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Lone Justice

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Lone Justice
OriginLos Angeles, California, U.S.
Years active1982–1987[1], 2024
MembersMaria McKee
Ryan Hedgecock
Marvin Etzioni
Don Heffington
Past membersDavid Harrington
Don Willens
Tony Gilkyson
Shane Fontayne
Bruce Brody
Gregg Sutton
Rudy Richman

Lone Justice is an American country rock band formed in 1982 by guitarist Ryan Hedgecock and singer Maria McKee in Los Angeles. The band released two albums, Lone Justice in 1985 and Shelter the following year, before disbanding in 1987.



Early era


Lone Justice began as part of the L.A. cowpunk scene of the 1980s, inspired by Hedgecock and McKee's shared affection for rockabilly and country music.[2] The group started out as a strict cover band,[3] but after the additions of bassist David Harrington and drummer Don Willens,[4] they began to compose their own material.[3] Marvin Etzioni was initially brought in as producer, arranger and songwriter for the band, but ended up replacing Harrington as bassist in 1983.[4] By 1984, Don Heffington had replaced Willens as drummer.[2] Their early sound was a fusion of country music and punk rock with rockabilly elements, but by the time of their first album, the band had begun to incorporate elements of roots rock and singer-songwriter styles. Benmont Tench of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers was a frequent guest musician at their live shows.[citation needed] The band earned early support from Dolly Parton, who attended one of their club shows and later recalled McKee as "The greatest girl singer any band could ever have."[5]

Lone Justice developed their initial following within the Los Angeles music scene. Local rock journalist Stann Findelle reported in Performance magazine that the band "stole the show" at the Whisky a Go Go from headliner Arthur Lee, who was attempting a comeback that night, but left after two songs.[6] Linda Ronstadt was introduced to the band by wardrobe stylist Genny Schorr. Linda Ronstadt made a call to David Geffen and they were signed to Geffen Records amid a flurry of publicity.[7][8][9]

Lone Justice in 1985

Their self-titled debut appeared in 1985, followed by a tour in support of U2.[10] For touring, the band augmented their line-up with guitarist Tony Gilkyson, who left the band in 1986.[1] Produced by Jimmy Iovine, the album received some significant critical reviews, including that of Jimmy Guterman, then a critic at Rolling Stone, who placed it in his list of the best albums ever made.[11] The Village Voice's Pazz & Jop Critics Poll for 1985 ranked it No. 24.[12] Nonetheless, the album failed to connect with country or rock audiences,[13] and the whole enterprise suffered from excessive pre-release promotion that "raised expectations... [the album] couldn't possibly satisfy".[14] Two singles fizzled – "Sweet, Sweet Baby (I'm Falling)" and "Ways To Be Wicked", the latter written by Tom Petty and Mike Campbell – and the album did not meet commercial expectations.

Later era


In the record's wake, Etzioni and Heffington went their separate ways, and McKee and Hedgecock assembled an all-new band.[15] After enlisting guitarist Shane Fontayne, bassist Gregg Sutton, drummer Rudy Richman, and keyboardist Bruce Brody (formerly of the Patti Smith Group), Lone Justice recorded their second LP, Shelter. Steve Van Zandt was the producer, along with Jimmy Iovine and the band. This record saw them almost completely abandoning much of their earlier cowpunk, rockabilly, and roots rock influences in favor of what could be considered more typical 1980s pop/rock production, with heavy emphasis on drum machines and synthesizers. Commercially, the album charted lower than its predecessor, reaching only No. 65 on the album charts. However, the title single did better than the band's previous two singles, reaching No. 26 on the Rock Singles chart, and No. 47 on Billboard Hot 100 chart.



Less than a year after Shelter's release, McKee broke up the band for good in 1987 and went on to a solo career.[16][17] Heffington became a session drummer, while Etzioni recorded under the name "the Mandolin Man". Rudy Richman played drums with UK rock band The Quireboys between 1992 and 1993, appearing on the album Bitter Sweet & Twisted. Fontayne played guitar in Bruce Springsteen's band for the tour backing up the Lucky Town/Human Touch albums.[18] After a decade removed from the music industry, Hedgecock returned in 1996 as half of the duo Parlor James.[19]

A Lone Justice retrospective, This World Is Not My Home, was released in January 1999, featuring early demo recordings.[20] A budget compilation was issued in 2003 as part of Universal Music's 20th Century Masters series. Their 1985 performance of "Sweet, Sweet Baby (I'm Falling)" was released by BBC Video on The Old Grey Whistle Test Vol. 3 compilation DVD, 2004.[21] Between 2014 and 2019, Omnivore Recordings issued three retrospective releases consisting of demo and live recordings made in 1983: This Is Lone Justice: The Vaught Tapes, 1983 (2014), The Western Tapes, 1983 (2018), and Live at the Palomino, 1983 (2019).[22]

In March 2021, Heffington died of leukemia at age 70.[23] Sutton died on October 22, 2023, at the age of 74.[24]

Viva Lone Justice


In May 2024 it was announced that a new 7” "Teenage Kicks" / "Nothing Can Stop My Loving You" will be available digitally from 28th May and physical release 12th July. It's the first single from the album Viva Lone Justice


Year Album Chart Positions Label
US Country
AUS[27] UK
1985 Lone Justice 62 56 49 Geffen
1986 Shelter 65 66 84 86
2024 Viva Lone Justice

Live albums

Year Album Chart Positions Label
US Country US UK
1994 BBC Radio 1 Live in Concert Windsong
2019 Live at the Palomino, 1983 Omnivore

Compilation albums

Year Album Chart Positions Label
US Country US UK
1999 This World Is Not My Home Geffen
2003 The Best of Lone Justice Geffen, Chronicles
2014 This Is Lone Justice: The Vaught Tapes, 1983 Omnivore


  • I Found Love — 1987 Limited Edition UK double 45RPM EP in gatefold cover on Geffen GEF18F – Includes the songs: "I Found Love" (studio), "If You Don't Like Rain" (studio), "Sweet Jane" (Live BBC Transcription Services recording) and "Don't Toss Us Away" (Live BBC Transcription Services recording).
  • The Western Tapes, 1983 (2018)[30]


Year Single Chart Positions Album
USR [31] US[32] AUS[27] UK[33]
1985 "Sweet, Sweet Baby (I'm Falling)" 73 Lone Justice
"Ways to Be Wicked" 29 71 77
1986 "Shelter" 26 47 38 108[34] Shelter
1987 "I Found Love" 45


  1. ^ a b Thomas, Bryan (April 20, 2017). ""Ways to be Wicked": Petite dynamo Maria McKee and her rockin' L.A. band Lone Justice". Night Flight. Retrieved June 24, 2019.
  2. ^ a b Morris, Chris (July 1985). Justice At Last – Recognition comes to L.A. band Lone Justice. Spin. p. 48. Retrieved August 23, 2010.
  3. ^ a b "mtv.com. About Lone Justice". MTV. Archived from the original on December 8, 2014. Retrieved September 21, 2016.
  4. ^ a b The Western Tapes, 1983 (EP liner notes). Lone Justice. Omnivore Recordings. 2018.{{cite AV media notes}}: CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  5. ^ "Lone Justice's 'New' Album: Fresh Cowpunk, 30 Years Later". yahoo.com. January 31, 2014. Retrieved August 1, 2019.
  6. ^ "SantaFe.com. Out Of The Vault – Maria McKee & Lone Justice, August 23, 2013". Retrieved September 21, 2016.
  7. ^ Brogan, Daniel (December 2, 1986). "Lone Justice Groping For A Sound On Shelter". ChicagoTribune.com. Tribune Publishing. Retrieved September 21, 2016.
  8. ^ Brogan, Daniel (October 3, 1985). "Lone Justice Turning to Rock 'n'Roll For Verdict". ChicagoTribune.com. Tribune Publishing. Retrieved September 21, 2016.
  9. ^ Weiss, Neil (January 7, 1999). "Justice Served". DallasObserver.com. Voice Media Group. Retrieved September 21, 2016.
  10. ^ Pimm Jal de la Parra (2003). U2 Live: A Concert Documentary. Omnibus Press. ISBN 978-0-7119-9198-9.
  11. ^ "Jimmy Guterman biography". Randysrodeo.com. Retrieved November 12, 2009.
  12. ^ "The 1985 Pazz & Jop Critics Poll". Retrieved March 14, 2010.
  13. ^ Ankeny, Jason (2002). Bogdanov, Vladimir; Woodstra, Chris; Erlewine, Stephen Thomas (eds.). All Music Guide to Rock: The Definitive Guide to Rock, Pop, and Soul (3rd ed.). Hal Leonard. p. 667. ISBN 978-0-879-30653-3.
  14. ^ Robbins, Ira A., ed. (1991). The New Trouser Press Record Guide (4th ed.). New York: Collier/Macmillan. p. 329. ISBN 0-02-036361-3.
  15. ^ Pareles, Jon (December 15, 1986). "Rock: Lone Justice". The New York Times. Retrieved August 18, 2018.
  16. ^ "Lone Justice – Band On the Verge (demos + live)". dbs-repercussion.blogspot.com. January 19, 2018. Retrieved June 24, 2019.
  17. ^ "Lone Justice Concert Setlists & Tour Dates". setlist.fm. Retrieved June 24, 2019.
  18. ^ "Reverendguitars.com. 12 Questions With Shanye Fontayne". Archived from the original on September 23, 2016. Retrieved September 21, 2016.
  19. ^ "Billboard.com. Lone Justice". Billboard. Retrieved September 21, 2016.
  20. ^ Staff (December 4, 1998). "Lone Justice Offers Retrospective CD". MTV.com. Archived from the original on August 18, 2018. Retrieved August 17, 2018.
  21. ^ The Old Grey Whistle Test Vol. 3 (DVD). BBC Video. 2004.
  22. ^ MARowe (March 19, 2019). "Omnivore Recordings To Release Rare Lone Justice Club Recordings With Live At The Palomino 1983". Music Tap. Retrieved July 20, 2021.
  23. ^ Willman, Chris (March 24, 2021). "Don Heffington, Lone Justice Member and L.A.'s Premier Roots-Rock Drummer, Dies at 70". Variety. Retrieved July 11, 2021.
  24. ^ Willman, Chris (October 23, 2023). "Gregg Sutton, Songwriter-Musician Who Played With Artists From Lone Justice and Bob Dylan to Andy Kaufman, Dies at 74". Variety. Retrieved October 23, 2023.
  25. ^ "Lone Justice Chart History: Top Country Albums". Billboard. Archived from the original on January 14, 2019.
  26. ^ "Lone Justice Chart History: Billboard 200". Billboard. Archived from the original on January 14, 2019.
  27. ^ a b Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 181. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  28. ^ "The Official Charts Company – Lone Justice". The Official Charts Company. May 5, 2013.
  29. ^ "RPM Top 100 Albums - December 6, 1986" (PDF).
  30. ^ "The Western Tapes, 1983". Amazon. 2020.
  31. ^ "Lone Justice Chart History: Mainstream Rock Tracks". Billboard. 2019. Archived from the original on January 15, 2019. Retrieved January 13, 2019.
  32. ^ "Lone Justice Chart History: Hot 100". Billboard. 2019. Archived from the original on January 14, 2019. Retrieved January 13, 2019.
  33. ^ "UK Official Charts". Official Charts Company. 2019. Retrieved January 13, 2019.
  34. ^ "Gallup Top 200 Singles". Gallup. October 25, 1986. Retrieved December 10, 2022 – via ukmix.org.