Jesse Colin Young

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Jesse Colin Young


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 10 hit and a prominent soundtrack for peace. After seven group releases, Young began the production of more than 15 acclaimed solo albums including Song for Juli, Light Shine, Songbird and a live album with his great touring band titled On the Road. In 2005 he released the most comprehensive collection of his music to date—The Very Best of Jesse Colin Young. For the first-time ever, songs from his solo career as well as hits from The Youngbloods were placed in two CD package.

Jesse was born and raised in Queens, New York in 1941, with his earliest family memories being filled with the joy of music and celebration. His mother was a violinist with a beautiful singing voice and perfect pitch. 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. In 1959 the talented student won a scholarship to Phillips Andover. 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 Colin 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 and Peter Childs.

After 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 into 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 & Dusty, and High on a Ridge Top; 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, which stayed on the Billboard Top 200 chart for nearly a year.

This success was followed by Light Shine in 1974, Songbird in 1975, On the Road in 1975 and Love on the Wing in 1976. Each of those Jesse Colin Young solo albums contained breakthrough tracks from country fusion to jazz fusion to blues rock that received airplay on radio stations across America.

During his exploding solo career during the 1970’s, Jesse also continued giving back by helping 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”. You can see this now on YouTube.

In 1978, Jesse released American Dreams, an album calling for political involvement, followed by The Perfect Strangers in 1982 with guest stars like Carly Simon. He then returned to acoustic rock with The Highway for Heroes in 1987.

Throughout the 1980’s, 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. Their first release was a new album of all original material backed by top San Francisco Bay Area musicians, called Makin’ it Real. The next release, Swept Away would be a very personal collection of mostly solo slack key acoustic songs.

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.

They stayed in Hawaii for 12 years, building a Waldorf School and growing certified organic Kona coffee called Jesse Colin Young’s Morning Sun Coffee, still available today on his website. He built a new recording studio at his island home and in 2001 recorded “Aloha E”, reflecting upon the events of September 11. This was the time that the media conglomerate company Clear Channel Communications included The Youngbloods’ version of Get Together on a list of “lyrically questionable” songs that was sent to its 1,200 radio stations in the United States. “Aloha E” 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.

The family moved to South Carolina in 2006 to be near family. He built a studio at his home and began recording more tracks. The EP Bring ’em Home was released in 2008 and it featured a new collaboration between producer David Tickle and Jesse. The title track was written in 2008 and is a plea to bring the troops home from Iraq. Jesse has always been an advocate for Veterans health and support.

In 2014 Jesse became interested in the Saratoga warhorse project for Veterans and made a DVD in support of that organization called Out of the Darkness. It is available on iTunes, Amazon, Google and DVD on his website.

In 2012 Jesse was diagnosed with Lyme’s Disease and was unable to tour. In that time he created the Couch Series with Labrador on YouTube. He performed a variety of songs new and old, solo acoustic or with friends, and always with his famous silver Lab, Django. It was a way to still reach his audience without traveling due to the complications of Lyme’s

Jesse’s musical accomplishments are many, including performing with Led Zeppelin, The Grateful Dead and Janis Joplin in 1969, touring with Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young in the summer of 1974 and performing with Billy Joel, the Doobie Brothers and the Beach Boys. Jesse has also shared the stage with comics like Martin Mull. Other performances include going to the prisons of South Dakota and Minnesota to sing for American Indians rights with actor and musician Floyd Westerman.

As a member of the Youngbloods, in 1969 they were the only band to walk off the Johnny Carson show which was the definitive gateway to superstardom. The Story is worth a listen.

The Youngblood’s version of “Get Together” has been heard by millions from the Forrest Gump soundtrack in 1994, Cats and Dogs: Revenge of Kitty Galore, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, The Simpsons “Oh Brother where Bart thou” and “Tree of Horror II”, and South Park’s “Smug Alert”. “Get Together commercials” include The Pepsi commercial for the 1995 Super Bowl, the Luv’s commercial in 2010 and Kentucky Fried Chicken in 2014.

“Darkness Darkness”, written by Jesse, was in Jack the Bear (1993), was the theme song for the James Cameron movie Ghosts of the Abyss in 2003 and was in the trailer of TV series Bloodline (2015). A cover of the song by Robert Plant won the Grammy for Best Rock Vocal in 2002. It remains a popular cover song for many bands. 

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