Jesse Colin Young, critically acclaimed solo artist and lead singer of the legendary classic rock band, The Youngbloods
, took the nation by storm when The Youngblood’s
single, "Get Together", became a worldwide Top Ten hit and a prominent soundtrack for peace. After seven group releases, Young began the production of more than fifteen acclaimed solo albums, including Song for Juli
, Light Shine
, and a live album with his great touring band, On the Road
. This year, he releases the most comprehensive collection of his music to date – The Very Best of Jessie Colin Young
Jesse was born and raised in Queens, New York, in 1941, and his earliest family memories are filled with the joy of music and celebration. His mother was a violinist who had a beautiful singing voice of perfect pitch, and his father was a Harvard-educated accountant with a passion for classical music. Along with his older sister, the family spent evenings gathered around the piano singing Harvard fight songs and other lively tunes.
At fifteen, the talented student won a scholarship to Phillips Andover, the all boys prep school in Massachusetts. The rigorous curriculum and strict discipline the school required ultimately resulted in Jesse being kicked out of the exclusive academy – an event which forever changed the course of his life. The blues were calling his name and the next few years were spent exploring the music of T-Bone Walker, John Lee Hooker and Muddy Waters for inspiration and consolation.
Jesse Collin Young recorded his first album in four hours, accompanying himself on guitar. That release was called The Soul of a City Boy
. A second album, Young Blood
, featured supporting musicians, including John Sebastian.
After the two solo albums, Jesse met guitarist Jerry Corbitt on the New York to Boston club circuit, and with keyboardist/guitarist Lowell “Banana” Levinger, and drummer Joe Bauer, they began to perform as The Youngbloods
. Though the song, "Get Together", appeared on their first album in 1967, they re-released it as a single in 1969, after the heartfelt refrain of “Come on people now, smile on your brother” was used as the television theme for the National Council of Christians and Jews. "Get Together" became a worldwide Top Ten hit, and was immediately followed onto the charts by "Sunlight" and "Darkness Darkness", both written by Jesse for the Elephant Mountain
release that same year.
Having established legendary status with hit singles and albums, the three remaining Youngbloods
(Young, Banana and Bauer) launched their own Raccoon Records, and released four albums between 1970 and 1972; the studio recordings, Good and Dusty
, High on a Ridgetop
, and two live recordings, Rock Festival
and Ride the Wind
Jesse returned to recording solo albums in 1972 and released Together
, which entered the Billboard
Top 200 Album chart. In September 1973, Jesse released what many critics claim is his solo masterpiece, Song for Juli
. That recording stayed on the Billboard
Top 200 chart for nearly a year, and was followed onto the chart by Light Shine
in 1974, Songbird
in 1975, On the Road
in 1975, and Love on the Wing
in 1976. Each of the aforementioned six Jesse Colin Young solo albums contained breakthrough tracks that received airplay on radio stations across America.
During the upward ride of his exploding solo career during the 1970s, Jesse also continued giving back by helping to establish the “No Nukes” movement. Involved from the very beginning, Jesse closed the 1979 “No Nukes” concert and movie joined by legends Jackson Browne, Stephen Stills, and Graham Nash singing The Youngblood’s
anthem, "Get Together".
In 1978, Jesse released American Dreams
, an album calling for political involvement, followed by The Perfect Stranger
in 1982, with guest stars like Carly Simon. He then returned to acoustic rock with The Highway is for Heroes
in 1987. Throughout the 1980s, Jesse continued to tour as a solo artist, often appearing at fundraisers for various organizations, and sometimes performing with original Youngbloods'
members Jerry Corbitt and Banana (the Youngbloods’
acclaimed drummer Joe Bauer had sadly passed away prematurely of natural causes).
In 1993, Jesse and his wife, Connie, launched their own independent label, Ridgetop Music, from their mountain home in Marin County. They introduced the imprint by releasing a new Jesse Colin Young album of all original material backed by top San Francisco Bay area musicians, called Makin’ It Real.
The next release would be a very personal collection of mostly solo slack key acoustic songs, Swept Away
. Just as Jesse’s music enterprises were about to blast off with more adventurous recordings, a forest fire engulfed the Ridgetop property in October 1995. The family home and business was completely destroyed, and Jesse moved Connie and their two children to Hawaii with the clothes they had on their backs.
Jesse now has a new mountain home on the Big Island of Hawaii where he and his family have picked up the pieces, healing and creating new memories together. Jesse strives to recapture the state of grace that permeates his music and continues to spread his heartfelt message.
He built a new recording studio at his island home and in 2001 recorded Aloha E
, reflecting upon the events of Spetember 11. That track eventually found its home in his 2004 album release of Hawaiian-influenced music, Living in Paradise
. Jesse then released the elegant acoustic, Songs for Christmas
, in which he revisits the Christmas carols of his childhood.
Jesse’s musical accomplishments are many, including performing with Led Zeppelin
, The Grateful Dead
and Janis Joplin in 1969; touring with Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young
in the summer of 1974; closing the No Nukes
movie in 1980; and closing the International Peace Awards in 2004. The song, "Get Together", was heard on the Forrest Gump
soundtrack bought by 13 million people in 1994, and "Darkness Darknes", written by Jesse, was the theme song for the James Cameron movie, Ghosts of the Abyss
, in 2003. A cover of the song by Robert Plant won the Grammy for Best Rock Vocal in 2003.
Throughout his many years of recording and touring, Jesse has also taken the time to dedicate his life to giving back to the world. He has performed on behalf of organizations ranging from the Dream Foundation to the Kona Pacific Waldorf School (which Jesse and his wife helped to build, and where they both teach music).
Always holding environmentalism as “a must”, from the time of The Youngbloods
to his current endeavors as a performer and teacher, Jesse has even used solar-powered energy for his concerts! He and his wife also grow organic Kona coffee on their farm in Hawaii.
Released in 2005, The Very Best of Jesse Colin Young
on Artemis Records chronicles the legendary career of this committeed singer/songwriter on two CDs.