Remembering Walt Barr & Paul Schwartz

Walt Barr * Paul Schwartz
4/12/73 - Our first recording session

As I create this page, it is June 30th, 2009 ...
We're all reeling from the many celebrity deaths of the past few weeks.
Certainly, Michael Jackson's death has been the most sensational.  I live just up the hill from his parents' home in Encino, and people are still swarming the neighborhood ... streets closed, clogged with media and spectators. On the day he passed, long-time friend Michael Caruso was at my home recording vocals on an amazing song he wrote for his daughter Tessa, who tragically ended her life last December.  For the first few hours of that session, we were talking about the passing of Farah Fawcett that morning.  Later that day, a call came in about MJ.  At 11PM, the helicoptors began to hover above for their news footage.  We barely had the chance to absorb the loss of legendary Ed McMahon a week or so before.  A few days later, Billy Mays departed ... then comedian Fred Travolina.
A couple days later, Michael returned with bassist Craig Realley to play on Michael's song 'For Tessa.'  We all marveled at how we sounded much like our old band 'Serenade' ... the band signed to RCA with drummer Paul Schwartz and guitarist Walt Barr.  We remarked that sadly Walt had passed away about a decade ago from cirrhosis, and that Paul was now in South Korea ... so we had to be satisfied with 3/5ths of the band.  Two days later, after hanging up from a lengthy phone call with Michael, he called me back rather quickly with the shocking news:  Paul Schwartz was found dead by hanging, in South Korea.  As of this writing, it is not yet certain whether Paul took his own life or was victim of something nefarious.  Either way ... this has been overwhelmingly tracgic for me and so many others.
I have more to say about Walt and Paul individually (below).
They were great friends, great people.
They were a major part of my life, and my musical history.
I miss them very much.

Walt Barr
Serenade promo picture

Paul Schwartz
Serenade promo picture

Walt Barr was everyone's friend.

In every band we were in together, every session, every gig, every situation ...

I can't recall a single person who didn't like Walt.

He was a genuine, good soul.

And he was a truly great musician.

He studied and practiced.

He put heart and thought into every note he played and wrote.


Walt was at the first recording session of my life ...you can read about it here (http://www.bravermania.com/myfirstrecordings.html) and you can find links to the songs we recorded then ... which became the Sunrise album.

 Walt and I rehearsed in basements and storefronts and garages in Philadelphia (with Paul Schwartz, Michael Caruso, Rick Rydell, Pete Venneri, Steve Eisenberg, Craig Really).  We played clubs, events, concerts in Philly, Penn State, Lancaster PA, New York, North Carolina, Connecticut, Miami, Chicago, L.A., Helena Montana, Anchorage, Calgary, Toronto, Brockton Massachusetts.  We did sessions together in NY and L.A.  We were signed to Crunch Records, Fantasy Records and RCA Records together.  Walt asked me to co-produce and play keyboards on his three jazz-rock albums for Muse Records ... including a couple of songs I co-wrote with him.  Let me tell you ... that music was intense!  Walt and I wrote other songs together, some with Michael Caruso.  For a short time, I toured with Walt playing for Papa John Creech ... with whom Walt toured for several years.  I was in the Walt Barr Band ... we played his jazz-rock fusion originals.  Walt and I would often jam for hours ... and he played on countless demo recordings of mine.

I am proud and honored to have had the opportunity to play, write and produce music with Walt!

 I rode around the country in band trucks with Walt, crossing the country at least three times ... Once driving from Calgary to Toronto with just the two of us (the other guys flew to Philly for a holiday and met us in Toronto).  I often roomed with Walt on the road.  We got along very well.  We lived together in the Canoga Park band house when we first arrived in Los Angeles ... six guys, a cat, a couple puppies (for a short time), an actor-friend guest, and not a penny between us!  We played in dives just to get by!  I later lived with him for a while in Venice, CA, with our girlfriends and a cat or two. 

  I was shocked to hear of Walt's death.  I was in Philadelphia for my Grandmother's funeral ... called to check my messages in L.A. ... heard Michael Caruso's message that Walt had died.  It was one of those moments when you think: 'I couldn't have heard that.  I just thought he said that.'  Sadly, it was true.  I had a rough time in my life when I wandered away from most of my musician friends to recover from some hell in my own life ... and at that time began working heavily in TV and film sound, to which I devoted nearly all my time and energy. I had not seen Walt or Michael or Paul or Rick or Steve or Craig for a few years.  I had no idea that Walt was in bad health ... and his death was quite shocking.

 Partly as a result of Walt's passing, I reconnected with Paul and Michael ... and subsequently with Rick, Steve and Craig. 

The friendships and music have resumed, I am happy to say.


[I will soon post some of Walt's Muse albums ...

and some other recordings featuring Walt's fine guitar work.]

Paul Schwartz was a pure-hearted soul who lived for music and peace.  He had many dreams and spoke always of projects he hoped to create ... including a 'family' of musicians like Motown or Muscle Shoals.  I saw Paul achieve something much like this in his days owning Studio 56:



Paul, like Walt Barr, was at the first recording session of my life ...you can read about it here (http://www.bravermania.com/myfirstrecordings.html) and you can find links to the songs we recorded then ... which became the Sunrise album.  Paul and I did most of the things together that I mention about Walt (<--- to the left)... rehearsals, sessions, gigs, albums while signed to record labels, travel all over the country, band houses and apartments ... you can see some of the details here: http://www.bravermania.com/mymusichistory.html

In the early 1990's I tried a couple of business ventures with Paul at Studio 56.   First was my audio post-production company Exploding Bunny Productions.  After that, Paul asked me to supervise two films, and to do the sound design and sound effects work.  During that time period, Paul often invited me to 'jam' at his studio ... with his friends and employees playing and recording.  We recorded many great songs and jams there.  On occasion, we would spontaneously record a song I had composed ... then later overdub and mix them.  Sometimes Paul would play around with them without me there  ... having his staff musicians go to town on them.  Some of them are truly great.  Here are a few of them:




And also during that time I did several projects at Studio 56, including the first song of my 'musical renaissance' ... California Dreamin'.  This was the first record of my own that I had produced in many years, as I had wandered off into TV and film work.  I actually shocked myself with that song ... shocked into remembering that I am supposed to be a musician and making music!  Here are links to a few of the projects I recorded at Paul's studio:






 Paul played drums and percussion on many of these ... as well as on many of my demos over the years.  Like Walt and the other guys in my Philly bands, Paul and I had common musical roots and an innate ability to communicate musically.  I'm grateful to have played music with him for so many years.

 I was very shocked to hear of Paul's death. I knew he had moved to South Korea to pursue several business opportunities.  We chatted on FaceBook about a month or so ago ... then he called me on Skype and we talked about several projects in which he wanted me to participate.  Shortly after that, Paul made some comments on some of myFaceBook pictures and once or twice on my FaceBook status ... most of them clearly remembering fondly the 'good old days' of youthful enthusiasm and idealistic ambition.

In the spirit of Paul ... and Walt ... I will fight to keep my enthusiasm and ambition alive!

All of our brothers and sisters in music:  Rock on!

The Remaining Members of Serenade

Roy Braverman
Serenade promo picture

Craig Realley
Serenade promo picture

Michael Caruso
Serenade promo picture

The Remaining Members of Sunrise

Roy Braverman
Sunrise band house, Canoga Park

Michael Caruso
Sunrise band house, Canoga Park

Steve Eisenberg, Rick Rydell
Sunrise band house, Canoga Park

Michael, Steve, Roy, Rick
Sunrise, leaving Chicago

Some Bands Featuring Walt & Paul

The Original Sunrise
Rick Rydell on bass

w/Steve Eisenberg on bass

In the woods

In the woods again




Serenade (folder)
(also appeared on T-shirts)

Go to 'My First Recordings'
and The Sunrise Album

Go to 'CA Take 2'
and The Serenade Album

Everyone is welcome to download any of the pictures found on this page (a right-click should do it).
Feel free also to download any of the Sunrise or Serenade recordings (I think a right-click should do it again).
If you can't get them, and want a copy of any of these pictures or any of the recordings ...
just email me (roy@bravermania.com) with your specific request.
If you would like to correct or add anything to what I have said here,
or perhaps add an anecdote or comment from your experiences with Walt or Paul,
please email me (roy@bravermania.com).
Soon I will expand on this page, adding more links to music, pictures, stories ...
Please come back to find these updates ...
and to pay tribute to these two great people.
And do send a link to this page to anyone you believe may want to see it:

Songs Navigation

Music Navigation