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Biography

Discovered by BLACK OAK ARKANSAS frontman Jim Dandy working in a bar in Evansville, Indiana, Ruby Starr not only shared the same manager as BLACK OAK ARKANSAS (Butch Stone), but actually wound up joining the band. She duly appeared on the 'Jim Dandy' single in 1974. A top 30 hit in the States, the song was mysteriously banned by the BBC in Britain. The strikingly sultry singer nevertheless had made an impact on the Rock media in an unexpected way when an enterprising photographer published an on stage up close and personal shot of Miss Starr minus knickers.

Starr (real name Constance Henrietta Mierzwiac), a native of Toledo, Ohio, had started her singer career aged just nine billed as Connie Little before fronting local Toledo acts such as CONNIE AND THE BLUEBEATS and THE DOWNTOWNERS. Later known as RUBY JONES, she released an eponymous album under that name in 1971 for Curtom Records.

During the summer of 1974 erstwhile TARGET members drummer Joel Williams and keyboard player Marius Peczner were recruited into Starr's backing band. Other TARGET personell guitarist Buddy Davis and bassist Tommy Cathey had also rehearsed with Starr but negotiations between them and Butch Stone failed and this pair persevered with TARGET.

Making up the band were guitarists Ronnie Mason and Gary Levin with bassist David Mayo. This band became RUBY STARR & GREY GHOST. The grey ghost in question being a referance to Confederate Civil war hero General Mosby. Heavy touring ensued as support to BLACK OAK ARKANSAS, MOUNTAIN and HEARTSFIELD.

As 1975 dawned the band gained a major label deal with Capitol Records immediately after a television appearance on the 'Midnight Special' show. The band recorded their debut album at the legendary Muscle Shoals studios produced by former HOMBRES bassist Jerry Masters with later sessions taking place in Memphis. Throughout 1975 the band was rarely off the road opening frequently for BLACK OAK ARKANSAS as well as TODD RUNDGREN, OBLIVION EXPRESS, NITTY GRITTY DIRT BAND, and conducted US East Coast support dates in July 1975 with BLACK SABBATH and PETER FRAMPTON. Later shows had the band guesting for TEN YEARS AFTER, ROBIN TROWER and FLEETWOOD MAC. Quite famously, Starr conducted these dates despite having just had an operation to remove her gall bladder.

As the album was released it entered the Billboard charts at number 172. Much in demand Starr and her cohorts were straight back on the road guesting for THE FACES, STEPPENWOLF, RARE EARTH, MAHOGANY RUSH and BLACK SABBATH once again including venues as large as the Long Beach arena. A headline club tour followed before more supports to PETER FRAMPTON, EDGAR WINTER GROUP, BACHMAN TURNER OVERDRIVE and reuniting with BLACK SABBATH

In February 1976 Mike Neff took over the drum stool. Later the same year Penczner and Mayo quit to create the short lived TRIPLE CROSS with Williams. RUBY STARR's 1976 'Scene Stealer' album, with the bulk of the songs penned by Penczner, saw BLACK OAK ARKANSAS guitarist Jimmy Henderson contributing.

Williams, Mayo and Henderson rejoined Starr for her third album 'Smokey Places' before the drummer joined the ranks of BLACK OAK ARKANSAS. Starr made her live debut singing with BLACK OAK ARKANSAS at the California Jam that year.

During 1977 the singer united with Florida Rockers BLACKFOOT touring America billed as RUBY STARR AND BLACKFOOT. Starr left BLACKFOOT after falling in love with the guitarist Fred Hodnik from support band LUCY GREY. Starr wound up joining this band sharing lead vocals with Mike Finding. The other band members were guitarist Pooh (real name Steve Godfriarx), bassist John Kerr and the enigmatically titled Mudslide on drums.

The band adopted a new name of GREY STAR in 1980 adding ex-CAPTAIN BEYOND and IRON BUTTERFLY man Robb Hanshaw and would go on to release two albums 'Grey Star' and 1983' 'Telephone Sex'. Finding would quit renaming himself Mike Grey. A further name change was adopted to Chainsaw Caine, a guize in which he fronted Metal band SLAVE RAIDER for two albums.

GREY STAR split and Ruby put together the RUBY STAR BAND with Hodnik, Mudslide and new members keyboard player Steve Marino and bassist Cary Kaylan. This unit toured the Mid-West supporting GREGG ALLMAN, CHEAP TRICK, VAN HALEN and ROBIN TROWER and recorded a couple of singles. In 1988 the band folded and Kaylan wound up working with WARP DRIVE at the turn of the decade.

Starr was diagnosed with brain and lung cancer in 1994 and sadly passed away on 14th January the following year. She was 44.

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