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Sanford & Townsend
Sanford & Townsend
Best remembered for their ubiquitous 1977 pop hit "Smoke from a Distant Fire," blue-eyed soul duo Sanford & Townsend reunited Ed Sanford and John Townsend, who previously teamed in the Montgomery, AL-based Warner Bros. act the Heart. Despite a series of opening gigs in support of the Jimi Hendrix Experience, the group's lone LP attracted little notice and after the Heart dissolved, both Sanford and Townsend migrated to Los Angeles, where the latter signed on with the group Feather and scored a chart hit with the White Whale label single "Friends." After renewing ties in L.A., Sanford and Townsend began writing songs, most notably placing their "Peacemaker" on Loggins & Messina's 1976 effort Native Sons; with engineer Alex Kazanegras, they cut a demo tape that eventually made its way to the legendary producer Jerry Wexler, and on his recommendation Warner Bros. extended a contract offer. After decamping to the famed Muscle Shoals Recording Studio, Sanford & Townsend issued their Wexler-produced eponymous debut in 1976. The record fared poorly on its initial release, but when "Smoke from a Distant Fire" cracked the Top Ten on the pop charts in the fall of 1977, the LP was re-released, this time titled after its smash hit. In addition to a lengthy stint opening for Fleetwood Mac on their epic Rumours tour, Sanford & Townsend also supported Smoke from a Distant Fire via gigs with Southern rockers the Marshall Tucker Band. Their second album, Duo-Glide, nevertheless failed to repeat its predecessor's success, and when 1979's Nail Me to the Wall met a similarly dismal fate, Warner Bros. terminated the duo's contract. Both Sanford and Townsend then returned to session careers. Sanford later co-authored Michael McDonald's 1982 pop classic "I Keep Forgettin'," while Townsend resurfaced following an extended creative hiatus with a 2003 solo release, The Road Leads Home. ~ Jason Ankeny, Rovi
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