In 1963, J.P.
Pennington and several of his friends started a band.
Catching the wave of the sixties, they grew long hair, wore
out-of-the-ordinary clothing and played rock Ďn roll music.
The hometown folks of Richmond, KY turned a cold shoulder to
their radical ways and the boys felt shunned. They called
themselves THE EXILES. Fortunately for the future of pop
and country music, not everyone minded their rebellion.
The Dick Clark
Caravan Of Stars hit the road in 1965 and picked up THE
EXILES to perform on several dates in and around Kentucky.
The band opened the shows and provided backup for headlining
superstars like Freddie Cannon, B.J. Thomas and
others. Clark bought the band again, for the 1966 "Caravan..."
tour and gave them, as an added bonus, a piece of advice:" Don't
ever forget your audience," Clark preached. The boys
adopted Dick Clarkís advice as their creed.
The band changed
musical styles throughout the mid-sixties and, in 1968, changed
their base of operations to Lexington, KY. They shortened the
name to EXILE. Regional hit records such as Devilís
Bite and Church Street Soul Revival came easily as
the band became a Kentucky tradition. Finally, in fall of 1978,
EXILE hit pay dirt with the #1 pop smash, Kiss You All Over,
and hit the road touring with Aerosmith, Heart, Dave Mason,
Boston, Seals & Crofts and other hot pop acts of the
late seventies. The backdrop changed, but the band never lost
sight of its commitment to its audience.
themselves to a killer combination of great music and
showmanship, EXILE set standards for other Kentucky acts.
A young singer, Les Taylor, watched the progress of the group
while building his own fan base in central Kentucky. EXILE
watched Les, too. And, when original singer, Jimmy Stokley,
left EXILE in 1980, Les Taylor accepted an
invitation to join the group and share lead vocal duties with J.P.
In the years following, Les and J.P. delivered
lead vocal performances on ten #1 hit records, all of them
written or co-written by J.P Pennington.
In 1980 and 1981,
Alabama and Janie Fricke scored hits with EXILE
songs: Take Me Down and The Closer You Get -- Alabama,
It AinĎt Easy Beiní Easy -- Janie Fricke. Kenny
Rogers followed the trend and recorded Take This Heart.
EXILE switched musical styles again, and exploded in 1983
with their second #1 hit, Woke Up In Love, playing on
country radio. Their string of country hits to follow won them
an appearance on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson and
eleven nominations for Vocal and/or Instrumental Group Of The
Year from the Academy Of Country Music and the Country Music
Association. The group was on a roll, but the stresses and
strains of success were taking their toll.
and J.P. left EXILE in 1988 to pursue solo
careers. J.P. signed with MCA Records and landed a top-30
hit with Whatever It Takes. Les inked a deal with
Epic Records and took a song heíd written, Shoulda, Coulda,
Woulda, into the top 20. EXILE signed a new deal with
Arista Records and eyed more hits with a J.P. Pennington
tune called Keep It In The Middle Of The Road, Nobodyís
Talkiní, Even Now and Yet. But the rigors of the road and
family commitments finally prompted Les, J.P. and EXILE
to lay down its legacy. Many of the bandís former members
(twenty-one in all) gathered onstage for a farewell concert in
Lexington, KY. EXILE played another farewell concert at
the Grand Ole Opry House in Nashville and 30 years of great
music paused on the country music stage of stages.
Les and J.P.
continued writing songs and performing solo. Les sang
national jingles and J.P. produced and developed new
talent. Finally, one night, the two of them performed together, impromptu,
on a night club stage in Lexington. Later, they talked of
putting the group back together. More local appearances followed
and crowds jammed wherever they played. Les and J.P.
hand-picked several of the finest musicians Kentucky had to
offer and resurrected the EXILE name. Reunited, this trend setting
band maintains its commitment to a high-energy delivery of hit
songs like I Don't Want To Be A Memory, Give Me One More
Chance, Itíll Be Me, Sheís Too Good To Be True, Superlove
Itís thirty something
years now, since J.P. founded the group and Les saw his first
EXILE concert. Still, they remember their contributions to the
history of the group and their sacrifices for the groupís
success. Once again, out of exile, the torch is passed back to
singer/songwriter/guitarist, J.P. Pennington and
singer/songwriter/guitarist, Les Taylor.