Sanford-Townsend Band

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The Sanford-Townsend Band
OriginAlabama, United States
GenresPop rock, blue-eyed soul
Years active1974–1980
LabelsWarner Bros.
Past membersEd Sanford
Johnny Townsend
Roger Johnson
Otis Hale
Jerry Rightmer
Jim Varley

The Sanford-Townsend Band was a rock and roll band that scored a hit single in 1977 with "Smoke from a Distant Fire".


The Sanford-Townsend Band featured keyboardists Ed Sanford (from Montgomery, Alabama) and Johnny Townsend (from Tuscaloosa, Alabama), who previously worked together in a Tuscaloosa-based band called Heart (not to be confused with the band of the same name fronted by Ann and Nancy Wilson from Seattle/Vancouver).

After reuniting in Los Angeles, Sanford and Townsend signed a publishing deal with Chappell Music and began writing songs, most notably "Peacemaker" for Loggins and Messina, which was co-written by Sanford and Townsend with Kenny Loggins.

Their 1976 self-titled album, recorded at the famous Muscle Shoals Sound Studio in Alabama, started getting attention when "Smoke from a Distant Fire" reached No. 9 on the Billboard Hot 100, No. 9 in Cash Box, and No. 13 in Record World. The album was retitled with the name of the hit song and re-released as just by Sanford & Townsend. The band supported the song by opening for Fleetwood Mac on their Rumours tour, as well as concerts with The Marshall Tucker Band, Charlie Daniels, Jimmy Buffett, Foreigner, Heart and others.

The band's follow-up albums, Duo-Glide (also credited to Sanford & Townsend) and Nail Me To The Wall (back to the full band name again), were significantly less successful. Sanford and Townsend returned to their careers as session musicians and songwriters.

The band's long-time bassist, Jerry Rightmer, died in 2007 at the age of 57 from cirrhosis of the liver, brought on by hepatitis C.

Former lead guitarist Roger Johnson currently works with his wife in publishing. He had spent 25 years in the film industry as a video technician and editor subsequent to his time in the Sanford-Townsend Band.[1]

In 2008, John Townsend formed the Toler/Townsend Band with Dan Toler. Townsend's tenor voice remains substantially unchanged from thirty years prior.[2]

Principal band members[edit]

  • John Wayne Townsend: lead vocals, keyboards
  • Ed Sanford: keyboards, vocals
  • Roger Johnson: lead guitar, backing vocals
  • Otis Hale: guitar, woodwinds, backing vocals
  • Jerry Rightmer: bass, backing vocals
  • Jim Varley: drums



  • Sanford Townsend Band (1976)
  • Smoke from a Distant Fire (1977) (Credited to just Sanford & Townsend) – US No. 57[3]
  • Duo-Glide (1978) (Credited to just Sanford & Townsend) – US No. 92[4]
  • Nail Me to the Wall (1979)


List of singles, with selected chart positions
Title Year Chart positions Album
"Shake It to the Right" 1977 Sanford Townsend Band
"Smoke from a Distant Fire" 9 44
"Eye of My Storm (Oh Woman)" 1978 Duo-Glide


  1. ^ ABOUT US - Memory Works Publishing Retrieved 12-17-2016.
  2. ^ "Smoke From A Distance Fire".
  3. ^ "Billboard 200: Week of October 1, 1977". Billboard. Retrieved January 9, 2023.
  4. ^ "Billboard 200: Week of March 18, 1978". Billboard. Retrieved January 9, 2023.
  5. ^ "Billboard Hot 100: Week of September 17, 1977". Billboard. Retrieved January 9, 2023.
  6. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992: 23 years of hit singles & albums from the top 100 charts. St Ives, N.S.W, Australia: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.

External links[edit]