A Nashville supergroup led by singers/songwriters Vince Gill and Rodney Crowell, the Notorious Cherry Bombs trace their origins to Emmylou Harris' fabled backing unit the Hot Band. According to legend, upon signing to Warner Bros. in late 1974 Harris was instructed by label execs to assemble "a hot band," and the singer immediately set about bringing together the finest session musicians in contemporary country. The first incarnation of the Hot Band -- guitarists Crowell and James Burton, steel guitarist Hank DeVito, pianist Glen D. Hardin, bassist Emory Gordy, Jr., and drummer John Ware -- made its debut behind Harris during a three-night stint at San Francisco's Boarding House in the spring of 1975; when Burton fell ill the following year, guitarist Albert Lee was named as his replacement, cementing the group's longest-lived and most acclaimed incarnation. Although the Hot Band's payroll reportedly left Harris some 125,000 dollars in debt, there's little doubting that their virtuosity launched her music to new creative heights and established the benchmarks by which all Nashville touring and session bands are judged. Harris also recorded several of Crowell's songs, and when he left the Hot Band in 1980 to cut his second solo LP, But What Will the Neighbors Think, he attempted to recapture the same esprit de corps by assembling his own crackerjack backing combo, the Cherry Bombs. The founding lineup included fellow Hot Band alumni DeVito and Gordy as well as guitarists Vince Gill and Richard Bennett, keyboardist Tony Brown, and drummer Larrie London.
The Cherry Bombs toured behind Crowell as well as his then-wife, Rosanne Cash, but despite critical acclaim, Crowell's early solo albums did not sell and the group began to splinter. By the mid-'80s, only Gill and Gordy remained, although Brown returned to produce 1988's Diamonds & Dirt, the album that finally vaulted Crowell to commercial success. While Gill soon mounted an enormously popular solo career of his own, winning a record-tying 14 Grammy Awards, Brown emerged as one of the premier Nashville producers of his generation, helming sessions for Lyle Lovett, George Strait, and Reba McEntire. Gordy and Bennett also compiled distinguished production résumés, while DeVito channeled his energies into songwriting, authoring Juice Newton's crossover smash "Queen of Hearts," before making his mark as a photographer. London continued his session career and also conducted drum clinics across the country. Sadly, during one such event in April 1992, he suffered a massive heart attack and lapsed into a coma, dying on August 24 of that year. Fast forward to 2003, and at the annual ASCAP Awards banquet in Nashville, the Cherry Bombs reunited on-stage for the first time in two decades. The experience inspired the group to re-enter the studio, with longtime Crowell bassist Michael Rhodes sitting in for Gordy, who declined to participate, and drummer Eddie Bayers playing the drum kit that once belonged to London, to whose memory the project was dedicated. (Keyboardist John Hobbs completed the lineup.) Due to legal concerns, their self-titled debut album was credited to the Notorious Cherry Bombs upon its 2004 release. ~ Jason Ankeny, Rovi