The 77s (alternatively spelled The Seventy Sevens or The 77's) are an American rock band consisting of Michael Roe on vocals/guitar, Mark Harmon on bass, and Bruce Spencer on drums.
Savage Young Scratch Band
Originally called Scratch Band
, this ministry-based quartet formed in the late 1970s in Sacramento
, by Roe, keyboardist/guitarist Mark Tootle
, bassist Jan Eric Volz, and drummer Mark Proctor
. Guitarist Jimmy A
and singer Sharon McCall
also performed occasionally with the band, whose repertoire contained a number of songs penned by English poet and fellow Exit Records musician Steve Scott
The Exit/A&M Years
changed its name to "The 77s" just prior to the release of their first album, Ping Pong Over the Abyss
, in 1982. Proctor left the band and was replaced by former Temptations
drummer Aaron Smith
, who first appeared on All Fall Down
and remained with the band until the mid-90s.
The Island Years
After considerable success on Exit/A&M, The 77s soon found themselves signed to Island Records
(which, like A&M would be bought by PolyGram
in 1989) and on the road to what Mike Roe would refer facetiously as "teenage stardom." Their 1987 self-titled release
was reviewed favorably by Rolling Stone
magazine and produced "The Lust, the Flesh, the Eyes & the Pride of Life," the band's biggest single to date. "The Lust..." ended up being much more influential than the band originally thought. A decade-and-a-half later, the reggae-rock band 311
's hit single "I'll Be Here Awhile" "borrowed" several lines from "The Lust..." (i.e., "And if a person, place, or thing can deliver / I will quiver with delight"). Ironically, "The Lust..." itself borrowed musically from Barry McGuire
's song "Eve of Destruction
Unfortunately for The 77s, labelmates U2
found a great deal of success with their Joshua Tree
album, thus distracting Island Records' attention from promoting what many fans consider The 77s' best album of their career.
Period of Transition
On 13 March 1988, The 77s performed with The Alarm and House of Freaks at the Fillmore Auditorium in San Francisco, California, entertaining patrons such as Neil Young. Despite riding a wave of popularity with the critics, Tootle and Volz left the band later that same year. While the band reformed in the early 90s with the addition of former Strawmen members David Leonhardt (guitar) and Harmon, the live album 88 and Sticks and Stones, a collection of previously unreleased recordings and demos, were released. One song from Sticks and Stones ("MT") was later covered by Zoppi (featuring future 77s drummer Bruce Spencer) and featured a number of times on the popular FOX television series "Beverly Hills, 90210".
This new version of the band released a pair of albums for Word Records: 1992's The Seventy Sevens (known by the band and fans as Pray Naked, the album's original title which was dropped by the record label without consulting the band due to Christian vendor pressures not to sell an album titled "Pray Naked") and 1994's critically acclaimed Drowning with Land in Sight. Leonhardt and Smith would leave the band soon afterward. Drummer Bruce Spencer, formerly of Vector, was brought on board to fill Smith's vacancy. Roe chose not to replace Leonhardt, preferring to record and perform as a power trio; however, multi-instrumentalist Scott Reams was occasionally brought in to enhance the band's sound during their live performances.
By the end of the 1990s, The 77s formed its own record label, Fools of the World, and re-issued several of its older albums. As of 2008, The 77s continue to record and tour.
- 1991 - 88 (1988 performance)
- 1996 - Echos o' Faith (1992 performance)
- 2000 - 88/When Numbers Get Serious, re-release of 88 w/bonus disc containing various live tracks (1987-1998)
- 2007 - Ninety Nine (8-track remastered re-release of the 4-track limited edition EP; 1999 performance)
Fan Club Releases
- 2006 - 77s DVD Collection (2 DVDs, includes rare footage from The 77s' archives, including promotional videos for "A Different Kind Of Light," "Mercy Mercy," "Ba Ba Ba Ba," "Nuts For You," "Snake," "For Crying Out Loud," "The Boat Ashore," and numerous concert performances)
Special & Limited Edition Releases
- 1980 - Rock & Religion Radio Show (06-01-1980), live cuts as Scratch Band
- 1992 - FlevoTotaal Festival - Live Tapes Volume 1 compilation, "I Can't Get Over It", live track, 1990
- 1992 - Shirley Goodness & Misery compilation, "Someone New" (alternate extended remix), 1984
- 1995 - Bootlevel compilation, "Mercy Mercy," "Smokescreen," and "Good Directions," from 1984's All Fall Down sessions
- 1999 - When Worlds Collide: A Tribute to Daniel Amos and the Music of Terry Scott Taylor compilation, "Shotgun Angel"
- 2000 - A Golden Field of Radioactive Crows: Radioactive Singles—Related/Mr. Magoo, CD single
- 2007 - Ninety Nine (limited edition [40 produced] 4-track EP; 1999 live performance)
- 1983 - "No Party in Hell" (live track)
- 1983 - "Modern Guy" (live track)
- 1996 - "Jazz Jam Warmup" (live track, 08-27-96)
- 1996 - "Pray Naked" (live rehearsal track, 08-28-96)
- 1998 - "How Do You Dig It Now" (basic studio track)
- 1998 - "Blue Sky" (early arrangement)
77s Songs Covered by Other Artists
- 1990 - The Ocean Blue, Laugh Tour (with The Mighty Lemon Drops and John Wesley Harding) - "Renaissance Man" (from Ping Pong Over the Abyss)
- 2000 - Smalltown Poets, Third Verse - "The Lust, the Flesh, the Eyes & the Pride of Life" (from The 77s)
- 2001 - 311_%28band%29, "From Chaos" Used lyrics from "The Lust, the Flesh, the Eyes & the Pride of Life" in the song "I'll Be Here A While"
- 2004 - Lost Dogs, MUTT - "The Lust, the Flesh, the Eyes & the Pride of Life" (from The 77s)
- 2004 - Lost Dogs, MUTT - "It's So Sad" (from Ping Pong Over the Abyss)
- 2004 - The Radiant Dregs, Send $2.00 And A S.A.S.E. To... - "Leaving" (from A Golden Field of Radioactive Crows)
Members of The 77s have used the moniker 7&7is to release projects that they don't see as fitting under their regular band name. The name comes from the title of a classic song
by the 60s music group Love
The name was first used for Alternative Records' 1989 collection of rarities and outtakes (later released as More Miserable Than You'll Ever Be). The name was revived in 2004 for Fun With Sound, a collaboration between lead singer Michael Roe and bassist Mark Harmon. Harmon and Roe also toured that year under the name.
- 7&7iS, 1989, collector's edition box set (vinyl record, cassette, 3" CD)
- More Miserable Than You'll Ever Be, 1990, album
- Fun With Sound, 2004, album