Meet Player [PHOTOS, VIDEOS]
Player is a Top-40 Rock band that gained fame in the late 1970s. Their biggest hit “Baby Come Back” is one of Jersey’s Favorite Hits…but there’s more to the band than that!
Player formed in Los Angeles in 1976. The original lineup included Peter Beckett (lead vocals, guitar), John Charles “J.C.” Crowley (vocals, keyboards, guitar), Ronn Moss (bass, vocals), and John Friesen (drums).
Beckett, who came over from England, had been in a group called Skyband with Australian Steve Kipner (who was half of the Australian band “Tin Tin.” They scored a #20 hit in 1971 with “Toast And Marmalade For Tea”).
After Skyband broke up in 1975, Beckett was in Los Angeles. He met J.C. Crowley at a party in 1977. It was truly a chance meeting: They were the only two guys dressed in jeans and t-shirts…at an “all-white” party! And, as the saying goes, “the rest is history!”
He and Crowley formed the band Riff Raff, which soon changed its name to Bandana, and released a single. Steve Kipner and former Grass Roots guitarist Reed Kailing were also members of Riff Raff/Bandana, but Kipner left the band before the single’s recording, and Kailing was released from the band after “Jukebox Saturday Night” was released. Follow so far?
It is interesting to note that some of the Bandana recordings with Kailing’s playing and co-writing appeared on Player’s debut!
In 1976, after their original record label folded, Beckett and Crowley found themselves at RSO Records (the Bee Gee’s label). Along with Moss and Friesen (who had played in bands together in high school), they became Player. OK…almost…Player.
The band needed a name…and that was remedied while watching the end credits of a movie on TV! The cast was listed as “players.” The band dropped the “s.” TRUE!
With their new name, “Player” hired Wayne Cook, a keyboardist and former member of Steppenwolf, as an additional “Player” during live performances.
Player went on the road in the fall of 1977 opening for Gino Vanelli, and then Boz Scaggs (see an earlier profile of Boz here in the weekend section of nj1015.com).
“Baby Come Back,” Player’s biggest song, hit the Jersey airwaves in late 1977, landing at #1 by January 1978.
Player’s follow up single, “This Time I’m in it For Love”, peaked at No. 10, later in 1978.
Among the band’s achievements, Player was named Billboard’s Best New Singles Artist of 1978!
Player opened for Eric Clapton during his 1978 North American tour. By the fall of ’78, the band began to headline some of their own shows, as well as continuing to open for artists like Heart and Kenny Loggins!
Later that same year, keyboardist Wayne Cook left and was replaced by Bob Wooley (formerly of Paul Revere & The Raiders). But, the drama hadn’t ended yet: After playing an October show in Miami, tension among the guys resulted in a huge fight. When the smoke cleared, Beckett was gone, and Player was without a record contract.
The remaining three band mates, Crowley, Moss and Friesen, attempted to find a new deal, but were unsuccessful. Crowley then decided to leave (he returned to his home state of Texas, where he pursued a country music career, being named country music’s “Best New Artist” in 1989).
In the meantime, Beckett regrouped with Moss & Friesen to continue on as Player. And, that’s just the band’s “drama” in 1978…
Of the original members, Ronn Moss left Player in 1981 to pursue a full-time acting career. “The Bold And The Beautiful” fans will know him as Ridge Forrester, a part he played until last year.
Player would play on, with some new members, until 1983.
Peter Beckett would be a member of The Little River Band, from 1989 to 1997…and played “Baby Come Back” at LRB’s concerts!
Although Player had officially retired as a touring band, Moss and Beckett partnered on occasion. The duo recorded an additional studio album as Player, released in Japan in August 1995, and here in 1996.
In December 1997, Player played live for the first time in years at the L.A. Music Awards, with a “who’s-who” lineup of: Beckett, Moss, Elliot Easton (The Cars) on guitar, Burleigh Drummond (Ambrosia) on drums, and Tony Sciuto (Little River Band) on keyboards.
A compilation CD, “Best Of Player” came out in 1998 (above and below).
A 1998 Player tour included guest appearances from former members of the bands: Mister Mister, REO Speedwagon, and Foreigner!
The band reunited again in 2007 and 2009, with various new members backing up Beckett and Moss!
A new, digital-only 3-song EP came out last year…and a new Player album, “Too Many Reasons” was scheduled to be released a few weeks ago…
What else is Player up to these days? Click here for their official site.
Even after all these years (and with the benefit of “Baby Come Back” being featured in TV commercials and movies), Player….plays on!