Sweet Comfort Band was one of the most original and influential Christian rock bands of the 70’s and 80’s. From their home base in Riverside, the four man group was formed during the Southern California Jesus Movement. As musical missionaries, they toured extensively until 1984. Their style defies easy description, since Sweet Comfort Band compositions are known for an eclectic mixture of rock, funk, soul, and jazz. Rather than limit their appeal, this musical diversity has won them legions of loyal fans.
SCB produced six groundbreaking records that were renowned for high quality artwork, and excellent musical content. Before the Christian music industry organized into a multi-million dollar business, Sweet Comfort Band were pioneers that inspired later artists to follow. This is a band that made its name not with pyrotechnics, but with undeniable musicianship. The band’s impact reaches far beyond the decade they spent together. The accomplishments of the former members help to highlight this.
After fronting Sweet Comfort Band, lead singer and keyboardist Bryan Duncan continued to employ his signature voice over an impressive solo career, releasing 22 projects in the last 30 years. He has had 17 #1 singles to date, selling over 1 million records. His extensive list of accolades includes multiple Gospel Music Association Dove awards, six nominations for vocalist of the year in Contemporary Christian Music, Inspirational Album of the Year, and a prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award. Bryan has stayed in close touch with his broad fan base by working the social media. Well- known for his autobiographical lyrics, he has applied his amazing talent for crafting words into the authorship of three recent Bryan Duncan books.
Guitarist / vocalist Randy Thomas went on to form the Christian rock band ALLIES, serving as producer and recording engineer on 6 records that garnered 6 #1 singles. Randy’s Radio Ranch Recording studio hosted countless country and Christian acts from 1990 through 2007. With ALLIES lead singer Bob Carlisle, Thomas enjoyed a long stream of “outside” cuts with country artists such as Dolly Parton and Hank Williams, Jr. Randy toured the world with Shania Twain during her rise to fame with “The Woman in Me” project. The crowning success of the Carlisle / Thomas collaboration is the multi-platinum Grammy award winning crossover phenomenon “Butterfly Kisses.”
Drummer / vocalist Rick Thomson turned to record production beginning with the “Voices” project for Myrrh records in 1987. He formed Thomson Construction Company in Riverside, California, and owns the state of the art recording complex known as Shelter Sound Studios. This has allowed Rick to stay at home while remaining connected to the southern California music business and songwriting scene. Rick has also continued a successful music production and songwriting career, his most recent songs being “Christmas Without You” (with El Debarge) and the Grammy-nominated, double platinum #1 R n B hit “Beautiful UR” by Deborah Cox.
Kevin Thomson was revered as the unorthodox “Ox” of Christian bassists. Those who saw SCB back in the day will never forget Kevin performing his improvisational show-stopping bass solos. Given the chance, he would also speak to audiences about Jesus. Behind the scenes he was a Samson-like figure, loading heavy equipment, road managing and driving the band truck to the next gig. Kevin gave so much of himself during the band years, that in later years he sought out desk jobs that were less taxing on his body.
With these four original members, Sweet Comfort briefly reunited in the summer of 2001, to play a few select Christian festivals for fortunate fans that had not seen the band for 17 years! Fans who came to hear live renditions of their favorite radio hits would later claim that the concert performances exceeded their expectations. The band still had it. But this brief reunion proved to be the last glimpse of ‘Sweet C’ with Kevin on bass. Later working in the insurance field and battling health issues, Kevin suffered a serious spinal injury that left him completely immobile.
By 2009, the band was reforming to raise financial relief to assist with Kevin’s medical bills. New songs were being created at Rick’s Shelter Sound Studios in Riverside California. There was a sense of rebirth. Then Kevin Thomson, worn down from his years of being the bulldozer of the group, passed away on May 30, 2010. One of Kevin’s last wishes was that his sons perform with SCB. On June 16th 2010, Sweet Comfort Band played in memory of Kevin at Calvary Chapel in Costa Mesa, California. Bryan, Rick, Randy and keyboardist Rob Renderer were joined by Joshua Thomson on guitar and Elijah Thomson on bass.
Stunned by the loss of Kevin, the three surviving members of Sweet Comfort took comfort from the promise of eternal life that Jesus offers to those who trust in Him. They knew that their reunion needed to be on a level of excellence that would honor Kevin’s life. Returning to writing and creating new music, some songs from the early sessions began to be jettisoned in favor of even more material as the band continued to write and record. By the summer of 2012, the band felt they were creating something beyond even the best music of their heyday. The project, spanning three years, was taking on the feel of an epic accomplishment. The band is confident that there is much yet to say.
Randy admits, “Doing music is more complicated now than when we were younger- we used to just follow our noses. Now we’re working to make a deliberate comeback.” “But we started way before the internet, so we’ve made a career out of overcoming obstacles,” says Rick. Bryan adds, “That’s true. This band survived serious road collisions, engines exploding, buses catching on fire, even a plane crash!” Rick and Randy laugh, “Yeah, but this time we’re not going to let YOU take the wheel!”
The early Sweet Comfort Band songs are now part of the soundtrack of the early Jesus Movement. But along with these classics songs will be exciting new material that expresses the matured faith of these seasoned professionals. The principal performing members will be Bryan Duncan, Randy Thomas, and Rick Thomson. Joining them in honor of his dad, will be Elijah Thomson on bass. Eli was a small boy when the band toured. Now he helps head up many of the production chores, inspiring the older guys to create a new sound that compliments their classic songs.
“Kevin used to push this band, sometimes to the limit!” says Randy. “Now we’ve had to reorganize and restructure. We want our reunion to be something Kevin will be proud of. We sure miss him. But there are spooky cool moments on this record where Eli sounds exactly like his dad!”
With such a long record of solo credits, Bryan has shown he can excel again as the front-man of a band effort: “I’m pretty amazed at how the band dynamic forces me reach for things I didn’t think I could do. These guys keep raising the bar, and now I have to sing over it!” Rick has become the band’s driving force for artistic achievement. “I keep telling everybody- this has got to be great. And it is- it’s the best record we’ve ever done.”
Sweet Comfort Band Discography
Sweet Comfort – 1977 (Maranatha! Music) Singles include “Childish Things: (#11 Pop single) “When I Was Alone”
Breakin’ the Ice – 1979 (Light Records) Singles include “Good Feelin’”, “Got To Believe”
Hold on Tight – 1980 (Light Records) “Carry Me”, “Hold On Tight”
Hearts of Fire – 1981 (Light Records) “Isabel”. “You Need A Reason”
Cutting Edge – 1982 (Light Records) “Valerie” “Falling IN Love With You”
Perfect Timing – 1984 (Light Records) “Perfect Timing”, “Lookin’ For The Answer”
Prime time – 1985 (Light Records) Best Of Compilation
Light Years – 1996 (Light Records) Best Of Compilation
Breakin’ the Ice – 2009 Remastered (Retroactive Records)
Hold on Tight – 2009 Remastered (Retroactive Records)
Hearts of Fire – 2009 Remastered (Retroactive Records)
Cutting Edge – 2009 Remastered (Retroactive Records)
Perfect Timing – 2009 Remastered (Retroactive Records)
The Waiting Is Over – Due for release winter 2013.