So here we are at the beginning of 1987. I’d finished up the the Fogerty tour in December of ’86. January, which is notoriously slow for session work, was REALLY slow! I did one recording session for David Fisher at Universal in all of January, two sessions in February and then in March things started to pick up a bit. I did my first session for producer Rick Nowles. In my date book it says “San Francisco Giants”, so it must’ve been a commercial. Rick started calling me and I was curious as to why as I knew Mike Landau was his go to guy. They certainly did some great great records with Stevie Nicks back in the day. I guess the SF Giants session went okay because in April and May I did more sessions for Rick including some more jingles and an album by an artist by the name of Maria Vidal. The record didn’t do much but it was cool to be working for Rick who was pretty big at the time.
When the John Fogerty tour ended John Robinson and I kept up our friendship that was really solidified on that tour. John asked me if I would like to get together and write some tunes. We started writing some things and recording at John’s home studio in February. In late March my phone rings and on the other end of the line is Billy Sherwood.
A bit of history.
I met Billy in ’85 when his band “Lodgic” opened some west coast shows for the Supertramp US tour. Lodgic had a new album out on A&M records produced by David Paich and Steve Porcaro. That’s a pretty good confirmation as to what kind of musicians these guys were right there. Billy was playing bass and singing some leads and he totally blew me away. The last show of the tour was in Orange County and I went to him and said, “Billy I would love to work with you!” He very politely said his band was the priority so thanks but he didn’t have time. Ok, that’s cool. Then one day apparently one of the Cortez brothers I forget which one but Dean or Jody Cortez tells Billy that I am working wth JR. Lodgic had broken up and Billy calls and asks me what I am up to. I tell him I’m writing with JR and he should join us. We wrote and recorded a few songs and on May 30th went into the complex with Mick Guzauski who mixed our demos.
We took some pics…..
This last one being what I thought would make a cool shot for an album cover. John took the tapes to Warners who offered us some seed $$ to continue writing but there were bigger fish to fry and we all moved on. Billy started a band called World Trade with guitarist Bruce Gowdy, their album came out on Polygram records in ’89. John started a new project with vocalist Mark Williamson and came out with an album on WTG records in ’89, which I worked on as a guitarist and songwriter but was not a band “member”, and I also started working on the new Supertramp album, “Free As A Bird” which was released in late ’87. Here is a Civilian track called “The Storm In Your Eyes” I duped off from a cassette of Mick’s mix.
Years later Billy and I came out with an album on the German label MTM records called “The Key”. More on that in future installment.
The Supertramp situation was quite interesting. On the ’85’86 tour the boys had hired Mark Hart, a vocalist and keyboardist, but it turns out Mark was a pretty good guitar player as well. After the tour Rick Davies new songs were taking shape and they were recording as a five piece, using Mark on keys, guitars and vocals. Looks like my buddy Carl Verheyen and I were now out! Bummer. 🙁 Then I get a call from Bob Siebenberg who says that they want me to come in and add some more guitars.
I’m back in! Cool! 🙂
So in May I’m back at Rick’s studio playing on their new album. One of the songs I worked on was the title track “Free As A Bird”. Just a real “Supertramp” song. I always thought it would be a huge hit but maybe by then…….oh well who knows. Rick was at a bit of a loss on the guitar idea. Mark had put some things down but they apparently were not happy with those parts. I listened to the basic track and pull out my 12 string and lay down this guitar track. The new tour is coming up and I am again asked to go on the road. Our son Ian was just 4 years old now and it was tough to head out of town again but Supertramp was, well, “Supertramp” so in January of ’88 we headed off to Brazil!
I get the tour book and am blown away by the page I am on. My friend TJ Tjerlund found his copy and scanned this for me. Rick wrote some very kind words here, I always appreciated that.
One kind of interesting note about that song and my participation. Even though Rick wrote those very kind words about my roll in that song, it seems the boys were kind or re-branding themselves as a five piece band again with Mark Hart being the fifth member. When they shot the video for it they had Mark in it playing my 12 string part. No biggie, as a session musician you are behind the scenes. You play your bits, you get the check, hope your work is liked and appreciated and move on.
Here is the video of the song “Free As A Bird”, just a great Supertramp song and I felt honored to be a part of it.
After doing the guitar tracks I was asked to come and sing in the backing vocal section as well on “Free”.
Finishing up ’87 before heading to Brazil there were more sessions. Working for Peter Beckett, Steve Kipner, David Lasley, Jimmy Haskell who had worked with my father many years prior, I always felt really validated when Jimmy called as he a huge in the session world. Also dates for Jay Gruska, Gary Wright, Bill Maxwell, Hal Sacks, my dear friend Roby Duke and a solo on this track by Jermain Stewart produced by Aaron Zigman.
That’s it for this week, next week Supertramp tour pics and more…