Welcome to my website. I look forward to sharing my long, rich musical career with you.
I have been playing the guitar a long time.
But I started with the trumpet. I saw the 1959 movie "The Five Pennies" starring Danny Kaye. I had just turned nine years old. The film was about trumpeter Red Nichols, a hot jazz star of the 1920s and 30s, whose musical heroes were Louis Armstrong and Bix Beiderbecke. He leaves the music business when his daughter contracts polio. (This was a real threat to children in the 1950's and I was among the first to receive the Salk vaccine in 1955 when I was five years old. This shot in the arm reduced a lot of fear and helped to eradicate the disease. I know several people who are survivors of that epidemic). Eventually Red's wife and daughter encourage him to stage a comeback. An old friend gets him a gig in a small club. Red is nervous and disappointed that none of his old friends and musical buddies have come out to see him. He starts his set when after a few notes - out of the darkness - another trumpet is heard playing "Won't You Come Home Bill Bailey". The lights come up and it's Louis "Satchmo" Armstrong leading a crowd of Red's friends. Louis joins him on stage. Red's daughter surprises him by casting off her cane and asking him to dance with her. After dancing with his daughter (a young Tuesday Weld), Red returns to the stage and jams with Louis. They seemed to be having so much fun. Louis' off the charts charisma and great playing inspired me to take up the trumpet. I walked around our house gripping my trumpet and wiping my brow with a handkerchief like Louis. I played for a few months until my front teeth came out and I had to put down my horn.
Two months later I was in the Do Re Mi record store in West Los Angeles with my mother. I spotted an album cover on the wall with a good-looking guy playing a cool red electric guitar. It was Duane Eddy's "Have Twangy Guitar Will Travel".
I told my mom I wanted to play guitar and she signed me up for lessons. My first guitar teacher, Bud Hassler,
had played woodwinds in the Frankie Trumbauer Orchestra
with the legendary "Young Man with a Horn", Bix Beiderbecke
. Bud was also a classical string player who had played in symphony orchestras. He accompanied Bix to many classical concerts and would answer his many musical questions. (more
With those early connections to Louis and Bix, it's no wonder some of my favorite music turned out to be classic jazz and swing.
Bud owned "Songbook Studios" which was right across the street from The Apple Pan, a legendary Los Angeles burger and pie joint. Eating there after my lesson helped motivate me to practice. My next teacher was George Vartanian who lived in Burbank. My dad drove me to my lesson. Afterwards we'd eat at Bob's Big Boy, home to the original double decker hamburger and malts so thick you had to eat them with a spoon. 60 years later, these legendary spots are still in business. And I'm still playing guitar. Those burgers, malts and pies played a part in keeping me playing guitar during those formative years.
I've been fortunate to have explored many genres of music. I've played thousands of solo guitar gigs and worked with many top artists as a sideman, bandleader, musical director, composer and arranger.
I've created this site to share what I've seen, done and learned living a musician's life. You will find live solo guitar videos, recordings of groups I have led and been a part of, music books I have authored and plenty of photographs. I'll also write about things of interest and people I've met along the way. I'm looking forward to sharing my musical life with you.