- Pure Prairie League hits Lock 3 Live! on Saturday.
Most '70s bands still rocking are nothing but gutted impostors. The bassist -- a what's-his-face who didn't pen a single tune -- is often the only original member onstage.
Although Pure Prairie League has endured nearly as many personnel changes as Fairport Convention, its situation is an odd one.
"I haven't even been with the band all that much," admits singer-songwriter and guitarist Craig Fuller, phoning from his home in North Carolina, where he's recording Not Made in China, his long-overdue debut as a solo artist.
Fuller has been with PPL for just 15 of the 38 years it's been kicking around. In fact, he missed the band's commercial peak, which began in 1974 with the country-pop classic "Amie" and lasted through the mid-'80s. But here's the catch: Not only did Fuller write the band's biggest hit, he's also the band's founder and artistic core.
After leaving J.D. Blackfoot, a now legendary rural-psych outfit from Columbus, Fuller formed Pure Prairie League in 1969. PPL released two classic slabs of country rock, including 1972's Bustin' Out. If you dig Neil Young and Gram Parsons, buy this record now.
Unfortunately, sales sucked and Fuller had to quit his band. Because he was a conscientious objector to the war in Vietnam, the government forced him into hospital work instead of the draft.
In Fuller's absence, Pure Prairie League became a radio staple thanks to "Amie" (off Bustin' Out). But nothing the band did ever came close to matching those first two records -- that is until 2006's All in Good Time, the first PPL disc in 35 years to spotlight Fuller's excellent songwriting.
After a brief reunion in 1985, Fuller rejoined his band full-time in 1998, and he has stuck around ever since. So yeah, Fuller is Pure Prairie League's lone original member. But he's the only one who matters.