Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music
JAMES GANG, The
US rock trio formed '66 by drummer Jimmy Fox, who recruited bassist Tom Kriss and guitarist Glenn Schwartz to play covers at school dances. Schwartz quit '69 to join Pacific Gas and Electric, replaced by Joe Walsh. Yer Album '69 betrayed continuing UK infl. but the fact that they continued as trio (having ditched a few keyboardists) says much for the versatility of vocalist/guitarist Walsh: LP incl. originals, covers of Yardbirds ('Lost Woman'), Buffalo Springfield ('Bluebird') all in hard rock style and was a surprise hit on BluesWay, making top 100 USA albums. Kriss was replaced by Dale Peters; Rides Again, Thirds and Live In Concert '70--71 followed; all made top 30 LPs on parent ABC label, but even European tour supporting the Who failed to bring superstardom: first of these contained Walsh classic 'The Bomber'; live set eschewed acoustic progression of Thirds in favour of heavy metal greatest hits treatment made in Carnegie Hall. Departure of Walsh late '71 necessitated recruits, Canadian-based guitarist Dom Troiano (b Modugno, Italy) and vocalist Roy Kenner, also Canadian. Straight Shooter and Passin' Thru '72 were regarded as poor; Troiano left to join Guess Who, was replaced at Walsh's suggestion by Tommy Bolin, but their days were numbered despite the newcomer's skills: Bolin co-wrote all but one song on Bang '73 but this and Miami '74 sold poorly (on Atco). They split when Bolin left to join Deep Purple; a later lineup (rhythm section with guitarists Bubba Keith and Richard Shack) tried again but Newborn '75 did not make top 100. The Walsh-era Gang could have become a major force, but his departure at a time of polarization of pop and rock left them nowhere.