Creation of the band
The band, an early Southern Pop/Rock setup, was the innovation of John D. Wyker and Court Pickett, who formed the group in 1971 near Decatur, Alabama. Wyker was a veteran of the Muscle Shoals, Alabama rock music scene who had been in The Rubber Band with John Townsend (later of the Sanford-Townsend Band). Pickett was the vocalist and bass player from Tuscaloosa, Alabama who had just moved from Macon, Georgia, where he had been playing and singing for Sundown, a band that also had Chuck Leavell (formerly of the Rolling Stones and the Allman Brothers), Charlie Hayward (of the Charlie Daniels Band), and Lou Mullenix (from the Alex Taylor Band and Dr. John). Court was also the brother of Ed Pickett, of the foresaid The Rubber Band. In the 1960s Ed played with other musicians in Granny's Gremlins in Tuscaloosa Alabama that included Hal Holbrook, Marvin Rust, and Bruce Stewart.
"Motorcycle Mama," success, and their breakup
An early demo tape of an album, cut by the duo (and included the song "Motorcycle Mama"), was initially discarded by the band but after it was presented to Elektra Records led to a record contract and 1972 album release also titled Motorcycle Mama. The resulting album, produced by Pete Carr, was a concept album with a biker theme. The cover art and drawings inside the gatefold cover were drawn by Jack Davis, featuring motorcycles, predominately the Harley-Davidson with a series of drawings for each song on the album. The concept album's songs loosely tell the story of a motorcycle vagrant who apparently bums for a living, meeting a woman and settling down to start a family. However, he apparently keeps some of his selfish lazy behavior as the last drawing shows him reclining on his porch while his wife hangs the laundry and his child hoes the garden. In 1972 the single "Motorcycle Mama" hit #12 on the Billboard singles chart, and the album went to #38 and led them to appearances on American Bandstand and at Carnegie Hall. In Canada, the single reached #14. John D. Wyker and Sailcat performed both "Motorcycle Mama" and "Walking Together Backwards" on their first televised appearance on August 26, 1972. Sailcat toured to promote the album and released one more non-LP single "Baby Ruth". However, soon after releasing the album, the band broke up. (The album was officially re-released on CD in 2004.)
After the breakup
Sailcat leader Wyker, who had been a member of the Rubber Band who recorded the original version of "Let Love Come Between Us" (later a hit for James & Bobby Purify), went on to play with many of the great Southern rock musicians like Eddie Hinton, Dan Penn, Delaney Bramlett, among others. Wyker worked on a benefit project called The Mighty Field of Vision Anthem, a group dedicated to raising funds for musicians who have fallen on hard times. Wyker died at his home on December 8, 2013, at the age of 68.
Sail Cat (Motorcycle Mama)
|Studio album by |
|Recorded||Between October 1971 and February 1972|
Muscle Shoals, Alabama
|Producer||John Wyker, Pete Carr|
- "Rainbow Road" John Wyker - 4:00
- "The Thief" Court Pickett - 3:30
- "Highway Rider/Highway Riff" John Wyker & Court Pickett - 5:40
- "The Dream" Court Pickett - 2:45
- "If You've Got A Daughter" Court Pickett - 1:33
- "Ambush" John Wyker, Clayton Ivey, Pete Car - 3:06
- "B.B. Gunn" John Wyker - 2:48
- "It'll Be A Long Long Time" Court Pickett - 2:12
- "Motorcycle Mama" John Wyker & Court Pickett - 2:06
- "Walking Together Backwards" John Wyker - 3:19
- "On The Brighter Side Of It All" John Wyker - 2:23
Album Production Credits
- Art Direction, Design – Robert L. Heimall.
- Backing Vocals – Faye Sanders (tracks: B1, B6, B7), Laura Struzick (tracks: B6, B7), Terry Woodward (tracks: B1, B6, B7).
- Banjo – Tom Russell.
- Bass – Bob Wray, Court Pickett.
- Concept By – John Wyker.
- Drums – Fred Prouty, Lou Mullenix.
- Fiddle – Al Lester, Scott Boyer.
- Guitar – Joe Rudd, John Wyker, Pete Carr.
- Horns - The Memphis Horns Memphis Horns Inc. – Andrew Love (musician), Ed Logan, Jack Hale, James Mitchell, Wayne Jackson.
- Illustration – Jack Davis (5).
- Keyboards– Art Schilling, Chuck Leavell, Clayton Ivey.
- Percussion [Extra] – Bill Connell.
- Photography By – Frank Bez.
- Producer, Engineer [Remix]– Pete Carr.
- Sounds [Sound Effects] – Brenda Hagan, Marlin Greene.
- Spoons, Other [Buck Dancing] – Jesse Gorell.
- Strings – Charles Chalmers.
- Vocals – Court Pickett* (tracks: A2, A3, A4, B1 B4, B5), John Wyker (tracks: A1, A3, B3, B5 to B7).
- Written By – John Wyker (tracks: A1 to A3, B1 to B3, B5 to B7), Pete Carr (tracks: A3b, A4, B2, B4).
|Year||Title||US Top 200||Label|
|Year||Title (A-Side)||Billboard Hot 100||Label|
|1973||She Showed Me||#115|
(The latter two singles were non-album cuts.)