BITS & PIECES OF MY LIFE INFLUENCES: Jackson Browne, Randy Newman, Paul Thorn, Peter Gabriel, Bruce Hornsby, Tina Turner, The Beatles & George Martin, Garth Brooks, Rolling Stones, Bobby Caldwell, Elton John & Bernie Taupin, Sheryl Crow, Cris Rea, Eagles, Don Henley, Huey Lewis, Dire Straits, Mark Knopfler, Aerosmith, Bonnie Raitt, Lyle Lovett, Toy Matinee, James Taylor, Steps Ahead, Sting, Supertramp, John Hiatt, Cream, Eric Clapton, Muddy Waters, T-Bone Walker, Thomas Dolby, Steely Dan, Phil Collins, Jimmy Webb IN THE BEGINNING: I grew up in the military...an "Army Brat." We lived all over the world, spent a lot of time traveling by car, and to help pass the hours, my Mom would start singing some old nursery rhymes, and get my brother, Rob, and me to chime in by making up our own lyrics to the songs. As I recall, the dumber we wrote, the more laughs we'd have, and the faster the time would go by. A good thing, which probably drove Dad nuts, but which, I suppose was the origin of my love of music, and of me becoming a serious songwriter somewhere along the line. RECORDS FROM THE STATES: We moved to France when I was about 12, and shortly thereafter I found myself totally enthralled by early rock n roll...records from the states. There was Elvis...but especially his guitar player, Scotty Moore. Bill Haley and the Comets released Rock Around The Clock & See Ya Later Alligator. Conway Twitty caught my writer's ear in a big way with "It's Only Make Believe," a beautiful, gut wrenching ballad which would later become 'our song' for my 1st ever girlfriend and me. I probably should have known this was not the best song choice for everlasting love. GUITAR IDENTITY CRISIS: But it was the sound of the guitars that really magnetized me to the music, and for my 13th birthday my folks gave me a gut string Spanish guitar, which I really loved, but which I never could get to sound like the records. A few months later, one of my Dad's lieutenants, and a player himself, would tell me, "Well, Son, it's because those are ELECTRIC GUITARS." Electric? Don't forget, we were in France, where Rock 'n' Roll and it's cool tools of the trade hadn't arrived yet. He proceeded to show me his 'ax,' the first electric guitar I ever saw, and I just had to have one, so I worked in the post commissary for months, carrying bags of groceries for enough tips to finally buy this beautiful German cherry red electric guitar - a huge thrill - but after weeks of trying, I was frustrated and still unable to get that magic, illusive sound. Only then did I get another "tip," again from the lieutenant, that one additional little piece of gear would be needed to make my life complete...surprise!...an AMPLIFIER. So, it was back to the commissary for yet another eternity of lugging groceries for loose change - but I finally had my stuff. JC & THE BOYS: The following year, I played in my very first band at Paris American High School (Paris, France), where the leader of the band was a really talented guy named Jerry Corbitt, who several years later would become a founding member with Jesse Colin Young, of the iconic band, The Youngbloods, a wonderful group of the 70's, still revered today for their folk-rock anthem, "Get Together." More on Jerry later, as he would become part of fate's master plan for my CD. Then it was back to The States, my last 2 years in high school, playing in a couple more bands, and then - college. COLLEGE DAZE: For a guy with an undying passion for music, my choice of a college was what one might consider exceedingly counterintuitive. For one thing I wanted to serve my country; for another I was really proud of my Dad and his career in the army, and wanted to follow in his footsteps. So I decided to apply to the United States Military Academy - West Point - Not exactly a proving ground for aspiring musicians and songwriters, and after a long qualification process, including coercing my brother to whack me on top of the head with a baseball bat (i.e. I needed an extra ½" to meet West Point's minimum height requirements), I was accepted into the small band of brothers which 4 years later would begin to step into leadership positions in the Vietnam War. BUT FIRST THINGS FIRST: I guess you could say that Beast Barracks, the first 60 days of an interminably long Plebe Year, is designed in part, to reduce everyone to the lowest common denominator. That is, your heads are shaved, you're all stuffed into the same uniforms & spit shined shoes, taught how to act the same, march the same, talk the same (mostly "yes sir, no sir no excuse sir), think the same, and, basically, you are hammered into a new universal you. To me, it felt like the powers that be were definitely trying to take the rock 'n' roll outta us boys. But the real question was: "Could they ever lobotomize ME enough to take this boy outta rock 'n' roll?" AND THE ANSWER: The answer came quickly, as I was asked during the 1st semester of Plebe Year by a group of upperclassmen to play in their band, 'The Inmates.' I naively accepted, not realizing that this would turn me into a whipping post for other upperclassmen who believed it was totally out of line for a low-life plebe like me to commingle with the privileged class. After my becoming a piñata for a while, one of the guys in the band, who also happened to be a star running back for the Army football team, put a big stiff arm on the harassment and, 'humble me,' I continued to play with the band for the next couple of years. SENIOR YEAR MUSIC: Every senior class at West Point produces an extravaganza called "The Hundredth Night Show," which in our case was a musical comedy entitled "Silver Thumb," a spin-off of the James Bond movie, "Goldfinger," and I was honored with the task of writing music & lyrics. A major theatrical credit at 21 years old - Wow! - and a challenge successfully met, dimmed only by the fact that my ability to transcribe my songs into something useful for the orchestra was quite pathetic, and the bandmaster just about soiled his shorts when he found out about it. As an excuse, I explained to him that West Point had not offered so much as a single music elective course in all 4 years, but he didn't appreciate that either. TO BE CONTINUED SOON......Graduation, War, Hollywood & Beyond.