Singer/guitarist Jess Roden was born in Kidderminster in England's West Midlands, and his first band was the Shakedown Sounds. In 1967, he joined the Alan Bown Set as their new lead singer. Although their records never charted nationally, he did pick up a fandom in London (and belatedly became something of a star on the Northern Soul scene) with the release of their single "Emergency 999." He remained with the Bown group through 1970, after which he formed the band Bronco, and later worked on Wildlife, the third Mott the Hoople album, and with Keef Hartley on the album Lancashire Hustler. In the mid-'70s, he teamed up with ex-Doors John Densmore and Robby Krieger in the Butts Band, and sang on their first album. Roden finally emerged as a solo artist in his own right in the mid-'70s on Island Records, with his 1974 self-titled solo album, which was cut in New Orleans and included Allen Toussaint and Art Neville on keyboards. His albums throughout the '70s got great reviews but he never saw any significant sales; in between his own work, he managed to sing and play on albums by Carol Grimes, Jim Capaldi, Stomu Yamashta, Sandy Denny, and Grace Jones. He was with the group Rivits on Island for one album at the outset of the '80s.
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