Development of Musical Style
>>School of Voice
The development of my musical style had come naturally from years of being a music buff. At a young age while all the other girls where dressing Barbie to match her nail color and all starry eyed over David Cassidy, I was in my room listening to Grand Funk Railroad, Steppenwolf and Alice Cooper. Other than that I watched a little TV mainly The Munsters, The Addams Family, and Dark Shadows.
Around the same time the Motown and Soul era had hit and I was really getting into that sound as well. Listening to the intricate vocal harmonies on songs like "Papa Was a Rolling Stone" and "Can't Get Next to You", by The Temptations I began developing my ear for harmony. Stevie Wonder became influential with songs like "Boogie on Reggae Woman", "Sir Duke", and "Superstition".
During that time I was also getting into The Beatles with all time favorites like "A Day in the Life". The groove and sheer intensity of "I Want You So Bad (She's So Heavy)" had captured my senses, "I am the Walrus" sparked my interest in creative artistry. I found Paul McCartney & Wings "Live and Let Die" to be an outstanding composition. Paul & Linda McCartney's "Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey" had also caught my ear. I started listening to Paul Rodgers and Free singing along to "Alright Now". My first rock inspired music seasoned with Latin was Santana. "Black Magic Woman" is still an all time favorite of mine. Years later I was blessed in working with Carlos Hernandez of Santana
Before that, I remember purchasing my first 45 vinyl record, "The Theme from the Pink Panther" by Henri Mancini which was the first record I had ever bought. "Gypsies, Tramps, and Thieves" was the next purchase and that's when I started singing to the voice of Cher pretending to be a rock star. I was in early grade school and had an allowance for doing my chores. I spent most of my money on records and a few more on stuff like hippie style room-divider beads, a stereo, and floor pillows to make up a little listening room in the alcove of my Cape Cod style bedroom. I bought a blacklight and some fluorescent psychedelic velvet posters and added a little incense and candles to add to the ambiance. The rest of my money went to bell bottom jeans, elephant jeans (low rise tight legged jeans but only to the knee then they flare out in big bell bottoms usually with inserts), platform shoes, and tie dye t-shirts to complement the music. The latest Alice Cooper album had just arrived on the record store shelves. Creatively packaged in a cardboard box, I opened it and started learning the lyrics, "Big Apple Dreamin On A Wooden Floor, Skyscrapers and Subways and Stations, Staring Up at the United Nations."
Later on in late grade school I found some cool friends with the same musical tastes. We'd spend hours listening to Kiss. Destroyer had just come out. "Detroit Rock City" was the newest song in my favorites collection. After that Steve Miller came out with Book of Dreams and like Edgar Winter's Frankenstein, had debuted some of the most remarkable synthesizer work in rock music. Boston's first album came out and that was a must have for my record collection.
Then in junior high, I got a job along with one of my best friends in telemarketing for a local newspaper. The highlight of the job was that we got to play rock n roll on the radio station. Kansas hit the charts with "Carry On Our Wayward Sun" and "Dust in the Wind." How cool is this job? I'm getting paid to sit here and talk on the phone to nice people, hang out with my best friend, and they even have rock n roll music to listen to!
The Eagles hit the charts with "Hotel California". I learned all the lyrics after running down to the record store for yet another purchase after getting paid from telemarketing. Watching a supergroup where there are several great songwriters who trade off lead vocals, who all play musical instruments and write great hit songs is real cool. I enjoyed the solo careers too.
I remember singing along to Bad Company's "Bad Company," "Shooting Star," "Silver, Blue, and Gold," to name a few. I learned Bad Company on piano. The voice of Paul Rogers had caught my ear and I really got into the overall sound of the band. "Straight Shooter" came out when I started filing my albums in alphabetical order in a large looked like a pirate's treasure chest. These were my treasures and they needed to be neatly organized where I could flip through to find what I wanted. They were handled with the utmost care.
I won a contest at a radio station, the first caller with the correct answer thing. (I have no idea what the question was but I know I had the right answer) They told me to come and pick up the prize. When I arrived, the station announcer took me in this room where there was this whole array of records. "Pick one out," he said. That's where I spotted Tina Turner's "Acid Queen." I had just seen the movie "Tommy," and thought "Wow that is too cool!" She played an incredible part. When I took it home and played it I found these totally cool rock remakes set to a Motown vibe of tunes like "Whole Lotta Love," "I Can See for Miles," and "Under My Thumb." Ike had done incredible arrangement work throughout the album. I now have that vinyl LP on remastered CD. I see why Mick Jagger was so heavily inspired by Tina's voice. I am too. Then Queen came out with "A Night at the Opera."
Several years later, I started studying rock vocals with a professional opera singer, Irene Wild, and she kept edging me on to learn classic opera. I gave her a learning curve and said that we were going to study rock opera. That is when Freddie Mercury started becoming more and more influential in my theatrical rock development. For more on Freddie Mercury please visit the Producer's Page- Archives- Beyond Ear Training. I also started listening to Queensryche's "Operation Mindcrime." Geoff Tate is a wonderful metal opera singer. I took in Ronnie James Dio to Irene because I felt that his voice an exquisite metal vibrato and tone. My opera teacher helped me extensively with my vocal range and although my voice does not sound as operatic as I sometimes wish, it does show some of the influence when composing metal songs. Today I recorded the vocals on a metal tune which I am calling "Babe of the Abyss." It has a Scorpions "Animal Magnetism" hypnotic groove meets Whitesnake crunchy power vibe to it.
I remember when Aerosmith came out with Rocks and I started heavily getting into them. Toys in the Attic came out and I was one of the first to show up the record store. Later when I got into the music business, I started pulling songs out of the hat to vibe with my style development. I played and sang Dream On in clubs and learned Kings and Queens on keyboards. I sang Back in the Saddle. I took in You See Me Cryin' and Cry Me a River to voice class. When Pump came out, I was impressed by the phenomenal production of the sound quality, the composition, the direction the band had taken, and the performances recorded in the studio. As an artist myself, I identified with Aersomith. As a front-person I found that Steven Tyler's voice carried through into the visual aspect of music. His voice blends with his photos. His voice complements his clothes. His voice looks like his moves. I bought music videos and studied him, how he strutted across the stage, how he swung the mic stand (similar to a move called the whip in fire dance class). He is as cool as it gets. Joe Perry is an ultimate counterpoint to complement his style. I met Brad Whitford at a trade show when I was looking at a tube amp. It had a real warm vintage sound and it was launched during the time when sound quality started getting lost in the digital age. I made a comment to the rep and Brad added a comment to mine. I turned around and there he was. He is a real nice down to earth guy. Some of the best qualities about Aerosmith is their strong band family bond, their musicianship including attention to details, and for getting through those dark rock bottom moments and then skyrocketing straight back to the top!
When Van Halen first hit the scene, they had already become to rock music what Mozart is to classical ... Timeless magnificence. (Now I see we have Wolfgang on the scene working alongside his dad. How cool is that?) Eddie's virtuoso innovative style led the masses into a new era of rock. A lot of rock guitarists tried to jump on the bandwagon and copy him. Speaking on "Jump" he's a strong keyboard composer too. There's only one Eddie Van Halen. A few guitar players were smart and created their own intense unique style perhaps adding some of his influence, instead of trying to copy his every move. The entire band created a superpower with a rhythm section consisting of the intense double bass drums of Alex Van Halen complemented by Michael Anthony who held down a solid, steady bass line. David Lee Roth, a rock icon in a league of his own, displayed a signature yowl with tons of natural charismatic attitude in his voice. He has some of the most clever lyrics and ad libs ever written. His acrobatic stage presence added even more high energy into the show. When Van Halen surfaced, I hadn't seen anything hit that big since "Stairway to Heaven."
Right before that Foreigner 4 had just come out with songs like "Urgent," and "Jukebox Hero." I already had the other Foreigner albums in my collection and was captured by Lou Gramm's voice which is way cool in vibe and strong in range. I didn't know that later on down the road I would be taking Foreigner songs into my voice classes.
The next year my parents moved me to another city. Already a Zeppelin fan, I started collecting every single Led Zeppelin recording I could get my hands on. Albums, rare live recordings, and anything having to do with the music of Led Zeppelin was my passion. I also started listening to Heart and the Zeppelin inspired voice of Ann Wilson. During this time, I had officially begun my work as a musician when I had met Donnie and Stephan, the two musicians that ran a state of the art recording studio so sound proofed that you could hear a pin drop and that's what inspired me to become a musician. They started showing me how to track and run the reel to reel while they were recording. It was like an internship for an apprentice. I discovered that I was a natural born lyricist. Shortly afterwards, I started hearing the instruments. Before, I could play piano, I would hum out the melody line that I was hearing in my head for the guitarist or keyboardist. Once they caught on, I'd add the lyrics. A few months later my mom bought me an upright piano and I started learning how to play it.
I didn't really fit into the high school yearbook clique. I never considered auditioning for prom queen or is that how you even get in? Most of my friends were musicians or artist types.
I became obsessed with singing and every day for about 3 hours I practiced my voice. I started out singing along to The Rolling Stones. I had an entire collection of Rolling Stones albums. Mick Jagger is a soulful singer with a lot of vocal character and his range is perfect for opening up my voice. This was before my first voice lessons where I learned to exercise the voice, however I already knew intuitively that I needed to warm up my voice.
After about an hour of Mick, I felt ready to the next register which was a step higher. (I later found out that I have a 3 octave vocal range and perhaps this is why I was doing this although I did not have any formal training at the time or even a road map of how to begin to develop voice yet it worked) For the next hour I studied Robert Plant in a very in depth application going through all the albums and finding those incredible moments like
One Night One Night I Was Laying Down, Down, Down and I He- ee- eear My Mom and Papa Talkin' They don't say Lo hoh.Oh.oh.oh.oh.oh oh.oh oh oh oh.oh.ohoo So many roa oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-o oads Lord I hear them say Lord I hear them say. That little girl's reached the age of 24 and I---I Don't believe she's a baby anymore anymore anymore Oh oh oh oh ohoo You gotta let that girl you gotta let that girl you gotta let that girlyou gotta let that girlYou got to let that girl you gotta let that girl. You gotta let that girl. You gotta let that girl. She's got to Boogie She's got to Boo oo gie Boogie Ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba boogie and she did and she kept on boogying and on and on boogying Lord have Mercy
I also covered Four Sticks, When the Levee Breaks, Since I've Been Lovin' You, Immigrant Song, Whole Lotta Love, and many more. The so called labeled "freaks" (those who may have surfed or drove cars and listened to rock music) wanted Dazed and Confused to be our official high school song but the ones who labeled us (those who did things like study math during recess and carried bologna on white bread in lunchboxes) wouldn't let us.
Within a few months my mom bought me a piano and I started learning songs like Kashmir and No Quarter and began tinkering around with The Rain Song. I took some formal piano lessons yet to this day my sight reading is like a two year old. Thank God I have a fine tuned ear.
When I got into a band I learned In the Evening which was a challenge to program because of the long Fairlight type sample sound in the intro. There were 2 presets needed for that song one being the intro and the other that came in right after Robert's first phrase "In the Evening." I needed to get both sounds to fit into the bank. So I manually went through the song. First I drew a diagram of the 64 keys of my Emax on a piece of paper. Then I played the entire song bar to bar going through each chord and each note and then marking them on the keyboard diagram paper. The notes I didn't use, those that were not part of the song, I erased from the programming. I had to repeat this process for each note to make it fit into the bank so I could perform it. I didn't have the budget of John Paul Jones. Neither my vintage Roland or my Korg synthesizer had the sound capacity for that particular sound so I went through this entire process to get the authenticity of the song which took hours but was well worth it once completed. Then I remember learning "Get the Funk Out" with all the intense horn sections by The Extreme. That was a tricky one. I also learned "Decadence Dance" around the same time.
Heavily into Alice Cooper as a young kid, I was thrilled when I had the opportunity to join the tribute band Alice's Nightmare. I had a blast playing songs like "The Flight of Dwight Fry" and "Steven" into "The Awakening" to name a few. The theatrical rock show along with the pyrotechnics was a trip!
OK, back to the drawing board... I just sang an hour of Robert Plant which takes care of the mid range. Now I'm warmed up enough to sing Heart. Ann Wilson is inspired by Robert Plant and it shows. However she is a high soprano. I am a mezzo soprano borderline alto (my last note is a D-3 if that tells you anything). Being a mezzo soprano/alto by physical nature, in order for me to sing Ann Wilson correctly, I really have to exercise as it is a bit of a stretch. Think advanced yoga for the voice with some intensive Pilates added in. I studied with an opera teacher for a few years after studying with 3 other voice teachers for several years and this is where I developed my more in depth vocal chops. However my rock opera training had not began as of yet. In fact my first voice lesson had not even begun. Again intuitively, I knew to study Robert Plant (like I did Mick Jagger) for about an hour before even attempting to conquer Ann Wilson because of the elevated range. About this time Bebe Le Strange had just come out and again I had to bolt to the record store to get the new Heart album. I already had the rest of their albums. Later I found out that Ann Wilson and myself both have the same birthday June 19th which is kind of cool because she is a major influence in my music.
I had a few voice teachers and then I found a really good rock teacher by the name of Ron Feldman who got my chest voice strong. His techniques are most beneficial when I sing along with strong rock vocalists such as Sammy Hagar. The ability to sing songs like Best of Both Worlds and Serious Mojo (speaking of mojo, I hear we have a new band here called Chickenfoot. Anybody out there wanna hear Mo Joe? Yeah they do and Sammy too teaming up once again with Michael Anthony, and we have a Red Hot Chili Pepper on drums to add some fiery hot sauce into that Jam-balaya. Is this a great line up of musicians or what? I already have a concert ticket and I'll be there at show.)
Sammy's singing technique requires a tremendous amount of vocal power. This voice is extremely strong in the high chest range which is the full range where you do not lift the weight off the note but rather punch the pedal to the metal. In order to capture this type of range it requires a need to work out not so much in the advanced yoga/Pilates department, but rather in the weightlifting department of School of Voice To get this type of sound. plan on adding more and more weights to your bar as you develop your ability to push that weight to the limit. A strong cardiovascular system is a prerequisite too. Just think of a bodybuilder at the gym and transfer that thought to your vocal workout. What you are doing is building the diaphragm muscles and establishing a firm support. This kind of training is equivalent to an extended stay in Rock Vocal Boot Camp. No wimps allowed! Is that too much for you? Then forget it, it's not gonna happen playing couch potato or weekend warrior. Remember the voice is delicate instrument so don't overdo it too much at the beginning while attempting to accomplish this feat. It takes time and determined dedication to get it right.
Lou Gramm uses a similar technique but lifts a little weight off the top. Sammy just belts it out full strength. There are teachers out there that specialize in rock and Ron Feldman is one of the best for this type of singing style.
When working with Irene Wild, opera teacher, I developed another technique that I use more when singing along with Prince and Ann Wilson. To hit an extreme high to me is like pitching a soft ball with great momentum as well as precision. Think of Alice in Twilight and you've got it. The worst thing you can do is overshoot the note and then you're stuck with a sharp note. I rarely see high notes undershot once the technique is comprehended. I use more quick high notes as if I was playing racquetball and the notes are the ball. Quick, punchy, and precise is the best approach for my particular voice.
I also began studying the voice of Janis Joplin with songs like Summertime and Try. I even brought in A/C D/C to my opera coach. There are outstanding rock vocals from both lead singers of this band definitely worth studying if you are going to sing hard rock. Also in voice class I took in Aretha Franklin's version of Jumpin' Jack Flash to challenge my coach as well as myself. Aretha also did a remake of Everyday People that I started getting into as well. The grunge era was beginning to surface at the time and I was captured by the raw primal intensity of Alice In Chains, Pearl Jam, and Stone Temple Pilots.
When I started figuring out how to make CD booklets and tray cards I spent an entire weekend going through every CD sleeve I could get my hands on. There was something I saw in Sting's "Ten Summoner's Tales" that inspired me and guided me into the art direction of my first album. Besides being one of my top listening albums it also became a guideline that I took in to the graphic designer as I worked alongside as art director.
I've always been inspired by David Lee Roth's voice however I cannot even begin to mimic him probably because of physical anatomy. When working with Marco Mendoza, he somehow managed in his brilliance as producer/ co-writer to bring out what he called the Roth attitude in me.
Marco's voice is incredible and extremely soulful. I've always said that he deserved the notoriety equivalent to a superstar frontman like Steven Tyler for example, as he has that essence about him. Besides being one of the best bassists in the world he is a superb frontperson . He surrounds himself and is sought out by some of the finest musicians on the planet. When not playing amphitheaters and concert venues you may find him in small intimate clubs with his incredible trio. When I first saw the trio I wish I had the power of David Geffen or Clive Davis. If I did, I would have signed them with a huge budget and made them as big as Guns and Roses in their own already developed style of course. Their remake of Suzy Q, I would suggest as the 1st single release followed by a main floor Grammy performance after its nomination. I thought it would be cool to add John Fogerty into the show to work along with the trio.
Marco is the only vocalist I know who can sound like a harmonizer although I'm sure there's a few and I'm suspecting that Prince is one of them. He is also the man responsible for getting the raspy rock vocal sound out of my voice as it was always clean before I walked into that studio. He gave me that awareness and I had to deal with this new learning curve. At first it hurt being clean and trying to sound raspy. I'd get it and then I'd lose it. After a few months of practicing, I developed complete control over it. Now I can be clean or raspy depending on the moment and I have a lot to thank him for!
When I was laying down tracks at Mastergroove Studios in Granada Hills, Dave Morse had suggested that I bring in Marq Torien of the Bullet Boys to lay down a few background vocal tracks. When I heard that suggestion my ears perked up as I remembered studying his voice on For the Love of Money during my Ron Feldman school years. They had another great hit Smooth Up in You. Thanks to Dave Morse, I was able to bring Marq into the studio on background vocals and noticed that he had captured that Roth tone that I could not which gave the recordings that winning edge. (I should mention that Eddie Rogers the drummer, also did some incredible work as arranger/composer on the background vocals of the song Carousel as well) When Marq Torien was in the studio he had mentioned to Dave that my voice was unique and Celtic mentioning that I would go to a 4th instead of a 5th and things like that which a standard rock singer would not do yet it didn't take it out of key but rather added this what he called Celtic feel. I then realized he was hearing my heavily influenced Robert Plant voice.
When I first brought Billy Sheehan into our recording sessions I must have been grinning for a week. I grew up in the era when he had become a huge influence in our genre of music. How did it all begin? I was painting a storefront sign in Los Angeles when this man who I had never met before walked up and started talking to me. He introduced himself as Bill. He said he owned a cleaning service and that he was there to take care of the premises. About 20 minutes or so into the conversation we started talking about music. Before this he did not know I was a musician. I did not know that he was Billy Sheehan's best friend in high school and that they were in band together years ago. So here we are, an overworked talkative sign painter covered in paint and a clean cut talkative corporate janitor just arriving to work. Do you have any recordings? he asked. I knew to always keep a few demos in the car just in case because you never know. I handed him a demo. It was nothing fancy, just a silver disc with black printing & contact info in a clear slim line jewel case. After that he went into work as I was adding the finishing touches to my sign. About a week later Bill called and invited me to a video shoot of Billy's progressive heavyweight trio, Niacin. That is when I was formally introduced.
About that time I was getting my masters out of the studio where I had recorded with Marco Mendoza. The engineer had lost several tracks including the bass lines. "How could you lose all these tracks?" I was boiling in rage. So I called Marco and left a message "You are not going to believe this. We need to re-track your bass lines because the engineer lost them." He called me a few days later from Amsterdam, on a Kiss Farewell tour playing for opening act, Ted Nugent.
"Man I don't believe this. How could he do this? I'm on a world tour. I'm not going to be home for months," he said. "What should I do? Should I go ahead and bring in another bassist or wait until you get back?" was the question. "I mean we wrote these songs together and you own half the rights to this music and some of your tracks are not here. It's not just your tracks, its bits and pieces of everyone's tracks including mine." "Thank God I still have the rough sketches," I said. Under the circumstances go ahead and see if you can find another bassist, he said. A few days later after the dust settled, I thought to call Bill and explained the situation. He hooked me up with Billy Sheehan. I called back Marco and left a message. I knew he would feel better after hearing this. Billy and I recorded 12 songs together and that's how it all started.
In Alice's Nightmare, the Alice Cooper tribute act, all I heard all day every day from the bassist and guitarist (besides the music of Alice Cooper) was Steve Vai, Billy Sheehan, Steve Vai, Billy Sheehan, Steve Vai, Billy Sheehan. Then I would hear Eddie Van Halen, Zakk Wylde, Randy Rhoads, George Lynch, Nuno Bettencourt. Then I would hear Steve Vai, Billy Sheehan, Steve Vai, Billy Sheehan.
Anyhow Eddie Rogers (my drummer/ tracking engineer on the album) and I were in the studio one day and he started telling me all about Billy Sheehan. "He is one of the most incredible musicians in the world" "Yeah Eddie I know" "No you don't know", trying to educate me, "Billy Sheehan is one of the best. His chops are humongous, there are very few musicians that can even come close and now I find out that he is such a nice guy!!!" Since he hadn't a clue of my musical background he went on and on as I kinda chuckled inside. Somewhere in one of out conversations I found out that Eddie was in a band with Steve during the Berklee years.
I hired Eddie as engineer and he had a big job in front of him as I handed the masters from the original studio to him. "Oh this is going to be fun! I have to turn a scrambled egg into an egg again!" were his words. "Do you need a drummer?" was the next question. "Here's a CD of my band 'Sick Puppies'." I took the CD home that evening and was impressed with the performances and surprisingly enough, it was in the same genre of progressive rock music that I was into. Marco and I used a drum machine for the beginning tracking during songwriting so I never really had a drummer as of yet. The next session I told Eddie that he could be the drummer. About a week later, Eddie said "Do you need a keyboard player?" My friend Todd was on that CD too. He is like a dyslexic Rick Wakeman. Hhmm A dyslexic Rick Wakeman, I've got to hear this. It brought me back to the days when I played Long Distance Runaround in a cover band. Eddie did not know that besides being a vocalist, I am also keyboard player with a professional background and could very well track the keyboards myself. As a producer I listen and observe more than I talk and that is why he did not know. Also what Eddie did not know was that I had been contemplating taking the Steven Tyler, Prince, Peter Gabriel approach to keyboards for live performance and was seriously considering adding another keyboardist to accomplish that task "Yeah go ahead and bring him in." I said to Eddie. Let�s give the guy a chance you never know where it may lead.
Years before that, my ex-husband, David, always had the latest Guitar Player Magazine (I think that was the magazine) and I remember glancing through it one day. "What is this?" I curiously asked myself. I pulled out a square floppy vinyl of Blue Powder by Steve Vai from the pages as I walked over to the turntable to play it. I was amazed as I never heard anything like it. "Hey David! You gotta hear this. Check this guy out! This is wicked! This is some wild stuff!" and that was my official introduction into the music of Steve Vai.
At that time I was in a band with my now ex husband, David. We wrote originals and covered songs from Genesis, Pink Floyd, Deep Purple, Cream, Queen, Van Halen, Led Zeppelin, The Doors, ZZ Top, and several others. His guitar playing was inspired by Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, David Gilmour, Jimi Hendrix and more. I was the keyboardist and shared the spot as occasional lead vocalist in the band.
By this time my album collection became our album collection and had beyond doubled in size and now included Derek and the Dominos, Emerson, Lake, & Palmer, Frank Zappa, Alan Parsons Project, The Firm & Traffic to name a few of many. Some of them his some of them mine and some bought together. Our newest addition to our music collection was Blue Murder featuring John Sykes, Carmine Appice, and Tony Franklin.
Somehow David started getting more and more into art as I was getting more and more into music. His latest goal was to own a commercial art business and be a successful painter. This was not my passion and was not our original goals as established before the marriage took place. It was what ultimately broke us up. I did manage to learn the skills of art from him which financed my music.
Working with Joey Richards was a learning experience in itself. I had just gotten out of Alice's Nightmare when I received a call from ex David Bowie bassist Joey Richards. He had a gig in Daytona Beach at some hotel lounge and needed a keyboard player. I was in the middle of a new project when he called and was not too available. He kept calling every night and bugging me. One night when we were talking, I saw this bolt of electrical current shoot through the phone and into my ear. At that moment I knew I should drive to Daytona and talk to him. I've seen this a few times in certain key people and describe it as "knowing." I did not take my gear the first night but just showed up. He got me on stage to sing Whole Lotta Love and I got a standing ovation from a table full of spring break college students. That was kind of cool. After the gig, we walked over to a market for coffee and he said "Can you sing Space Oddity? I'll take the low part and you take the high." We both knew the song and as we sang we realized how well our voices blended together. Eventually we ended up how going to New York together to pursue music. Joey is one of the most interesting people I have ever met because of his ability to persuade. He has this remarkable intuition to tap into anyone and find out what makes them tick. He knows several languages and has a massive library of dialects that he calls upon to communicate effectively with a wide variety of people from every walk of life. I've seen him entertain the New York mafia. We were dinner guests on occasions at their exclusive restaurant. He'd walk into the kitchen like he owned the place and whip up a batch of homemade spaghetti sauce while singing Italian songs full out to entertain the owner and his family. We got free limo rides, free hotel rooms, free food, all on his ability to entertain and make people feel good about life. I learned a lot about entertainment and charismatic leadership from this man.
It was a trip landing the gig with Craig Chaquico. Working with my ex husband David in a cover band we played "Love Too Good' and "We Built this City". I also sang "White Rabbit" in a few clubs. When I first met Craig I asked, "What does "We Built this City" "These Dreams" and "Candle in the Wind" all have in common? "Wow, I don't know" he replied. "Bernie Taupin wrote all the lyrics" I said. "Hey you're right!" he said. We instantly became friends and talked and talked and talked. He's a little crazy like myself. We met the day after the Northridge earthquake. "Let's go into the elevator and shake 'em up! 'Did you feel that'?" Later on, I was hired to work as VP of his artist/fan relations department for 7 years along with Gary Simmons (Craig's cousin) as president. I learned a lot about marketing and merchandise as well as handling artist/fan relations at concerts, clinics, and through mail. It was a great experience and an opportunity to work with a wonderful artist.
Gary ended up becoming music director of KOOX in Oakland/San Francisco, California and launched "Tattooed in Skin" to the #1 spot at a rock station. I give tremendous thanks to Gary for taking this one to the top! This song was written by Chris Martell and myself. I am on vocals, Chris on guitar, Todd Jasmin on keyboards, Billy Sheehan on bass, and Eddie Rogers on drums.
About a year or two ago, I read that one person from one corporation is controlling what is being played on the airwaves of all the major radio stations throughout the U.S. I do not know for sure if this is true, however it came from a respectable business magazine. This sounds like a Socialist approach to control a free country and if this I true it needs to be brought to the table for reconsideration.
When I first moved to Los Angeles, I had a few music contacts. It was the weekend and I believe it was a holiday weekend. I was informed by two different sources that the most happening musician's spot to be was at The Guitar Center in Hollywood for some drum thing. I didn't have anything else going on so I decided to go check it out even though I didn't have any projects going on at the time where I would be in need of a drummer. So I just showed up and quietly observed. The drum showcase took place in the back of the Guitar Center. It was kinda cool and a good way to spend part of the afternoon. I looked around and realized that the people that I met there (the ones that told me to show up in the 1st place) had suddenly disappeared. I was getting ready to take off and I wanted to thank them for inviting me. I figured maybe they went into the music store for a few minutes so I decided to stick around to say thanks before I went on. Right after that, another drummer came on. Suddenly my eagle ears zoomed in. Whoa! Now I know why I stuck around. What I was hearing were not typical rudiments, creative drills to outdo the next guy, or even heavy rock power drumming but rather the drums had become a fine tuned musical instrument with a fine master skilled craftsman working behind it, which is the strongest power of them all. This drummer/percussionist had caught my ear as I listened attentively to every slight dynamic and the precision in tempo (without sounding a bit mechanical) flowing into the signature changes effortlessly. There was that intangible element present here that distinguishes the extraordinary from the very good. I looked around and still not find my friends so I walked up to a stranger. "Who is this guy?" (They may have introduced him at the time that I was preoccupied with finding my friends) "Terry Bozzio" she replied as she continued "He's a good drummer don't ya think?" "He's way beyond that," I said. As I stood there for a few moments, I noticed a change in hearing capacity so I returned back to my spot. Towards the left, away from the parking lot, away from the crowd, and kind of back a bit was this perfect listening spot. For some reason the frequency was pointing to that direction similar to having a monitor placed in just the right spot. The sound carried. That is where I stayed. Continuing to listen, I looked around and noticed that there were a few other cats in the crowd, meaning those with sharp ears and heightened awareness. They obviously were not there to party or just hang out and have a good time. I noticed some of them stood together and when they heard those remarkable moments in Terry's performance their eyes would lock as they just knew he was a genius at work.
Recently, I was invited to the screening of "It might get loud" thanks to The Recording Academy. This is a totally cool movie from a rock musician's standpoint. Featuring Jimmy Page, Jack White, and The Edge. It highlights some glimpses into the careers of these remarkable guitarists. Jimmy Page has a refined, gracious, and classy energy about him. With a substantial amount of wisdom in his light filled aura, it appears as if he has been meditating in the Himalayans for years. He is a true master of music at its best and also has a definitive eye for fine art and detail which carries over into his music. Reminiscing at the house where Stairway to Heaven was recorded he went into a room with high ceilings and added a clap to hear the resonance of the room... "and this is where we got John Bonham's drum sound for 'When the Levee Breaks'" at that point you could hear the depth of the sound reverberating throughout the room. That reminded me of myself. I find rooms that have exceptional acoustics. For example our downstairs laundry room is wonderful for vocals. Singing in that room is like having a top of the line Neumann in the studio, you notice every minute decibel and detail of sound. Page is one of my very favorite guitarists and Led Zeppelin ranks at the top of my favorite bands.
Jack White is a trip in the movie. His sheer willpower along with his bluesy almost ragtime character at the honky tonk piano along with his wild unabashed borderline insane guitar style is what got his career up and running. He is hilarious and totally entertaining. Gee maybe that's what I should do. Instead of being such a rehearsal junkie perfectionist maybe I should just go out there and wing it since I cannot find musicians that want to rehearse. Do you know how many musicians I've tried to get to rehearse? I'm about up to my neck in frustration, maybe I should just wing it, it would eventually all come together. I actually gained new perspective with a totally opposite approach to my usual way of thinking from this and who knows if life gets anymore frustrating, I may even decide to try it although it's not my nature.
Watching The Edge in the kitchen sort through his old recordings to rediscover catchy riffs & hooks from years ago reminds me of myself. I started composing at 16 and have not stopped. There is much that I have yet to complete with constant new ideas to sift through as well. The movie brought me back to the days when I sang Bullet the Blue Sky professionally. Bono's voice has a lot of soul mixed with sheer intensity. The band is strong in political integrity working as peacemakers who voice their opinion regarding the destruction of the planet. It was interesting hearing how the band worked with what they had to accomplish their means. Their school allowed them to use the classroom as a rehearsal hall. The band moved the furniture back and forth for rehearsal purposes. It was not "If ONLY I had this... It ONLY I had that" (example: Compliant: "If only we had $1,350 a month for a central A/C lockout THEN we could practice." Solution: "What's wrong with this air conditioned living room?" Complaint: "I'm planning on getting a brand new Marshall stack and I want to crank it up all the way!" Reasonable Answer: "We have a pro drummer in here and he's playing full out. There's no one knocking on the door complaining about noise level." Complaint: "It's still not LOUD enough!!!" Answer: "This isn't a concert stadium. It's were we start. While learning the songs we need to hear all the intricate parts and not a bunch of headbanger mush. Are we going to practice or not?") Do you know how many excuses I've heard? More than enough and that's as loud as it gets! Watching how it started with U-2 just goes to show that there are ways & means. Work with what you've got. Don't look at the roadblocks, just envision the master plan.
My vision? I keep it silent and watch it unfold a little each day. Through the haze and the maze, I strive to project my thoughts solely on the outcome. Under certain circumstances it is not always easy and this is a test, however I am aware of how to manifest. I know my true self, my obsession, and where I belong. There is more to write about and this is just a glimpse. For right now this is enough. That about says it as this concludes this month's edition of the "Producer's Page."