The band, originally called The Scratch Band, was formed in the late 1970s in Sacramento, California by Roe, and keyboardist Mark Tootle, bassist Jan Eric Volz and drummer Mark Proctor. Guitarist Jimmy A and singer Sharon McCall also performed with the band from time to time.
The band changed their name to the 77s with the release of their first album, Ping Pong over the Abyss, in 1982. Ping Pong was more of a Scratch Band recording than an actual 77s recording however. One song from that album, "Renaissance Man", was later recorded by The Ocean Blue. Proctor left the band and was replaced by former drummer for The Temptations, Aaron Smith. The band's biggest hit single was "The Lust, The Flesh, The Eyes and the Pride of Life" from their 1987 Island Records release, The 77s. (Years later, the band 311 would even borrow a few lines from the song for one of their own singles). Tootle left the band after the live album 88, and the group split up after 1990's Sticks and Stones.
The band's song "MT" was featured a number of times on the popular television series Melrose Place.
In the early 1990s, Roe reformed the band with Smith, adding bassist Mark Harmon and guitarist David Leonhardt, both formerly of The Strawmen. This version of the band released its first album in 1992 entitled Pray Naked, although the title was dropped from the release by the record label. Leonhardt and Smith would leave the band a few years later. Drummer Bruce Spencer, formerly of Vector was brought on board to fill Smith's vacancy.