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Long Ryders, The

Hailing from Los Angeles, The Long Ryders formed in November 1981 and based their sound on a blend of psychedelia, country and garage rock. Original guitarist Steve Wynn was replaced by Stephen McCarthy when he left to form the Dream Syndicate.

Sid ‘Chops’ Griffin’s outfit mixed The Byrds‘ Rickenbacker jangle, the Flying Burrito Brothers‘ sense of melody and harmony, Gram Parsons‘ wayward spirit and The Clash‘s energy.

Their indie releases 10-5-60 (1983) and Native Sons (1984) – with Tom Stevens replacing Des Brewer on bass after the 10-5-60 EP – put the country-rocking Ryders in the advance guard of the guitar-toting American roots brigade.

Rarely had a band’s heart been more solidly in the right place and worn so openly on its sleeve.

Their major-label debut album State of Our Union (1986) and its single Looking for Lewis & Clark both made the lower reaches of the UK Top 75 Albums and Singles chart. The band even appeared on the cover of the NME and were guests on the Old Grey Whistle Test.

All seemed to be going well. They released their second and final Island Records label album Two-Fisted Tales and its accompanying single I Want You Bad in the summer of 1987.

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Both failed to chart in the UK and the band toured the UK in that summer to promote the album. The gigs were poorly attended and the writing was now on the wall.

Bass player Tom Stevens was the first to jump ship and he was soon followed by lead guitarist Stephen McCarthy.

Sid Griffin and drummer Greg Sowders were offered the chance to record their final Long Ryders album for Island but they sensibly declined. The Long Ryders were no more.

Sowders travelled to LA and went into music publishing. Stevens went back home to Indiana and recorded a couple of albums. McCarthy also stayed playing music in the USA with various bands. Griffin moved permanently to London and has released many albums under his own name, The Coal Porters or Western Electric.

He has written books on musicians such as Gram Parsons and contributed countless reviews for UK music magazines. Griffin has kept the name of the Long Ryders going by reissuing their albums on his own label Prima Records.

In 2004, to promote a new compilation, The Best of the Long Ryders, the group
reformed and toured the UK to packed venues. There have been intermittent reunions in 2009 and 2014 where the band has toured the USA and Spain.

In 2018 the band got back together on a more permanent footing when they released
their first new album in 32 years. It was called Psychedelic Country Soul. and was
accompanied by two non-album download-only singles.

In early 2020 the band were playing on cruise ships in the Caribbean. That’s rock n
roll.

With special thanks to Kevin Thomas

Sid ‘Chops’ Griffin
Vocals, guitar
Stephen McCarthy
Guitar, steel guitar, mandolin, banjo
Des Brewer
Bass
Greg Sowders
Drums
Tom Stevens
Bass