Among their greatest hits are: Amie, Let Me Love You Tonight , Falling In And Out Of Love, and Two Lane Highway.
The band’s name came from a 1939 Errol Flyn movie, Dodge City, in which the name Pure Prairie League was that of a woman's temperance union that was attempting to clean up Kansas' most lawless town.
PPL had a long run during the 1970s and through the late 1980s. It was revived in the late 1990s for a time, then again in 2004. Over the course of time a number of different musicians joined and left the band.
In 1971, Pure Prairie League signed an artist management agreement with well-known rock and roll promoter, Roger Abramson, who was able to obtain a recording contract with RCA . Abramson liked their sound and used the band as an opening act for many of the concerts he was producing.
Their the first album was released in March 1972. The cover featured a Norman Rockwell drawing of an old cowboy named Luke, who had originally appeared on a Saturday Evening Post magazine cover. Luke then continued to appear on the cover of every subsequent PPL recording.
The band’s second album, Bustin Out, released in October 1972, was produced by Bob Ringe. It featured Fuller, Powell and William Frank Hinds, who was on drums. A friend of Hinds, Michael Connor, added piano. The album debuted Amie, Craig Fuller’s ode to an on-again/off-again relationship - which has become one of the band's most popular songs. Pure Prairie gained national exposure with their early success.
Soon after the release of the second album, Fuller was arrested and sentenced to six months in jail for draft evasion, at which time, he was forced to leave PPL. Following that, RCA dropped PPLand their future looked bleak. However, by August 1973, the band hit the road again and began playing gigs in the Northeast, Midwest and Southeast. As a result of their heavy performance schedule, particularly at colleges, their songs became well known, and Amie became very popular.
As Amie’s popularity grew, radio stations began receiving requests for it. As a result, RCA re-released Bustin Out and issued Amie as a single in late 1974. It peaked on the charts at No. 27 by early 1975. RCA also re-signed PPL.
The band’s third album, Two Lane Highway, was released in April 1975. It featured guest appearances by Chet Atkins, Johnny Gimble, Don Felder - from The Eagles, and Emmylou Harris, who dueted with the band on the song Just Can't Believe It. That song received a lot of airplay on country stations, and Highway achieved the band's highest rank on the charts at No. 4. Bustin Out reached Gold status. Unfortunately, however, the band’s subsequent records, If the Shoe Fits, Dance, Live, Takin' the Stage and Just Fly, did not sell as well.
In 1977, Call left and there was another exodus of band members in 1978 - as the Goshorns left to form their own group. Powell, the last remaining original member, retired from the road to run his pig farm in Ohio.
In January 1979, a revamped band member lineup recorded, Can't Hold Back, which was their last recording for RCA.
Casablanca Record then signed the group to their roster in 1980. Their biggest success with that recording studio was the album Firin' Up's first single Let Me Love You Tonight, which reached No.7 on the Pop Charts and No.1 on the Adult Contemporary Charts.
After Casablanca went bankrupt, it was sold to Polygram Records, which dropped most of Casablanca's roster, including PPL.
Despite the lack of a recording contract, the band still found itself in demand as a live act, and they played at clubs and outdoor fests. Various musicians joined and left the band thru the mid-eighties.
In 1985, co-founder, Craig Fuller returned to PPL, but then in 1988, the band decided to quit, after Fuller, who had already joined a reformed Little Feat in 1987, left it.
A decade later, PPL was back once again - with a lineup of Fuller, Connor, Reilly, Burr, Fats Kaplin, and Rick Schell. In June 2000, Burr was succeeded by Curtis Wright on vocals and guitar.
The group began work on a new album in 2002, but abandoned the sessions and separated again, after Schell became busy with other projects. Connor died on September 9th, 2004 after a long battle with cancer.
Following Connor's death in 2004, the group resumed touring once more with Fuller, Reilly, Schell, Wright and Kaplin. They released All in Good Time in 2005 - their first album in 18 years. This release appeared on the small Drifter's Church label.
Since then, PPL has continued to tour playing a handful of shows every year. Donnie Lee Clark replaced Curtis Wright in 2006, after Wright joined Reba McEntire's band. Mike Reilly was sidelined in 2006, after he was forced to undergo a liver transplant. Jack Sundrud - from Poco, came in to sub for Reilly, and Rick Plant also did a brief stint with them on bass, before relocating to Australia in late 2006. Jeff "Stick" Davis - from Amazing Rhythm Aces, sat in on bass for Mike in 2007. Reilly appeared at a few shows in May 2007, playing guitar but was unable to come back full-time until 2008. John David Call played some concerts in 2006 and 2007, standing in for Kaplin. In June 2010, Call returned as the pedal steel player full-time.
Now in 2010, PPL is back on tour, playing true to its original form. The band's longevity is a testament of the timelessness of its music. PPL has returned to its roots with peddle steel and no sax , and after all these years, their sound is once again true Country Radio - and their ever-loyal fans flock to hear them play.
Recent tours have included gigs at: the Sellersville Theatre in Sellersville, Pennsylvania; The YMCA Boulton Center For The Performing Arts in Bay Shore, New York; At The Tabernacle in Mt. Tabor, New Jersey; a Summer Concert Series at Moses Lake, Washington; Sanctuary Concerts in Chatham, New Jersey; the Iron Horse Music Hall in Northampton, Maine; and Shea Center For Performing Arts in Wayne, New Jersey. An upcoming concert is scheduled at Harvest Howl in Great Falls, Montana.