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Sunday, October 12, 2014

Mississippi...the precursor to LRB...album and EP from 1972

Before the Little River Band there was Mississippi. They evolved from Adelaide folk-rock band called Alison Gros, a trio consisting of Graeham Goble, Russ Johnson and John Mower. Alison Gros recorded one independent single ("Naturally" / "Would You Really Have To Go?") on the Gamba label in 1970. The band then moved to Melbourne and signed to Ron Tudor's Fable Records, for whom they cut two more singles in 1971, "If I Ask You" / "So Good" (July) and "All The Days" / "Weaver Of Life" (December).

In early 1972, Alison Gros changed their name to Mississippi. They recorded their excellent self-titled debut LP with the addition of session players Peter Jones (piano), Geoff Cox (drums), Barry Sullivan (bass, ex-Chain) and Graham Lyall (flute). It was released in September that year on Fable's new Bootleg imprint, a subsidiary label recently set by Tudor and musician Brian Cadd. The Mississippi album showcased the band's considerable vocal abilities and Goble and Johnson's strong writing skills. The material and the tight harmonizing showed the influence of groups like The Hollies, The Bee Gees, Crosby and Stills, Nash & Young. Their debut single "Kings of the World" (released in July) became a Top 10 hit in October.

There were several more lineup changes, beginning in February 1973 when Russ Johnson left to join Country Radio; he was replaced for a month by Kerryn Tolhurst (who had himself just left Country Radio). When Tolhurst left to form The Dingoes he was replaced by Harvey James. Their next single, "Early Morning" / "Sweet World" was released in July '73, and in October they supported The Jackson Five on their Australian tour. When the tour ended, Deleuca and Mower both left the band. Deluca was replaced first by bassist Andre Santos, then by Charlie Tumahai (ex- Healing Force, Chain, Friends) in December.


In January 1975 they put together a new lineup, adding classically-trained guitarist and arranger Rick Formosa and bassist Roger McLachlan and began gigging. For the first few months they performed as Mississippi, but on the way to a gig in Geelong, Victoria, they decided to change the name to The Little River Band, which they took from a signpost along the road. The rest is History - under the guidance of Glenn Wheatley, LRB were the first Australian band to successfully break through into the American market, and became one of the greatest international successes in Australian music history.

Founding member Russ Johnson died in Adelaide on 15 September 2007 after suffering a stroke.