Guitarist/singer/songwriter Randy California is best known as the leader of Spirit, although he occasionally made solo albums. A guitar prodigy, California played in Jimi Hendrix's pre-Experience group the Blue Flames in New York's Greenwich Village in the summer of 1966. It was Hendrix who named him Randy "California." Spirit, an eclectic band with rock, jazz, and folk tendencies, was formed in Los Angeles in 1967. After four albums, the original quintet split up in 1971. California suffered a serious riding accident and after his recovery made a solo album, Kapt. Kopter and The (Fabulous) Twirly Birds (1972), which featured uncredited appearances by Hendrix's Experience rhythm section of Noel Redding and Mitch Mitchell. He rejoined Spirit in 1974 and assumed lead of the band. (Spirit charted with ten albums between 1968 and 1976.) Several subsequent Randy California solo albums were released in Europe.
Randy California died tragically in January of 1997, when he was gripped by an undertow while swimming on the coast of the Hawaiian island of Molokai. Before he died, he was able to save his 12 year-old son, Quinn. ~ William Ruhlmann, Rovi