The RFD stands for Russ, Fred, and Dan. It's one of those names like ESG (which stands for Emerald, Sapphire, and Gold) that just sort of confuses you right off the bat and makes curious minds want to know more. Well here's the deal. These guys (and girl) put out a record in 1971 that went on to become universally hailed by the thousand or so people in the world with an opinion on the matter as one of the five or ten best Christian records of all time. Now if you're like me, the initial thought of good Christian music seems like more than a joke than anything else. But then you hear artists like The Search Party or Marj Snyder or The RFD and you realize that these people are the real deal. Good Jesus music doesn't preach or even really announce itself as Christian music at all. You have to listen real close to hear a message, and if you do hear it, you're free to ignore it and go on with your sinful existence. Good Christian, or Xian as we call it in the record biz, is good music whether you get it or not, no matter what you may believe. It usually has a beauty and a purity you can hear in secular records like Linda Perhacs or Wendy and Bonnie. But usually, as with these albums, there's also a darkness there, lingering and undenied, feeding the music with added complexity and gravity. This isn't glassy-eyed Jesus freak music, and the best records are by real people living real lives full of pain as well as joy and love. I won't lie and say it's anywhere as rich as the secular field, but there are some gems to be found and The RFD most definitely are one of them. So anyway have a listen to the clips of this and tell me if you've ever heard anything like it before. I sure haven't.
ABOUT THE RFD
Dan and I (Fred) worked for Bell Telephone Laboratories in the late 1960’s. Dan was playing guitar in the stage band which entertained some 2,000 engineers each month in an auditorium which was very large and had superb acoustics. I joined the band several months later to play bass and banjo. At the same time, I was playing banjo in a Dixieland band called the Dixie Doodles. Dan and I started meeting during lunch times to “jam” on current folk rock songs, both of us playing guitar. It was a lot of fun. Later we discovered Russ as he was playing guitar in a “practice room.” He played in a style made famous by James Taylor and also Simon and Garfunkel. We began “jamming” together during lunch times, and began performing at the Bell Labs auditorium with a group called the Leather Suede. Our guitar styles greatly complimented each other.
After a year of this, I began writing songs which were more Christian folk rock than the songs we had been performing up to that time. Russ, Dan and I broke away and formed our own group, RFD (Russ, Fred and Dan). We began to give concerts at Bell Labs, and churches in the Chicago area. One day we gave a concert at a large hospital, and became acquainted with Debbie. After that, we began giving larger concerts in auditoriums and also served as an opening group for “well known bands” doing concerts in the Chicago area.
Eventually, we got a drummer (Larry) and a manager (Bob) to help arrange concert schedules. We became quite well known in the area and even were on the radio being interviewed. Bob told us that we would need to “cut” an album (LP), and increase the number of concerts. We did that and then Bob tried to convince us to start giving concerts all over the USA.
At that point we discussed what we wanted to do. Russ wanted to go to Law School and become a Lawyer. Dan wanted to move to Seattle and become a Forest Engineer. Debbie wanted to move to California and continue nursing. I wanted to attend Princeton Theological Seminary. So we gave a large farewell concert and went our separate ways. We never kept in contact, and basically lost track of each other. I’ve formed several bands since then, but never really became serious after we “broke up”. I have written over 75 songs which are all copy written and in the US Library of Congress files.
Three years ago we found each other again because of the internet. We have talked about getting together again for fun, but haven’t done anything yet. Debbie lives in California, Dan lives in Arizona, Russ lives in Illinois, and I live in New Jersey.
I hope this helps you to know some of our history. The Lord brought us together, and we have been blessed in our individual lives. Things could have been different if we had done what Bob suggested, but we have enjoyed life greatly as it is. God is good.
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You can read about The RFD and 3,200 other musically / historically relevant Christian artists in the amazing Archivist: 4th Edition, Vintage Vinyl Jesus Music 1965-1980 by Ken Scott. This book is highly recommended to anyone interested in the secret history of this remarkable genre.
Yoga Records is deeply indebted to Jae-Soo Yi and Riverman Music for licensing, restoring and reissuing this album. CDs may still be available from Riverman, so look for them on ebay.