Lon & Derrek Van Eaton were an American vocal and multi-instrumentalist duo from Trenton, New Jersey, consisting of brothers Lon and Derrek Van Eaton. They are best known for their association with the Beatles through the brothers’ brief stint on Apple Records, and for their subsequent session work in Los Angeles for producer Richard Perry. As well as recording their own albums, during the 1970s they appeared on releases by artists including George Harrison, Ringo Starr, Harry Nilsson, Carly Simon, Martha Reeves and Art Garfunkel.
By the start of 1973, Apple Records was in the process of being wound down and it was clear that the label would never be able to honour the Van Eatons’ original five-year deal. Having recently worked with producer Richard Perry on a Harry Nilsson session in London, Harrison recommended that the brothers relocate to LA and record with Perry’s engineer, Bill Schnee.
The move ensured that the Van Eaton name remained in the spotlight, with both brothers being credited for percussion on Ringo Starr’s US number 1 “Photograph” For the next two years, Richard Perry’s projects kept the Van Eatons – Lon in particular – busy and making music with a number of top recording artists (though distinctly MOR in style compared to Apple’s less glitzy roster). This session work included appearances on four more gold-selling albums of the early-to-mid 1970s, all produced by Perry: Andy Williams‘ Solitaire, Starr’s Goodnight Vienna, Carly Simon’s Playing Possum and Art Garfunkel’s Breakaway. In addition, the brothers assisted Harrison on his Dark Horse album by providing the title track with backing vocals (Harrison’s own singing voice having become ravaged by laryngitis, mid-sessions and pre-tour).
Having paid their dues in Hollywood for the previous two years, Lon and Derrek were finally given a chance to record their own album, for A&M Records. Who Do You Out Do was produced by Perry and Schnee, and contained contributions from a number of musicians who likewise had connections with ex-Beatles Harrison and Starr: Gary Wright, Chuck Findley, Jim Keltner, plus return appearances from Voormann and Jim Gordon. When released in early 1975 – and despite Perry’s supposed Midas touch, the stellar cast, and a supporting tour with Voormann and Keltner – the Van Eatons’ second album went the way of Brother and failed to chart at all. Two decades later, they would recall this period with A&M as “tough”, citing, “Richard and Bill both ended up producing but the ‘feel’ was with Bill and the ‘biz’ was Richard. We couldn’t choose one or the other so we compromised. Big mistake.”
There was no second album with A&M Records, nor any other label in Los Angeles willing to bankroll the Van Eatons. Having developed considerably as a lead guitarist, Lon saw out the remaining years of the decade guesting on albums by Starr (Ringo’s Rotogravure, Ringo the 4th and Bad Boy) and Harry Nilsson (…That’s the Way It Is, Knnillssonn). He also appeared in Starr’s TV special Ringo, which aired in April 1978. These projects found ever-dwindling audiences, however, as the fortunes of both Starr and Nilsson had spiralled dramatically since the Van Eaton brothers first met them in 1971.
- “Who Do You Out Do” – 3:18
- “You Lose” – 2:25
- “Do You Remember” – 3:41
- “Music Lover” – 3:12
- “Let It Grow” – 2:56
- “Wildfire” – 3:38
- “Dancing in the Dark” – 2:38
- “All You’re Hungry for is Love” – 2:51
- “Baby It’s You” – 3:38
- “The Harder You Pull … The Tighter It Gets” – 3:52
- Lon Van Eaton – vocals, piano, electric and acoustic guitars, Moog synthesizer, clarinets, percussion, backing vocals
- Derrek Van Eaton – lead vocals, bass, flute, acoustic guitar, percussion, backing vocals
- Klaus Voormann – bass
- Jim Keltner – drums
- Jim Gordon – drums
- Gary Wright – piano
- Tom Seufert – electric and acoustic guitars
- Trevor Lawrence – saxophones
- Chuck Findley – trumpet, trombone
- Russ Turner – organ
- David Beebe – drums
- Richard Perry – percussion
- Lynda Lawrence & friends – backing vocals