McGuffey Lane began playing regular gigs in a Columbus club, and developed a large, devoted following in Ohio; they tried to get a record deal, and even cut an album on their own Paradise Island label that sold 40,000 copies, but Nashville wasn't interested until the similarly styled Alabama became popular. McGuffey Lane eventually signed to Atco, a major pop label. In 1980, they re-released their previous album and toured with Southern rock acts like Charlie Daniels and the Allman Brothers. The group had their first hit on the pop charts with "Long Time Lovin' You." Their second album, Aqua Dream, was released at the end of 1980 and produced a minor pop hit with "Start It All Over."
Their first country hit, "Making a Living's Been Killing Me," reached the Top 50. The band scored a minor country hit in 1983 and then released their third album, Let the Hard Times Roll. They later moved to Atlantic because they wanted to be promoted to a country market instead of a pop audience. The band was putting the finishing torches on Day by Day when Douglass was killed in a car wreck; the album was dedicated to his memory and produced the mid-range hits "Day by Day" and "The First Time." At the end of the year, McNelly left the band to become a full-time songwriter in Nashville, but in early 1987, he shot and killed his fiancée, then killed himself.
Around the mid-'80s, as country-rock fell out of favor with audiences, McGuffey Lane were dropped from Atlantic. They resumed their career as a live band and released a Christmas album in 1986 to benefit the Central Ohio Lung Association. Later that year, the band received a sponsorship deal with Miller Beer and attempted a comeback, but had no success and disbanded by 1990. Five years later, the release of Greatest Hits Live & More prompted the band to reunite and, led by John Schwab and Terry Efaw, play several dozen live dates per year throughout the Ohio Valley. They also recorded a new studio album, Call Me Lucky, in 1998, and followed it with the all-acoustic Wood in 2002. Over the next decade, the McGuffey Lane reunion continued but at a lower gear, with the band performing steadily each year. They released their next album, 10, in 2010. ~ Sandra Brennan, Rovi