The Beginnings

My involvement with music began when I was quite young. When I was five years old, playing with a friend, I fell off the neighbor's upright piano and cut the side of my left eye on the bench, the significance of which could be construed prophetically or not. In church we sang a song named "Onward Christian Soldiers", which left an impression on me -- not for the lyrics as intended -- but for the melodic hook during the chorus. That catchy phrase had me humming it later after service was long over.

Left: Me sitting in front of my family. On right me with my coon skin hat and
Winchester rifle -- a must for every young boy in the 50s.

I began to hear the pop tunes my older sister and stepbrother were playing on the record player... my sister buying the top 40 hits like "Short Shorts" by the Royal Teens; my step brother listening to the albums of Johnny Mathis.

When the dance craze, the Twist, came along I remember having a party with my elementary school peers where we mostly stood around, too shy to dance but excited about this new music, which was a variation of rhythm and blues.

One of my childhood musical memories is when my sister appeared on Dick Clark's American Bandstand. I believe it was 1958 or 1959. They even had a close up shot of her dancing.

Later, living near New York City, Doowop was king in early high school days, along with surf sounds that would make it to the charts. It was always fun to sing along with those songs and study the vocal harmonies, especially TV commercials.

I was also exposed to some country music that made its way to the pop charts, specifically Jimmy Dean's "Big Bad John". I just latched on to that song for some reason, singing along with it word for word.

The first act I was in was a duo with a friend who sang and played finger-picking acoustic guitar. By then there were many folk rock songs climbing the charts like Simon & Garfunkle, the Byrds, Bob Dylan... I had no clue how to play an instrument and simply sang with others who did, usually doing the harmony.

This was only reinforced when the British Invasion of the 60s occurred. Acts like The Beatles, Dave Clark 5, Chad and Jeremy, the Kinks, and others, had a profound effect on our singing.