Mark Andes (Bass, Vocals)
Growing up in Los Angeles where his father Keith was a character actor in many well-known movies, Mark Andes was a founding member of such cutting edge bands as Canned Heat and Spirit while still a teenager. Spirit is still considered by many to be the first band to successfully fuse jazz and rock with protest, folk-like lyrics. Their four albums ( Spirit, The Family That Plays Together, Clear and The Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus ), released from 1967-1970, all are propelled by the visionary rhythm section of Andes and Ed “Cass” Cassidy. Although the group created such radio staples as “I’ve Got A Line On You” and “Nature’s Way,” while headlining arenas and theatres throughout the U.S. with their unbelievably dynamic stage show, they called it quits in 1970 when a major commercial breakthrough eluded them.
Andes and Spirit’s lead vocalist Jay Ferguson went on to form the hard rockin’ Jo Jo Gunne (which also included Mark’s brother Matt) and quickly scored a top-30 hit with the infectious “Run Run Run.” Mark’s involvement in the band was short-lived, however, as he wanted a no-frills rock band while the group was veering in the direction of the era’s trendy glitter rock scene. Jo Jo Gunne remains to this day as a well-followed cult band with many still asking, when will we see you together again?
Needing a break from Los Angeles, Andes gravitated toward Boulder, Colorado, which was flooded with expatriate Californians such as Stephen Stills, Joe Walsh, Richie Furay, Chris Hillman and Dan Fogelberg. After a brief stint with Chris Hillman, Andes formed Firefall with ex-Flying Burrito Brother vocalist Rick Roberts and former Byrd's drummer Michael Clarke. The group became one of the most successful in an impressive explosion of Rocky Mountain bands, hitting the top ten on the pop radio charts with “You Are The Woman,” and “Just Remember I Love You” as well as having enough arena rock savvy to tour with the likes of The Band, Fleetwood Mac, Heart and The Doobie Brothers.
After a satisfying six-year run with Firefall, Andes felt the tug of the ocean and moved back to Los Angeles where he was overloaded with session work by such hit makers as Kim Carnes, Joe Walsh and Whitesnake . When Ann and Nancy Wilson heard of Andes’ new free agent status, they quickly recruited him to infuse energy into a struggling Heart . Mark immediately helped Heart reverse their dwindling fortunes, co-writing their return-to-radio hit “How Can I Refuse” in 1983 and helping to make the group one of the original MTV darlings. Andes’ 10-year stint with Heart was dotted with multi-platinum albums, #1 hits, award winning videos and non-stop arena headlining tours. One only has to view the Brigade Tour video to see what his dynamic talent had added to this world-renowned group.
When word spread that Andes had left Heart, it didn’t take long for Stevie Nicks and Dan Fogelberg to call on their old friend to add rock bottom stability to their tours. Dan has been known to say that he is in awe of Mark’s ability to play intricate bass lines while singing in a high falsetto voice.
In the late 90s, Mark once again relocated for musical and environmental reasons, this time selecting Austin, Texas as home. As he had done in Boulder in the 70s, he galvanized the local music community and has contributed to developing the artistry of Kelly Willis, Iain Matthews, Jon Dee Graham, Eliza Gilkyson and recent Grammy Award winner Jim Lauderdale . In the midst of all this activity, Mark is mentoring and performing with his son’s group, The Luke Andes Band .
Mark Andes has spent four decades on the front lines of musical creativity. His contributions to his musical partners continue to be soulful and significant. He is always peeking around the next corner to see what other musical adventures await him. “Have Bass, Will Travel” may not be his official motto, but this world-traveling, modern day minstrel remains destined to go where the music leads him.