Jamme

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Jamme recorded an obscure, pleasant self-titled album that couldn't help but remind listeners of the mildest side of the Beatles when it was issued in 1970, influenced by California pop/rock. The story…
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Jamme recorded an obscure, pleasant self-titled album that couldn't help but remind listeners of the mildest side of the Beatles when it was issued in 1970, influenced by California pop/rock. The story of Jamme, however, was quite complicated and interwoven with far more famous figures, and arguably more interesting than the music the group made.

Jamme evolved in some respects out of the mid-'60s Washington, D.C. group the British Walkers, who did indeed include a genuinely British guitarist, Paul Downing. Downing moved to Los Angeles in 1967 with his girlfriend, Nancy Throckmorton, staying with her mother, Susan Adams, who'd been John Phillips' first wife. Downing joined the San Diego band the Hard Times for a while, and got to know Phillips, playing on some sessions in Phillips' home studio. After Downing played guitar on some tracks on the Mamas & the Papas album The Papas & the Mamas, Phillips suggested Downing put a group together, which he did in spring 1968 with fellow ex-British Walker Tim Smyser (on bass) and fellow British expatriate guitarist Don Adey. The drum slot was filled by Terry Rae, who had played with the Palace Guard.

This was the personnel that began recording Jamme's album in Phillips' home studio in Bel Air, but the road to the LP's completion wouldn't be smooth. Phillips was distracted by the breakup of both the Mamas & the Papas and his marriage to Michelle Phillips, and instigated the departure of Rae. A plan to replace him with post-Van Morrison Them drummer Dave Tufrey didn't work out, with session drummers Jim Gordon (later to be in Derek & the Dominos) and Jerry Allison (of the Crickets) contributing to the sessions. Phillips then asked Downing to replace Smyser with another musician, and when Downing balked, the album fell deeper into limbo, Smyser soon joining a fading Standells. With help from Adey's bassist brother Keith, the album was finally completed and released in March 1970 on Phillips' Warlock label. Unsurprisingly given the chaotic circumstances, the LP didn't gain much exposure, although a 2010 CD reissue on Now Sounds restored it to availability with eight bonus tracks and thorough historical liner notes.