- Entertainment and Media
It's Natures Way: Randy California and music of the band Spirit
Randy Craig Wolfe
Spirit is the name of an eclectic rock band fronted by lead singer and guitarist Randy California. Their music is a unique mix of rock music and jazz.
Randy started his career early, playing with Jimi Hendrix at age 15 before forming his own band with his step-father, drummer Ed Cassidy. Hendrix coined the name "California" to tell the difference between two guys named Randy in Jimi's first band: Jimmy James and the Blue Flame.
The band started in the Summer of Love (1967) and Spirit continued to tour with new material until Randy's tragic death in 1997 while saving his son Quinn from a strong rip current in Hawaii.
Compilation of the first 4 albums (2009)
The first 4 albums in a two CD set with all their radio favorites and classic songs from Spirit during the years 1968 to 1974. This is all you need to enjoy the height of their career.
Self-titled first album (1968)
The first album from the band is filled with the raw energy of a new group working together for the first time. The songs were fueled by the influence of the British Invasion bands, like Pink Floyd, and the Magical Mystery Tour album from those lads from Liverpool [The Beatles].
This is my desert island disk for Spirit -- every song is good, and most tracks are excellent, including "Fresh Garbage", "Topanga Windows" (named for Topanga Canyon in Los Angeles), "Straight Arrow" and "Gramophone Man". "Water Woman" is one of my all time favorite songs.
The Family That Plays Together
The second album
This album takes it's name from the family of Ed Cassidy and his step-son, Randy California. This is a much more jazz influenced album which really shows off Randy's skills on long guitar jams with the band. The most popular song from this album is the rockin' I Got A Line On You with other great hits including "It Shall Be", "It's All The Same" and "Dream Within A Dream".
"She Smiles", "Space Chile" and "So Little To Say" are all previously unreleased songs on the MP3.
This is one of the neglected gems from Spirit. Clear has a solid rock 'n roll sound with songs like "Dark Eyed Woman", "So Little Time to Fly", "I'm Triuckin'", "Policeman's Ball". The album also has the typical eclectic influences from jazz on the songs "Caught", "Ice" and the title track "Clear".
More cautionary tales with the song "1984", inspired by the book by George Orwell. Coral and Fuller Brush Man are bonus tracks on the CD or downloaded MP3 released.
The 12 Dreams of Doctor Sardonicus
4th Spirit album
Acclaimed as one of the best headphone albums of all time with a blend of hard rock ("Animal Zoo", "Morning Will Come"), psychedelic music ("Space Child") and jazz. The tunes that got most airplay are "Nature's Way", "Mr. Skin" and "Nothin' to Hide".
"Rougher Road", "Street Worm" and "Red Light Roll On" are bonus tracks that were previously unreleased. "Why Can't I Be Free" and "Love Has Found a Way" are excellent songs with incredibly beautiful vocals.
Three reasons to love Randy California
A brilliant musician with strong beliefs
It's easy to love Randy California for the music. "Natures Way" and "I Got a Line on You" are their most popular tunes, and the band also has many more great songs that didn't get much airplay.
The second reason is that Randy played with Jimi Hendrix, who gave Randy Wolfe his stage name. They met at the legendary Manny's Music Store in Manhattan and played together until Hendrix went off to Europe to be discovered. Randy was only 15 at the time, and his parents thought he should finish school rather that touring with Jimi.
The third reason to love Randy California is the time period - the late sixties on the West Coast was a time of revolution, social change and the center of the best music scene in the country. The best rock poster artists and underground cartoonists also made a lasting impression during the 1960s as creative people, like Randy, voiced their opinions.
Have you ever heard Randy's music?
External links & resources
- Article clippings from the Randy California Tribute page
Randy California (1951-1997) A True Spirit and Guitarist Extraordinaire
- Randy California obituary
An appreciation of the career of RANDY CALIFORNIA with quotations and commentary
- Album reviews
Reviews and images of the most popular recordings from Spirit
- Spirit & Randy California
Album cover artwork and record reviews