First I would like to say thank you for showing enough interest in the FIREFALL BAND to be researching through our information.
Born in Newport News Va. and raised in a small town called "Seaford", in York County Va., It's adjacent to Yorktown, you know, where in 1781, George Washington and the boys kicked the hell out of the British and sent them packing. I was raised along with my older brother, and two younger sisters in a nice single income middle class family. I was blessed by having two loving parents that gave their children everything they needed and some of what they wanted. Looking back...probably a great formula.
I would like to tell you how hard of a struggle life was growing up, but simply, it was not. Most of the few troubles I had were brought on by myself. As long as I stayed out of trouble, did my chores and kept my grades up life at home was smooth sailing. My years growing up and the friends I had and still have, I would not trade for any amount of money.
I first became interested in music when my parents, and my uncle and aunt took me to my first concert. The Statler Brothers opened, then Mel Tillis and Johnny Cash was the headliner. I was 6 years old. I was so inspired that I asked my parents for a guitar. Knowing the attention span of a child, they suggested I save my allowance and buy my first guitar on my own to prove my seriousness. I saved $15 and bought a little wooden no name guitar from Harry Lackeys guitar shop on Mercury Blvd. in Hampton Va. and started plunking away. A year or so went by and I soon grew out of its size and needed to step up to a 3/4 size guitar. Having proved my intentions, my parents were convinced that this was not a passing whim on my part. Dad came home from work on a rainy Monday evening, Mom had not started dinner, which was unusual, and we all piled into the car and headed down the road. Imagine my surprise when we pulled back in at Harry Lackeys guitar shop. Mom and Dad laid out $114.00 for a new 3/4 size Gibson box guitar. I mention the price because that was half of my Dads take home paycheck at the time. (need I say how much I love and appreciate my parents!!!) That was a huge sacrifice having 6 mouths to feed.
I started taking guitar lessons for a couple of years but mainly learned by ear and by watching other more advanced players. A buddy of mine and I played our first gig and were paid a handsome fee of $7.00 each. Do you see the bank starting to happen? I almost recovered half of the cost of my first guitar IN ONE SHOW!!!
Most musicians will tell you of certain people who were influences in their lives regarding the instrument and or the direction one takes in music. Usually it is a big name, but moreover it is a local musician whom you can have access to and be able to watch and learn from on a more direct and personal level. My such influence was a fellow, Seaford town buddy a few years older than I, named Barry McLawhorn. Talk about a monster guitar player. This guy owns the fret board. I was and still am in awe of his ability.
From my teens through my early-20's found me playing in a duo and trio group with friends, David Grantham, Ron Patrick and Harry Sharpe, known in the area as "BACKSEAT", playing mostly acoustic versions of the bands that influenced us most; "The Eagles", "POCO" "America", "CSNY", "Orleans", "Pure Prairie League" and yes, "FIREFALL", where the focus was not just on the playing but targeted the song writing and vocal harmonies. I have to say, growing up during the 70's was probably the best time for music. Most of your 60's players had really honed their skills by the 70's and were cranking out fantastic songs that are now considered "Classic Rock". I doubt such an era will happen again.
I went on to play with several bands..."Thunder Road" based out of Richmond Va., was a backing band for a project I was involved with called "Bowen and Jones" that had some regional success.
Backing up a bit...
My first attendance with "FIREFALL"; I was in the audience at William and Mary Hall in Williamsburg Va. in 1977, and second at the ODU Field House in Norfolk Va. in 1978. My third was Nov. 12, 1999 substituting for Steven Weinmeister as lead vocalist for FIREFALL opening for "Journey" at the Warfield Theater in San Francisco. I know, how crazy is that? Funny how life twists! I had moved to Nashville in April of 1996 and, through a mutual friend, met Jock Bartley a few years later. He and I sat down at my kitchen table to drink a couple of beers and write songs and became friends. One month later...San Francisco!
Obviously there is a lot to fill in but this is a brief bio not a book so I'll finish up by saying: The time that I have spent with "FIREFALL" getting to know them over the years and now performing with them; Sandy and the three original rockers, Jock, Dave and Mark has been incredible. Their history is an amazing story. Getting to sing and play these "Classic Rock" songs for crowds that truly appreciate the music as I do is a dream. Getting to meet the other artists of that era during package shows...unreal!
I feel like I get to sing a portion of the soundtrack to my own life!
May Your Dreams Come True,