You’ve been a stalwart of Pittsburgh’s music scene for over forty years. How did you get started and what advice would you give other local musicians who want to make it as well?
i got started at the age of 14 playin’ frat parties n’ pool parties n’ anywhere folks would let us set up n’ rip……i met a NYC music biz exec in a record store at the age of 18 n’ he helped t’ git me in da biz……….advice t’ young musicians?……BE SOMEBODY
Many see the life of a musician as all bright lights and glamour, but it’s a tough business. What’s been the most difficult aspect of the music business for you and how have you been able to overcome it and stay active for so long?
the most difficult aspect of da music biz is the biz…..and the ability t’ play da biz game n’ hang on to your very soul, all at once……i’ve chosen t’ spent most a’ my time on growin’ my skills n’ not dealin’ wit da biz too much, cause i ain’t cut out t’ play dat…
I know there are hundreds to choose from, but what have been some of the most memorable experiences you’ve had as a musician and what made them so?
i remember openin’ a show for Canned Heat at an empty theatre in McKeesport PA in 1968……..remember playin guitar in Big Mama Thorton’s band, the Hound Dogs for a week at a bar in Boston Mass, ’bout 1972……….remember openin’ da show for Kiss the night they cut Kiss Alive in detroit city in 1975……..remember opening shows for Ted Nugent, Rush, The Pretenders, Robin Trower, Clarence Clemmons, Johnny Winter, Aerosmith at Renzi Park also in McKeesport…….i remember Jon Bon Jovi n’ his boys jumpin’ onstage wit me n’ The Tigers in 1985 at the legendary Decade………i also remember guys like Glenn Pavone, Warren King, Guitar Slim(Gary Scalise), Paul Shook, Jimmy King, Bird Foster, Nason Gieg, n’ Jeff Bobula all are gone but they all left their mark on me……too many memorable experiences t’count and a life time of memorable characters.
Who influenced you most in terms of your approach to music and how have you been able to use that influence to create your own sound as opposed to just “copying” another’s?
early influences…….Gary US Bonds, Smokey Robinson, Phil Spector stuff, Muscleshoals stuff, The Young Rascals…..on and on and on…..the trick to using influences in your own music is to have something t’ say, that’s all your own…….BE SOMEBODY…….Question 5……People would be suprised t’ know that i was born standin’ up n’ talkin’ back……naw, more i think about it, they wouldn’t be suprised at all……..
What would surprise fans/readers most about you?
People would be suprised t’ know that i was born standin’ up n’ talkin’ back……naw, more i think about it, they wouldn’t be suprised at all………
Would you rather play the in a large venue or a smaller one like the Decade (which I loved and saw Alex Chilton at years ago) – and why?
you ain’t played a couple hundred small thankless gigs, don’t bother tryin’ t’ play a big gig………
The Pittsburgh music scene has been growing in prominence but hasn’t launched that huge local artist recently. Is anything missing from the local scene to foster more musical talent?
i don’t beleive that the powers that be in this town of Pittsfield Pennsyltucky have ever asked the question, what needs t’ be done t’ foster local music talent……..we’re a sports town wit a music problem…….
On to sports….are you a sports fan – and if so, what teams to you follow most and just how avid a fan are you?
born n’ raised……. my ole man was at Forbes Field when Maz sent dem Yankees home cryin’ n’ he was at 3 Rivers when Franco caught The Imaculate Reception……i’m a hopeless Buc fan, fer better or worse and of course a huge Stiller nut, i’ve gained an interest in the pens in the last 20 years ((what a guy this Mike lange is, huh?) and was a Mauler season ticket holder….
Have you had any experiences playing for/around some of the area athletes or hanging out with them? If so, what were those experiences and players like?
i hung a’bit wit Bubby Brister in da 90’s, n’ Bubby was people fer sure…….played steel guitar on a Terry Bradshaw record in the 70’s n’ also hung wit Franco a bit, Franco seemed t’ be a most gentle soul……..was hangin’ back stage at a Bon Jovi show n’ Sid The Kid, Brooks Orpik n’ two other Pens came back t’ meet Jon…….i was most impressed wit da Kid….mature way beyond his years……when i was his age i was ’bout half a’ knucklehead, more i think ’bout it, i’m still half a’ knucklehead…….
If you could be the GM or player for any local team, which would it be and what would be the first thing you’d do?
i would not pretend dat i could add much of anything important to da Stillers mind trust………but maybe i could’a saved da Bucs from makin’ so many bad decisions……..Aki who?
Any last thoughts for readers?
i’m still singin’ it, still bringin’ it, still throwin it, still showin’ it…….you can’t lose wit da things i use…..once tried, ain’t never been denied……n’ the ladies?….. well, their delighted……….keep on, keepin’ on…….nn