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Jay Ferguson (Keyboards, Vocals)

Jay Ferguson was born in Southern California in the San Fernando Valley on May 10. He grew up in the cities of Van Nuys and then Chatsworth. At the age of twelve, Jay's parents encouraged his musical abilities with classical piano lessons. By the time he'd turned sixteen, Jay's interest had transferred to the banjo, and along with his brother Tom, an accomplished fiddle player, he became a member of a bluegrass group called The Oat Hill Stump Straddlers.

Jay was quite busy during his time at Chatsworth High School. He was a cheerleader, and also later became Senior Class President. Along with his good buddy Mark Andes, he was also a member of several garage bands, Western Union and The Red Roosters. He also somehow managed to hold down part time jobs at different points as a theater usher and architect's assistant, and also taught piano in a music store, and even fit in a little studying at college after high school. But, his real passion was playing and performing. By now it was the mid-60's, and just about everyone loved and admired The Beatles and their music, and Jay was no exception. Reuniting with some longtime musician friends Randy California and his stepfather Ed Cassidy after a chance meeting at an afternoon love-in at Griffith Park, Jay and Mark joined with them to form a jazz influenced rock group that was originally called Spirits Rebellious, after a Khalil Gibran passage. With the general consensus that the moniker was too long, they later shortened the name to Spirit. Jay was the last member to actually join the band, and sporting a rather mod Beatles style haircut, he found himself in the position of lead vocalist and percussionist. Jay traded singing and songwriting duties with Randy, writing most of the songs that would be on their first album. Spirit began playing at various nightclubs in the LA area, especially the ones along the exotic Sunset Strip, including the famous Whiskey-A-Go-Go. At one of these shows one fateful night, famed French film producer Jacques Demy strolled in and saw Spirit perform and decided he wanted them in his next movie that he was filming there in Hollywood. This led to a cameo role for the band and a short speaking part in which Jay basically played a character based loosely on himself in a largely forgotten and rather underrated film called "The Model Shop". Spirit also provided much of the instrumental soundtrack for this movie. Spirit went on to tour somewhat extensively and recorded a total of four albums. For various reasons, Jay and Mark decided to leave Spirit in the early 70's and form their own band. Jay flipped through a music encyclopedia for inspiration as to what to call this fledgeling group, and landed on one of his favorite artists, Chuck Berry. One of Chuck's songs provided a great idea for a name and Jo Jo Gunne was born. Jay also fell in love and married a beautiful lady named Debbie at around this time. Jo Jo Gunne was an edgier, much harder rocking band than Spirit. Jay still retained his songwriting, lead vocalist and percussionist roles, but he also had the pleasure of playing keyboard in this new group. The band were the second artists signed to the new Asylum record label that was just being started by David Geffen, and they scored a moderate hit with "Run,Run,Run" on their very first album. With the first record and some touring already completed, Mark Andes then decided to depart Jo Jo Gunne and join the band that would later become Firefall, with brother Matt staying behind with Jo Jo Gunne. Jimmie Randall, another Austin, TX, axe player, assumed Mark's position for the remainder of the band's life. Jo Jo Gunne toured all over the USA and Europe almost continuously and constantly for the next three years, briefly managing to stop back into the studio to complete three more albums that didn't quite make as big an impact as the first one did. The members became very exhausted with this hectic, non-stop touring and recording schedule. Matt Andes also left the band after the second album and was temporarily replaced with Star Donaldson on lead guitar, and then later, John Staehely came on board, assuming Star's role. After a four year grinding run, eventually the group decided to call it quits in the mid '70's. Jay took a year and a half off for much needed rest and recuperation and to finally spend some quality time alone with wife Debbie. But, there were eventually still more albums on his recording contract left to complete, and super record producer Bill Szymczyk called one day and asked Jay to come down to his Miami studio when he was good and ready with some original songs to record. Bill had a band of excellent session musicians that were assembled for the solo project. Jay travelled to Florida, and went on to record four more albums for Asylum, and scored a Top Ten hit with the title song of his second solo album, "Thunder Island." After his contract for Asylum was completed, Jay changed record companies, and recorded two more solo albums for Capitol Records. In 1982, after his sixth and what would regrettably be his last solo album, "White Noise", Jay decided to make a big switch in the direction of his musical career. This was probably prompted by another big change in his personal life, becoming a father for the very first time of a precious new baby daughter. Jay opted to become a soundtrack composer for films and television, and to date has written music for over fifteen feature movies and many TV shows, working alone by himself in his studio. He is still currently doing this same thing many years later, and has also recently begun producing CDs for other artists.

Bio courtesy of Leigh Crutchfield ~ 2003


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