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Good Times Magazine Interview 2012

Some short questions about "Other Artists"


1. Best singer? 

One of my favorite singers was Donny Hathaway. He's no longer alive, but I loved his voice.


2. Best female singer?

Aretha Franklin OR Etta James


3. Best band?

The Beatles


4. Best songwriter (male or female)?

Carole King OR Paul McCartney


5. Most underrated band/solo-artist?

This is a band nobody has ever heard of. The name of the band is "Thread", and some of my favorite players are in this band. They did a CD about 10 years ago, called "Thread", but they did not get a record deal, because they were so different, the labels had no idea how to market them. The players are:  Vince DiCola/keyboards (did some of the music for "Rocky IV"), Doane Perry/Drums (from Jethro Tull), Ellis Hall/Bass & Vocals (one of my favorites), and Rocket Richard/Guitar

I Googled the name, and there were some other bands called "Thread", but "this group of players" are some of the best I've ever heard.


6: Most overrated band/solo-artist?

I'm not wild about Punk Rock, or Rap. Even though I don't love that style, there are so many people who do, and I can't name any of these acts as Overrated, because they have so many fans who love their music, it would be wrong to suggest that they're no good.


7. Best single?

 "Africa" by Toto.


8. Best album?

"Extension of a Man" by Donny Hathaway


9. Best song?

"All In Love Is Fair" by Stevie Wonder


10. Who would your personal allstar-band consist of? (probably with you as a member?)

Bernard Purdy-Drums, Tommy Denander-Guitar, Leland Sklar-Bass, Vince DiCola-Keyboards, Lenny Castro-Percussion, and I would love to sing with them.


Some words about:


1. Toto

My first entry into the Professional world of music. They were some of the best players and song writers I had ever been with, and I love them still. Being in Toto as the Original Lead Singer, was one of the best things ever to happen to my career. At the beginning of the band, it was one of the most innovative groups I had ever heard, and we had more fun on our way up the ladder of success than anyone. It was so great to create such great music, and gain the awards we captured for the music we did. So many people's lives were affected by our music, and I still hear about how many people met, and fell in love with someone because of a Toto song.


2. Far Corporation / Frank Farian

Frank is a fantastic Producer (even though he went through the "Millie Vanillie" disaster). He knows how to record, mix, and produce extremely well. He's still a good friend of mine, and I have a lot of respect for his abilities to record music.


3. Diana Ross

My very first (big-time) background vocal after I joined Toto. David Paich and I sang some background vocals on Diana's Album, "Baby It's Me", in 1977. She was such a great talent.


4. Al Jarreau

I had the wonderful opportunity of singing with Al Jarreau on his "Heart's Horizon" in 1988. He is one of my favorite singers, and one of the finest concerts I've ever stumbled into was in New Orleans, Louisiana. I was walking around one of my favorite cities (I'm from Louisiana), and happened to pass a venue that had "Al Jarreau & Donny Hathaway" on the Marquee. My heart almost stopped when I saw this concert.


5. Louisiana

This is where I grew up, and I feel very lucky to have lived most of my life there. Anyone who actually knows the true sense of living in such a unique domain as Louisiana, will realize how" alien" it is to every other State in the USA. Everything about Louisiana is vastly different from almost everywhere.

 While I was at the beginning of my music career, I began playing clubs at the age of 12. I had to have a signed note from my parents, giving me permission to enter these clubs, due to my age. I was playing with a band of musicians in their mid-20's, so people would come out to see "The Kid" play piano and sing. It was a very fun time in my life.

One of the things about growing up as a musician in Louisiana is, I lived about 6 miles from the Texas Border, and the "Drinking Age" in Texas was 21 years old, and in Louisiana, the "Drinking Age" was 18 years old. This prompted many club owners to build many clubs right on the border. These clubs were very large, so as to accommodate the crowds from Louisiana, and the massive crowds from Texas. There were several clubs with a capacity of 5000 people. I played these clubs so much, I was under the impression that 5000 people was a normal crowd. It was one of the very best places for a musician to get started, and there were 100's of great players and singers that played these clubs.

I love everything about Louisiana, and I had the incredible honor of being inducted into "The Louisiana Music Hall Of Fame" in 2010. When I noticed that Louis Armstrong was the first name on the list of inductees, I felt so honored to be asked to join that list.


6. The Levee Band

WOW,...I'm glad you have this in your list. When I first heard this band, I asked them how much it would cost me to join the band. They were so interesting to me, and after I got into the band, we changed drummers, and that bolted the band into such a great listening experience. Most of the places we played were clubs, but the audience would drag the chairs onto the dance floor, and it became more like a concert than a dance. Also the crowd seemed a lot more attentive to the music. Sonny Landreth played with us for a while, and he's one of the best Slide Guitarists I've ever heard, even to this very day.

While on a tour around Louisiana and Texas, I got a call from a sax player friend whom I had played in two bands with, and he had just joined a new band in LA with 3 of the members from "Three Dog Night" (my favorite band at that time). The band broke up when the 3 singers left the group. They put a band together called "S.S. Fools". My friend asked me if I would come out to LA and sing with them. Of course, I couldn't turn down that opportunity. I left "The Levee Band" and they disbanded for a while. Later, they reformed the group as "Louisiana's LaRoux". While I was rehearsing with S.S.Fools, David Paich & Jeff Porcaro came to several of our rehearsals. After I left that band, I was asked to sing with a new band Jeff and David were putting together called "Toto". When I left Toto, the lead singer from "Louisiana's LaRoux", Fergie Frederikson was asked to take my place in Toto.


7. Kayak

I've only done one concert with them, but, not only was it very fun, they also have a great band.


8. “Brat Girls”

I would need to know which Brat Girls you're asking about. On Google, there are about 20 different "Brat Girls" items. Therefore, for this, comment.


9. Keyboards (which you played in S.S. Fools)

I started playing piano when I was 4 years old. My mother had "perfect pitch', and when she heard anything on the radio or an album, she could sit right down and play almost anything she heard, note-for-note. I found that so interesting, it drew me into playing piano. After listening to my many influences, I got a lot better at playing, and began writing a lot of songs. I find it so fun to write on the piano, because you can compose the bass lines, the melody, the chords, and rhythm all at the same time. Now, you can play any instrument from the piano, because they have so many different samples of every instrument, and you can play them on the keyboard. I love playing, and I'll enjoy that for the rest of my life.


10. Frankfurt

My Grandfather was born in Frankfurt, and I feel a very kindred spirit when I'm there. I moved to Frankfurt for about 6 years after leaving Toto. This is when I did my first CD with Frank Farian. I met Simon Philips while doing that first CD with Frank. Some of my best friends live in Frankfurt, and I love to go there. I just love Germany, period. I could live there easily, because it's always fun to be there.


11. Leslie Mandoki

Leslie and I have been friends for many years. I was on one of his first albums when he began producing other artists. Jack Bruce from "Cream", David Clayton Thomas from "Blood, Sweat, & Tears", and Ian Anderson from "Jethro Tull" were on that first album I did with Leslie. I've worked on so many CDs with him, I can't really remember how many there have been. I also do some live performances with him as well. We're good friends, and always have a great time together.

12. Singers Corner

Something I thought would be a good idea to put on my web page for vocalist who needed to be seen and heard. When I first started singing, there was no internet, and it was very difficult to get noticed by a record label, or by the general public. I wanted to do this favor to those singers who wanted to get noticed. They all have thanked me so much, and I was very proud to do this for them.

13. solo records

I've done several of them, and even though these were not the biggest albums I've been on, they were all very fun. It was a chance to express myself without anyone telling me what to do. I've had a lot of fun recording several Solo CDs, and some of them, I'm very proud of.

I'm in the process of working on 3 Solo CDs right now. One of them is for Frontiers Records with a band called "Work of Art". I've read many times on the internet, that "Work of Art" is The New Toto. With my vocals on this Solo CD, they will become much closer to that being true.

Another Solo CD I'm working on is being co-written by me and my friend, John Zaika. He and I wrote, produced, and did everything on a CD named "All I Ever Needed", (later released with a couple of extra songs) and renamed:

"Back In Spades" . this is my favorite version of this CD.

The third Solo CD, I've been working on for the past 8 years. It's my most special project, and the songs have been written over the past 15 years. The reason it has taken so long is, I've been touring so much, and recording with other artists, there was so little time to get into the studio with the players I wanted to record the songs with. These players are so great, they work almost as much as me, so it's very hard to gather them together at the same time, because usually they're out on the road touring. Because these songs are so special to me, I would rather wait for the best players, and the right time to record them. I'm hoping to finish this CD sometime in 2012.


14. ego

One of the things I hate most in the music business. Everyone has an ego, but some people have a serious Ego-Problem. Anyone who thinks they have the right to run some else's life, and try to totally control everyone else, has more of a problem than they'll ever understand. In reflection, it implies that they are very jealous about other people's lives, or, they are living a terrible life themselves. I do my best to leave people to their own devices, and let them do what they do best. Two things I avoid in my life are, "giving Orders to other people", and secondly, "I don't take Orders from anyone". My main priority is to be as happy as I can. This totally dismembers any Ego Problems from my life. I live "Only My Life", and let everyone else live theirs.


15. internet

One of the best ways to communicate your thoughts and music to the world, and also one of the worst, because of Internet Music Piracy. The internet changed the face of music as all musicians knew it before the internet came about. Musicians once made most of their money from selling records and CDs. Then, after the huge "music piracy" emerged, musicians have to make most of their money playing live concerts. The CDs they make these days are mostly just Promotion material for the Live Tours. Many bands just give the CDs away, so they can get people to come to their concerts.


(About) "Myself"


1. Which cover-version would you (still) like to record?

I would love to record a song by Donny Hathaway called:  "I Know It's You". I sing it a lot, and I fell in love with this song the first time I heard it.

2. Which song would you like to have written?

I would have loved to have written "Yesterday" by The Beatles.

3. Who should write a song about you?

That's a scary thought. If I had a choice, I would love Stevie wonder to write my song.

4. What should be the title for that song?

"Happiness Is My Life"


5. What was the highlight of your career?

There have been so many, it's hard to pick just one. However, winning the most Grammy Awards ever won by a single group in 1983 was definitely a highlight in my music career.


6. The motto of/for your life?

Don't live your life in the past. Always move forward, and do your best to learn from every "good and bad experience" you have suffered from, or enjoyed. Keep a smile on your face, and be happy with yourself until the very end.


Please, answer the song(title) ... (regard the sing-title as a “real” question)    [- these are the same titles every time]


1. "Why Do Fools Fall In Love?" (Frankie Lymon, 1963)

Some people fall in love for the absolutely wrong reason. They might find someone who is stunningly beautiful, but not the right person for them. When I meet someone I would like to be with who is very beautiful, I would want them to be intelligent. When I meet someone I would like to be with who is very intelligent, I would like them to be beautiful.


2. "Where Have All The Good Times Gone?" (Kinks, 1965)

Certain things in a particular era of one's life has things that are extremely special to them. These things, they consider "The Good Times". As time passes, these things change, because every new generation reinvents what "The Good Times" are. This makes the "Special Things" of every passing generation become old and uninteresting. As time passes, the definition of "The Good Times" changes drastically.

3. "What Are You Doing Sunday?" (Dawn, 1971)

This is usually a day for me to relax and rejuvenate myself, because I work very hard on most week days. There are not that many concerts on Sundays, so it's a good time to rest my voice, and finish some of the work I had to avoid while working so much during the week. I think it may be the day God planned for us to rest up, and get ready for the next week of work.


4. "Who´s Gonna Rock You?" (The Nolans, 1980)

If you're still in the mood to get "Rocked", choose someone who knows what you truly love in this life. If they don't understand you, they're just going to bum you out instead of "Rock You". Choose wisely on that decision, because it may be important to you mental and physical health.


5. "Why Believe In You?" (Texas, 1991)

Once again, if you truly understand someone, you can easily "Believe In Them". Otherwise, you may be wasting your time trying to figure out a reason to believe in someone. One should study a person before they make the decision to believe in them. Find someone who can teach you, and make you a better person,....then try to believe in them.


Interview by: Phillip Rosen

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