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Original members of Departure. From left to right: James “Shamus” Hammons, guitar & vocals; Gary “Garibaldi” Swanson, bass & vocals; Alan “Hit ‘Em!” Hammons, Drums; Steve “Wyatt Earp” Wyatt, guitar & vocals

--= Origins =--


Departure started out as the brainchild of James “Shamus” Hammons who was interested in forming a band to explore various musical genres, have fun, and maybe be able to do it for a living.


At the time, Shamus was playing guitar with Alan Hammons (his younger brother) on drums, Gary Swanson on bass, and Steve Wyatt on guitar as part of the praise band for what was then known as Charter Oak Church of Abundant Life.

After having played together with Alan, Gary, Steve, and various and sundry other musicians for a few years, Shamus started thinking that here was a core of a band that had promise. The other guys thought it might be a fun thing to do as well and so Departure was born. Alan came up with the name during a session of name brainstorming after a rehearsal, and Shamus seized upon it as a great name. Luckily for him, the others agreed it was a great name as well!

Departure’s first official gig was the infamous Labor Day gig of 1992. Suffice it to say that Murphy's Law reigned supreme that day. Stay tuned for the upcoming documentary which chronicles this event!

Sadly, the Infamous Labor Day gig of 1992 also marked the end of Departure in its original form as the events and stress of that event broke the band apart.

More to come…


--= Individual Background =--


Shamus’ start in music was in the 5th grade in El Centro Elementary School’s orchestra, where he learned to play trumpet. Not long after that, he joined the Pasadena Boys Choir under the direction of Mr. John R. Barron in the fall of 1979. During his time with the PBC Shamus learned how to play the recorder and started to dabble with the piano in addition to his vocal training. A year after Shamus joined the PBC his career with them was abruptly cut short—to this day he still doesn't know exactly why he was tossed out other than perhaps that he was “a royal pain in the ass to the guys who ran the thing,” according to him.

It wasn't until eight years later that he started to learn how to play the piano, and a year later he picked up the guitar. Around this time Shamus discovered multitrack recording and MIDI and started to write music. In 1993, he studied songwriting with Jai Josefs, a successful songwriter and the author of How to Write Music for Hit Songs.

Shamus is currently playing with the as–of–yet–unnamed praise band for First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood. One of the perks of being in the praise band was getting the opportunity to perform with Michael Passons (formerly of Avalon) recently as part of FPCH’s (“sadly underattended—it was a blast!”) Centennial Celebration Concert.

Shamus is married to the beautiful Deborah Scott and is living with her and their cat in a run–down but comfortable house in a suburb of Los Angeles. They are expecting their first child in late November. Shamus still writes music, records, and is mulling over the future of Departure.




Gary’s first exposure to music was in his house where his mother would mercilessly torture an ugly, beat–up, old green spinet piano. In spite of this, Gary learned to play the piano as well. He took up bass guitar around the time that the Charter Oak Church of Abundant Life was looking for people to lead worship.

Gary is married to Michelle Lusk and has two children. They live in a condo in lovely suburban Pomona.




Alan started playing drums in the Charter Oak Church of Abundant Life’s praise band, where it was often heard (and not just of the drums) “Can you play softer?” Around that time he tried playing the guitar for a few months but decided to stick with the drums. Alan has played with various heavy metal bands, the praise band for NewSong, and the odd classic rock band.

Alan is married to Mary Lusk and has three children. They all live somewhere in the outskirts of Claremont on the edge of Los Angeles county.




Steve’s musical orgins are a complete mystery, even to him. It seems that Steve developed his talent for the guitar sometime in the mid 70s but by the time he joined Departure in the late eighties/early nineties, he had burned out most of his brain with drugs (let this be a lesson to you!).

Currently, Steve is divorced, has a son, and is living in southern California.