Years: 1969 – present
Styles: Country, Folk, Garage Rock, Hard Rock, Psychedelic Rock
Danny Whitten - Backing vocals, Guitar, Lead vocals, Vocals (in band: 1969 - 1971)
Billy Talbot - Backing vocals, Bass Guitar, Keyboards, Vocals (in band: 1969 - present)
Ralph Molina - Acoustic guitar , Backing vocals, Drums, Guitar, Percussion, Vocals (in band: 1969 - present)
Jack Nitzsche - Backing vocals, Keyboards, Piano, Vocals (in band: 1970 - 1971)
Nils Lofgren - Backing vocals, Guitar, Keyboards, Vocals (in band: 1970 – 1971)
George Whitsell - Acoustic guitar , Congas, Guitar, Vocals (in band: 1971 - 1972)
Greg Leroy - Acoustic guitar , Bottleneck guitar, Guitar, Lead guitar, Vocals (in band: 1971 - 1972)
John Blanton - Cello, Harmonica, Keyboards, Organ, Piano, Vocals (in band: 1971 - 1972)
Rick Curtis - Banjo, Guitar, Rhythm guitar, Vocals (in band: 1972)
Michael Curtis - Guitar, Keyboards, Mandolin, Organ, Piano, Vocals (in band: 1972)
Frank "Poncho" Sampedro - Guitar, Keyboards, Mandolin, Vocals, Wurlitzer Organ (in band: 1975 – 1988; 1990 – present)
Sonny Mone - Guitar, Lead vocals (in band: 1989)
Matt Piucci - Lead guitar, Vocals (in band: 1989)
The band's origins date to 1963 and the Los Angeles-based a cappella doo-wop group Danny & The Memories, which consisted of main singer Danny Whitten and supporting vocalists Lou Bisbal (soon to be replaced by Bengiamino Rocco, the husband of actress Lorna Maitland), Billy Talbot, and Ralph Molina. The latter two would become the only members of Crazy Horse present in every incarnation of the band.
Back in Los Angeles, the group evolved over the course of several years into The Rockets, a psychedelic pop/folk rock ensemble that juxtaposed the rudimentary instrumental abilities of Talbot (bass), Molina (drums) and Whitten (rhythm guitar) against the more accomplished Bobby Notkoff (violin) and Leon Whitsell (lead guitar).
Crazy Horse capitalized on its newfound exposure and recorded its eponymous debut album for Reprise Records that year. The band retained Nitzsche as producer and keyboardist and added Lofgren as a second guitarist; singer-songwriter and guitarist Ry Cooder also sat in on three tracks at the behest of Nitzsche to deputize for the ailing Whitten.
Although the album only peaked at No. 84 on the Billboard 200 chart in 1971, Whitten's "I Don't Want to Talk About It" would later be covered by a wide range of artists, including Geoff Muldaur, the Indigo Girls, Pegi Young and Rod Stewart. Stewart would record the song three times and score a hit with it on the same number of occasions, most notably as a UK No. 1 double A-side in 1977 with Cat Stevens's "The First Cut Is the Deepest." In 1988, the song would become a Top Ten hit in the UK again, this time a No. 3 for Everything but the Girl. Two songs from the album were covered by Scottish hard rock band Nazareth: Lofgren's "Beggar's Day" appeared on Hair of the Dog (1975), while Nitzsche's "Gone Dead Train" is the second track on Expect No Mercy (1977).
Following the commercial failure of Crazy Horse, Lofgren and Nitzsche left the group to pursue solo careers; meanwhile, Whitten's drug problems pushed Talbot and Molina to dismiss him and turn to outside musicians. The band released two albums on different labels (Loose and At Crooked Lake) to critical and commercial diffidence in 1972; along with Talbot and Molina, guitarist/singer-songwriter Greg Leroy was the only musician to appear on both albums. While the former saw Rockets guitarist George Whitsell briefly return to the fold, fronting the band in conjunction with Leroy and keyboardist John Blanton, the latter was dominated by the roots rock stylings of Rick and Mike Curtis (formerly of These Vizitors and best known for their later work as The Curtis Brothers).
After Whitten's death and the tepid reception accorded to both albums, Talbot and Molina were the only full-fledged members of the band. They let the Crazy Horse name go unused while resolving not to retire it altogether. In mid-1973,
Several years later, Young included all three members of Crazy Horse in another horn-driven ensemble, the Bluenotes. But when Talbot and Molina proved ill-suited to a blues-oriented approach, Young reluctantly replaced the Crazy Horse bassist and drummer while retaining Sampedro, who would remain with Young in various band permutations over the next two years. Immediately thereafter, Talbot and Molina replaced Sampedro with former Rain Parade guitarist Matt Piucci, recruited Sonny Mone to provide vocals and recorded the pointedly-titled Left for Dead.
According to Jimmy McDonough, Crazy Horse had begun a sixth album of its own in the mid-1990s, but left the project unfinished when Young called upon the group to join him for some secret club dates in California (for which the quartet billed themselves as The Echoes), leading to the recording of Broken Arrow.
Crazy Horse remained on hiatus for eight years following the Greendale tour. Although Sampedro was employed as an assistant to Kevin Eubanks on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno from 1992 to 2010, the band continued to rehearse several times a year and more intermittently with Young during this period.
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