes to sock some money into the bank.

Signed by Asylum, the group released four albums in two years with limited success. At the time, Asylum was a relatively new label and perhaps their promotional chops weren't in place. Maybe the music was just run of the mill, mediocre (though that didn't stop other bands from becoming huge - think Jo Jo Gunne's label mates, The Eagles). In the end, Jo Jo Gunne was able to graze the bottom 20 of the Top 40 with the rousing "Run, Run, Run." They did a lot better in the U.K. where the song cracked the Top 10. So basically, these guys are one-hit wonders and their hit wasn't all that big.





The lack of success led Ferguson to light out for a solo career that was only slightly more prosperous than Jo Jo Gunne's. He hit the Top 40 with "Thunder Island" and "Shakedown Cruise." Mark Andes faired far better. Following a stint with Firefall (uck!), Andes landed with Heart just prior to their early '80s comeback ("What About Love," "Alone" and "These Dreams," "Who Will You Run To" and "There's The Girl"). Finally, somebody from the Spirit-Jo Jo Gunne crowd made it.

Going back to Ferguson, if Spirit hadn't had a second hit with "Mr. Skin" you could argue that Jay was with the most one-hit wonders of all time - Spirit, Jo Jo Gunne and solo ("Shakedown Cruise" was solid but "Thunder Island" didn't do all that much). But no, "Mr. Skin" saved Ferguson from such infamy.

Jo Jo Gunne Discography

Albums:

1972 Jo Jo Gunne
1973 Bite Down Hard
1973 Jumpin' The Gunne
1974 So...Where's The Show?
2005 Big Chain

Jo Jo Gunne weren't great but they weren't awful either. Maybe that's what killed them. In the early '70s it had to be one or the other. Download "Run, Run, Run" and call it good. Do the same with Ferguson's solo hits.

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