Americana artist Al Staehely is signing with Quarto Valley Records and releases his new album in June. Staehely is the only person on the planet who has both played Carnegie Hall and provided legal services for Stevie Ray Vaughan.
It didn’t take long for Staehely to begin making those dreams a reality. He arrived in Los Angeles in 1971, and a few months later he and his brother John were asked to join the critically acclaimed band, Spirit. With Al as the band’s new lead vocalist, bass player, and chief songwriter – and with brother John taking over lead guitar duties from Randy California – Spirit recorded their fifth album, Feedback, in November of 1971.
Successful tours followed – Canada, Australia, the U.S. – including the aforementioned performance at Carnegie Hall. When Spirit splintered, Al and John formed a group appropriately named the Staehely Brothers, releasing the album Sta-Hay-Lee on Epic Records in 1973
It was another album that received good reviews, but the act was short-lived. When his brother John got an offer to join Elektra Records act Jo Jo Gunne – a band whose albums had consistently hit the charts – Al decided it was time to go it alone.
Having written the majority of the songs on both Feedback and Sta-Hay-Lee, Al began focusing on his writing talents, getting cuts by Bobbie Gentry, Marty Balin and Keith Moon, among others.
Not giving up on his dreams of releasing an album under his own name, Staehely recorded many tracks in LA between 1974 and 1978, working with a collection of first-rate musicians that included Steve Cropper, Jim Horn, Snuffy Walden, and Pete Sears.
Between sessions, Staehely headlined clubs in LA and NYC, opened concerts for The Moody Blues and Hot Tuna, did sessions for Keith Moon’s solo LP, and toured with Chris Hillman.
In 1980, Staehely returned to Texas and pulled his law degree out of the drawer. Lawyer by day, musician by night, Al did shows with Roy Orbison, Jefferson Starship, and Emmylou Harris, as well as two European tours with John Cipollina and Nick Gravenites (of Quicksilver Messenger Service and Electric Flag, respectively). His time with Cipollina and Gravenites was documented by the LP, Monkey Medicine, recorded in Hamburg and featuring three of Al’s songs. Back in Texas, he even played a show with Rodney Dangerfield! Just as Staehely was beginning to build his practice, Polydor Records came calling. In 1982, Stahaley’s Comet, Al’s long-awaited solo record, was released – but only in Europe.
His impressive array of music industry clients and fatherhood kept him busy for a couple of decades, but the urge to make music has never left.
In 2011, SteadyBoy Records oversaw the first US release of Al’s Polydor LP, under the new title, Al Staehely and 10k Hours. In 2013, Cadillac Cowboys, an EP by Al Staehely and the Explosives, was also released on SteadyBoy.
In more recent years, Al has returned to the studio, as well as playing live, frequently with his brother John, Freddie Steady Krc, and sax player Evelyn Rubio.
At long last, Al Staehely the lawyer is once again Al Staehely the singer/songwriter/bass player – back to give the world his music from the past, as well as the music he continues to make today, including a new album recorded in Marfa with Fran Christina, Scrappy Jud Newcomb, and Chris Maresh.
In the fall of 2021, Al released solo recordings from his days in Los Angeles descriptively titled Post Spirit 1974-1978 Vol. 1. The initial focus track was “Wide Eyed and Innocent,” along with a new version of the same song – a sneak preview from the Marfa sessions. Looking back at his days in Malibu and Laurel Canyon, Al laughs, “We were wide eyed – but not that innocent!” •