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The James Gang’s Debt To Pete Townshend

The success of the American rock band was amplified when The Who took them under their wing.

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James Gang Rides Again

Album rock radio in America in 1970 resounded to the rock of the James Gang, and on 25 July that year, they proved that their initial success the year before with Yer’ Album was no fluke. They debuted on the Billboard chart with their second LP, James Gang Rides Again.

James Gang Rides AgainThe rock ‘n’ roll cowboys from Cleveland had come together as far back as 1966, but it wasn’t until the last year of the decade that that debut album made its appearance. It reached No. 83 in a 24-week chart run, but it was Rides Again that really promoted the band to the top division of rock talent in the US. It hit No. 20, becoming the first of three consecutive gold albums and spending an epic 66 weeks on the bestsellers.

The album was produced, like its predecessor, by Bill Szymczyk and made at the Record Plant in late 1969. Rides Again was seen by the press as a more consistent piece of work, even if it invited comparisons with various other rock notables of the day, from Jeff Beck via Led Zeppelin to Stephen Stills and Neil Young.

Jack Nitzsche contributed a classical-style orchestral arrangement to the ballad that closed the record, ‘Ashes, The Rain and I.’ The track made an unlikely connection with club-goers in 1999, when it was sampled by British DJ-artist Fatboy Slim on his UK No. 2 hit ‘Right Here, Right Now.’

The Who James Gang

The poster for the opening night of The Who’s October 1970 UK tour, with support from the James Gang

The James Gang had won praise from Pete Townshend when they played with The Who in Pittsburgh. Soon after the release of Rides Again, their first UK performances were, aptly, supporting the British band on tour through most of October, 1970.

“We would never have come over here if it hadn’t been for him,” Joe Walsh told Penny Valentine in Sounds. “England has a kind of aura about it, y’know. Americans expect everyone to be a Jimmy Page. And he helped us a hell of a lot in the States.

“Okay, we were getting along, but he got us attention and since then The Who has really taken us under their wing. I don’t honestly understand what they see in us. I still can’t believe we’re where we are and what’s happened to us.”

The Best of Joe Walsh and the James Gang, 1969-1974 can be bought here.

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10 Comments

10 Comments

  1. Craig battenberg

    July 25, 2015 at 5:18 pm

    I have both LPS from the 70’s still. Great music.

    • Phil

      July 26, 2015 at 4:37 am

      I had the “Rides Again” album. I cant see me owning BOTH. BS

  2. Dave Brim

    July 25, 2015 at 6:47 pm

    First time I saw The Who was in Cleveland in the summer of 1970 Opening for The Who were the James Gang and James Taylor. James Taylor was a brand new artist and was booed off the stage that night. The concert cost $5.

  3. Randy Bratcher

    July 25, 2015 at 10:00 pm

    Still have all 3 James Gang albums with Joe Walsh (‘Yer Album, Rides Again, Thirds). All brilliant pieces of work. Saw Joe Walsh and Barnstorm in Oklahoma City in 1972, with REO Speedwagon and Focus. Cost $6 for the ticket. Joe Walsh is the best that ever was and still is. And the James Gang lineup of Jim Fox, Dale Peters, and Joe Walsh is the best that ever was or ever will be.

  4. Nik

    July 27, 2015 at 2:36 am

    I saw this tour in the UK. Was a great night. Ears were ringing for days after. Probably attributes to lousy hearing now. :).

  5. Buddy

    July 27, 2015 at 6:05 pm

    Funny I came across your comment. Right now, I am sitting 3 feet from a framed promo poster of that exact show. (5 bucks on Ebay & It is awesome) About 4 days ago, my friend was admiring it & we both said “I bet the crowd was tough on J.T., his music is all wrong for an opening act, for either of the headliners. Well, thanks to you, I now know my assumption was accurate.
    After Hendrix passed away, Pete T. always said “Joe Walsh was his American guitar hero.” His other favorite player, was David Gilmour.

  6. buddy

    July 27, 2015 at 6:07 pm

    what happened to my comment?

  7. Scott Lovely

    January 25, 2016 at 8:31 pm

    love James Gang Joe Walsh ! and the Who ! Who’s Next , Tommy , one of the top 20 albums ever ! Cream loved them then became Who all time greats Door’s etc etc !

  8. Chris

    July 26, 2016 at 8:12 pm

    First saw the Gang at the orchid ballroom in Purley and we were still screaming for them to come back when the who were playing.
    BLEW THE WHO OFF THE STAGE…. Joe is the dogs blocks live.

  9. martin

    October 6, 2016 at 6:54 am

    I had Rides Again with Ravel’s Bolero as part of the Bomber. A friend of mine bought Rides again, but no Bolero. Anyone knows what happened to that part?

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