Michael Martin Murphey - guitar, banjo, harmonica, piano, vocals; Byron Berline - fiddle, violin; Michael Botts - drums; Don Brooks - harmonica; Sam Broussard - guitar; Rod Phillips - keyboards; Gary Coleman - percussion; Dan Dugmore - pedal steel
The first of two nights recorded at the famed Palomino country music club in Los Angeles, this abbreviated set from Michael Martin Murphey is a solid representation of his enormous talent. A great musician and an even more gifted songwriter, Murphey has been making music professionally since 1962. In addition to his own hits (several that charted in the Top 10 of both pop and country charts), he has written memorable material that has been recorded by Kenny Rogers, John Denver, Cher, Lyle Lovett, Flatt & Scruggs, Claire Hamill, Hoyt Axton, Roger Miller, Bobbie Gentry, Michael Nesmith, and the Monkees.
This show was one of several shows recorded by Murphey for the Silver Eagle Cross Country radio concert season, and features some of the material that was released the following year (1979) on Peaks, Valleys, Honky Tonks & Alleys, a successful live album issued on Epic.
Born and raised in Texas, Murphey and his younger brother learned how to live the cowboy life when his family took frequent trips to visit his grandfather, a cattle ranch owner. His summers off from school were often spent on his grandfather's ranch riding, steering, farming, singing traditional cowboy songs, and hearing stores of the legendary Old West.
By the time he graduated from high school, he was on his way to Los Angeles where he would form a band with a Dallas buddy named Mike Nesmith. The band would eventually break up, but Nesmith would become one of the greatest pop stars of all time as a member of the Monkees. He never forgot his friend Michael Martin Murphey, and asked him to contribute material to the popular TV band. The Monkees recorded his country-rock song, "Why Am I Going Round," which appeared on the band's fourth multi-platinum album.
Writing a hit for the Monkees led to requests from artists such as Kenny Rogers, Flatt & Scruggs, and Roger Miller. By 1971, Murphey had been signed to A&M Records by former Dylan/ Simon & Garfunkel producer, Bob Johnston. Together the team produced "Geronimo's Cadillac," a hit album and single, and one of the unofficial anthems for the Native American Indian movement. Murphey would try balancing himself on the fence that separates pop and country music with limited success through the first half of the '70s. He would move over to Epic Records, where he scored a massive hit with the adult contemporary smash, "Wildfire," the story of a female ghost and her horse. It evolved from one of the many folklore tales his grandfather had taught him as a young boy.
After the success of "Wildfire," Michael Martin Murphey moved primarily into the country music world, where he has remained as an active performer since.