Now What?

With our band Serenade, on hold ... we were struggling to stay alive and keep the band together. In 1977. I married my first wife, Dee, and began to think I should look around for better things to do.

I left the band, but was still signed to managers Kessler-Grass. They put me with another singer they managed, Darcus Speed. Our first gig was to open for Johnny Guitar Watson (also managed by Kessler-Grass) at a concert in Detroit. They put Darcus and her band on a rented bus ... which lost its heater early in the trip. We froze as we drove from L.A. to Indianapolis ... where the bus caught on fire! The driver put out the fire, but we had to leave our equipment and hop a small plane to Detroit ... just in time to rush onstage and play on Johnny's band's gear. It was my first really big concert ... maybe 10,000 people. One thing I remember very well: The drummer and I were the *only* white people there! It was an odd feeling. I remember thinking 'This must be what it was like for Charly, the black singer in my first high school band ... one of only three black kids at our high school (see 'Early Bands And Songwriting Begins').

Also during this time, I took a course in Recording Engineering at the University of Sound Arts in Hollywood. I was eager to learn, and came out of this course confident that I could do the job! I ran around town saying I was an engineer, looking for a job at a studio. When I walked in to Westworld Recorders in Van Nuys, owner Bob Schreiner said: 'I can't afford to hire you, but you're welcome to hang out.' I did, for quite a while. Eventually, on a day when Bob was exhausted, he threw me into the driver's seat and I suddenly was recording his clients. This was the beginning of my professional recording career!

Also around this time, I met guitarist Joey Brasler ... who played with Kesler-Grass managed Papa John Creech. (The guitarist from my previous bands, Walt Barr, joined Papa John's band when we split, and toured with him for years. I eventually sat in with Papa John for a few weeks too.) I did some studio work with Joey, and he invited me into a band backing Cherie Currie (from the Runaways) and her twin sister Marie (who later married famed guitarist Steve Lukather, who was hanging around our rehearsals). I played the Whiskey with Cherie's band, and the Roxy with Darcus' band ... where something big happened for me ...

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