Who were your influences (bands, guitarist, etc.) when you were young?
One of my first “Golden Moments,” the phenomenon that happens when you’re struck to the core of your being by a lightning bolt of pure magic, was putting on a 45 RPM vinyl single of You Send Me by Sam Cooke. I sat there on the floor, playing it over and over, swept away, goose bumps from head to toes.
The very first Golden Moment I’ll never forget. I believe it was 1953 and I was, having been born in 1950, three years old. Only mom and I were home, and she and I walked out into the yard on a beautiful Spring morning. Seattle at that time was still small, and hadn’t displaced wildlife yet. Mom and I were greeted by the chorus of thousands of birds – a tumultuous, yet perfectly interwoven symphony of melody, joy and celebration. If one has a feeling for what heaven would be like, equate that with the way this music made me feel.
Another was the first time I heard All Shook Up, by Elvis. Wow! Brother Mike and I went around singing “Amashaka” all day:-) In second grade I made my public singing debut standing on a desk in the front of the classroom singing Hound Dog. Don’t Be Cruel, Love Me Tender, and Jailhouse Rock also rocked my world.
Mom and dad always had the radio on in the morning and I remember loving Mr. Sandman, by Pat Ballard; Yakety Yak, by the Coasters; Honeycomb, by Jimmie Rodgers; Let The Good Times Roll, by Shirley and Lee; Be-Bop-A-Lula, by Gene Vincent; Blueberry Hill, by Fats Domino; It’s Only Make Believe, by Conway Twitty; Chantilly Lace, by the Big Bopper; Rock-In Robin, by Bobby Day; So Fine, by The Fiestas; Sea Cruise, by Frankie Ford; Sorry (I Ran All The Way Home), by The Impalas, and generally being uplifted by most music. I’ve always been grateful that mom and dad loved music and started the day with it.
Talking about these good ol’ days caused me to remember the first song I composed, a commercial for Schick electric shavers. I performed it at 8 years of age to an audience of thousands… of frogs at a nearby pond. Their roaring croaks of unanimous approval were encouraging.
One of my all-time favorites is Come Softly To Me, written, arranged and performed by Gretchen Christopher with The Fleetwoods, which was the biggest selling song of 1959.
I was on a Los Angeles-bound jet in the mid ’90’s when I became aware of an attractive lady sitting a few seats behind and across the aisle. There was a tone in her voice and friendliness and outgoing quality which immediately mesmerized me. I went back, introduced myself, and a friendship began that lasts to this day. It was Gretchen. I’ve been very privileged to have performed the song live with her several times since.
When I was in 8th grade I met Steve Fossen and we became instant friends. I remember seeing “The Beatles Are Coming” written on someone’s notebook cover. Steve told me who they were and that they were great. My first memory of experiencing them was watching their first appearance on the Ed Sullivan show. It was THE Golden Moment! Absolutely thrilled to my soul… riveted as time stood still… being changed forever by a force that must have been divine intervention. They went on to be the biggest musical influence of my life, as I know they were also many others’.
Of course I loved the Stones; The Kinks; Gerry And The Pacemakers; Lovin’ Spoonful; Beachboys; The Ventures; ahh, the list goes on and on.
Guitarists in particular who drove me were: Scotty Moore; Jim McCarty; Howard Roberts; Nokie Edwards; John Lennon; George Harrison; Paul McCartney (Paul played several of The Beatles’ solos, including Taxman); Eric Clapton; Jimmy Page; Jeff Beck, to name a few.
Louie Armstrong, Victor Borge, and Buddy Guy are some of my favorite live performers.