The roots rock band Lone Justice was formed in Los Angeles by guitarist Ryan Hedgecock and singerMaria McKee. The half-sister of Bryan MacLean, a member of the seminal psychedelic outfit Love, McKee’s involvement in the L.A. club scene dated back to her infancy; at the age of three, she joinedMacLean at a performance at the famed Whisky-a-Go-Go and was befriended by Frank Zappa and members of the Doors. As a teen, she studied musical theater, and briefly performed in duos withMacLean and local blues singer Top Jimmy. McKee and Hedgecock first met while dabbling in the L.A. rockabilly scene, and their mutual affection for country music inspired them to found Lone Justicein 1982. Initially, the group was strictly a cover band, but the additions of veteran bassist Marvin Etzioni and Don Heffington, a former drummer in Emmylou Harris’ Hot Band, prompted McKee to begin composing original material inspired by Dust Bowl-era balladry.
Gradually, elements of rock began creeping into the Lone Justice sound as well, and soon the band became a local favorite. At the urging of Linda Ronstadt, they were awarded a contract with Geffen Records; their self-titled debut appeared in 1985, followed by a tour in support of U2. Still, despite good press and media hype, Lone Justice failed to sell; slickly produced by the band’s manager, Jimmy Iovine, it failed to connect with either country or rock audiences. In the record’s wake, Hedgecock, Etzioni, and Heffington all exited the band, leaving McKee to lead Lone Justice alone. After enlisting guitarist Shayne Fontayne, bassist Greg Sutton, drummer Rudy Richman, and keyboardist Bruce Brody, Lone Justice recorded their second LP, Shelter. Shortly after the record’s release, McKee broke up the band for good and went on to a solo career. Heffington became a successful session drummer, while Etzioni recorded under the guise Marvin the Mandolin Man. After a decade removed from the music industry, Hedgecock returned in 1996 as half of the duo Parlor James. A posthumous Lone Justice retrospective, This World Is Not My Home, followed in early 1999.