A Life in Music

Since I was a little boy I’ve wanted to play music. And as I grew, I moved toward this passion single mindedly. I listened to music incessantly. I pretended to be the artists to which I listened. When my hands were large enough, my parents gave me a guitar. I learned to play the guitar, and then the bass. I tinkered with the mandolin, the ukulele, drums, piano, and I never stopped. Music wasn’t merely a job I wanted when I grew up; it was my calling.

I started playing bass guitar in several different bands playing the local teenage keg-party scene. Finally, I joined a cover band because I knew I could make money playing weddings and private corporate functions. Everyone in the band got along and we started to get gigs.

The drummer from my cover band invited me to jam with a guitarist who was interested in starting an original band. I agreed and it turned out to be the birth of a band I would stay in for the next five years. We kicked the guitarist out after a few months and formed a trio of drums, bass, and keyboards. We called ourselves Eyes Open and spent the next few years writing, recording and playing the Hollywood circuit: The Roxy Theatre, The Country Club, Madame Wong’s West, and a dozen other clubs.

We decided we needed a guitarist to complete the band, so we ran an ad in our local papers and put up a flyer on a board at the Guitar Institute of Technology. We received several replies, but no one felt right. We were playing progressive influenced hard rock, so we needed someone with real chops. Finally, our ad at the Institute had been answered by a musician who fit the part. A thin little kid came to audition and absolutely blew us away. We immediately offered him the position. His name was Jeff Buckley.

Jeff was a quiet guy who could play the hell out of his guitar. Ironically, the one thing we could never get him to do was sing. This is ironic because Jeff would later go on to make his mark on rock and roll forever as a cult hero having one of the most beautiful, angelic voices in the business. We played every club in Hollywood, had a small following and recorded a series of demo tapes which I still have today; my own private collection of Jeff Buckley recordings before he moved to New York and signed his contract with Sony.

Our band, Eyes Open, eventually broke up. There just wasn’t a market for progressive rock in the eighties and we were too prideful to make the necessary changes to fit into what was really happening in that time period. We once had a meeting with Hal Davis, a legendary producer and A&R man for Motown. He loved the musicianship of our band and told we had a real shot waiting for us if we could go back into the studio and write a song like Toto’s famous hit, “Africa.” I liked that song mostly because of my childhood ties with the band, Toto.

Once my step-father, Paul Hubinon, had taken me to a recording session for the seventies hit T.V. show, Ironside. The writer-arranger for the session was Marty Paich and during a break, Marty’s son David started jamming with a couple of friends who were also there recording. Jeff Pecaro, who had recently set up my drum kit and gave me a lesson was playing drums. Three of the founding members of Toto were there. I sat quietly on the sidelines playing along with a shaker and witnessing the birth of one of the late seventies and eighties super bands.

At any rate, I knew in my heart our band was up to this task, but in the end we decided it would be a compromise of our musical integrity. Idiots! After that we gave up, broke up, and went our separate ways. Ego, so often gets in the way of real success. It did here, and it wouldn’t be the last time.

For a short time in my childhood I was exposed to the music business through my step-father Paul Hubinon, a session player in a group of musicians now known as “The Wrecking Crew.” In that time, I went to some legendary sessions, and got to know some incredible players. I decided to create this Blog to tell some of those stories, as I remember them. I pledge to tell it, how I experienced it, which might not always be so accurate. I was only a little boy at the time, but it will be my truth.

 

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