What happens when you mix Memphis with Nashville and let it Rock & Roll? You get Fish Heads & Rice. Featuring Memphis natives Gary Talley, the original guitar player for the Box Tops and Walter Ferguson (Keyboards), from John Fred’s Playboy Band, and Nashville studio/road dawgs David James (Bass/Vocals) and Stu “train” Brower (Drums), their pedigree was certainly legitimate.
The chemistry was there from the very first show and tour dates in The States and Europe came quickly. With their first release for Milan, Italy’s Appaloosa Records, the group immediately established themselves as top notch R&B songwriters as well, with James Cotton covering the title cut “Certified” on his Grammy nominated “Living The Blues” album for Verve Records and Kenny Neil recording “Put You Out of My Misery” on the “Bayou Blood” record for Alligator Records.
Two years of touring followed, including dates with B. B. King, Ry Cooder, Keb Mo and Robin Ford, when The Fish Heads released their second album, 4 HEADS. By this time they had developed a cult following throughout Europe as one of the most authentic Memphis style R&B groups since the 60's and Italy’s Buscadero magazine named lead singer David James “One of the greatest vocalists of the 90's.” The pattern of other artists recording songs written by the Fish Heads continued on 4 HEADS as well, with both Dorothy Moore ("More Moore" Malaco Records) and Michael Burks ("I Smell Smoke" Alligator Records) cutting David’s “Lie To Me”.
The road trip persisted across two continents adding over a dozen countries to the itinerary, including stops in Croatia and Slovenia in the midst of a civil war, and the grind began to take a toll. Through the chaos, personnel changes occurred and the sound of the group moved a little further down the Mississippi River. With the addition of Joe McMahan (guitar) and Jerry Dubeau (keyboards and vocals) the band introduced a distinct Louisiana feel to its sound. The group was even performing as Jo-El Sonnier’s backup band when they weren’t touring themselves.
Fish Heads & Rices' third album, SOMETHING SMELLS FISHY finished the group’s stint with Appaloosa Records. After the release of “Fishy” the band welcomed guitar virtuosos Mark Matejka and Darrin Favorite to the roster and signed a new recording contract with EPIC/Sony. While the new deal included the pleasure of working at the world famous FAME studio in Muscle Shoals Alabama, unfortunately artistic differences and legal nightmares won the day and the record for Sony was never released.
The band eventually split in order to undertake separate pursuits. This has allowed former Fish to go on to join Lynyrd Skynyrd, tour with George Jones, Charlie Daniels, Billy Joe Royal, Shania Twain, Toby Keith, Pam Tillis and more, as well as write with guys like Peter Frampton, Mark Selby, Russell Smith (Amazing Rhythm Aces), Keith Urban and Craig Fuller (Little Feat) and record albums with Jonathan Edwards and two solo records from David James.