Classic Rock was just Rock back then (the 70’s), and I was on the ground floor of the phenomenon. Bands like Boston, Skynyrd, Doobie Brothers, Led Zep, Bad Company, Pink Floyd, Peter Frampton, and so many more artists were playing electric guitars in ways (and with effects) that were truly ground breaking. Back on the (Suwanee) river, I thought I had a large collection of music to learn guitar by, but joining the Air Force and getting out of the woods (so to speak) well, that’s when the doors to all kinds of music opened up to me.
One dorm room would have bluegrass playing, and right across the hall there would be rock, while two doors down there was R&B, and so forth and so on; so needless to say I was introduced to a wide variety of musical genres from 1976 to the present.
I went to a lot of live concerts back then and the one most notable was the Led Zep concert in the old Tampa stadium. After the rains and riots, they (the promoters), were willing to buy back the tickets. As of today, I still have my ticket and t-shirt from that show. I guess the ticket is worth more than the $10.00 I paid for it at the time.
Although the real major change for me and music came when I got an assignment to Okinawa, Japan. It was there I met one of my lifelong friends (Dan Blades) and guitar buddy. I had bought an Aria Pro II guitar that was a copy of the Les Paul Standard, and a Yamaha amplifier to keep me occupied. It wasn’t long before Dan and I hit it off and started jamming. During that time, I built an extensive collection of Japanese released albums and Tabbed sheet music. I was playing note for note songs from Aerosmith, Led Zep, Bad Co., Deep Purple, Eric Clapton, Foreigner, Kansas, Kiss, Rick Derringer, Jimmy Buffett and Uriah Heep just to name a few. Not only did I spend time learning a ton of Rock songs, but I delved into some George Benson Jazz studies as well.
During my tour in Okinawa, I took leave on occasion and went back to the river to visit my family. My younger brother and I were talking (this past 4th of July) and he reminded me of a time when I was on leave from Okinawa and was jamming at a party in Horseshoe Beach, Florida, and who walks up to the party and sits in….Jimmy Buffett!! I’ll have to admit back then I was doing a lot of things that had a negative effect on my memory! (Those were the daze my friends!!!)
The 70’s were coming to an end. I got married to my first wife Carol and that lasted for about ten years. We are still friends. She was realistic and I was idealistic.
My last Duty station was in Cheyenne, Wyoming. I took leave between duty stations and met another guitar buddy (Gary Peacock). We both had orders to F.E. Warren A.F.B. so we drove from Florida to Wyoming, rented a house off-base (that was haunted), did our Air Force stuff while on duty, and played a bunch of guitar off duty. Gary, being from Florida had a real strong affinity towards Southern Rock. It stands to reason at that time in my life I would be playing a lot of that genre of music. I had also won awards for Air Force music competitions while still serving on active duty. It was in 1980 that I formed my first paid-professional band (Equinox). Gary showed me the theory behind major, minor, and pentatonic scales. This got me interested in the formal study of Music Theory & Composition. I took a few college courses in music and Keyboards and I was hooked.
Another band I played with in Wyoming was “The Rebels”. We played one gig at a High School for a graduating class of “6”. The whole High School showed up for the Prom! We never played another gig after that. Ain’t it funny how musicians come in and out of your life. You make memories and maybe get to share them in a blog one day!
After serving almost 10 years, I received my Honorable Discharge from the United States Air Force, and went to college full time under the G.I. Bill for “Music Theory & Composition”. I attended the State University of New York at Binghamton and New Paltz. I learned so much about music theory, that everything up to that point seemed so basic. The exception being my guitar skills were more advanced than the college courses offered at the time (the class was an easy “A”, and I ended up helping to teach the class).
I started playing a lot of solo gigs around that time from Fraternity parties to bars in the local area. This is probably the time where I really started letting the performer in me out. I was very confident in my guitar playing and through earlier bands and college voice classes, I had a handle on being able to be a decent solo artist. I had a PA, Guitar, Keyboard, and Drum Machine! Alas.. a “One Man Band”!
Next blog: A “One Man Band” goes back to Florida and becomes a Rock Star…