Michael joined PPL in 1972, in time to be included
in the group's second album - Bustin' Out - which debuted
"Amie", one of the band's best known songs. "Michael brought
joy and laughter to the hearts of many and will be sorely
You Can Go Home Again
It's rich history goes back to 1969 in the Southern
Ohio area where a group of young musicians initially played
cover tunes at local bars. Original member Craig Fuller and
early memer George Powell were beginning to stir their songwriting
abilities aroung the time original drummer Tom McGail happened
to catch a late night 1939 Errol Flyn flick called Dodge City.
The movie's Pure Prairie League was the woman's temperance
union attempting to clean up Kansas' most lawless town.
RCA signed Pure Prairie League after seeing them
play in Cleveland, Ohio. It was Craig, George, Billy Hinds
on drums, and Phill Stokes on bass that played that night.
Phil Stokes reminisces, "the Cleveland concert (booked by
our manager at the time Rodger Abramson) that got us signed
to RCA included Jon Call playing steel on that date because
I can remember that long drive from Cincy to Cleveland in
his Mercury Cougar. Also, I was the original bass player when
the band was first formed. Craig and I had just left the JD
Blackfoot band (Mercury records) in september 1970." The first
album was released the following year. "The most memorable
thing about it was the Norman Rockwell cover from a 1927 Saturday
Evening Post cover," recalls Mike Reilly.
His (Reilly's) first gig with the band was on Labor
Day 1972 thanks to member Mike Connor with whom he had worked
previously. PPL's second album, Bustin' Out was finished and
they hit the road to promote the music. In February, 1973,
however, Fuller received Uncle Sams's summons to go to Viet
Nam. He applied for conscientious objector status and ended
up doing alternative service in a hospital in Covington, KY.
The band was dropped from RCA soon after. "The band was struggling
at that point and we eventually parted ways", recalls Fuller.
"Even though Craig was the main founder of the three original
members", says Reilly, "Craig saw that we picked up the torch
and continued with it." Incredibly, college stations continued
to play cuts from Bustin' Out until RCA was forced to seek
out the group's whereabouts. Re-signed in 1975, the band recorded
Two Lane Highway. While they were in the studio, RCA released
"Amie" from Bustin' Out as a single which has endured as a
classic, being played constantly still today.
The changing musical times made it difficult for
PPL to continue creating its same sound. As Disco dominated
the airwaves, the band became aware that it too, had to make
Someone auditioning for the spot of the departing
Gorshorn brothers brought along a young man named Vince Gill.
He hadn't intended on trying out for the band, but after jamming
for the band, they offered him the job on the spot. "We had
seen him play in 1976 when the band he was playing with opened
up for us in Oklahoma City", remarks Reilly. "We offered him
the gig then, but he said, 'Oh no, I'm playing bluegrass.'
Two years later he came to Los Angeles with Byron Berline
and Sundance and after we jammed agian for a few hours, we
offered him the job again and he accepted".
For their final RCA offering in 1978, Can't Hold
Back, Gill, along with the other new member, Patrick Bolin,
wrote more rock influenced country material and they added
saxophone to the tracks instead of pedal steal guitar. Although
it seemed to be an odd pairing, Casablanca signed the group
and they enjoyed their biggest success with Firin' Up's first
single "Let Me Love You Tonight," reaching No. 7 on the Pop
Charts and No. 1 on the Adult Contemporary Charts.
Personnel changes at Casablanca resulted in the loss
of their deal once again and Gill departed after three albums
in as many years.
Reunited to treat us to music that sounds as good
today as it did when they first performed, PPL is touring
and enjoying every minute of it. PPL has been playing true
to its origninal form. "People come to hear the music the
way it was played back then," Fuller asserts. "We may have
improved upon the fidelity, but when we do a song off one
of our records, we do it just like it was recorded."
PPL in the new millenium may be a curious prospect
to band members, but the bands longevity is a testament of
the timelessness of the music. As they write for a new project,
they've returned to their roots--no sax, but peddle steel--and
it's no suprise that after all these years their sound is
what Country Radio is about, proving good music is good music
no matter when it's made or played--and you can go home