July 11, 2010 – 4:23 am

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Santa Monica 1976 [no label, 1CD]

Reunion concert, live at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, CA, August 28,1976. Very good audience recording.

Vocalist and percussionist Jay Ferguson might have been a founding member of Spirit in 1967 but by the early ’70s, he had already left the rock/prog rock group.

According to the wikipedia, “for a few shows at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, Ferguson re-joined the group. Disaster struck, however, when an inebriated Neil Young walked onto stage to join the band during the final show’s encore of “Like a Rolling Stone”. Sporting a new haircut, Young was not recognized by [Randy] California, and thinking that he was just a drunk, California pushed him away from his microphone. Ferguson and [John] Locke did recognize him, and thinking that California’s ego was flaring, promptly walked off stage. [Ed] Cassidy initially quelled the situation by leaving his kit and joining both California and Young at the microphone to close out the song, but the damage had already been done, and the reunion ended that night.”

Mike Martin, who was at the show, recounted: “The Encore was one of the best “Like A Rolling Stone” performances and unexpectedly up to the microphone walks Neil Young. Neil was recovering from throat surgery and did not sound real good. At one point Randy gestured towards Neil asking him not to sing and even gave him a little push back from the microphone. The crowd was a little stunned and so was Neil. Ed immediately jumped up from behind the drums and, arms around Neil and Randy, brought both to stage front where Ed joined in on the chorus. Ed’s quick wit distracted everyone from the awkward moment and saved the day for all.”

For some Spirit fans, and even Neil Young fans, this might be one of those “holy grails.”

bpthree commented on the internet: “Yes, this is a very important show in SPIRIT history. Jay Ferguson told me had the Neil Young incident not happened, he felt the SPIRIT reunion would have continued. Lots of folks are not aware that there were several full reunion shows prior to the Santa Monica show, starting in San Luis Obispo. They opened for AEROSMITH in San Francisco the day before this. Jay thinks they may have also done a gig at UC Davis, but he’s not sure. It was John Locke who had the big meltdown after the show, and he quit the band for a period of time. Neil Young was his good friend, and it was a major insult to him. Jay remembered that Neil handled it like a true gentleman, but I’ve always wished he’d stayed home that night, and we might have had the original band going again.”

Thanks to Mike Martin and Allen Tarzwell for recording the show (and a slice of rock history) and to mvernon54 for sharing the lossless tracks on the Dime site. Thanks too for the cover.

Click on the highlighted tracks to download the MP3s (these are high quality MP3s - sample rate of 256 kbps). As far as we can ascertain, these tracks have never been officially released on CD.

Due to the size of some of the files, please be very patient when downloading the tracks. It could be that the server was very busy. Please try again later. Kindly email us at [email protected] if you encounter persistent problems downloading the files.

Track 01. Dr. Demento introduces the band (9.6MB)
Track 02. Farther Along (6.8MB)
Track 03. Fresh Garbage (7.9MB)
Track 04. Time To Fly (5.5MB)
Track 05. Taurus (taped paused just before introduction) (2.5MB)
Track 06. She Smiles (4.0MB)
Track 07. Animal Zoo (5.6MB)
Track 08. 1984 (tape paused after song) (6.7MB)
Track 09. Nothing To Hide (tape paused after song) (8.2MB)
Track 10. Sweet Stella Baby (4.1MB)
Track 11. Natures Way (tape paused after song) (6.7MB)
Track 12. Mr. Skin (7.4MB)
Track 13. It’s All The Same (6.5MB)
Track 14. Drums (tape flip at 46:06) (12.7MB)
Track 15. It’s All The Same (4.7MB)
Track 16. I Got A Line On You (tape paused after song) (6.4MB)
Track 17. Like A Rolling Stone* (13.9MB)
Track 18. Ed has his say (tape paused twice after Ed’s say) (1.1MB)
Second Encore:
Track 19. Dark Eyed Woman (6.1MB)
69 minutes 23 seconds

* with Neil Young on background vocals – and then Ed Cassidy on vocals

Randy California – guitar and vocals
Jay Ferguson - vocals and percussion
John Locke - keyboards
Mark Andies - bass
Ed Cassidy - drums

Click on the link to order Spirit albums.

  1. 32 Responses to “SPIRIT - SANTA MONICA 1976”

  2. Great Thanks to You!!!!!

    By Udo on Jul 11, 2010

  3. Awesome music from an awesome band (the original.)For a proper LP, Clear, released in ‘69 was the best they ever recorded in my opinion. The recording here is sub-par but still not to be missed. Thank you BigO

    By lanzarishi on Jul 11, 2010

  4. I was there! Thanks, BigO.

    Neil came out in a beret, a red sportcoat and big shades, and was largely unrecognizable to the audience. I thought that California also failed to recognize him, hence pushing him off the stage.

    By Bill on Jul 12, 2010

  5. Thanks for the opportunity to hear this. I’ve been listening to and collecting both Spirit and Neil since the 1960’s, so this was a pleasant surprise. The sound of the audience recording leaves a lot to be desired, but the show is well worth hearing. Thanks, too, for the narrative about Neil’s aborted appearance; it’s difficult to glean the situation from the recording.

    By Dennis on Jul 12, 2010

  6. hey bigo, thanks! i will play this walking shortly. my tags are fixed partially so i can check them. i like dr. demento introduces spirit better than the band and probably track 15 should be a reprise. i put that, but i will listen.


    By Ed Saad on Jul 12, 2010

  7. WOW - I can’t believe this even exists! The 76 renunion album - Farther Along - has long been one of my favourites from this excellent band so I am looking forward to hearing this.

    thanks for sharing!

    By chris on Jul 12, 2010

  8. Thanks for this one — a great show, no doubt!

    By Serge Zéni on Jul 14, 2010

  9. Thanks for this. One of the great ‘what ifs’ I guess if NY hadn’t shown up.

    Maybe we wouldn’t have Future Games? Unloved by many but not me.

    By Colin on Jul 27, 2010

  10. I was there that night.
    The bill was Spirit (headlining) with Firefall (opening). Mark Andes played in both bands, so that was the connection.

    This part usually gets omitted, but I think is important. During Firefall’s encore, a very drunk or wasted Neil Young ambles on stage with a guitar and just proceeds to count the band in to some random song. He doesn’t mention which song or the key… He just counts in and starts playing. The band did their best to keep up. After that song finished, Rick Roberts says, “now instead of playing ’stump the band,’ we’re going to play stump Neil.’” Anyway, that’s how obnoxious Neil was that night.

    So the assertion that Randy didn’t know Neil was in the house and therefore didn’t recognize him and thought he was some random drunk is highly suspect. I suppose that it’s possible, but not likely IMHO.

    FWIW, I don’t personally blame Randy too much. Neil was behaving like a total douche that night. But, while perception might not be everything, it is important when you are a performer. I wish Randy had just used better judgment.

    RIP Randy and John. I miss you.

    By Atmospheric on Dec 22, 2010

  11. I remember a prior 76, very good, Santa Monica Civic promoting the Spirit of 76 tour, then when this was announced it was HUGE excitement, hoping for the original band coming back. Yeah, of course Neil Young, what can be said it happened, Randy seemed like a pretty strong guy for his size because Young went almost to the ground. Thanks for the other post recalling Firefall which I had totally forgotten. Oh the mistakes we make when young and full of ourselves, make your amends and live right.

    Put the over the ear headphones, crank it up and listen the most underrated band really do it, thank you so much for this.

    By Pete Davison on Feb 16, 2011

  12. I’m glad to see after all these years a tape of the 08/28/76 show has surfaced. I was there sitting front row center. The LA Times reveiwer commented that it was the best live show that year. I am puzzled by the listing of a second encore. “Dark Eyed Woman” was played before “I Got A Line On You” - there was no second encore. The audience tried for several minutes to bring them out, but by then there was a lot of anger and venting going on back stage over the Neil/Randy incident, and the band wouldn’t come back out. Instead, we got Ed Cassidy, who walked out and gave a brief thank you speech. Right after that the house lights were turned on and the stage crew began breaking down the equipment and lighting. The show was over. I climbed up on the stage and ran into Ed and his wife at the back of the stage behind the drum kit. I took a photo of them and we had to move out of the way, as the stage crew was lowering the lighting. I have photos of the concert that I shot from the front row including Neil singing with Randy and Mark. Neil was absolutely plastered and behaved badly. He kept leaning on Randy for support to keep from falling over, which made it very hard for Randy to play. At one point he wandered to the edge of the stage, and Randy grabbed him by the back of his suit coat, pulling him back, possibly preventing him from toppling into the front row. After this, Neil grabbed Randy in a bear hug from the front and Randy couldn’t play. I think this was the last straw for Randy and what finally set off his fuse. After that Randy picked up Neil in a bear hug from behind, and struggling under the weight, marched Neil off the stage, setting him down by the black curtains at stage left.

    By Robert Peters on Nov 26, 2011

  13. I totally missed this the first time round and just now am getting it.
    Spirit was never that big around where I come from [apart from Got a Line on you on top 40]we just never heard them,and I don`t even recall them touring nearby..were they a good live band?

    By sluggo on Nov 27, 2011

  14. Hi Sluggo-I never got to see the original Spirit lineup but did see them as a trio (sometimes with a forth member from the early days)several times in the second half of the ’70s. They always put on a good show. Improvising on old songs,current songs and throwing in some Hendrix done Randy’s way. I usually saw them in small clubs along the coast, like The Golden Bear in Huntington Beach. Randy & stepfather Ed lived in Ojai, a small canyon community close to the beach. Once I saw them headline at a larger venue with (fake) Steppenwolf and Iron Butterfly. Randy was standing in the audience scoping out the stage and sound before their performance. I pointed him out to my friend who walked up to him. Randy put his finger to his lip as if they shared a secret and handed him a ‘Spirit-Potatoland’ button from his shirt. He handed another guy his headband then slipped quietly back through the crowd.
    Every time I saw them, after the show & encores were over, the band would return to the stage, link arms over each others shoulders and bow, smile and wave to the crowd as if they had just had as much fun as the audience.
    BigO has a couple more Spirit shows in their archives.

    By Sking on Nov 27, 2011

  15. @sluggo: I first saw Spirit in 1968. They were the opening act for Blood, Sweat & Tears. They stole the show! Space limits me from telling the whole story, but let me just repeat they they blew away BS&T, as well as the audience.

    I saw them again at a free concert that they held almost on the spur of the moment at a local high school. Really! I heard it announced just hours before on a small, local radio station. They did two shows, and I stayed for the them both.

    I saw one of their last shows (as a trio) and talked with Randy, Ed and Mike Nile after the show. I still have the t-shirt they all signed for me.

    Sadly, Randy drowned a bit later, and now Ed has passed away. But we still have great memories and recordings, thanks to BigO.

    By oldfart on Jan 24, 2014

  16. I was a big Spirit fan in High School….I graduated in 1972. However, I don’t remember that a lot of my classmates were too keen on them, they really should have gotten bigger than they did but for some reason did not catch on. The story about this show gives an insight into them and their troubles in the way the Neil Young incident went down. I saw Jo Jo Gunne after this in NYC, featuring former Spirit members. During this show Jay Ferguson did a long talk about a girl he just broke up with, how he was devastated, and if anyone in the audience knew of her whereabouts could they please try and get her to contact him. It was awkward, and pretty unprofessional. Still, Spirit were a great band. Thanks for the post BigO.

    By JB on Jan 24, 2014

  17. Neil Young’s producer….David Briggs…..produced the album ‘Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus’ from 1970.

    By JB on Jan 24, 2014

  18. Check this out. It is Jimi Hendrix in his band from 1966….Blue Flame….with 15 year old Randy California on guitar. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HPbM6ouowkg&hd=1

    By JB on Jan 24, 2014

  19. I think you are mistaken about the jimi /randy california version of I`m a man.
    Nothing has ever surfaced of the two playing together ,this is most likely with the Curtis Knight band.

    By sluggo on Jan 24, 2014

  20. Oh ok sluggo. Just posted this link to youtube which claims to be them in the band The Blue Flame at the Cafe Wha? Thanks for the info.

    By JB on Jan 24, 2014

  21. You are right sluggo. Here is the correct labeling of that recording. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q_ZDNhO03Nk&hd=1

    By JB on Jan 24, 2014

  22. yeah JB you gotta be careful with youtube and wiki..anyone can post anything and rename any file..

    By sluggo on Jan 24, 2014

  23. Thanks for the link JB.

    By George Martini on Jan 25, 2014

  24. There exists a video for an early cable pay-per-view Spirit reunion concert. All the originals played, probably 1979 or 1980, in a small venue, possibly just a tv studio. I’d love to see that surface.

    By Just Bill on Jan 25, 2014

  25. Having trouble with tracks 2, 10 and 16. Any help or if you wouldn’t mind reposting this, I’d appreciate it. Thank you very much BigO.

    By carsmile2 on Feb 23, 2015

  26. Hello carsmile2

    Kindly refresh the page and try again.

    By bigozine2 on Feb 23, 2015

  27. Thanks BigO. Worked as usual

    By carsmile2 on Feb 24, 2015

  28. Hi…I never saw Spirit live; however, do remember the girls at work leaving every Friday after work to go north to L.A. from San Diego to see Spirit perform. I loved their spirit and do have some of Spirit’s music.
    Is Jay Ferguson still in the business…like musical scores for hit tv shows?

    By Sandy on Apr 8, 2015

  29. P.S.
    Neil Young, today, would cringe at his actions back then.

    By Sandy on Apr 8, 2015

  30. I think everyone is cutting Neil Young too many excuses. He was drunk. He had throat surgery and his voice was not recovered. Randy didn’t know who he was. Everyone is overlooking the obvious thing that everyone in the house was thinking when he came out and started singing. Randy California labored a magnificent rendition of Bob Dylan’s Like a Rolling Stone on the Spirit of ‘76 album. Gone was Dylan’s nasally, whining, creaking voice. In was California’s soft, soft, wispy voice. In were layers and layers of California’s celestial, if not heavenly, guitar tones and motifs. He worked to get his voice, which was in three different treatments, to parallel the changes in the guitar tones. It’s a masterpiece, plain and simple. It’s beautiful. I remember the night before the show, driving down to it from Santa Clara with my friend Bob, to meet our eight other friends there, and we wondered if they would even do that tune, because of the difficulty of replicating all that studio work in a live stage setting. Amazingly they played the tune, and amazingly California was able to replicate the guitar tones as well as his wispy and soft voice he had developed for that song. As you were being lifted through to heaven in your space ship, out of nowhere an asteroid smashed into you in the form of Neil Young’s nasally, whining, creaking voice. It didn’t belong in that tune. Did Randy California not know who it was? Are you serious? We were in the fourth row right in front of California and we all knew who it was. Randy went to Neil’s house to ask his opinion about a producer for The Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus. He knew him for year. Think he didn’t know who that guy was six feet away blasting stink into the microphone? He motioned for Neil to stop and back off, as if to say “hey if you want to sing with us come back and we’ll do hey good lookin’ by hank williams, but for now scram.” Neil didn’t pick up on it and kept singing. Randy motioned again to no avail, and eventually walked over and gently put his hand on him and pushed him back. Yes it was weird. Yes it was uncomfortable because you’d never seen anything like that happen before. But how big could Neil Young’s ego have been that he could make any tune better by being a part of it, and that any band in the world would just melt at the opportunity to have him come on stage and sing with them. As uncomfortable as it was, I am certain about 2,900 of the 3,000 in attendance wanted his voice out of that song, completely understood what Randy California was doing, and were hoping that Neil Young would go down the beach and sing to himself and leave us alone. Too bad the band over-reacted to California simply trying to save that majestic piece of music he was delivering to us, and took the attitude that whatever Neil Young wanted to do, he should be able to do. Randy California did nothing wrong at all, and his bandmates should have backed him up, and explained to Neil Young that his voice just wasn’t needed or welcomed in that tune, or any tune without advance notice and approval of the band. That concert that night was a magnificent show and I’m blessed to have been there to see it.

    By tom on Aug 20, 2016

  31. I was at that show but I remembered a little bit differently in that when they introduced Neil during Firefall the audience went nuts and wouldn’t stop screaming and the same thing occurred when Neil came back out for like a Rolling Stone and you could tell that Randy was not happy about that either and during LARS he even pointed it Neil and sang You Used To Play With Crosby Stills & Nash And now you’re just doing it for the cash to the Melody of Like a Rolling Stone and that’s when Jay Three down his tambourine and stormed off and the band followed. the audience wanted them back and they were screaming for a good wile and I actually remember them all coming back. Putting their arms around each other and finishing the song. now that was 1976 I may not be remembering it the exact way it occurred but that’s how I remembered it! Yer Millage May Vary CM b

    By CosMorley Be on Mar 12, 2018

  32. Thank you all for these stories about Spirit. One of those bands of whose songs maybe I know two: I Got a Line on You, which was in and out of my dreams last night, last day of June 2019, and Natures Way. So the often complex nature of Randy is brand new to me, many years after the initial Spirit broke up. Definitely remember Jay Ferguson’s efforts post-Spirit. Anyway, saw a youtube vid of theirs from 1970, 1984 mixed with I Got a Line on You, that just blew my mind. Andes, Cassidy, and Locke kept the rhythm down, the sound down, while California and Ferguson were like roaring lions on stage. Sad and majestic how Randy died. Still, history, mythology, and art tied into one great American group. RIP to California, Cassidy, and Locke. The Spirit lives!

    By Chris on Jul 1, 2019

  33. It’s been over a year since anyone made a comment. Just a point on the theme re: Mr. Neil Young. Just a few minutes ago, 8:31 PM and four days prior to Independence Day, 2019, I heard Randy California do a rip roaring version of Hey Joe, only with Elton John taking the hits of Randy’s angst, mid-70s, Chicago. Let’s not be coy. Spirit were comprised of talented, intelligent, and often overlooked players in a band with a few factions. Nothing new about that then or now. From what I have read on this website, I think it’s safe to say Mr. California knew it was Neil on stage, was upset, frustrated that a drunk superstar was misbehaving on stage, even with buds. Still, that doesn’t really come off in the live recording. One would have to see video footage; plus the elder statesman, Mr. Cassidy, helped to bring the tune to a close, from what I have read. Sorry that the other guys were disgusted by Randy’s frustrations. That’s show biz! Glad to have the music we have of this very interesting group of players.

    By Chris on Jul 1, 2019

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