The Life and Times of a Second Call Studio Musician Part 10

The Life and Times of a Second Call Studio Musician Part 10

Hi all! Well I must say thanks for reading, this thing seems to be really taking off…….

So last Monday we left off in May of 1981. It was around this time that I left my cartage company R&R Express to join Andy Brauers cartage and rental company. The reason being, R&R Express really catered to drummers and Andy Brauer more to guitar players. Andy had everybody at the time. The list was literally a Who’s Who of studio guitar players. Steve Lukather, Michael Landau, Dean Parks, Buzz Feiten, Kevin Dukes, Carlos Rios, Steve Watson, Dan Ferguson, David Williams, Teddy Castellucci, Tim Pierce, I could keep going but you get the idea, when Dan Huff moved to town he even went with Andy. (Thank you Lon Cohen and Walter Rice for jogging the memory) Andy was certainly very helpful to me in my career, more on that in the future installment. I bring this up to clarify the self-deprecating title of the blog. “Second Call”.

There was always a point where it was obvious who was top dog, getting the most calls, but everybody on this list was working. First call, second call, third call, fourth call, it really didn’t matter as we were all doing sessions and making a living at it. We were all so fortunate to be able to do this for a living. As Jay Graydon said “It was the best time of our lives”.

In late 1980 I got a call by Gary Wright’s people to play on an album that Gary was producing. I’m not sure where the call came from but it might have been a recommendation by my buddy Kenny Lee Lewis. Kenny is a great bass player and a heck of a guitar player as well. We wound up doing this album for Gary, and Gary and I kind of hit it off. He was in the midst of working on his new album and asked me if I would be interested in writing a song with him for it. I saw this as a great opportunity so I certainly took him up on that. I had this particular riff that I have been working on and I showed it to him. Here is a short video on that, please excuse the whacky lighting 🙂

He dug the riff and it was going to be the chorus of the song “Heartbeat” so we started working on verse ideas. The beginning of the verse came pretty easy but getting from the verse to the chorus proved to be really difficult. For weeks I was driving out to his home studio working on this thing and nothing seem to be clicking. Gary obviously knew how to write a hit record and he was just not happy with anything that we were coming up with. It was getting pretty frustrating actually but the rest of the song was shaping up so well that we had to come up with this transitional section, and it had to be right. One day Gary went into the house for a bit which was separate from his studio, not sure what he was doing but I was in his studio by myself and I sat down at the piano and came up with these chord changes. When he walked back in I said “Hey Gary dig this” Bingo! We finally had the transition and we completed the song. Gary was producing the record and to get things finalized the record company suggested bringing in Dean Parks to produce as well. Dean played most of the guitars on the album and on this song Heartbeat. I played a bit of an octave part on Heartbeat, and I did some guitar work on one of the of the other tunes. Here is the label copy from Warner Bros. for the album

As you can see there is a 29 second intro and then straight into our song Heartbeat.


We are leading off the album and that meant that this thing could have some legs, you know? Also take a look at the song “Really Wanna Know You”, written by Gary and Ali Thomson. Ali is Dougie Thomson’s brother. Dougie, of course, being the bass player in Supertramp who I had the opportunity to work with a few years later. Really Wanna Know You is the lead off single. It flies up the charts, is all over the radio and it peaks at number 17 on the Billboard Hot 100. Gary calls me and says they’re releasing Heartbeat as the second single. I’m freaking out! As my buddy Jay Graydon pointed out in the video I posted a few weeks ago, as a studio musician you’re always looking for the next step. This looked like it could be it for me. Writing a hit song could do wonders for ones musical career. That kind of thing just opens up so many doors. Gary tells me that they want to shoot a video so we did. In the video is Gary, myself, and my good friends keyboard player/programmer Casey Young, and Tris Imboden on drums. There is an additional keyboard player whose name I don’t recall. Here is a link to the YouTube video, but WOW! 80’s videos. Ahhhh Hollywood! Hahaha….

Heartbeat was released as the single, and reached a whopping #106 on the Hot 200! Air coming out of balloon…….But hey, in this biz you take a shot and there are no guarantees. One other interesting note about this song is this. Gary called me in 2008 and told me about a dance remix team based out of Germany that wanted to do a remix of the song, and didn’t want to sample the master as they would have to pay Warner Bros. Gary recut his parts and I recut all of the guitar parts, sent then to Germany over the net and this remix team called TopModelz does the remix and puts it out. Apparently it became somewhat of a dance club hit in Europe because the payday from BMI was quite good. So you just never know.

For the next few months I was doing scattered sessions, then November happened. Here is my log from November of 1981.

This was one of my busier months. On the 10th was my first rehearsal with Eddie Money of which I’m going to get into the details in a bit. The evening of the 10th, 11th, and 13th I was working for Jay Graydon on a Dionne Warwick album he was producing. Some Paul Anka sessions and a Maynard Ferguson session on the 27th. I always appreciated the fact that Jay chose to use me on some of Dionne’s record as there was a real list of “A” team session players on it. Here is a photo of part of the jacket of the album. Top right, myself and one of my all time guitar heros, Larry Carlton!

To wrap things up I’m going to finish with the album “No Control” by Eddie Money. I was called by the uber legendary producer Tom Dowd to come to a rehearsal for this record. I was recommended to Tom by my good friend and bandmate Gary Ferguson. I was a bit unsure as to how this all unfolded so I e-mailed Gary to get info on it and he sent me the following:

“Marty, you and I with the rest of the Campaign band were hanging on a Sunday at the Kings Head pub in Santa Monica. While there, Eddie’s bass player Ralph Carter came up and started talking to me. Of course he asked what I was doing musically. After a bit he told me Eddie was looking for a drummer. I had met Eddie over the years and we always got along so I told him I’d love to come play. That resulted in a trip to the Bay Area to rehearse and record with the Eddie Money band. We recorded demos at the Automatt with Andy Johns engineering and Chris Bond producing. Players were myself Ralph Carter, Jimmy Lyon and Randy Nichols. We cut the song No Control on those sessions and it made the final album. So my role in the band was sort of becoming confirmed. Months later we started more rehearsals for the record sessions with Tom Dowd in the mix. Tom conveyed to me that Jimmy Lyon was easing out of the band and Tom was looking for a solid rhythm guitar player to work on the album along with Jimmy who was essentially covering all of all of the lead guitar work. So I told Tom Dowd that we really needed Marty Walsh, that when he and I played there was a chemistry that could not be denied. He took a shot on my persuasive recommendation and you got the call. You made me look good and delivered on the No Control project and wound up on more of the album than I did !!!”

Thank you Ferg!

Now this was a real incredible opportunity. Tom Dowd was the engineer on the Cream records and Eric Clapton’s producer. Andy Johns was a legend as well as an engineer working with the likes of Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones. I had gotten a bit of a rep as a creative rhythm guitarist and so it was really important that I didn’t blow this one. Here is a short video of the guitar bit I came up for Eddie’s song “Shakin”.

Here is a hoot for you. Shakin was a hit, the guys that played on it were in the video, AND….we made it to Beavis and Butthead!

We recorded the basic tracks in December of ’81. They did all of the overdubs at Criterion in Miami, the album came out and had two hit singles, “Think I’m In Love” and “Shakin”. One morning I’m at the studio and an amazing thing happened. I was out in the tracking room tuning up and Tom came out and said something like the following:

“Marty, later this year I’m going to be making Eric’s new record. He’s coming out of rehab and I think it would be a great idea to have another guitar player on this album with him. Would you be interested in doing this?” I’m absolutely blown away and of course I say I would love to do it! He says he will have his assistant contact me. I get a phone call checking my availability for the month of August of 1982, and I say I’m completely available. About a month goes by and I get another phone call. They are moving the sessions to October of ’82. I tell Tom’s assistant that I would just clear out anything in my schedule to be able to do this record so she can count on me being available anytime. Then………. nothing. 🙁

The record called “Money and Cigarettes” comes out and here is the personnel.

Eric Clapton – guitar, slide guitar, lead vocals
Ry Cooder – guitar
Albert Lee – guitar, keyboards, background vocals
Donald “Duck” Dunn – bass
Roger Hawkins – drums
Chuck Kirkpatrick – background vocals
John Sambataro – background vocals
Peter Solley – Hammond Organ

At least I got bumped by Ry Cooder and Albert Lee. 🙂 And as luck would have it last night I went to see the Albert Lee band with my good friend Will MacGregor on Bass and we all went out afterwards to a really nice restaurant in Rockport MA. I told Albert the story. He said ” You know why Ry Cooder was on that album? It was because he was a great songwriter and Eric needed songs for the record!” Here is a photo from last night.

One last bit of humor, when the album No Control was finished Eddie was putting a new band together to take on the road. He asked me to go, but having made inroads into the LA studio scene there was no way I was going anywhere. On tour, Eddie came to Boston and was doing a promo radio show for his concert. My wife Libby’s good friend Danny Archetti was listening. People could actually call into the show and talk to Eddie so Danny did. He asked Eddie if I was in the band, Eddie’s reply “Well I wanted him to come with us but his wife wouldn’t let him go!” HA!

Thanks for reading and see you all next week.