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The Journey of an "Almost Famous" Rock Star

  It all started during the summer of 1979.  I was 15 years old, and my brother Kent and I were spending the month of August visiting our father in Hawaii.  Interestingly enough, it was also during that visit that I caught the "computer bug", so much so that I spent as much time writing programs on my father's Commodore Pet (one of the very first home computers) as I did hitting the beach (already a computer geek at 15!!!).

  My father had a home recording studio, and during that visit, he spent several hours teaching me the concepts of Music Theory.  What was so fascinating for me at the time was the way he explained everything as mathematical relationships...in fact, we hardly even discussed actual keys and notes, as it really didn't matter --- they all derived from the same math formulas.

  When I got back home, I immediately obtained an acoustic guitar, and got to work.  It was amazing how quickly and easily I progressed, mostly due to those priceless Music Theory lessons.  I soon graduated to electric guitar, and continued to apply those math concepts as I learned how to play notes and scales.  I was on my way to lead guitar "Shredder"!

  Jump ahead to 1987:  I auditioned for lead guitar player for a newly formed band, The Jim St. Anthony Project, and got the gig.  We wrote, rehearsed, and recorded some demo tracks, but the band broke up before we ever played out. 

  I stayed hooked up with the rhythm guitar player, Kirk Caravello, and soon we brought in my longtime best friend, Brian Haigh, on drums.  Then came the really hard part --- finding a Bass player (FYI:  drummers and bass players are the most difficult positions to fill in any band).  After several auditions, we found someone who "clicked":  Rohnny Click was a shredder bass player and gave us the final ingredient to our musical recipe.

  After months of rehearsals, writing originals, and recording some demo tracks, we were ready to play out...only one problem though --- we still needed a name.  As we kicked around ideas at practice, eventually we came up with a unique concept and name:  The Dudes.  Keep in mind, this was in the late 1980's, and THE big thing was Glam Rock.  Bands like Poison, Motley Crue, Stryper, and Warrant were the flavor-of-the-day, so we set out to put our own twist on the Glam Rock image --- we called it Surf Glam.  Now, musically speaking, The Dudes were a very melodic Rock Band.  But our visual image morphed the big-hair, spandex, and makeup of Glam Rock with "Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure" and the Beach Boys "endless summer".

  We played a few gigs in 1989 with this lineup, but then Brian decided to leave the band and marry his girlfriend.  We went through a few different drummers over the next year, and a name change in late 1990 to Kid Ego.  Kid Ego only played one gig, as Kirk was the next core member to quit the band.  He wanted to be a "terrifying" lead guitar player, so he left the band, and enrolled in the Guitar Institute of Technology (when he graduated, he was definitely a full-fledged "ripper").  Shortly after, the drummer flaked out on us.  Rohnny and I were the only remaining "Dudes".

  We decided that rather than try to replace Kirk, we would just find another drummer and play out as a power trio.  In 1991, we renamed the band Mr. Lixx, recorded some new demo tracks, and played a few gigs.  But the constant member turnover of the previous years, each time having to start over from scratch, had worn on me.  I began looking outside of the band for lead guitar auditions.

  In 1992, I had to break the news to Mr.Lixx ---  I was leaving the band to join a well-established San Diego act with a large local following and record label interest:  Bastille.  Bastille's members included Rodger First on vocals, Jay Strauss on guitar, Joe Mahoney on bass, and John Sheppard on drums.  They wanted to add a second lead guitar player to the band, and I got the gig.

  Bastille was a progressive-metal band, but they were moving into a more mainstream direction, and my writing and playing style fit in perfectly with this new direction.  We wrote, recorded, and played several gigs, until one day Jay abruptly quit the band.  At the risk of sounding arrogant, I blew him away guitar-wise, and he couldn't handle it.

  We then had to fire the bass player, Joe Mahoney, due to drug problems.  Rodger, John, and I continued to rehearse as we auditioned for a new bass player, but were having no luck filling the position.  Then, in late 1993, I was blind-sided with the news:  I was being kicked out of the band.  Jay had "kissed and made up" with Rodger and John, and somehow managed to convince them that they should go back to the original lineup, so I was out.  I was hurt, but understood that they were reacting out of insecurity, and did not hold it against them.

  Fast-forward to late 1994:  out of the blue, I get a call from Rodger.  He had moved to Columbus, Ohio, had a financial backer, and wanted to fly me out there for three months to record pre-production demos for an album.  Long story short --- I went, we rehearsed with a bass player and drummer from Florida who both turned out to be a complete waste of time, and got absolutely nowhere.  Three months turned into a year, and in March 1996, Rodger and I returned to San Diego, determined to find a bass player and drummer to record the demos with us.  The financial backer, Jim Blanchard, was still involved, and was going to pay for the studio time when we were ready to begin recording.

  We brought in Bastille's old drummer, John Sheppard,  and after a few auditions, found our new bass player, Steve Romaglio.  As we were rehearsing for the recording sessions, practices seemed to be getting less and less productive, and soon we realized that John's heart just wasn't in it.  So in a painful decision, we had to let John go, and rather that waste time finding another drummer, we proceeded to record the demos with  a drum machine.

  We completed the demos by the end of 1996, and the next step was to pick which tracks would make it on the album, then re-record these tracks with the help of a producer and a live drummer.  But history repeats itself, and somehow (to this day, I don't know how he did it) Jay managed to weasle his way back into Rodger's good graces...next thing you know, I'm getting a phone call from Jim, basically saying that he wants to fire Steve, and wants me to begin rehearsing with the original Bastille members for the studio recordings.  In no uncertain terms, I told him that I felt this was a huge mistake, that Steve had played a big part in getting the demos completed, and that I had no desire to be in a band with Jay.  Well, I guess he didn't like that answer, because soon after that phone call, Steve and I were both out of the picture.  Not only that, but Jim used Roger to take back a guitar from me that Jim had supposedly purchased for me prior to the demo studio sessions...apparently, it was really just a "loaner".

  After 10 years of chasing the dream, I had finally had enough...I decided to retire from pursuing music as a career.  The music business is a meat-grinder, and I was tired of being chewed up.

  But in the end, things always come together, and now I have a very satisfying career in the field of Information Technology.  Of course, had I never tried to make it as a Rock Star, this is where I would have ended up 15 years ago, I just took a very long detour getting here.  But I wouldn't trade the journey or experiences along the way for anything.