Here is the latest installment of my blog “The Life and Times of A Second Call Studio Musician”.
A few months ago I was in Boston thinking about when I was 23 years old and playing with Eddie Kendricks at a club on Boylston St. called “Paul’s Mall”. I searched Paul’s Mall on the internet and lo and behold someone had posted a poster from the club advertising the gig! Here it is.
This was when I really fell in love with Boston. We were at the airport Hilton for a week. I rented a car and drove up the coast, I was just amazed at how beautiful it was and the city itself was so vibrant. I always thought it would be a great placed to locate to at some point in my life and we’ve been here 20 years now.
From my 1975 datebook I started rehearsals with Eddie in March. We would fly out on weekends to do shows, lots of red eye flights. We did a week with the Pointer Sisters in DC from June 23rd through June 28th, Here we are in Eddie’s hotel suite in DC. In the back are Uriel and Eddie, and left to right in the second row two unknown women, our backing vocalist Sherry Williams, two of the Pointer Sisters, and yours truly, seated on the floor, “Peanut” Chandler, Eddie’s road manager our other backing vocalist Danni McCormick and Eddie’s valet.
After DC we went to Boston on the 29th opening at Paul’s Mall on the 30th. That week was when I met guitarist Michael Thompson. Michael was playing with the opening act Ellis Hall. Michael was so good. He just knocked me out. We became good friends that week, more on that relationship in a future post. The last Eddie Kendricks gig looks like it was in August in Los Angeles. Sprinkled in between Eddie’s weekends were a few $50 demo sessions, some subbing for Jay Graydon at the ETC. club in Hollywood backing up vocalist Maxine Weldon. That was a cool gig, Greg Mathieson on keyboards, Ralph Humphrey on drums and Dennis Parker on bass. I was really out of my league with these guys and always was thankful that Jay thought enough of my playing to hire me to sub for him.
After the Kendricks tour ended it was back to……..You guessed it, the dreaded Weddings and Bar Mitzvahs!!! Horrid. I was now also starting to get more demo session calls. I worked for a songwriting team that was signed to producer Don Costa. I was trying to hone my skills, learning early that microphones don’t lie! I met with Jay who helped me intonate my guitars, and advised me that I needed to buy a strobe tuner for sessions. I worked on my reading although I never became really proficient at it. My goal was to do records and while you need to be able to navigate charts, the reading aspect was a lot less stressful than doing tv or film dates. The session work kept picking up, doing dates now for wrecking crew keyboard player Al Delory, and now Don Costa had started using the band that was working for his songwriting team on his dates too. He was a great guy and just an absolute legend. Still no real record dates to speak of, all pretty much demo work.
In mid 1976 though things got really interesting.
My buddy Bill Cuomo had a band called Bonaroo that was signed to Warner Records. They had come out with an album, did some touring, then one of the guys left that band. They needed a guitarist and a vocalist so they brought myself on board and a singer named “Flip”. Warners wanted to hear new material so we went into a small studio owned by Seals and Crofts. The band included Michael Hossack on drums who had left the Doobie Brothers to start this band. Bill on keyboards, Bobby Lichtig on bass who had worked with Seals and Crofts for years before joining Bonaroo and another guitarist Jerry Weems. We recorded 5 songs and Warners was not interested. As luck would have it though Seals and Crofts heard what we had done. They had decided to put together a new “touring” band and asked us to do it. Myself, Bill, Bobby and Michael. Now we are getting somewhere, this is the “A” leagues, playing the biggest summer venues throughout the states. There was one issue though. Jimmy Seals was really particular about drummers time. Michael Hossack was a great drummer but he was a bit loose in the time dept. They wanted to find somebody else so I told Jimmy that if he wanted someone who’s time is meticulously clocked there was one guy that could do it. Ralph Humphrey. They called Ralph who took the gig and off we went. Two weeks of rehearsals in May, we did the Midnight Special on June 1st, then the tour started in mid June. We played the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles on July 19, 20 and 21. Here is a photo of myself with Dash Crofts at the Greek.
That tour went pretty much through the rest of the year with a couple of weeks off here and there.
Amazingly I have absolutely no photos of that Seals and Crofts band. I have searched through the archives and found nothing. I remember getting a phone call from Mike Porcaro who had worked with S&C prior to this new band. He said “Marty I need to tell you about the plane!”. Seals and Crofts owned a 1952 Convair, this thing was unbelievable, it leaked oil like a sieve. We used to say we were “Flying the oily skies!” The Convair was really sketchy, every time we got on it we were all praying we would land in our designated destination! There were quite a few times we did not because of malfunctions on the plane. Pretty frightening really. I took this shot at some point on the tour of the left engine and the oil that had leaked out if it.
They called the plane “Thunderfoot”. The first track on the Sudan Village was an instrumental named after the plane. Here is a link to that if you care to dig it. The order of solos is Dash Crofts on mandolin with lots of distortion, Jimmy Seals on Sax, Bill Cuomo on Synth, and finally I close it out with my solo.
Well, that’s it for today! Next up, the second Seals and Crofts band and beginning the A&M demo sessions.