Guitarist Wilbert Longmire and George Benson were friends, and Benson introduced him to Bob James. James was starting Tappan Zee and looking for artists to sign. Longmire made the debut release Sunny Side Up in 1978, and came back the next year with Champagne. Neither generated much interest, but the third release, With All My Love, got some radio action for the instrumental "Hawkeye." Longmire studied to be a barber before opting for a musical career.