Over the years I’ve been in a number of bands playing 5-nights week paying my dues. I started out in High School and played professionally for 10 years after that.
The Andy Gootch Band
The Andy Gootch Band played mostly in the New York Hudson Valley area. It was the first band that really did original music thanks to Tom Christopher who wrote all of the original tunes we performed. We played places like the Last Chance Saloon in Poughkeepsie opening for bands like Papa John Creech. This was one of the last bands that I was in and it lasted from 1979 to 1981. This bad was actually run like a business. We put the money we made in the band and drew a salary. We have a road crew that really cared about the band and made sure that everything was perfect. It was arealy joy to play with Gootch.I then moved on to another original band called Steeplechase. I replaced a keyboard player who was leaving. I don’t have any pictures from Steeplechase. We worked for the same agency (CTA) and were goods friends with Twisted Sister and opened up for bands like The Good Rats and Patty Smith. The Good Rats are probably some of the nicest guys in Rock and Roll. I met Joe Franco years later and he greeted me like I was an old friend. He’s a really nice guy who is an extremely talented drummer.
It’s difficult to explain to a band today what it was like playing in the 70’s. The 1970s were a magical age. Peppi Marchello of the Good Rats said the best, “You see it was a different world physically. There were a lot more people at the age of partying. There are many more Baby Boomers than there are Generation X-ers. Number one, we were dealing with baby boomers. Number two, the drinking age was 18, now it’s 21. Number three, the cops used to look the other way, and now they’re looking for you. This was a time when everybody was partying. We were working six or seven nights a week, primarily in the Tri-State area. This is the most populated area in the country, and any direction four hours from where we live, we could still get home that night and not run up big bills.” I was very lucky to be a musician during this time.
This was when I turned to computers. I had my own software business that created MIDI Librarian software for the Apple ][+ and IBM Personal Computer. This was before Microsoft Windows and when I saw Windows V1.0 loved it. After programming all my own menus and display routines, I couldn’t wait start developing for Windows and have all that taken care of for me. It wasn’t until Windows V2.0 that this really happened.
Tracer was primarily a Rockland County band. Rich Steele on guitar, Ed Courtney on bass, and Peter Green on drums. Peter was a human metronome. I’ve never played with a drummer that played as hard or in perfect time as Peter. He is a rock! Unfortunately, Peter left this world in January 2006 and he is sorely missed by his family and friends. Ed is just as solid a bass player. Anyone could sound good with those two guys behind you. in 1980 Richie left the group to join the award winning kid’s TV show: Hot Hero Sandwich.
Tracer had a cult following in Rockland County and the fans were really a great bunch of people. It was good to play to people you knew and who appreciated you. A far better experience than some of the gigs we did with Glyder where was as just one club after the next of people you’ve never seen before.
Tracer was also the first band that my parents came to see me play in. I think they really understood my passion for performing once they saw me on stage and saw the audience reaction. It’s like a drug you know.
Glyder & Steeplechase
The picture on the left was taken when I was in Glyder. I was about 20 year old at the time. Gary Adamson was the drummer in this band, and Tom Christopher from who I later played in the Andy Gootch band played guitar for Glyder. We played everything from Beatles to Led Zeppelin. Lots and lots of medleys. (I hate medleys!)
This was my first band that worked for Creative Talent Association (CTA, w/Kevin and Marty) the same agency that managed Twisted Sister. I later played keys for Steeplechase who were good friends with Twisted Sister because we played all the same clubs (i.e., OBI’s, Fore ‘n Aft, Mother’s, etc.)
I don’t remember making much money after paying the sound man, light man, and roadies, but we sure had a great time.
Lance Romance was my second band circa 1975 and the first of several bands that I played in with Gary Adamson on drums and Rich Steele on guitar. Mike Garner played bass. He had a Rickenbacker with each of two pickups wired to a separate amplifier so that he could make the front pickup very bass and the rear pickup very treble. It gave it a unique tone that sounded great when we were doing Yes and Genesis. Rich was forever changing guitars to get just the right sound for the song and Gary had his first set of Octa-Plus drums with eight white tom-toms that wrapped around him. Me, I had lots and lots of keyboards front and back. We did a lot of progressive rock especially Yes. I use to perform the solo that Rick Wakeman did on the YesSongs LP. Gary and I went on to play in Glyder and Rich and I went on to play in Tracer.
One of my fondest memories of this band was our rehearsal space. It was a shed that was honed out of a rock hill in Richie’s back yard. We used egg crates on the walls a ceiling to try and absorb the sound. We nick named it “the Golf Ball” because when you stepped in, it felt like you were walking into the inside of a golf ball. The rock walls were very damp and I think some of the crates came from fruit like oranges because it got a funky smell after a while. You had to see it to believe it.
Cebra, my first band
This is a picture of me in my first working band called Cebra. It was time when Cream and Hendrix were blowing us away. I remember listening to Are You Experienced and thinking, “Wow this guy is incredible”. We were also heavily influenced by bands like Led Zeppelin, Mountain, Humble Pie, Jeff Beck, & James Gang.
That’s me kneeling down in front. The person directly behind me is Fr. Stan Fortuna. Stanley and I have been friends since childhood, went to Mt. Carmel school together, played in our first band together. He was a person of integrity back then and, of course, is the same today. I would love to hear from other members of the band but we’ve all gone our separate ways.
This is me back in High School. Guitar was my first instrument. I learned from my sister and really enjoy it. This Epiphone 12-string is long gone but I now have an Ovation 12-string acoustic electric that my wife gave me as a wedding gift.
I once owned a 1967 Sunburst Fender Stratocaster with a maple neck. I sold it for $200 in 1970 to get my first keyboard, an RMI Electric Piano. Boy I wish I had kept that strat