Gregg Rolie, of Journey and Santana, Releases Solo LP: Listen

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Two-time Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Gregg Rolie, honored as a member of both Santana and Journey, has released Sonic Ranch (Megaforce Records), his first feature-length studio album in 18 years. Listen to several tracks below.

The singer-songwriter and keyboardist has also been a mainstay of Ringo Starr’s All-Starr Band since 2012.

“I didn’t plan on taking so long to record a new album,” Rolie says in a press release. “The simple fact is, I’ve been working. I’ve been writing songs over the years, and we recorded half of them by 2013. Then I got busy touring with Ringo, and I took part in the Santana reunion, Santana IV. Everything took time. Finally, when Santana IV was done, I could get back to finishing the record.” Sonic Ranch arrived on Oct. 11.

Gregg Rolie

Rolie recorded the album at several studios in Texas: RMG Studio and Arylyn Studios in Austin, and the Sonic Ranch in Tornillo (the latter of which inspired the record’s title). His son, Sean, served as the main producer, with addition production handled by Chris “Frenchie” Smith and Daniel Sahad.

[Look for Best Classic Bands‘ new interview with Rolie soon.]

Contributors to the album include Rolie’s onetime Santana mate Michael Shrieve on drums, as well as bassist Alphonso Johnson. Guitarist Steve Lukather plays on “They Want It All” and “Give Me Tomorrow,” and fellow Journey founder Neal Schon plays guitar on “Breaking My Heart” and “Lift Me Up.”

Listen to “They Want It All”

Sonic Ranch’s first single is “What About Love,” about which Rolie says, in the press release, “The song inspired by Ringo Starr and his message of peace and love. I had started writing it, and I would and play around with it at soundchecks with Ringo. It sounded really good, so I took it home, found the bassline, and Sean produced and engineered it. There’s 15 lead vocals on it. Sean played the guitar solo and said, ‘It’s a little out of tune.’ I said, ‘It’s perfectly out of tune. Let’s go!’ He’s such a great player.”

Related: Our earlier interview with Gregg Rolie

Rolie wrote all of the 13 tracks on the album, with the exception of “They Want It All,” which he penned with Andre Pessis and Kevin Chalfont, and “Look into the Future,” which he co-wrote with Diane Valory and Neal Schon. The song originally appeared on Journey’s album of the same name in 1976. “I always liked that track and was waiting for a chance to re-arrange it and record my own version of it.”

In addition, Rolie covers Elvis Presley’s classic “Don’t Be Cruel.” Rolie says, “I used to play it in the same manner for encores with my quartet, and it always went over beautifully, so I decided to end the record with it. I’ve got the same group of guys on it—Alan Haynes on guitar, drummer Ron Wikso and bassist Sticky Lopez.

“I’m pretty fortunate to have such good friends who are also some of the best musicians on earth,” ads Rolie. “These songs mean a lot to me, and I’m very proud to be putting them out. To have such amazing players helping me to make them a reality is an amazing thing. The album wouldn’t have turned out so well without them.”

Watch Rolie perform “Black Magic Woman” with Ringo Starr’s All-Starr Band

Best Classic Bands Staff

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  1. JR
    #1 JR 24 August, 2019, 00:12

    I hope his solo record is better than his performances withi the reunited Woodstock-era Santana, in which Rolie appered tired and totally uninterested.

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