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Long Ryders Bassist Tom Stevens Dies at 64

Tom Stevens, bassist for the Los Angeles rock quartet the Long Ryders, a key member of the so-called “Paisley Underground” scene of the Nineteen Eighties, died on January 24, in keeping with an announcement from the band. No reason for demise was cited; he was 64.

Whereas the group, closely influenced by Gram Parsons, the Byrds, Buffalo Springfield, Bob Dylan and different country-rock pioneers, launched simply three albums and an EP throughout their Nineteen Eighties heyday, they had been an early purveyor of the style later dubbed Americana and represented the rootsier aspect of the Paisley Underground, together with bands like Inexperienced on Pink. The extra psychedelic contingent was held down by the Rain Parade — whose guitarist, David Roback, went on to kind Opal and Mazzy Star and handed away final yr — the Dream Syndicate, the Three O’Clock and others. The scene was a stronghold of the American independent-rock explosion of the period, and people bands performed on many payments with R.E.M., the Replacements, Husker Du and different college-radio staples.

Born in Indiana, Stevens was classically educated and acquired scholarship provides from schools to check double bass however selected rock as a substitute. He joined a neighborhood exhausting rock group known as Magi, which developed a powerful regional following and launched an album in 1976 earlier than shifting to Los Angeles; the group’s sound was out of step with the post-punk of the late Seventies and so they break up up. Stevens labored at native file shops, networked across the scene and launched a solo EP. After listening to that the Long Ryders, whose debut EP he knew from the file retailer, had parted methods with their bassist, Stevens was advisable to the band by singer Carla Olson. He formally joined singer-guitarists Sid Griffin and Stephen McCarthy and drummer Greg Sowders within the group early in 1984. In addition to enjoying bass, Stevens sang and wrote a few songs per album.

After releasing their “Native Sons” album on the indie Frontier Data in 1984, the group toured the U.S. and Europe extensively — American rock bands of the period had been enthusiastically welcomed by the British music press — signed with main label Island and launched “State of Our Union” the next yr. The album featured an even bigger sound and upset some longtime followers however usually acquired optimistic evaluations and did properly at school radio. Nevertheless, the group was harshly criticized for doing a Miller Beer industrial in 1986 — a controversial transfer within the purist rock scene of the time — and their profession by no means fairly recovered. Regardless of releasing a stable album, “Two Fisted Tales,” in 1987, industrial success eluded them and so they break up at the tip of the yr.

Stevens, who had guested with Olson and Byrds cofounder Gene Clark in addition to different L.A. space teams, moved again to Indiana in 1988, raised a household, received a level in laptop science and labored in data know-how for a few years; he additionally launched a number of solo albums. Griffin moved to the U.Okay. and have become a music author; McCarthy performed with the Jayhawks and different contemporaries; Sowders is a senior VP of A&R at Warner Chappell Music Publishing. Starting in 2004, the Long Ryders sometimes reunited for gigs or temporary excursions earlier than regrouping for a full-blown album and tour in 2019. The album, aptly titled “Psychedelic Nation Soul,” reunited the group with producer Ed Stasium (who’d additionally helmed “Two Fisted Tales”) and former scene-mates the Bangles, who sang backing vocals. In some ways, it discovered the group coming full circle.

Beneath: the Long Ryders within the mid-Nineteen Eighties, L-R: Greg Sowders, Tom Stevens, Stephen McCarthy, Sid Griffin (Picture: Greg Allen)

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Greg Allen

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