The Sanford-Townsend Band was a blue-eyed soul group featuring keyboardists Ed Sanford and Johnny Townsend, who previously worked together in a band from Tuscaloosa, Alabama called Heart. After reuniting in Los Angeles, Sanford and Townsend signed a publishing deal with Chappell Music and began writing songs, most notably "Peacemaker" for Loggins and Messina and "I Keep Forgettin'" with Michael McDonald.
Their 1976 self-titled album started getting attention when "Smoke from a Distant Fire" reached #9 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #1 in Cash Box recorded at the famous Muscle Shoals Sound Studios in Alabama. The album was re-released using the song title as its own. The band supported the song by opening for Fleetwood Mac on their Rumours Tour, as well as concerts with the Marshall Tucker Band, Charlie Daniels, Jimmy Buffett, Foreigner, Heart and a host of other top acts of the day.
The band's follow-up albums, entitled Duo-Glide and Nail Me to the Wall, were significantly less successful. Sanford and Townsend returned to their careers as session musicians and songwriters. In 2008, John Townsend was in the Toler/Townsend Band with Dan Toler. Townsend's tenor voice remains substantially unchanged from thirty years prior.