Exile (American band)
|Also known as||Jimmy Stokley and the Exiles, The Exiles|
|Origin||Richmond, Kentucky, United States|
|Genres||Country rock, soft rock|
|Years active||1963–1993, 1995-present|
Exile is an American band originally formed in 1963. In the 1970s they were known as a rock band that had a major hit single with "Kiss You All Over" in 1978. After several lineup changes, the band was re-launched as a country act that achieved additional success in the 1980s and 90s. J.P. Pennington is the only current member of the band remaining from its early days.
The origins of Exile are with a high school band in Richmond, Kentucky, called the Fascinations, which featured singer Jimmy Stokley. In 1963, the Fascinations merged with another local band and became Jimmy Stokley and the Exiles, with singer/guitarist J.P. Pennington, then age 14, joining a short time later. They toured regionally with the Dick Clark Caravan of Stars in 1965. Their name was later shortened to The Exiles, apparently to show support for Cuban refugees.
After high school, the band moved to Lexington, Kentucky, and recorded several singles for small labels between 1968 and 1973. In 1973 the name was shortened again to Exile, with Stokley on lead vocals, Pennington on vocals and guitar, Buzz Cornelison on keyboards, Kenny Weir on bass, and Bobby Johns on drums. This version of the band released a self-titled album on Wooden Nickel Records in 1973. They toured regionally for the next several years and had a minor pop hit with "Try It On" in 1977.
Late 1970s pop success
In 1978, Exile consisted of Stokley, Pennington, and Cornelison, plus second keyboardist Marlon Hargis, bassist Sonny LeMaire, and drummer Steve Goetzman. This lineup signed with Warner Brothers and released the album Mixed Emotions. The disco-influenced single "Kiss You All Over", written by the album's producer Mike Chapman and his songwriting partner Nicky Chinn, topped the American singles chart for four weeks and also reached the top ten in a dozen European countries. The song attracted some controversy for its risque lyrics, while Stokley gained media attention as a flamboyant and charismatic frontman.
The success of "Kiss You All Over" resulted in invitations for Exile to tour with Heart, Aerosmith, Fleetwood Mac, and other leading rock acts of the period. The follow-up album All There Is yielded the minor hit single "The Part of Me That Needs You Most", which reached the top ten in South Africa and New Zealand in 1979.
Transition to country music
Jimmy Stokley left the band in 1980 and was replaced by Les Taylor. (Stokley died at age 41 in 1985 due to complications from hepatitis, and was later inducted into the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame with a speech by J.P. Pennington.) Another longtime member, keyboardist Buzz Cornelison, also departed in the early 1980s. Under the leadership of Pennington, Exile was revamped as a country band with a southern rock flavor.
This version of the band signed with Epic Records in 1983 and had a top 40 country single with their first Epic release, "High Cost Of Leaving". Some of their songs were covered by other country artists, including Janie Fricke and Alabama, who would turn Exile's The Closer You Get (from their 1980 album Don't Leave Me This Way) into a #1 Country & Western single in 1983. Starting in 1983, Exile had three consecutive top ten albums on the Billboard Country Albums chart (Exile, Kentucky Hearts, and Hold On to Your Heart, with the second of those reaching number one), and from 1983 to 1987 ten out of eleven singles reached number one on the Billboard Country Singles chart, making them one of the biggest country artists of the decade. They also received thirteen award nominations from the Academy of Country Music and the Country Music Association.
Pennington and Taylor left the band in 1990, leaving it with no remaining members from its rock period. A new lineup featuring singer/guitarist Paul Martin signed with Arista Records and scored some more country hit singles, but they were dropped by Arista after the 1991 album Justice and disbanded in 1993. Twenty-one former members gathered for a farewell concert at the Grand Ole Opry.
After leaving Exile in 1990, J.P. Pennington and Les Taylor both signed solo deals and achieved minor hit singles on the U.S. country charts. Pennington and Taylor performed together on stage in 1995 and decided to resurrect the Exile name. The new version of the band, led by Pennington and Taylor with a shifting cast of sidemen, continued to tour the nostalgia circuit. Since the 1990s the group has released several live albums, plus the new album Wrapped Up in Your Arms for Christmas in 2016.
In 2008, the 5 original Exile members officially re-formed with J.P. Pennington, Les Taylor, Sonny LeMaire, Marlon Hargis and Steve Goetzman. This lineup continues to tour and record new material. 
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