(Read all about Player after the video)
Player is an American rock band that made their mark during the late 1970s. The group scored several US Hot 100 hits, three of which went into the Top 40; two of those single releases went Top 10, including the No. 1 hit "Baby Come Back", written by group members Peter Beckett and J.C. Crowley.
Player first came together in Los Angeles, California. The original members included Peter Beckett (lead vocals, guitar), John Charles "J.C." Crowley (vocals, keyboards, guitar), Ronn Moss (bass, vocals), and John Friesen (drums).
Beckett, a transplanted Englishman, had been in a group called Skyband with Australian Steve Kipner (who had also played with the Australian band Tin Tin). After Skyband broke up in 1975, Beckett was in Los Angeles and met Crowley at a party. He and Crowley teamed up in a new band called Riff Raff, which soon changed its name to Bandana and released a single, "Jukebox Saturday Night", on Dennis Lambert and Brian Potter's Haven label. Steve Kipner and former Grass Roots guitarist Reed Kailing were also members of Riff Raff/Bandana, but Kipner was gone before the single's recording and Kailing was aced out after its release, though some of the Bandana tracks with Kailing's playing and co-writing later appeared on Player's debut.
When Haven folded soon afterward, Lambert and Potter brought the others over to RSO Records in 1976, and Beckett and Crowley started anew with Moss and Friesen (a former percussionist and musical director for the Ice Follies) as Player. Wayne Cook, a keyboardist/session player and former member of Steppenwolf, was an additional bandmember for its live performances; he is the curly-haired keyboardist in the band's videos from the 1970s.
Player gained popularity as a live act during the heyday of the 1970s stadium rock era. They first went on the road in the fall of 1977 opening for Gino Vannelli, then Boz Scaggs. They began to develop a distinctive, edgy and melodic rock style. Their biggest hit, "Baby Come Back", released in late 1977, rose to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in January 1978 and was a chart success in other countries. Their follow up single, "This Time I'm in it For Love", also peaked at No. 10 the same year. Among several notable accolades, Player was named Billboard's Best New Singles Artist of 1978. Eric Clapton invited them to open for him during his 1978 North American tour.
Later in 1978, keyboardist Cook left and was replaced by Bob Carpenter (who would go on to join Nitty Gritty Dirt Band). Eventually the band began to headline some of their own events, as well as continuing to open shows for artists like Heart and Kenny Loggins in the fall of 1978. But after playing a show with the latter at Coconut Grove in Miami, Florida on October 29, 1978, tension among the various group members resulted in a huge blow up. When the smoke finally cleared, and after the group played a few more shows with Heart in late 1978 and early 1979, Beckett left and the group was without a record contract.
The remaining three, Crowley, Moss and Friesen, attempted to find a new deal and carry on but were unsuccessful. Crowley then decided to leave, eventually to return to his native Texas, where he later pursued a career in country music. In the meantime, Beckett regrouped with the other two to continue on as Player.
Player released four albums during their active touring years: Player (RSO Records in 1977), Danger Zone (RSO Records in 1978), Room With A View (Casablanca Records in 1980), the latter without Crowley, and Spies Of Life (RCA Records in 1981). After their later reformation, they released their fifth album Lost In Reality on River North Records in 1996 and Two Many Reasons followed on Frontiers Records in 2013.
Miles Joseph (vocals, guitar) and Gabriel Katona (keyboards, ex-Rare Earth) joined Beckett, Moss and Friesen in the studio for the group's third album, Room With a View (1980), produced by Beckett with Tony Peluso. But Ronn Moss left Player by the end of 1980 to pursue a full-time acting career (he played the role of Ridge Forrester on the soap opera The Bold and the Beautiful from 1987 until 2012).
After Moss left, Beckett kept the band going with Friesen, Joseph, Katona and Rusty Buchanan (vocals, bass, ex-Sugarloaf), and the band, with producer Dennis Lambert back on board, released their fourth album, Spies of Life, on RCA in late 1981. The band continued until 1982 and played on the music series Solid Gold that year with the new lineup.
Peter Beckett went on to be a member of Little River Band from 1989 to 1997 and played "Baby Come Back" at its performances.
J.C. Crowley (who still occasionally wrote with Beckett) became a Nashville performer and songwriter, recording his only solo album, Beneath the Texas Moon, in 1988. In 1989 he had country hits with "Paint the Town and Hang the Moon Tonight" (No. 13) and "I Know What I've Got" (No. 21), and was named "Best New Male Country Performer". He wrote a number of songs recorded by Nashville artists, including Johnny Cash and The Oak Ridge Boys. He also won a battle with cancer in the late 1990s and now lives in Topanga, California.
Although Player officially retired as a touring band, Moss and Beckett have partnered on occasion. The duo recorded an additional studio album as Player, released in Japan in August 1995 as Electric Shadow and renamed Lost in Reality when put out on River North Records in the U.S. in May 1996.
On December 16, 1997 Player played live for the first time in years at the L.A. Music Awards at the Hollywood Palladium with a lineup consisting of Beckett, Moss, Elliot Easton (of The Cars) on guitar, Burleigh Drummond of Ambrosia on drums and Tony Sciuto of Little River Band on keyboards. A compilation album, Best of Player, was released in 1998.
The response to the group's reunion show was so enthusiastic that they had several offers for more concert dates. River North Records dropped the band and Player tried to buy back the rights to the Lost in Reality CD but were unsuccessful.
Player toured in the spring of 1998 with a lineup of Beckett, Moss, Sciuto, Drummond, guitarist Steve Farris (formerly of Mr. Mister) and percussionist Ron Green, with guitarist Dave Amato (from REO Speedwagon) and drummer Ron Wikso (formerly of Foreigner and The Storm) filling in for Drummond as needed depending on the schedules of the others.
A 2000 lineup of Player included drummer Craig Pilo, guitarist Michael Hakes, Green, Sciuto, Moss, and Beckett playing more shows across the United States. Michael Hakes died on November 19, 2003 from complications from leukemia. After Hakes' death, the band stopped touring and concentrated on other projects.
In 2007 Player re-emerged once again with the lineup of: Beckett, Moss, Pilo, Green, Rob Math (guitar) and Jawn Star (keyboards). Percussionist Ron Green last appeared with Player in 2008.
On November 14, 2009, J.C. Crowley temporarily reunited with Beckett and Moss at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa in Rancho Mirage, California for a tribute concert to Dennis Lambert in a charity benefiting the Desert Arc Foundation.
In February 2013 Player released their new album, Too Many Reasons, on Frontiers Records. They toured throughout the United States and Canada over the summer as part of the Sail Rock 2013 with Christopher Cross, Gary Wright, Al Stewart, Orleans, Firefall, Robbie Dupree and John Ford Coley.
Roger Williams' drummer, Jimmy Carnelli, took over as their new drummer in 2014 and Player did an extensive tour of Australia in November 2014 promoted as "An Intimate Evening with Ronn Moss & Player".