During the summer of 1977, Neil Young joined a local band in Santa Cruz, California and played with them in bars and clubs around Santa Cruz for several weeks. Jeff Blackburn, a San Francisco musician in the 1960s, first met Neil during Neil’s Buffalo Springfield days. The pair had renewed their friendship in the spring of 1977 when they jammed together at a birthday celebration for Jerry Miller (of Moby Grape fame). At the time, Blackburn’s group, The Jeff Blackburn Band, had been in need of a lead guitarist. Blackburn invited Neil to fill the spot and, wonder of wonders, Neil accepted! The band was renamed The Ducks, Neil rented a house overlooking the beach, and the adventure began.(Pat Mead)
In addition to Blackburn and Young, The Ducks featured Bob Mosley (an original member of Moby Grape) on bass, and Johnny Craviotta (aka “Johnny C”) on drums. (Johnny C’s pedigree is a little murky - someone recently posted that he was a veteran of Blue Cheer, but I find that hard to believe. I remember reading at the time that he had done some recording sessions with Arlo Guthrie and with Ry Cooder, and those associations better fit his musical personality.) Every Duck could sing and all except Johnny could write, so The Ducks’ setlists were very democratic. Each member took his turn on vocals in fairly strict order.(Pat Mead)
Young had a contract with Crazy Horse that specified he could only tour with them, and so the Ducks were required to confine themselves within the city limits so as not to tour. One interesting moment came when Crosby & Nash came into town for a concert, and Young took the stage with them. The Ducks managed to end a mere seven weeks after they began. Young's rented house was burglarized and he lost a number of instruments and other items of great sentimental value. As word had spread in the national media about Young joining a local group, crowds increased with out of town "Duck Hunters" less content to let the band have its own identity and more inclined to mindlessly yell for old perennial Neil Young concert favorites. The Ducks continued on for a while without Young and held out hope that he might return, but it did not come to pass.