Classic Rock Profiles: Introduction to Ambrosia



Ambrosia is an American rock band from Southern California formed in 1970 and originally consisting of Joe Puerta, David Pack, Burleigh Drummond & Christopher North.  The band is recognized nationally for their two big hit songs in 70s music, “How Much I Feel” & “Biggest Part Of Me” and both coincidentally peaked at #3 on The Billboard Hot 100,.  The band signed their initial contract in 1975 with 20th Century Fox Records.  They  recorded their self titled “Ambrosia” album (#22 Billboard 200) and first Top 40 Single “Holdin’ On To Yesterday”.  They recorded two more Top 40 hits, “Magical Mystery Tour” & “You’re the Only Woman (You & I)”.   The band broke up in 1982 after the poor performance of their fifth album “Road Island” but reunited as a touring band in 1989.  Puerta, North, Drummond, Doug Jackson & Rick Cowling are current members.  David Pack left the band and has been a solo artist and record producer.  Other past band members:  David C. Lewis, Royce Jones, Bruce Hornsby, Shem Von Shroech, Tollak Ollestad, Robert Berry & Ken Stacey.  More Ambrosia Hit Songs:  “Nice, Nice, Very Nice,” “I Just Can’t Let Go,” “Runnin’ Away,” “Life Beyond L.A.,” “For Openers (Welcome Home),” “Biggest Part of Me” Remix,” “Drink of Water,” “Livin’ On My Own,” “The Burnt,” “Somewhere I’ve Never Travelled,” “Make Us All Aware,” “Cowboy Star,” “Apothecary,” “And…,” “If Heaven Could Find Me,” “Dancin’ By Myself,” “Sky’s the Limit,”  “Ready For Camarillo,” “Mama Frog” & “Not As You Were.”

Ambrosia’s Early Days

David Pack (vocalist, guitarist), Joe Puerta (vocalist, bassist), Christopher North (keyboardist), and Burleigh Drummond (drummer) formed Ambrosia in Los Angeles, California in 1970. Shaped by musical geniuses such as The Beach Boys and The Beatles, Ambrosia created a polished pop sound with a harmonic pop rock, evolving a “melodic prog rock” style. The band was discovered in 1971 by Los Angeles Philharmonic conductor Zubin Mehta, who included Ambrosia as part of a so-called All-American Dream Concert.

Making a big name for themselves

In 1975, the group was signed to Rubicon Management, which eventually settled a deal with 20th Century Fox Records and released Ambrosia’s eponymous debut album. Ambrosia’s first single, “Holdin’ On To Yesterday” made to the Top 20 chart singles chart at #17, as well the minor hit “Nice, Nice, Very Nice.”

In 1976 they released their second effort, Somewhere I’ve Never Travelled. The singles “Can’t Let a Woman” and the title song became staples on FM radios. Later in that same year, Ambrosia did a cover of The Beatles’ “Magical Mystery Tour” for the film All This And World War II in which they also appeared. This cover became a Top 40 Billboard hit in 1977.

North left the group during the recording of their third LP, Life Beyond L.A. Their next single “How Much I Feel” rose to become their biggest hit and reached number three on the Billboard Hot 100. It sold over a million copies and was certified “gold” in 1978.

The follow-up single, “You’re The Only Woman” also did well and hit the #13 spot on the pop chart in 1980. Also in that same year, Ambrosia’s fourth album One Eighty was released and included two of the year’s biggest hits, “Biggest Part of Me” (reaching its peak position at #3 for three weeks on the Hot 100) and “You’re the Only Woman (You & I)” (reaching  #13 on the Billboard Hot 100). The band had been also engaged in contributing songs for movies. Some of their contributions include “Outside” for the movie Inside Moves in 1980 and another track “Poor Rich Boy” (written by Burt Bacharach) for the film Arthur the following year.

In 1982, the group released their fifth and final studio album, Road Island. During the group’s tour in that same year, Lewis left and was later replaced by Bruce Hornsby. Road Island scored with the minor hit “How Can You Love Me.” The band broke up after experiencing a dearth of chart hits.

Individual careers and reunion

After Ambrosia, Pack went solo and released his own album in 1985. He also became a producer with many top acts. Puerta was with his new band, Bruce Hornsby and The Range in 1984.

The four original members reunited in 1989, did some live shows and released a greatest hits CD, Anthology on Warner Bros label in 1997. They reunited once more in 2000 celebrating their 30th anniversary.

Up to this day, they are individually active with their own careers as producers, session musicians and vocalists.

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