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Head East Biography

Last updated: 02/22/2009 11:00:00 AM

An example of stubborn belligerence ensuring longevity despite limited musical identity, Head East persevered on the Midwest, USA circuit for several years, releasing a sequence of competent hard rock albums without ever making the transition to international fame that peers such as REO Speedwagon enjoyed. Originally from south central Illinois, Roger Boyd (keyboards), Larry Boyd (bass), Steve Huston (drums), John Schlitt (vocals) and Dan Piper (guitar) played together as the Timeations, before changing their name to Head East in August 1969. The classic Head East line-up came together in 1974, with Roger Boyd, Schlitt and Huston joined by Mike Somerville (guitar) and Dan Birney (bass). They cultivated a highly commercial hard rock sound that made them perfect for AOR radio. Critics were less appreciative of their earnest, hard driving sound (reflected in lyrics which dwelled on domestic and romantic themes), but their live following by the end of the 70s was considerable. Accordingly, their best album of thi
s period was the 1979 Live! set, attaining the band's highest chart placing at US number 65. In the early 80s the band attempted to restrain their sound and convert their local popularity into national chart placings, but despite cover versions of material by Russ Ballard, they never made the transition.

For U.S. 1 Schlitt, Somerville and Birney all left, with their replacements being Dan Odum (vocals), briefly a member of the band in the early 70s, Tony Gross (guitar) and Mark Boatman (bass). Eventually A&M Records, their home since 1975, became frustrated by their lack of national success and dropped the band. One further album, featuring new bass player Robbie Robinson, emerged for an independent in 1982, but the band broke up following its release. A late 80s revival, featuring Boyd, Gross, Donnie Dobbins (drums) and Kurt Hansen (bass, vocals), saw the release of Choice Of Weapons, but this lacked the original spirit of the band and fared poorly. By the mid-90s the line-up featured the returning Somerville, Rich Creadore (bass), Tom Bryant (vocals) and Dan Kelly (drums). The latter was replaced by Mike Mesey in 2000.

Flat As A Pancake (Pyramid/A&M 1974)****, Get Yourself Up (A&M 1976)***, Gettin' Lucky (A&M 1977)**, Head East (A&M 1978)***, Live! (A&M 1979)***, A Different Kind Of Crazy (A&M 1979)**, U.S. 1 (A&M 1980)**, Onward And Upward (Allegiance 1982)**, Choice Of Weapons (Dark Heart 1988)**, Concert Classics Vol. 7 (Renaissance 1999)**.

The Best Of Head East: The Millennium Collection (A&M 2001)***, The Best Of Head East (Universal 2002)***.

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