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McGuffey Lane

Athens/Columbus, 1973 -


McGuffey Lane are one of the most successful bands to come out of central Ohio. They have been playing for 50 years and still have a large loyal following.  The band's core sound is country rock that has moved more country, or pop, over various recordings.

The band was started in 1973 by three musicians from Athens, Steve Reis, Terry Efaw, and Bob "Gene" McNelley. Reis and Efaw had been in the Blues Inc. The three had played together in some short lived groups after Blues Inc, playing the Ohio U coffeehouses. Stephen "Tebes" Douglass, another Athens resident, had played with the three and became a permanent member. According to one account Douglas filled in for an injured Efaw (accidental self shooting) and another account says Douglas and Efaw originated the name and after some back and forth the group settled into the original four. McGuffey Lane was the street where Reis lived and became the band name. 

Reis, Efaw, and McNelley were all guitarists and Douglass' main instrument was keyboards. The band added Dick Smith on drums and started working on original songs, and playing the SE Ohio club and college circuit. They recorded a 45 sometime around 1975, with two songs written by McNelley. The record was self released using the label name EMR from the members last names. The sound is very rural/acoustic. 

In early 1977 they added John Schwab on lead guitar. John had been in the St. John's Mod who can be heard on the Northland Battle Of The Bands. The band moved their base to Columbus and became the house band at Zachariah's Red Eye Saloon, the hub for the Columbus country-rock and folk-rock scene. They were getting prestigious gigs and developing a large following. 

The band had been developing and playing out original songs since they started, so they were ready to make a full LP in 1979. The band recorded at Fifth Floor in Cincinnati, recording 10 songs written by McNelley or Schawb. They self-released the LP, choosing Paradise Island for a label name. The band's investment in the LP paid off as the record supposedly sold 30-40,000 copies in the area. The drummer on the LP is John Campingotto, who replaced Smith sometime in late 1979. 

The album was picked up for national distribution by Atco. The song "Long Time Lovin' You" was released by Atco as a 45 and got some national radio play and sales, reachin up to 85 on the Billboard Hot 100.  The band went back to the studio and recorded their second LP "Aqua Dream", with the 45 "Start It All Over" making the very bottom of the top 100. The LP was one of their biggest sellers reaching 192 on the Billboard top 200 LPs. The band had a new drummer, Dave Rangeler. 

The moderate success of the records got the band on some major national tours with the Allman Brothers and the Charlie Daniels Band. The band recorded their 3rd album "Let The Hard Times Roll" in 1982 and released two 45s from it. The 45s were "Making A Living's Been Killing Me" and "Doing It Right". All three of the records made the country charts but not the Hot 100/200. The success in the country market did not meet Atco's desires for the band as Atco wanted crossover/pop success that was not aligned with the band's interests. 

The band moved to Atlantic America records which was a related label geared towards the country market. As the band was working on their next LP, January 1984, Stephen Douglass was killed in a single car accident on the way home from a gig. The band immediately decided to move forward and dedicate the LP to his memory. The LP produced two more moderately successful 45s, "Day By Day" and "The First Time". 

The band's momentum seemed to slow as 1984 became 1985. Bob McNelley left and Casey McKeown joined as keyboard player. The band stayed off the national tours and played locally in their southern Ohio base where they had a large following. Plans for a fifth LP did not pan out and they split with Atlantic American. 

The band was selected to be one of a few country music acts to be promoted by Miller Lite beer, as a an spinoff of the Miller Lite Rock Network. The agreement was announced through national publications in the summer of 1986, but never got off the ground. Later in that year, the band returned to recording with a Christmas record of 6 songs. The record was produced as a fundraiser for the Central Ohio Lung Association, in the memory of Karin Johnson. The record was sold locally and was marketed by Jax restaurants who had 500 locations in 39 states at the time. 

The Christmas record was the last recording by the band in their original run. They went on hiatus in 1987, staging one off shows for awhile. The band restarted in the mid 1990s and contiunes to be active, with original/core members Reis, Efaw, and Schwab. They have hosted many Zacharia's Red Eye Saloon reunions.

Green Country Mountains / Lady Autumn - EMR 1001, 1975
LP - McGuffey Lane - Paradise Island 221-1566, Atco 38-133, 1980
Long Time Lovin' You / People Like You - Atco 7319, 1980
LP - Aqua Dream - Atco 38-144, 1981
Start It All Over / Don't You Think About Me (When I'm Gone) - Atco 7345, 1981
Fallin' Timber /  A New Beginning - Atco  7404, 1981
LP - Let The Hard Times Roll - Atco 90020, 1982
Doing It Right / Too Many Days - Atco 99908, 1982
Making A Living's Been Killing Me / You Wouldn't Give Up On Me - Atco 99959, 1982
LP - Day By Day - Atlantic America 90155, 1984
The First Time / You've Got A Right - Atlantic America 99717, 1984
Day By Day / Jamaica In My Mind - Atlantic America 99778, 1984
EP - Christmas With - Rax 1, 1986