Biography All Music Guide
All Music Guide:
Although they played the same clubs as most of Los Angeles' "paisley underground" bands (i.e., Dream Syndicate, Rain Parade) and even featured Dream Syndicate leader Steve Wynn in an early lineup, the Long Ryders were actually more a roots rock group strongly influenced by Gram Parsons. The group was founded by Kentucky native Sid Griffin, a Parsons devotee who moved to Los Angeles after hearing about that city's punk scene, with guitarist Stephen McCarthy and drummer Greg Sowders. The group's first bassist Barry Shank, along with Griffin, had previously been a member of the L.A. garage revivalists Unclaimed. He was replaced by Des Brewer just before the band went into the studio for the first time. The Long Ryders' 1983 debut EP, 10-5-60, was a blend of punk attitude, '60s rock, and traditional country (Griffin played steel guitar, autoharp, and mandolin). Brewer soon left as he was not committed to touring. His replacement, Don McCall, lasted for one tour before he was asked to leave. The band's lineup was stabilized when Indiana native Tom Stevens joined. Their first full-length album, the following year's Native Sons, was also arguably their best, and featured guest vocals from former Byrd Gene Clark. Subsequent albums, while still of considerable artistic merit, failed to find an audience despite the band's incessant touring. Reeling from the defections of Stevens in June of 1987 and McCarthy in September, and unhappy with Island's promotional efforts and seeming disregard for the group, the Long Ryders called it quits on December 15, 1987. McCarthy formed Gutterball and, along with Griffin, contributed to the 1993 Gram Parsons tribute album Commemorativo. Griffin, meanwhile, moved to London and formed the Coal Porters; today he works as a music critic and writer, foreshadowed by his definitive 1985 biography of (who else?) Gram Parsons.