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Brewer and Shipley


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Brewer & Shipley were a folk rock duo of the 1970s, comprised of singer-songwriters Mike Brewer and Tom Shipley. They were known for their intricate guitar work, stunning harmonies, and socially-conscious lyrics which reflected the concerns of their generation — especially the Vietnam War, and the struggles for personal and political freedom. Their biggest hit was the song One Toke Over The Line, from the album Tarkio (1970). They also had two other singles which made the Billboard charts: Tarkio Road (1970) and Shake Off The Demon (1971).

The two Midwestern natives crossed paths numerous times at various coffeehouse gigs before settling in the entertainment hub of the United States, the city of Los Angeles, to write music together, producing their first two albums Down in L.A. and Weeds. Even though mutual friends in bands such as The Association and Buffalo Springfield also lived in Los Angeles, Michael Brewer and Tom Shipley decided to return to their home, the Midwest.

They left California in 1969, returning to the Midwest, this time to Kansas City, where they would make a meager living through playing in nearby college towns for crowds of small to moderate size. They derived the name of their next album, Tarkio, from a regular gig they played in Tarkio, Missouri. This was their most commercially successful work, featuring their most major hit One Toke Over The Line (though many more avid fans would argue that it was by no means their best song), which they wrote as a joke while preparing backstage for a performance. They would go on to play the song at the end of the show and receive a standing ovation from the audience.


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