Orleans goes Country – 1985-87
Once again, it’s “Video Thursday” at Orleans‘ Facebook page, powered by a new video post at our YouTube Channel. Last week we looked at 1996. This week we look at yet another time period to see what was happening for us at that particular point in time.
By September of 1984, after several years of diminishing returns for our endless best efforts, Larry and I (Lance), the only 2 remaining members of the original 4, had had enough. Clearly, we were no longer “still havin’ fun”. And so, we decided to pack it in.
John Hall had left the band in the fall of 1977 and, for the 7 years following, there was little interaction between him and us. That all changed quite suddenly.
In late October of 1984, we all got the shocking news that Wells Kelly, the 4th of the original 4, had died while on tour with Meat Loaf. Before long, there was a memorial gathering for Wells in his native Ithaca, NY. I regret not having been able to attend, but it was there that John and Larry found themselves on stage playing music together again, ending that long 7 year estrangement. … and they really liked it!
Meanwhile, John had received an open-ended invitation from Tony Brown … legendary Nashville producer and then-VP at MCA Nashville. If Orleans were ever reunited, Tony would likely sign the band to the label. With that carrot dangling before us, the 3 of us got busy producing a collection of song demos to pitch to Tony.
By the spring of 1985, the deal was inked and pre-production began. We all convened in Nashville to work with Tony as Executive Producer and David Hungate (bassist for Toto), then a staff producer for MCA, as the “hands on” Producer. We sorted through all the song contenders, worked on arrangements. etc. Then it was time to record the album that would come to be known as “Grown Up Children.”
This was at a time I often refer to as “pre-Restless Heart” (When She Cries, etc). There was as yet no successful model for what it was we were attempting to do … that is, fit our melodic Pop/Rock roots into an emerging “new Country” genre, AKA “Country Crossover.” Although several notables appeared in cameos on the album … Ricky Scaggs, Bela Fleck, Steve Wariner … in the end, the album was neither Rock nor Country and, as such, failed to find a home at radio, despite its arguable merits.
Still, it gave the band exposure to a different audience by being invited to play gigs like the annual Charlie Daniels Volunteer Jam, to appear several times on Ralph Emery’s “Nashville Now” show on TNN (The Nashville Network) and, most memorably, to record this 6-song show for TNN’s “New Country”.
As you’ll see, it was decided that I was to move from bass to acoustic guitar as 1 of 3 frontline singers. As a result, we hired one of Nashville’s finest on bass, Glenn Worf. Glenn was a huge Orleans fan so, despite his desire not to do any more road gigs, he did take this one! After that, he became one of the city’s top A-call session bassists, playing on hit after hit and eventually went on to tour with Mark Knopfler (Google Glenn :-))
In this incarnation of Orleans, we were also joined by former Boffalongo, Orleans and John Hall Band alumnus, Bob Leinbach on keys and backing vocals. On drums, it was either Tommy Wells or, as in this show, Paul Cook (sadly, both RIP).
With less than stellar commercial results, our Nashville days were numbered. By the fall of 1987, we were again no longer “still havin’ fun” and we collectively opted to put Orleans to bed. But that’s not the end of the story, as we re-emerged for the Bearsville recording shows in 1990 … but that’s a story that’s already been told.
Lastly, while it’s difficult to impossible to find Grown Up Children on CD, “I know a guy!”
If you’ll use our Contact Us page, we can hook you up. 🙂