The last time his Little River Band played Tucson was in 2001 at Old Tucson Studios, but frontman Wayne Nelson remembers a show here years before that rates as one of the band’s most memorable.
He can’t recall the venue, but the 62-year-old remembers the night as clearly as if it were yesterday.
“It was one of the most intense shows we’ve ever been through,” said Nelson, who returns to Tucson with the band for a show Sunday night at Maverick King of Clubs. “I mean shoulder-to-shoulder, wall-to-wall, hot, crazed night. … It was crazy. Great fun, but it was just intense there. If anybody would’ve gotten a little crazy, it could have gotten scary.”
But LRB music doesn’t make people crazy. It’s country-rock that fits more comfortably in the soft rock-pop bin.
Nelson is the lone remaining member of the 1980s lineup that brought the band a handful of soft-rock hits including “Reminiscing,” “The Night Owl,” “Cool Change” and their monster hits “Lonesome Loser” and “Lady.” He joined the band as the bass player in 1980 with scarcely a thought that the gig would span his professional life.
“Bands during that time … didn’t stay together 20 and 30 and then 40 years,” he said. “We are marking our 40th year next year.”
By the beginning of the 1990s, the band had begun to splinter. Members left for various reasons, and new members replaced them in a revolving door of comings and goings. The current lineup, with Nelson as the lead singer, has mostly been together since the mid-2000s.
The band lives mostly on its hits, but about a dozen years ago, Nelson said they decided to mix it up with new material. They started recording albums on their own and introducing new material into their shows. Last year they were signed to the indie label Frontier Records, which put out their CD “Cuts Like a Diamond.” The album’s first single, “The Lost and the Lonely,” got some radio attention.
Nelson remembers the first time they played “The Lost and the Lonely” at a show.
“We had half the audience on their feet. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know what to say because it’s been so long,” he recalled. “After all these years, to be writing a new chapter at year 39 for the band that includes radio and includes new music and includes standing ovations, it’s a very cool time for the band right now.”