Early Years

I don't really remember a time when I wasn't interested in music Like a lot of musicians, my first opportunity to play music came when I joined the school band program in 7th grade. That was in 1969. I learned to play baritone horn, and later trombone.  In the meantime, I began dabbling with pianos that I found at various locations around the schools.

When I turned 16, I started hanging out with a couple of the neighborhood kids that were acquiring their first rock instruments. Rick and Mike Musal were learning guitar and drums respectively.  I learned my first guitar chops from Rick. When I was 16, I bought an old Harmony Bobcat from him for around $35. I played it until I was able to save enough money, at 17, to buy a Fender Stratocaster. It's still my main axe.

An early performance
An early performance

These are the earliest photos that have survived. They are from around 1974. I was about 17. The one on the left is from a school function at which my band performed. The one on the right is another school performance. At this gig we did 3 performances of the entire David Bowie "Diamond Dogs" album.

Soon after this period, I began writing songs with another of the neighborhood kids, Ken "R. Mageddon" Hart. Ken demonstrated a knack for writing poetry.

He was into the same progressive rock that I was interested in, and I found that the structure of his lyrics required a more inventive approach than the standard verse/chorus structure of most rock songs. We began experimenting with longer song forms in the vein of the music that we were listening to, such as Yes and Genesis. During this time, I also began experimenting with odd time signatures. The combination of unpredictable meters and Kens nonstandard structures began to develop into a signature style of composition.

R. Mageddon

After graduating from high school in 1976, I spent a year at the local college with the intention of getting into radio. The idea was that in order to get music to the public, connections in the radio business would be essential. Since I was the only one in the class who managed to pass the FCC test and get a license, I spent many hours on the college radio station playing progressive rock to anyone who might be listening. Mike was there at the same time studying at the music school. We spent much of our spare time attempting to record the music I was writing with the crudest of recording equipment and techniques. All we had was two cassette decks. We would ping-pong the tracks between them until we could layer up enough instruments to get an idea what the song was going to sound like. Some of those tapes have survived. Jeez do they sound bad!

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