Lone Justice
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Lone Justice

Lone Justice was an American country rock band formed in 1982 by guitarist Ryan Hedgecock and singer Maria McKee.


Early era

They began their career as part of the L.A. cowpunk scene of the 1980s. Lone Justice was inspired by Hedgecock and McKee's shared affection for rockabilly and country music.[1] The group started out as a strict cover band,[2] but the additions of veteran bassist Marvin Etzioni and Don Heffington, a former drummer in Emmylou Harris' Hot Band,[3] prompted them to compose their own material.,[2] Their early recordings can be described as a fusion of country and punk rock, with rockabilly elements. But by the time of their first album, the band had begun to incorporate elements of roots rock and singer-songwriter styles. Benmont Tench of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers was a frequent guest musician at their live shows.

Lone Justice became a popular attraction and a local LA favorite. Rock journalist Stann Findelle noticed and wrote about Maria McKee in Performance Magazine where Findelle reported that the band "stole the show" at the Whisky A Go Go from purported headliner Arthur Lee, who was attempting a comeback that night, but left after two songs.[4] With the help of Linda Ronstadt, they were signed to Geffen Records and were soon called the "next big thing".[5][6][7]

Their self-titled debut appeared in 1985, followed by a tour in support of U2.[8] Despite Jimmy Guterman, then a critic at Rolling Stone, including it in his list of the best albums ever made,[9]Lone Justice failed to sell; produced by the band's manager, Jimmy Iovine, it failed to connect with country or rock audiences.[10] Even with radio-friendly singles like "Sweet, Sweet Baby" and "Ways To Be Wicked" (written by Tom Petty and Mike Campbell), the album didn't meet commercial expectations. Regardless, the Pazz & Jop Critics Poll for 1985 ranked it No. 24.[11]

Later era

In the record's wake, Hedgecock, Etzioni, and Heffington all exited the band, leaving McKee to lead Lone Justice alone. After enlisting guitarist Shane Fontayne, bassist Greg Sutton, drummer Rudy Richman, and keyboardist Bruce Brody (formerly of the Patti Smith Group), Lone Justice recorded their second LP, Shelter. Steve Van Zandt was the producer, along with Jimmy Iovine and the band. This record saw them almost completely abandoning much of their earlier cowpunk, rockabilly, and roots rock influences in favor of what could be considered more typical 1980s pop/rock production, with heavy emphasis on drum machines and synthesizers. Commercially, the album charted lower than its predecessor, only reaching No. 65 on the album charts. However, the title single did better than the band's previous two charting singles, reaching No. 26 on the Rock Singles chart, and No. 47 on Billboard Hot 100 chart.

Their 1985 performance of "Sweet, Sweet Baby (I'm Falling)" was released by BBC Video on The Old Grey Whistle Test Vol. 3 Compilation DVD, 2004.[12]


Shortly after Shelter's release, McKee broke up the band for good and went on to a solo career. Heffington became a session drummer, while Etzioni recorded under the guise of Marvin the Mandolin Man. Rudy Richman played drums with UK rock band The Quireboys between 1992 and 1993, appearing on the album Bitter Sweet & Twisted. Fontayne played guitar in Bruce Springsteen's band for the tour backing up the Lucky Town/Human Touch albums.[13] After a decade removed from the music industry, Hedgecock returned in 1996 as half of the duo Parlor James.[14] A posthumous Lone Justice retrospective, This World Is Not My Home, followed in early 1999, including early demo recordings. A brief, budget compilation was issued in 2003 as part of Universal Music's 20th Century Masters series.



Year Album Chart Positions Label
US Country US UK[15]
1985 Lone Justice 62 56 49 Geffen
1986 Shelter 65 84
1993 BBC Radio 1 Live in Concert Windsong
1998 This World Is Not My Home Geffen
2014 This Is Lone Justice: The Vaught Tapes 1983 Omnivore (Universal)


Year Single Chart Positions Album
US Rock US UK Top 100
1985 "Sweet, Sweet Baby (I'm Falling)" 73 Lone Justice
"Ways to Be Wicked" 29 71 77
1986 "Shelter" 26 47 Shelter
1987 "I Found Love" 47 Shelter


I Found Love - 1987 Limited Edition UK double 45RPM EP in gatefold cover on Geffen GEF18F - Includes the songs: "I Found Love" (studio), "If You Don't Like Rain" (studio), "Sweet Jane" (Live BBC Transcription Services recording) and "Don't Toss Us Away" (Live BBC Transcription Services recording).


  1. ^ Chris Morris (July 1985). Justice At Last - Recognition comes to L.A. band Lone Justice. Spin. p. 48. Retrieved 2010. 
  2. ^ a b "mtv.com. About Lone Justice". Retrieved 2016. 
  3. ^ "allmusic.com". allmusic.com. Retrieved 2009. 
  4. ^ "SantaFe.com. Out Of The Vault - Maria McKee & Lone Justice, August 23, 2013". Retrieved 2016. 
  5. ^ Brogan, Daniel (December 2, 1986). "Lone Justice Groping For A Sound On Shelter". ChicagoTribune.com. Tribune Publishing. Retrieved 2016. 
  6. ^ Brogan, Daniel (October 3, 1985). "Lone Justice Turning to Rock 'n'Roll For Verdict". ChicagoTribune.com. Tribune Publishing. Retrieved 2016. 
  7. ^ Weiss, Neil (January 7, 1999). "Justice Served". DallasObserver.com. Voice Media Group. Retrieved 2016. 
  8. ^ Pimm Jal de la Parra (2003). U2 Live: A Concert Documentary. Omnibus Press. ISBN 978-0-7119-9198-9. 
  9. ^ "Jimmy Guterman biography". Randysrodeo.com. Retrieved 2009. 
  10. ^ Ankeny, Jason (2002). Bogdanov, Vladimir; Woodstra, Chris; Erlewine, Stephen Thomas, eds. All Music Guide to Rock: The Definitive Guide to Rock, Pop, and Soul (3rd ed.). Hal Leonard. p. 667. ISBN 978-0-879-30653-3. 
  11. ^ "The 1985 Pazz & Jop Critics Poll". Retrieved 2010. 
  12. ^ The Old Grey Whistle Test Vol. 3 (DVD). BBC Video. 2004. 
  13. ^ "Reverendguitars.com. 12 Questions With Shanye Fontayne". Retrieved 2016. 
  14. ^ "Billboard.com. Lone Justice". Retrieved 2016. 
  15. ^ "The Official Charts Company - Lone Justice". The Official Charts Company. May 5, 2013. 

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