The Michael Ruff tour took place in 1999 but backing up to 1998 and into 2000 there were some really good sessions, namely LeAnn Rimes and Steve Holy, both Curb Records artists. These were part of many sessions that I was hired for by Greg Hunt/Rosewood Studios in Tyler TX from 1996 and into 2003.
What is amazing to me is that I really had not played on anything “big” as in “Billboard Hot 100” in quite a few years. I was still working and playing on what one would call successful projects but they were not chart toppers. No gold records recently. Well, that was changing in a big way thanks to Wilbur Rimes, Greg Hunt and Mike Curb.
To put this in perspective, I remember coming up as a young studio “wanna be” guitar player. I knew the guys that were big session players before I got my first shot at the big leagues. I knew back then who was now “dated” and who was young and in demand, and I eventually broke into that circle. I played on my first hit in 1979 with “Love Pains” by Yvonne Elliman and charted every year multiple times for the next 7 years but its now 20 years later! 7 years is a pretty good run for a session player to be on top, but 20 years? Now I found myself as one of the old guys. I knew the “new” guys that were getting called, and while I am still making a living doing lots of sessions, knowing that without hits the leash could be short for me. That was certainly part of the idea of leaving LA and opening a small production studio in the Boston area. Ironically, a few months after leaving the session world of LA I play on the biggest records of my career. Go figure…..
On the heels of the success of LeAnn’s album “Sittin’ On Top Of The World” and its platinum status I guess Mike Curb thought “who else can that team produce?” Wilber Rimes had another young vocalist signed, Steve Holy. “Sittin’” was released in May of ’98 and we started working on the Steve Holy record in June. The session dates for Steve’s album titled “Blue Moon” started in June of 1998 and ran through January of 2000. The reason being, according to my buddy Greg Hunt, was that Curb decided not to release an album to start with. They decided to release singles and Greg and his crew cut over 20 tracks in that span of 1 1/2 years.
Steve Holy “Blue Moon” Singles
Here is the year, title, and Billboard Country peak chart positions.
1999 “Don’t Make Me Beg” #29
2000 “Blue Moon” #24
2001 “The Hunger” #24
2001 “Good Morning Beautiful” #1 🙂
The album was released in 2000 and my favorite song on this album was the title track, “Blue Moon”, written by Gary Leach and Mark Tinney. Gary is Greg’s right hand man, and arranger, Mark who passed away way too young was just a brilliant songwriter from Texas.
Here is the video of Blue Moon:
For you guitar players at 3:22 my guitar solo starts, dig the cat in the video with his fat Gibson Jazz box! Hahahaha.
After the brass at Curb decided its time to release Steve’s album, I get the call to head to Tyler and do lots of overdubs on the tracks that had been recorded prior. I have to play solos on a bunch of tunes. We are cranking these things out in a day and I’m thinking “man, I am starting to run out of ideas!”. One of the last songs I have to put a solo on was “Good Morning Beautiful”. Greg puts up the track, Gary is there and I am just mentally spent. I am trying things and nothing is working, Greg hits the talkback button and says, “Hey Martin, do you have an Ebow?” For you non-musicians this thing is a very odd specialized tool for a certain kind of sound and I seriously doubt it’s EVER been used for a solo on a country record. Here’s a pic of the thing.
I say ya, I’ve got one.
Rescued! (thank you Greg Hunt)
I grab my Ebow and have at it. The session ends, all good.
Months later I get a call that “Good Morning Beautiful” is #1 on the country charts! It turns out it was used in a movie called “Angel Eyes” which was a big hit and subsequently country radio picked up on it big time and it peaked at #1, Ebow solo and all. 🙂
Here is the video of Good Morning Beautiful:
While working on the Steve Holy record the Rosewood team was also gearing up for the next LeAnn Rimes release(s). They decided to record two records at once. Over a period of months the sessions for the albums “LeAnn Rimes” and “I Need You” were recorded. The album LeAnn Rimes was a throwback record of country classics, and I Need You was LeAnn’s first real “Pop” record. For the basic tracks, I was on acoustic guitar on LeAnn Rimes and electric guitar on I Need You. The one song that I was on electric guitar on for the album of country classics was ironically her single “Big Deal” which was a bit more modern country. That had seemed to be my gig on these projects, add me on electric to the tracks for the more modern sound.
The album LeAnn Rimes peaked at #8 on the Billboard 200 and at #1 on the Top Country Albums chart. “Big Deal” peaked at #6 on Billboard’s Hot Country Singles & Tracks. The album has been certified Platinum for shipments of one million copies in the United States.
I always found it odd that the only single that was released had the newer country sound and the classics that were the ones reminiscent of LeAnn’s biggest hit “Blue” never saw single action. But hey, the album went platinum which ain’t bad.
Here is the single, “Big Deal”.
Next week the LeAnn album, “I Need You” and the reinventing of ones career. Woah!! 🙂