Here is the second installment of my blog “The Life and Times of a Second Call Studio Musician”.
So we last left off where I was cutting my teeth in the music biz playing casuals in Los Angeles. I did this for a number of years and when I hit 22 I got a call from a fellow named John Rosenberg. John was the musical director for a young Canadian singing group called The Defranco Family. My friend from college Dan Sawyer had recommended me for this gig which was a summer tour. I did that tour playing lots of Six Flags amusement parks, county fairs etc. The Defranco’s had a hit record out called “Heartbeat, It’s A Lovebeat”. 12 year old girls loved this band! hahaha. It was my first tour, loads of laughs, and I made some dough as well.
I remember one particular event that was hysterical. The band loved beer, especially Coors beer. I get to the airport on one leg of the tour and the bassist Mike Schnoebelen had brought a practice amp in an anvil case so he could practice in the room. It was overweight and the overweight charge was $90. The road manager paid it and we get to our first hotel in the midwest. I get a call from Mike to come over to his room. I walk in and sitting there are Mike and his roommate Mike McGinty, drinking Coors beers. I’m thinking that’s really odd as at that time Coors was only available west of the Rockies. I say “where in the heck did you guys get the Coors?” Mike says go look in the anvil amp case. There was no amp in the case but was full of Coors beer!! Eventually the management caught on and made Mike pay the $90.
Here are jps’s of my datebook entries for July and August of that year. The Laufer entries are the Defranco tour weekly pay. The gig paid $600 a week which at the time I thought was pretty good dough. The $12/day entries were the per diem. There are a few recording session entries too. On 7/18 I apparently did a demo session for music mogul Joel Sill at A&M, notice there is no entry for getting paid! I’m sure I got paid but it was surely nominal. On 8/2 I did a session for producer Dallas Smith. My buddy Bill Cuomo started recommending me to Dallas for some session work. This had to be a demo as I had not fine tuned my chops for master recordings as of yet. The next photo is of myself and my roommate Bruce Lofgren, outside of a hotel room somewhere in the midwest. I still have that hat in my studio!
After the Defranco tour it was back to casuals (UGH!) Get out the Tux and play R&R for the bar mitzvah kids. The next year the phone rings again and it’s another recommendation by Dan Sawyer. This was a cool gig, Eddie Kendricks former member of the Temptations. I believe Dan had played on Eddie’s new album release and did not want to go on the road. There was a new musical director hired by Eddie’s management, keyboardist Jules Vogel. Jules hired myself and percussionist Steve Forman out of Los Angeles, also from LA were vocalists Sherry Williams and Danni McCormick. The band also included session musicians from Detroit, Uriel Jones on drums and Eddie Willis on guitar along with bassist Roderick “Peanut” Chandler. Before the tour started we shedded the songs for the set on our own. I’ll never forget the first band rehearsal which was at the first gig but the the day before. Uriel Jones counts off whatever song it was and BOOM!!!! He starts playing and man I had never in my life heard that kind of power coming from a drummer. It was day 1 of “Groove School”
Here are some photos,
Eddie at the Airport
A marquee at one of the gigs and the band. In the back, myself, Uriel Jones and Eddie Willis. In the front “Peanut” Chandler, Steve Forman and Jules Vogel
Backing vocalists Sherry Williams and Danni McCormick
As you may know the movie “Standing In The Shadows Of Motown” spawned a group called “The Funk Brothers”. I found out that Uriel and Eddie were in that band. I dug up a copy of one of the live shows that I had the house soundman record for me and duped it off onto CD’s. I bought a ticket to the Funk Brothers show at the Jazz club “Scullers” in Boston. I walked in and gave a note to the person at the door that I was at the club and wanted to see Uriel and Eddie. They couldn’t believe it. I gave them each a CD, and we took this shot.
Here is an mp3 of the song Boogie Down along with Eddie’s band introductions.
Next week the Seals and Crofts gig, life as a “demo” musician and the first recordings I played on that were released on a major label.