Southern US rock practitioners Blackfoot formed in 1970, with the original line-up featuring Rick Medlocke (17 February 1950, USA; guitar/vocals), Charlie Hargrett (guitar), Greg Walker (bass/vocals) and Jakson Spires (b. 12 April 1951, Raleigh, North Carolina, USA, d. 16 Mach 2005, Fort Pierce, Florida, USA; drums/vocals). The quartet shared common origins with Lynyrd Skynyrd (Medlocke co-writing four songs and singing lead on two tracks on the latters platinum First And Last) and in turn offered a similar blues/rock-based sound, centred on their leaders confident playing. Medlocke himself was the grandson of Shorty Medlocke, a popular Jacksonville, Florida bluegrass musician of the 50s, whose Train, Train was successfully covered by Blackfoot and, in the 90s, Warrant. Rick Medlocke took the name Blackfoot from his own native Indian tradition. Session pianist Jimmy Johnson produced Blackfoots mid-70s albums at the revered Muscle Shoals studio, but despite this impressive pedigree, the band was unable to translate an in-concert popularity, especially in the UK, into record sales. 1979s Strikes, the units first release for Atco Records, offered a heavier perspective, and generated the US Top 40 hits Highway Song and Train, Train. They enjoyed further success with the track Fly Away from 1981s Marauder. The cream of the bands early work was captured live on Highway Song Live.
After these releases, Blackfoot bowed to record company pressure and pursued a more commercial approach that was not always convincing. Keyboard player Ken Hensley (b. 24 August 1945, London, England), formerly of Uriah Heep, joined the line-up for Siogo and Vertical Smiles, and was eventually replaced by Bobby Barth (guitar/vocals) of Axe, but Blackfoot was disbanded following the latters release. Medlocke revived the name for a 1987 album credited to Rick Medlocke And Blackfoot, before putting together a new line-up with Neal Casal (b. 2 November 1968, Denville, New Jersey, USA; guitar), Rikki Mayer (bass, ex-Lizzy Borden) and Gunner Ross (drums). However, none of these members remained for Blackfoots 1994 album with new label Bullet Proof/Music For Nations, with Mark Woerpel (guitar/vocals, ex-Wardrive), Benny Rappa (drums/vocals) and Tim Stunson (bass) stepping in to support the venerable Medlocke. Rappa was replaced by ex-W.A.S.P. drummer Stet Howland for touring, but by the end of the decade Blackfoot had seemingly ground to a terminal halt.
In 2004, founding members Walker, Spires and Hargrett decided to begin touring under the Blackfoot name again. With Medlocke unable to commit to the band the trio recruited Bobby Barth to complete the line-up. Tragically, in March the following year Spires died after suffering an aneurysm.
Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.