Mason Proffit is widely considered by obscure rock aficionados to be one of the best bands who never made it to the big time. Although they are mostly overlooked today, along with the Byrds, Michael Nesmith, and others, they helped to invent country-rock.
Wanted The band was formed in 1969 by members of the recently disbanded Sounds Unlimited, a tough Chicago garage band with a well-developed melodic sense. John and Terry Talbot were the main movers behind Sounds Unlimited and in Mason Proffit they took the vocal harmonies they had developed in Sounds Unlimited and went in a folk and country direction. They were among the first to combine the energy and instrumentation of rock with the subject matter and twang of country. Perhaps the reason they were not hailed as visionaries at the time is that their first three records came out on small labels and didn’t sell many copies. 1969’s Wanted! Mason Proffit and 1971’s Movin’ Toward Happiness were released by Happy Tiger and 1971’s Last Night I Had the Strangest Dream was released by Ampex. The band’s fortunes took a positive turn in 1972 when they were signed by Warner Bros. and released Rockfish Crossing. They used their Warner Bros. connection to tour with the Grateful Dead but it didn’t help them with the record buying public. In 1973 they released one last album, Bareback Rider, and then broke up. In 1974 Warner Bros. released a two-record set of Mason Proffit’s Happy Tiger recordings. This has been reissued on CD by One Way and is a great place to start if you want to discover the roots of country rock.
In the years after the breakup of Mason Proffit, the Talbot brothers shifted their attention to Christian music, recording albums for Warner Bros., Sparrow, and other labels.