The band, Gypsy, was originally from Minneapolis, Minnesota
and was formed by Jim Johnson, Enrico Rosenbaum and James Walsh.
All three had been in a local Minneapolis group, The Underbeats. The original members
of Gypsy were
James Walsh - vocals and keyboards,
Enrico Rosenbaum - vocals and guitars,
Jay Epstein - drums,
James C. Johnson - vocals and lead guitar,
Doni Larson - bass.
However, the personnel changed on each album. See the Gypsy Discography for a detailed listing of each album.
Gypsy signed with Metromedia records and released their first album in 1970. It was a double album containing thirteen songs, with several of them running between six to eleven minutes in length. It was rare for groups to release a double album, especially as their first album, in the early seventies. (Only one group prior to them - Chicago - had released a double album as their first album.) Also, with most of their songs longer than three to four minutes, Gypsy was not going to get a lot of airplay on Top 40 radio. But, according to James Walsh, there were two songs from this album released as singles - "Gypsy Queen (Part 1)" and "Dead and Gone". "Gypsy Queen" did make it into the Billboard Top 100 for a brief period of time. "Dead and Gone" was edited heavily from its eleven minute length on the album and received limited airplay on Top 40 stations. The other songs on the album did receive some airplay on progressive "underground" FM radio stations like KSHE95. The songs were filled with great keyboard and guitar work. The vocals were also tight and in perfect harmony. To this day, this album is a favorite among the group's fans.
Gypsy's second album titled "In the Garden" was released in 1971 also on Metromedia Records. This was a single album with only one long track on it - "As Far As You Can See (As Much As You Can Feel)" - which was over twelve minutes long. Again, the songs on this album all had the "Gypsy sound". No singles were released from this album.
Metromedia never did promote the band heavily. The first two Gypsy albums soon went out of print when Metromedia Records fell on hard times. After going out of print, Gypsy's first two albums became very collectable and commanded high prices for the remainder of the seventies.
In 1972, Gypsy signed with RCA Records and released the album "Antithesis". This was a single album and contained a number of songs that received airplay. There were no lengthy tracks on this album, most of the songs were between three to five minutes long. But there are many memorable songs on the album like the title cut - "Antithesis (Keep Your Faith)", along with "Day After Day", "So Many Promises", and "Young Gypsy".
In 1973, Gypsy released their third album, "Unlock the Gates", which was another single album on RCA. Again, there were no lengthy tracks on the album. Gypsy was continuing to evolve their sound on this album. One track, "Don't Get Mad (Get Even)", received considerable airplay and is another favorite among Gypsy fans to this day. The horn section from the group Chicago also appeared on several tracks. The album cover contains a cartoon-like drawing of the group. James and Jim have joked that this is their "favorite" cover of all the albums they released. After this album, Gypsy disbanded and were not heard from again for several years.
It is interesting to note that most of the songs on the first four albums are credited as being written by Enrico Rosenbaum. According to James Walsh, Enrico was responsible for writing the majority of the lyrics for the songs. This was due to Enrico's ability to come up with some great words which expressed many different feelings. The rest of the group then wrote and arranged the music to accompany the lyrics.
Then in the summer of 1977, a reformed Gypsy (without James Walsh) played as an opening act at "Super Jam 77" held at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Missouri. This was a one time only performance for the band and not part of an ongoing tour. According to Jim Johnson, Gypsy was the first group to perform that day. For their part of the show, Gypsy played their best known songs. They were warmly welcomed by the crowd due to Gypsy's popularity in the St. Louis area.
In 1978, James Walsh formed "The James Walsh Gypsy Band". The group released one album by the same name on RCA. This was a reformed band with James Walsh being the only original member. The music was also significantly different from any of Gypsy's previous albums. Many of the songs contained horn arrangements and had a Top 40 sound to them. For a number of reasons, including that this was the height of the disco era, the album sold poorly. Two songs from the album, "You Make Me Feel Like Livin" and "Cuz It's You Girl", did receive some airplay. This would be the last album of new material released by the group for over two decades.
Finally, in 1979, Gypsy's first album was re-released on vinyl on the Cognito Record label. The release was a duplicate of the original in that it was a double album and had the same cover and packaging. This release satisfied many of the fans and collectors who had been trying for years to obtain a copy of the first album. At the time of this release, prices for a clean copy of the original album on Metromedia Records were as high as $100.
In 1984, James Walsh formed a group known as Jumpstreet. The group released one album on a local label in the Minneapolis, Minnesota area. For more information about this recording, see the Discography.
With record companies re-releasing just about everything on CD in the nineties, Gypsy's first two albums were released by ERA Records in 1993. (Interestingly, ERA Records is distributed by K-TEL in the United States.) However, these quickly went out of print as well.
In 1996, Gypsy released a new CD called "20 Years Ago Today". James Walsh is the only original member appearing on the CD. Two songs from the first Gypsy album - "Third Eye" and "Gypsy Queen" - were re-recorded and appear on this CD. This CD is now out of print at the present time.
Some of Gypsy's best known songs include: Gypsy Queen (Part 1 and 2), Dead and Gone, As Far As You Can See (As Much As You Can Feel) and Antithesis (Keep Your Faith).
James Walsh, one of the founding members of the group, lives in the Minneapolis, Minnesota area. Currently, he is a successful independent record producer.
Trivia Question: How and why did James acquire the nickname "Owl"? According to James it was because he was often referred to as "the wise old owl". Other members of the group frequently looked to James for decisions about the group and their music.
For many years, Jim resided in southern California where he wrote, arranged and produced music. He has since moved back to the Minneapolis, Minnesota area. He is working with his group - Calvin James and the Bad Influence. He also reformed the Underbeats for a period of time to play various shows in Minneapolis (sometimes appearing as The Thunderbeats).
Enrico Rosenbaum, one of the main writers of the group's songs, passed away in 1979. Unfortunately, his involvement in drugs contributed to the demise of a truly gifted musician. Enrico's mother, Ida, still resides in Minneapolis and has appeared at several Gypsy shows.
When Jay left Gypsy, he recorded jazz music with a variety of artists. Jay recently signed the Gypsy Guestbook and noted that he is still in the music business and has been recording some new music.
Joe who appeared on "In the Garden" went on to play with Stephen Stills, Joe Walsh, and others.
Bill appeared on "In the Garden", "Antithesis", and "Unlock the Gates". After leaving Gypsy, he was the drummer for Robin Tower's band for many years. You can visit Bill's website at www.billlordan.com
Randall played bass guitar and sang vocals on "Antithesis", and "Unlock the Gates". Today, Randall resides in Texas. He recently travelled to Minneapolis to see Gypsy perform. Randall has indicated he would like to hear from Gypsy fans. His e-mail address is RRJewelry@aol.com
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