Aside from my grandmother's
recordings of my early piano playing, my first real recording sessions began early in 1973 ... as my second year at Boston
University was winding down.
I don't remember exactly how it happened ... I was asked to join a recording
project: Philadelphia singer-songwriter Rick Rydell had been offered the chance to record his first album, and decided instead
to put together a band and make it a group effort. In the band was drummer Paul Schwartz, whom I knew from high school ...
and I guess Paul must have suggested me to Rick. Also in that band were guitarist Walt Barr and (eventually) singer-songwriter
Michael Caruso. All of us from N.E. Philadelphia.
The album was done at Century Sound (later called Le Studio)
in New York ... right in the middle of Manhattan. It was produced by Joe Venneri, who was in The Tokens ('The Lion Sleeps
Tonight'). Fellow Token Hank Medress was using the studio during the day (producing Tony Orlando and Melissa Manchester)
... Joe would take us in at night. This is where I discovered my surprisingly natural ability to sleep in a control room
with the volume cranked.
I remember being stunned at the first session. I had never seen a studio before, and
this was in Nooooo Yawk City! With a real producer. Wow. Not only did all the music go very well at that first session
... I saw my first synthesizer there. It was a Mini Moog ... still rare and hidden in a back room. The engineer brought
it out and let me play it on one of our tracks ... 'The Road Home.' Click the link below to hear my first synthesizer
As more sessions progressed, a band identity was forming. Joe selected some of my original
songs to record, sung by Rick. I also wrote with Rick and Mike ... a relatively new experience for me. We eventually completed
an album under the band name 'Sunrise.'
Click links below to hear songs from the Sunrise album.
Joe convinced us to sign with a small indie
label, Crunch Records. I don't know how many records were pressed ... I have one. It is, of course, the earliest commercially
released record with me performing.
We made lots of trips from Philly, up the Jersey Turnpike to New York City,
and spent a good amount of time in the studio. We were very good at following our producer's guidance and learning how
things work. Joe also started to hire us to play for various other artists and sessions. While Googling him for this story,
I tripped onto an album we did for him and Father John O'Reilly: 'The Rite Of Exorcism.' I recall it as a very
dramatic, theatrical album. I can order a mint contition LP ... cool!
So ... excitement about the band and the
album, plus session work ... and now the band was rehearsing often, and sounding great ... We started playing in clubs, and
talking about going on the road ....