The Life and Times of a Second Call Studio Musician Part 18

The Life and Times of a Second Call Studio Musician Part 18

The European leg of the Supertramp tour in 1986 ran from January through mid-March. Upon returning home it took a while to get back into the studio scene. That’s the danger of going on the road. When you’re out of town, producers that have called you in the past that are in the midst of working on current projects, have to find someone else to call. By 1986 there really were three number one call LA guitar players that were with cartage/rental/guitar tech guru Andy Brauer. As I stated in the prior installment Andy had the Who’s Who list of studio guitar players as clients. The big three were, Steve Lukather, Michael Landau and a newcomer to the scene from Nashville, Dann Huff. When Dann started playing on hits, he just kind of took over. It’s very common for producers to seek out new musicians to hire and when someone new comes to town like Dann, and as absolutely talented as he was the word got around quick. He took off like a rocket and all of us other guitar players knew it. (Nervous Time!)

Taking a look at my book, April and May were very slow as I was just back in town and letting people know that I was available. Some producers I was working for in the past had discovered Dann and were using him on their projects. On April 11 I did play on a single by EL DeBarge called “Love Always”. The writers/producers were Burt Bacharach and Carole Bayer Sager. As stated in many prior installments I had done quite a few records with these two and they were all hits. This was the only song on the EL DeBarge record produced by Burt and Carol. The rest of the album’s tracks were produced by either Peter Wolf, who as you may recall bumped me from my record deal with Morocco records, Jay Graydon or Robbie Buchanan. Of course Jay would be playing the guitars on his productions but the tracks that Peter and Robbie produced, who was the call on guitar? You guessed it, Dann Huff! On “Love Always” the guitars are myself and Dann , here is the youtube link.

I know the single string rhythm part is me, I think Dann does some other rhythm bits in the outro. I do remember Carol coming to me and modifying the part that I had come up with. We simplified it down to essentially one note, a common tone that worked for all of the chord changes in the verses and more chordal stuff in the pre-choruses and choruses. John Robinson and Neil Stubenhaus were on the session as well which turned out to be somewhat of a help to me down the road, more on that in a bit. Love Always peaked on the Billboard charts that number 43, not a huge hit but a respectable showing. For some reason in my career it seems now and again I would get called to play on the tracks that were earmarked to be singles from albums that I did no other work on. 9-to-5 was one of those and Love Always was as well.

By July things were starting to pick up a bit for me on the session front, after all the big three couldn’t do “all” of the sessions, and one day I got a call from a fellow by the name of Greg Hunt who had a studio in Tyler Texas. Greg was producing a Contemporary Christian album by a group called the Cruse family. He wanted to hire some LA-based studio players so he called a group of us that had worked together quite frequently. Smitty Price on keyboards, Mike Brignardello on bass, myself and Dennis Holt on drums. I remember we all had outboard gear rigs and had all recently purchased a new reverb by Roland called the SRV 2000. On most of the tracks we actually recorded the reverb on our instruments directly from our rigs. Kind of unheard of at the time but Greg seemed to be up for it. Here are a few snaps of that crew. From top to Bottom, Greg, Smitty, Mike and Dennis, and myself with my recently finalized Bradshaw rig.

I bring this up not because the Cruse album was any great shakes but rather because this was the beginning of my relationship with Greg Hunt who over a decade later would hire me to play on the biggest selling record of my career.

Sometime in late July of ’86 my phone rings. I pick it up and on the other end of the line is Andy Brauer. Andy says, “Marty, John Fogerty is going on the road, it’s his comeback tour. They have offered the guitar spot to Huff, Landau and Dean Parks. Dann and Michael turned it down and Dean is on the fence about going. This is the perfect gig for you”. I asked who was in the band and it turns out it’s John “JR” Robinson and Neil Steubenhaus who just a few months before we had worked together on the El Debarge record. Also in the band on keyboards was Alan Pasqua who I had done the Eddie Money a record with a few years before. I had John’s number and I gave him a call and he suggested I come down and play with the guys.

Auditioning for a gig like this can be a bit daunting but I knew John Robinson, and we always got on really well at sessions so there was a comfort factor there. John, Neil and Alan had all played on John Fogerty’s new album called “Eye of The Zombie”. I don’t recall what music we played at the audition but it seemed like it went really well. The next day Neil called me up and said “the gig is in Dean’s court, if he turns it down it’s yours”. A few days later I get a call from Neil giving me the rehearsal schedule 🙂 Hey, in this instance I was actually “fourth call” but I’ll take it!

Since I had just finished three months on the road with Supertramp I wasn’t real keen on going back on the road but this gig was too big to turn down. I remember going to the first rehearsal and Neil asked me “did management tell you what it pays”? I told him they did not and he told me I better sit down! Quite a great payday, John was very generous with the band and crew. Here is what my book says for the months of August through December:

The first show was in Memphis Tennessee and we got a great review of opening night.

Here are some snaps from that tour:
Neil and John

Myself with JR and John

Vocalist Wille Greene JR and Alan Pasqua

Vocalists Donnie Gerrard and Bobby King with John on the bus.

JR and Neil

More bus with some of the Bonnie Raitt band.

A shot from the stage of one of the crowds.

Here is a link to the audio of the show in Oakland CA.

A great time playing great music with great people to finish out the year.

Next week, my band “Civilian” with John Robinson and Billy Sherwood. My writing relationship with Frank Musker, and the next Supertramp album and tour “Free As A Bird”.