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T-Bone Burnett once wrote, “We have all got a past,” and while he wasn’t talking about Florida rockers the Mojo Gurus, the line certainly applies to the story of their career. While the Mojo Gurus released their first album in 1999, the core of the band had been working together for over ten years at that point, and they were living a musical double life for several years before their transformation became complete.
The Mojo Gurus story begins in 1987, when singer Kevin Steele formed a glam metal band in Tampa, Florida called Roxx Gang. Roxx Gang quickly developed a following in the South, and in 1988 they landed a deal with Virgin Records and released their debut album, Things You’ve Never Done Before. Roxx Gang’s contract with Virgin was short-lived, but in 1996 they teamed up with the independent Perris Records and released three albums in three years: 1996’s Voodoo You Love, 1997’s Love ‘Em and Leave ‘Em, and 1999’s Old, New, Borrowed & Blue.
However, the band was beginning to move in a different direction in the late ’90s; Roxx Gang performed at a birthday party for a friend at a small club under the name the Mojo Gurus, playing a set of blues and rockabilly-influenced material, and they enjoyed it so much that the Mojo Gurus soon became a separate side project, with Steele on lead vocals and harmonica, Doc Lovett on guitar and vocals, Vinnie Granese on bass and vocals, and Mark Busto on drums. The Mojo Gurus developed a fan following of their own, and they released their self-titled debut at the same time as Roxx Gang’s Old, New, Borrowed & Blue hit the streets. Some copies of The Mojo Gurus listed Roxx Gang as the artist, and the Roxx Gang releases Drinkin’ T.N.T. and Smokin’ Dynamite (2000) and Bodacious Ta Tas (2001) were also distributed as Mojo Gurus efforts in some markets. (Bodacious Ta Tas also marked the group’s debut with new drummer Tommy Weder.) With 2003’s Hot Damn, the Mojo Gurus became a proper entity of their own with an audience and identity separate from Roxx Gang, as well as a heavy touring schedule that saw them sharing stages with the likes of Joe Perry, Johnny Winter, Southern Culture on the Skids, and Blackberry Smoke. After famed producer Jack Douglas (who worked with John Lennon, Aerosmith, Cheap Trick, and the New York Dolls) saw the band play a showcase in New York City, he signed on to produce 2005’s Shakin’ in the Barn, released by the Universal-distributed Empire Music Works. The year 2009 brought the Mojo Gurus’ fourth studio set, Let’s Get Lit with…the Mojo Gurus, distributed by Linus Entertainment, and by the time they returned to the studio, they had a new drummer, Sean Doyle. Red River Entertainment issued Who Asked Ya? in the fall of 2014. In 2017, the Mojo Gurus released a new studio album, Gone, with bandleader Kevin Steele also serving as producer and arranger.