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My father was U.S. Navy for 30 years, and retired as a Captain from the service in 1954. After living on the east coast for the first eight years of his son's life, he moved the family, my mom and myself, to Sacramento, California.

My mother studied piano in her youth and loved to listen to her classical records. As a little boy, I listened to classical music along with her. That was my first ear training, naming the musical instruments on those recordings. The trumpet solos on those old classical '78 LP's seemed to stand out from the timbre of the other instruments. The trumpets bright, metallic sound was really sweet and Louis Armstrong was my favorite trumpet player. "Pops" was the first musician I heard that really could swing.

Olds Ambassador Cornet
Olds Cornet

In the 3rd grade my folks bought their young son an Olds Ambassador Cornet to play in the school band. The cornet case was like a big lunchbox. I used to stuff sandwiches into the case and save my lunch money to buy comic books. A young Jackie Gleason on TV also comes to mind. This was the early 1950's. Music was fun and I played trumpet up to the 8th grade.

Jump to high school grade eleven. A friend Dan Kelly and I copied tunes from Ventures record albums note for note. Then we started a band called the Invaders, with two guitars bass and drums. Our first job was playing a dance at the local YMCA on the weekends. The personnel changed many times, eventually changing the name to the Del Counts - a four piece group playing mostly R&B. The band was fairly successful winning a battle of the bands and opening for the Beach Boys several times.

Freddy King

I discovered the Blues and Ray Charles. All the kids at the local dances wanted to hear surf music. I was listening to R&B from Motown and James Brown. R&B is music you can feel. Bluesman Freddy King really turned me around. I copied those funky solos of Freddy's note for note. Freddy really got off when he played guitar.

Being a trumpet player, Miles Davis caught my ear, though I didn't have a clue as to what Miles band was playing, the music felt good. To this day, Miles Davis's music is very sophisticated and musically challenging. Thirty, fourty, fifty years later Miles music sounds up to date. He was so far ahead of his time. What was attracting about Miles music was the element of cool that was always there. Miles was a genius.

1964 a friend introduced me to 17 year old Mike Clark. Mike was a child prodigy on the drums much like his comtemporary Tony Williams. At 14 years old Mike could play any type of music. Standards, dixieland, jazz, funk, anything. Most drummers Mike's age were still trying to develop a single stroke roll.

The final version of the Del Counts, with Mike on drums, consisted of Donnie Wilkins on Wurlitzer Electric piano and Dave Haynes on his Mosrite electric bass. (I also had a Moserite guitar, which like an idiot, I traded for a Fender Jazzmaster). Dave worked at the Tower Records store, located at Watt and El Camino avenues. That was one the first (the following link is a Tower Record web site clone, Tower went chapter eleven) Tower Records stores in the country.

Del Counts
The Del Counts 1964

Our little quartet landed in the right places at the right times. We played dances at high schools in the north area of Sacramento, Carpenters Hall in Carmichael, and downtown at Governors hall.

We tried to cover all the music that was coming out back then, especially that wonderful Motown music out of Detroit. We played tunes by Marvin Gaye, The Beatles, The Drifters, everyone that was big at the time on the radio.

Little did we know about the Funk Brothers, studio musicians that made all those hit tunes possible for Motown. The funk brothers bass player that played on a majority of motown hits was the great James Jamerson. We were fortunate to backup/open shows for some famous groups. The Righteous Brothers, The Olympics, The Coasters, Sonny and Cher and Ike and Tina Turner. Yes, Tina Turner! These gigs were at the Memorial Auditorium in downtown Sacramento.

Rolling Stones
The 'Stones

The Rolling Stones played a concert at memorial auditorium on their first American tour. Tower records produced the show and we were asked to play for the Rolling Stones private party afterwards at the El Mirador hotel. We played some tunes from their current album,"King Bee" and "Route 66". I was doin' the singing. Mick Jagger and the rest of the stones were checking us out. Charlie Watts was digging Mike Clark's drumming. I wondered if the Stones liked what we were playing. I didn't have nerve enough to just walk over and say "hi" to the Rolling Stones. They just were sitting there gawking at us. Dave our bass player told me later they wanted to sit in with us and jam. "With us, I replied surprised." Well, missed out on that one. Hindsight is again perfect.

A week at a time: In late 1960's I found myself on the road with show bands working throughout California, Nevada, Oregon, Utah. We would stay on location at least a week in each city. Now a days bands play mostly one nighters. Back then, you would stay a week or two in Portland Oregon or Oxnard or Sacramento or Fresno and get to know some of the local folks. That was nice. The young ladies were especially nice.

My friend Mike Clark and myself worked together on the road with different bands. Also session drummer Bill Vitt and myself played a lot of gigs around Sacramento.

Eventually Mike hooked up with the great fender bass player, Paul Jackson in Oakland. Both went on to musical success with Herbie Hancock and the Headhunters.

Jim Doval
Jim Doval

The trumpet lessons I took as a kid came in handy. I doubled on trumpet and guitar in a later version of Jim Doval's band, Jim Doval and the Gauchos. This was after Jim had done the Shindig tour and musically it was a much better band. Anyway, the tenor sax player Bobby Lopez (Al Lopez's cousin) and I played horn parts. Two horns, R&B style.

Here's a short story. When we were playing we'd sweat like crazy. You'd have a starched shirt on and it would be soakin' wet in no time. Also we used that spray-net shit to hold your hair down. It was a show band, ah, whatever. So, Bobby liked to have a litte drink while we were playing. One night we were playin' our horn parts and all of a sudden I was playing by myself. Where's Bobby? Well, Bobby had taken a nose dive off the stage which was like, 5 feet off the ground. Then I see this head pop up in front of the stage, and Bobby climbs back up, didn't bat an eye and started playing again, he wasn't hurt. Oh God. Maybe he wasn't injured because he had so much hair spray on his head it protected his fall when he the dance floor. But seriously folks...

Working in the bars and meeting young ladies was a plus. I got laid regularly. We played top fourty tunes, people would party. It was fun. Eventually, the night club scene started loosing it's luster. I was really interested in jazz guitarist Wes Montgomery's music. My dream was to learn how to play those Wes Montgomery poppin' single line and octave solos. I took some LSD and decided to quit the Gouchos and head for Los Angeles.

When I arrived in L.A. I needed a place to stay. Some musicians that I knew recommended the Hollywood Franklin Hotel located at 6141 Franklin Avenue, Hollywood, California. Below is a photo of what the Franklin looks like now.

Now a Best Western...

Living at the Franklin was a memorable experience. The hotel was considered a rough place to live. I didn't know that. It was just a cheap hotel. In the lobby of the Franklin I'd see a familiar face that had appeared in movies from the 40's and 50's or on T.V. I was a young, naive kid that just wanted to play guitar. Hell, I practiced guitar all day long and memorized Wes Montgomery solos note for note. No T.V. in the room, imagine that.

Wes Montgomery
Wes Montgomery

All that guitar playing kept me out of trouble. I transcribed many of Wes' solos and learned to play them note for note. All those solos and ear training helped my music notation chops. I was teaching myself to play guitar.

Wes Montgomery was a creative genius who died in his wife's arms of a heart attack at age 43. Wes didn't drink or use drugs, Wes smoked to many cigarettes . The man whose guitar playing has proved a major influence on jazz guitar and the Smooth Jazz style, couldn't read a not of music. Reading music, at least on the guitar, doesn't mean the player also develops the ability to play from the heart.

While working at a club in Portland Oregon, I had met some musicians in a band called "The Happy Medium" that was working out of Los Angeles. Their manager worked for Marc Gordon, manager of the Fifth Dimension. Marc was producing recording sessions and hired me to transcribe demo records into lead sheets. Record producer Bones Howe also needed similar work done. Those two contacts provided much needed rent money and helped me to establish a footing in Los Angeles.

At Los Angeles City College music teacher/arranger Bob McDonald taught the big band class which was comprised of some excellent musicians. Bob McDonald was a mentor. Many Los Angeles musicians went to L. A. City College. At LACC I met lead trumpet player John Madrid. John and I were on the road with Buddy Rich's big band. Also at LACC was Richard Torres, a tenor sax payer who worked with Stan Kenton's big band. In the late 50's, early 60's, Bob Florence, Herb Geller, Jack Sheldon, Bob Hardaway, John Williams, the "Star Wars" composer were in Bob's big band.

Sometimes after band class, Sal Marquez and myself would go over to the Burrito King (it's still there) mexican food stand located at Alvarado and Sunset streets. We'd get ourselves a huge Machaca Burrito for 80 cents. Fine dining for sure. Mucho gusto.

Aquarius Theatre
The Musical 'Hair'

At first I lived by myself in a apartment that was within walking distance of City College. Eventually I moved to a comfortable 2 story house on Wilton Place, near Wilshire and Western streets. The house belonged to Elaine Hill, a beautiful African American lady and superb singer from New York city. Elaine sang "Walking in Space" in the production of Hair at the Aquarius Theatre

The musical “Hair” ran for a long time. Years. I would often go to work with Elaine and watch the show, or sit with the band and watch them. The drummer in the house band was Maurice White, nicknamed "sweet grease". Maurice was one of the founders of the band 'Earth,Wind and Fire'.

Joe Pass
Joe Pass

Just over the hill from Hollwood on Lankershim Blvd. was Dante's Jazz Club. Joe Pass played Monday nights and the place would be packed with some of the best musicians in town. Joe was very kind to me. Joe invited me over to his house in Van Nuys to "take a lesson" and introduced me to other guitar players. Joe charged $10.00 a lesson. He would watch me play guitar and make suggestions. Sometimes another guitar player would come over to little studio behind his house. One time I handed Joe my guitar to check it out. Joe played Donna Lee, and it was beautiful. Joe could play solo guitar all night long and it would sound full. The "self-actualized" Joe Pass was a remarkable musician and individual.

I had the good fortune to work for the wonderful arranger Don Costa. Don hired me for many of his recording sessions. This was a big deal because my sight reading music wasn't all that great. I met Don through his nephew Guy Costa. Guy and I were born on the same day, Jan. 23, 1946, which seemed rather cosmic at the time. In the 60's everything was cosmic - far out.

I'd go out to Don's house on the beach in Santa Monica and hang out. Don had this huge house that use to belong to the movie actor Brian Aherne, who was famous in the 1930's through the 1950's. On different occasions actor Burgess Meredith or singer Vic Damone would be sitting comfortably out by the swimming pool with Don. I'm blessed to have known the great Don Costa.

Connie Stevens
Connie Stevens

Don Costa hooked me up with with Steve and Eydie who were playing at the Sands Hotel in Las Vegas for three weeks. This led to a gig in Las Vegas with Connie Stevens. Connie was going with songwriter Jimmy Webb at the time. Connie's sister Ava Maria and I dated one night...

In the 1970's Las Vegas was a great town for musicians. There was plenty of work to go around. The bands in the big rooms of the hotels were marvelous. Some of the best musicians in the world were working and living in Las Vegas.

Guitarist/arranger Don Overberg conducted for Julie London who usually worked the lounge in the Tropicana hotel. Don was a monster guitar player and encouraged me to work on sight reading music.

Teresa Graves
Teresa Graves

Stingers: One night Don Overberg came over to the Sahara where I was working with singer/actress Teresa Graves who was opening for Buddy Hackett. Teresa had a hit TV show called "Get Christie Love"and was a hot act at the time. There was a big band on stage with Teresa. Big bands always backed the acts in the main rooms. Teresa and I did a duet on the song "My Funny Valentine". Voice and guitar, dedicated to Buddy Hackett who was the featured act. I was a bit nervous about this gig with the spotlight on just Teresa and myself. I bumped into Don in the coffee shop, Don suggested drinking "a few stingers" to take the edge off. The next show went smooth a silk. Back then alcohol worked. At least I thought it did.

Ocean's Eleven
Oceans Eleven

The hotels had lounges featuring live entertainment around the clock. Show groups played in the lounges. Big names played the lounges on the strip. You could go out at 2:00 A.M. and watch Louie Prima, Keely Smith with Sam Butera and the Witness's at the Sands hotel. Or watch Don Rickles in the lounge at the Sahara hotel.

Frank Sinatra's movie Oceans Eleven really takes me back to Las Vegas in the early '70's when I lived in Las Vegas. Ed "Pit-Boss" Walters has a website with a lot of colorful stories about those special years in Las Vegas at the Sands Hotel.

"The Jets" were one of my favorite lounge acts. This trio featured guitarist Bobby Gino and a couple of comedians on bass and drums. Most show groups at the time featured a guitarist whose big number was "Malaguena". Bobby Gino played the score to a movie "West Side Story" on the guitar, quite an accomplishment.

In Los Angeles, guitar teacher Duke Miller encouraged me to take up classical guitar to help my sight reading music. Duke's top student was guitarist Lee Ritenour. I did a recording session with Lee Ritenour when he was 16. Although Lee didn't know many tunes yet, his music sight reading music was flawless, a requirement for studio work.

In 1970 I was teaching guitar at Killeen's Music in Van Nuys. The recording scene in Los Angeles had slowed down considerably. Lou Morrell the excellent studio guitarist, mentioned that "there was half as much work as in the previous year", that was true. Work was at a premium. The recording industry was experiencing the invasion of the electronic age and it's profound effect on the future of music. The music recording industry that had been flourishing in Los Angeles for years was dying. Only the cream of the crop of studio musicians would keep working.

Buddy Rich
Buddy Rich

I went on the road with the Buddy Rich big band. Some of the musicians in the band were Ritchie Cole, Rick Laird, Pat LaBarbara, John Madrid and New Zealand pianist Dave McCray. We traveled extensively throughout the United States usually by Greyhound bus. Buddy usually took the plane.

The ride to Detroit: This was the usual on-the-road routine. Bus to the gig, play, break down the equipment, load the bus, head to the next gig trying to sleep on the bus. The band was scheduled to play for a week at the "Top Hat" in Windsor Ontario, Canada which is across the river from Detroit Michigan. This night stands out in particular because at this point in Buddy's career, Buddy only played concerts, no exceptions. Well, except this one time.

The greyhound bus left New York city, stopping in Wheeling West Virginia (in 1970 this was way out in the country) to play a gig at this funky little 'Country and Western' club. Afterwards we were to take the greyhound bus straight through to Detroit, Michigan. These West Virginia country folk started dancing, which is a lot of fun for sure, however these folks had absolutely no idea what a jazz concert was. You were supposed to sit down and listen. Yeah right. Buddy thought this funny. The Willard Alexander booking agency figured they would give it a shot and see what happened. There was a 'rider' in the contract that specified a 'concert only' clause for the band. So, after one short set we packed up the equipment, loaded the greyhound and disappeared into the night heading north. The audience had now idea what happened to the band or why we left so abruptly. The contract didn't specify how many sets the band had to play. Buddy was also a crafty business man!

The Newport Jazz Festival: In 1971 the Buddy Rich band was part of the Newport goes to Europe tour put on by Newport Jazz Festival promoter George Wein. The band played concerts in most major cities in England and Europe. Besides Buddy Rich, there was the Modern Jazz Quartet, Charles Mingus, Dizzy Gillespie. Also the wonderful Clark-Boland big band which was comprised of famous musicians from all over Europe. The trip to Europe lasted 6 weeks and proved to be the highlight traveling with the Buddy Rich band.

Dexter Gordon
Dexter Gordon

Some of the worlds finest musicians live in Europe. Jazz musicians are treated with a great deal of respect. In the 1970's Art Farmer, Leo Wright, Slide Hampton, Benny Bailey, Kenny Drew, and many more had moved to Europe from the United States. Dexter Gordon lived in Copenhagen, Denmark, where the band played a concert at the Tivoli Gardens.

Halfway through the "Newport goes to Europe" tour, the band was in England. The plan was to fly from Heathrow airport London, to Malmo Sweden. That night a concert would start the next leg of the Newport tour. That was on the main continent of Europe. Somehow Buddy's drums, the music and music stands had neglected to get put on the plane at Heathrow airport in England. Oops! So the band had no music or music stands to play from. The show always goes on and did.

Amazingly enough, the band sounded wonderful playing by ear, no music. Each section of the band huddled together and listened to each other. This delighted Buddy no end. From then on when frustrated, Buddy would come up with "You guys sound better without music" or "Why don't you play like you did in Malmo?". Well, those were the polite insults.

On the continent, the band played concerts in Malmo and Stockholm Sweden, Copenhagen Denmark, Oslo Norway, Milano Italy, Prague Czechoslovakia, Paris France, Brussels Belgium, Rotterdam Holland, Stuttgart and Berlin Germany.

In Milano Italy, the band got together for the best meal of our lives. What a feast. It lasted far late into the night. After a while we lost track of the number of courses of food that were served. Buddy picked up the tab. I think Buddy really got a kick out seeing everybody having a good time. We drank a lot of vino and a seemingly endless amout of Italian food. One thing about, Buddy, he never drank alcohol, smoked Marlboro's but never drank liquor. 50 plus years in the music business and you get real tired of drunks!

At the Berlin Jazz Festival, Oliver Nelson conducted an orchestra in one of the finest concerts I've had the privilege to attend.

In England the band played concerts in most of the major cities. The US dollar was worth double the English pound, consequently the cost of living was very reasonable if you had US currency. I stayed at a hotel in Earls Court for $2.50 US a night.

The bus driver freak out: In England, the bus driver became so frustrated with some of the stunts the band members he pulled over to the side of the road, got off the bus and tried to hail a taxi cab for himself. We had completely freaked him out. We were drinking beer and some hash had been goin' around the back of the bus. Hey, just fun loving boys trying to blow off steam. We agreed to behave on the bus and only then were we driven back to the hotel.

Ronnie Scott's Club
Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club
47 Frith Street, London.

In London Ronnie Scott's Club was a special treat to work. We played there for a week. Elvin Jones sat in with the band one night. That was interesting to say the least. Elvin was drunk and manhandled Buddy's drums, somehow managing to slam through a few tunes before Buddy helped him off the stage.

The road. I met a lovely young lady, a nurse, Leslie Ann from New Zeland. Then I didn't want to go back to the USA. For a while I contemplated staying in London. I fell in love a number of times on the road. Sometimes the road could be a lonely place and it was often tough to unwind after a concert.

The turnover ratio of bass players was high, as were quite often some of the band members. Buddy was especially hard on bass and guitar players.

Rick Laird
Rick Laird
early '70s

Rick Laird was one of Buddy's favorite bass player. Rick always complemented Buddy. If Buddy rushed, Rick would follow him. This was brilliant on Rick's part since Buddy had a habit of yelling at musicians onstage and off. Rick had been the house bassist for Ronnie Scott's Club and recorded with Wes Montgomery at Ronnie Scott's. After leaving the Buddy Rich Big Band Rick joined the Mahavishnu Orchestra.

Sometimes late at night Buddy would call my room, which of course was never in the same hotel as his room, and request that I fetch him a "swiss cheese sandwich on dark rye, no mayo". I think Buddy did this for some company, because after delivering the sandwich, he would often say, "Ned, stick around for a while". I'd say "OK".

Buddy Rich was the best big band drummer of the 20th century, for sure. The one drawback to working with Buddy Rich was that at times, Buddy could be quite temperamental.

Listen to Buddy...

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Burnt out, exhausted from life on the road, I left Buddy's band and visited with my folks in San Diego California. It was great to be home. My folks were getting on in years and spending some time with them was important.

After a short time in San Diego, I needed to get back to work. However, work for musicians in Los Angeles had become a scarce commodity.

In 1971 the studio scene in Los Angeles had pretty much dried up, at least for yours truly. I started hanging out at Los Angeles City College again to keep in touch with some of the L.A. musicians that sat in with Bob McDonald's big band class and try to pick up a myself a gig.

Ice Follies

I got a call from Ice Follies for the travling guitar chair with Holiday on Ice, then the sister company to Ice Follies. Paul Walburg conducted Ice Follies. Some of the musicians that worked with the Ice Show were Paul Breslin, John Whitelaw, bass players and Joe Pino and Gene Strimling excellent drummers.

Bobby McFerrin, yes the Bobby McFerrin was the keyboard player with Ice Follies when I was on the road with Holiday on Ice. A few years later, he transferred over to Holiday on Ice to play keyboards. We didn't have a clue about Bobby's vocal abilities. Bobby plays piano, that's one reason his singing is so musical. Another reason is that he's a genius. Note: Bobby's web site plays down his ice show days, can you blame 'em?.

When the Ice Show played Indianapolis, Indiana, I met and became friends with Carroll DeCamp and his nephew guitarist Royce Campbell. Royce plays with a lot of heart and has recorded a number of albums. Royce was guitarist with Henry Mancini for 18 years.

Ben Stabler the conductor of Holiday on Ice, suggested that I switch from guitar to electric bass and stay with the show. That would mean repeating the same 500 or so shows. Rather than switch to electric bass I left Holiday on Ice. In retrospect, staying on with the Ice Show was a financially sound idea. I should have done the responsible thing and stayed around for at least a few years to cash in on the excellent pay. Hindsight is perfect!

A rant about prima donna figure skaters. As a result of those Ice Show years, to this day I can't stand to watch figure skating on TV. I love Ice Hockey. Go Toronto Maple Leafs, go Detroit Red Wings, New York Rangers, LA Kings, etc. But figure skaters, f**k em' all.

Inhale, exhale...

While with Holiday On Ice I had met ice skater Judi Hall who grew up outside Windsor Ontaio, Canada. We fell in love and became engaged to be married. That year after the Ice Show was over, the wedding ceremony was held in Belle River Ontario, Canada (1972). I didn't know anybody in the Windsor Ontario area of Canada and somewhat confused, I asked both Judi's brothers to be best man. What a scene - Judi got hammered on rum and coke before the wedding ceremony - My folks were giddy with joy about the idea of someday becoming grandparents.

Toronto at night

Judi and I settled in Toronto Ontario, Canada. Toronto is 250 miles north east of Detroit Michigan. Both my sons were born in Toronto at St. Michael's hospital on Queen Street. I worked a variety of different gigs in Toronto. Society gigs were plentiful, but mostly I played music in small clubs and restaurants. There wasn't a Don Costa to help me get work in Toronto like in Los Angeles. I drove a taxi cab part time to help pay the bills. This didn't forestall the inevitable. Eventually liiving in Canada just didn't work out.

Norm the ducksmacker: I found the certain Canadian musicians to be laid back, friendly and good players, nice combination. Especially Bob McClaren, Martin Kulakov, Dave Field, Doug Gretzinger, Shelly Berger, Lorne Lofsky. Great people and musicians, except for one buttsniffing trumpet player named Norm Bernard. Instead of paying me cash or a check for gigs that I'd worked for him, Norm always tried to buy me off in cassette tapes he had stolen from the record store he worked in. What an asshole!

About my 2 sons:

Jesse, born in 1974, lives in Windsor Ontario, across the river from Detroit Michigan and works for a large internet business card company. Jesse is an extremely hard working fellow and is doing quite well. Jesse has a remarkable sense of pitch, and taught himself to play electric bass. Jesse and Colleen were married October 20th, 2007.

Miles, born in 1976, has a B.A. in english literature, is an artist, plays guitar and is an avid surfer. Miles and his lady Miran At this update Miles and his lady Miran are the proud parents of a baby boy, Elijah Morgan Eldredge, born November 22, 2006. Miles works with people suffering from autism.

I'm extremely proud of both my sons. Their mother graduated college with a degree in nursing and raised her two sons to respect and be considerate of other people. The same qualities that initially drew me to her. For years I wasn't around while Jess and Miles were growing up and greatly missed those two young guys in Canada. I knocked down a few drinks to many over that situation - the disclaimer comes into effect here.


Spring 1978 I went home to San Diego and stayed with my folks. It's a grey area in my life. I Was trying to deal with the unpleasant feelings that result from divorce. I missed my children greatly. I moved to up to San Francisco and stayed for a while with my buddy Mike Clark and his then wife Bea. Mike was getting ready to make the transition to New York City.

While living in San Francisco, I met a young lady that was a Buddhist and a jogger. Josie and I started running everyday in Golden Gate Park, (click to see a map of the park), from Stanyan Street down to the Great Highway and back, that took about an hour. That was one the most serene times of my life. The intense physical conditioning helped greatly to getting back on track in life. I ran every day for years. Thanks Josie.

For a time I worked at Georgia Pacific in South San Francisco. Also worked at an Arco gas station at 17th and Clayton in San Francisco. Not the most exclusive of jobs, those were tough times. I finally caught a break, was was hired by Pacific Bell (then the phone company in California). This prompted a move north over the Golden Gate bridge to San Rafael in Marin County.

We do what you know how to do: Struggling to get a decent job in San Francisco had revealed a need for an education that had been neglected in my youth. My formative years had been spent practicing the guitar a lot, and working in the music business.

Playing guitar was my passion in life for many years. Since the 1970's the music industry had changed. The work wasn't there and I really wasn't interested in trying to hustle up gigs. Ned the guitar player had to learn to work for a living doing something besides playing music. (I'm still trying to figure that out).

I found a little cottage in Fairfax California located in the old Marin Town and Country Club, which by then had seen much better days. The rent was cheap. $240 a month. I lived there for 8 years, (yeah the rent went up), while my two sons were moving around to different cities in Canada with their mother. That's another part of the intentionally excluded stuff.

Becoming a geek: In 1980 I had decided to go back to college, but what classes to take? The two fields of workthat looked promising were electronics and welding. Computers were evolving out of the punch card stage - the personal computer had yet to come into it's own.

The College of Marin in Kentfield California offered an electronics program. I applied for a student loan at the college and started classes that semester in electronics technology. That first semester I took an incomplete in college algebra because I was so freaked about taking the final. I didn't know how to puncuate sentences because I hadn't payed any attention to learning in high school.

Eventually I made it through algebra in summer school with an "A". I'm a right brain person, math was hard, music was easy. Music always made sense, wish I could say that for math. Non-the-less, I discovered studying to be a good thing. There is a payoff, what a concept. Playing guitar wasn't all there was to life.


In 1980 PC software was in it's infancy, the internet was a rumor. The DOS operating system for the PC hadn't been written yet. Around 1984 there was 'Visi-Calc' spread sheet and 'WordStar', a word processing program. In 1980 write software was what you did with a computer. In the computer science program, we learned to write code using Pascal, and the C programming language, the grandfather of C++. C is the ancestor of object oriented scripts like Javascript, Perl, PHP and similar scripting languages used on the internet.

A factual note: The Internet and the World Wide Web are two separate but related things.

At the College of Marin, the computer science department installed a Vax 11/750 mini computer, sporting the Unix BSD operating system. I Spent a lot of time with other students in the computer science lab trying to develope computer programming skills.

My first guitar teacher and friend, Lee Havens, use to say, "When you stop learning, you start to die". Strong words but in my experience true. These words of wisdom prompted me to try to my best at school, to work hard and obey the scout law.

In 1982 I went work for Bruce Baum Associates, in San Rafael, CA. This outfit was a Value Added Reseller, or VAR for IBM systems. Acronyms were just becoming popular. Computers being used by large companies were huge in size by todays standards. The capacitors inside these large oversized boxes looked like large Campbell's soup cans. We're talking old school here!

IBM had locked up the PC market in 1994 and it's flagship product was the IBM AT-80286 platform. The IBM pc was a hot item. The San Rafael company sent me to IBM school in Marietta Georgia for training. To qualify for dealership in IBM's latest product line, the 5362/5364 series of mini computer, a company had to be certified by IBM. Your's truly got the nod to go to IBM school in Marietta, Georgia for "Personal Computer Dealer Training". The transformation to becoming a geek had begun.

19 Broadway
19 Broadway, Fairfax,CA.

During this period of computer fascination, my old friend the guitar had been all but abandoned. One night I wandered into this little bar in Fairfax and met guitar player Chuck Day (August 5, 1942 – March 10, 2008). I sat in with his band, Chuck liked it, and we started playing music together. We played Friday's in Fairfax (California) at Tucker's Tavern now called 19 Broadway for 5 years. Chuck was the bass player for The Mamas and the Papas when they were at their zenith, also played bass and conducted for Johnny Rivers. Chuck was an extremly gifted musician. Adios amigo.

1986: I was working as a contract programmer for Wells Fargo Bank in San Francisco at 4th and Mission streets. When the programming contract at Wells Fargo Bank fizzled out, I moved north to Sonoma County, California and found an apartment in Cotati, California, south of Santa Rosa.

My *CIS degree completed, I was looking for work in that field, (*Computer Information Systems). The work that paid top dollar was in San Francisco which meant a commute of 100 miles, round trip, everyday. Having experienced commuting to and from Wells Fargo Bank, I was looking for a job locally in Sonoma County.

At home in Cotati I'd walk downtown to eat at this mexican restaurant. Eventually I became friendly with Rafa, the restaurant owner. That led to a solo gig playing guitar at Rafa's Mexican Restaurant in Cotati where I worked playing music for the next 6 years. So much for the commute. I could stay in town, play guitar, and use the computer to create background tracks for myself when playing in public.

What is MIDI? Wikipedia has an explanation if your curious about MIDI. Here's how a MIDI file might sound on a computer through the average (1995) computer. (I used a Cakewalk sequencer to record with). Play the following "straight" MIDI file. The quality of the MIDI played through a computers sound card isn't that great, although it works.

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Now here this - There's a big difference between a MIDI file played through a computers audio card and one routed through high end Digital Synthesizers. The  [Audio tab]  on the main menu (check it out...) contains three tunes that I recorded in my little home studio. An orginal titled "Bouncin'", Keith Jarrett's "Lucky Southern" and Sonny Rollin's "St. Thomas".

After sequencing a tune on the computer, the MIDI tracks were routed through a Korg 05R/W digital synthesizer/workstation and Kurzweil EGK (Ensemble Grand Piano) then saved to a Sony DAT (digital audio tape) recorder which being digital had very clean sound. Although outdated now, the DAT was high-tech at the time.

Kurzweil piano, Gibson guitar with owner.
First day Rafa's, June 1992
photograph: Mark Warner

The gig at Rafa's Mexican Restaurant lasted six years. Each winter, in the off-season, I'd update and re-record the background tracks from the previous year attempting to avoid the inevitable repetition.

The muscles in my left hand had been bothering me years. I ignored the dull constant ache in the muscles of my left hand hoping the ache would go away, like ignoring a DUI, yet the the ache in my left hand persisted. I visited an M.D., a specialist and was informed that the left hand had developed nerve damage. All those years of playing on heavy guitar stings, then stopping playing for a number of years, then abruptly starting again caused severe irritat\ion in the left hand joints and muscles. It hasn't gotten better...

In the fall of 1996, I hung my Gibson L5s guitar on the wall for good having looked at a guitar fingerboard for 40 years. Not having the physical ablility to play at a high level of performance just didn't get it and noodlin' around on the guitar wasn't gonna pay the rent.

The wonderful jazz guitarist Johnny Smith was living in Colorado Springs, Colorado. In 1968, I had the pleasure to visit with Johnny in his music store. I asked him if he missed playing music full time?  His reply, " It's just music".

Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote "Art is a jealous mistress, and if a man has a genius for painting, poetry, music, architecture or philosophy, he makes a bad husband and an ill provider".

Bll Evans, one of my favorite players, was a Genius. His piano playing was greatly influenced by the french impressionists I.E. Claude Debussy, (day-bu-say). Bill suffered from drug addiction much of his adult life and died when he was 53 years old. Many of the "famous" musicians I have known have had greater success with music than with family life.

Chick Corea - a great pianist, in his 60's now, a healty individual performing consistently at a formidible level.

  • Sax: Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, Dexter Gordon, Joe Henderson, Michael Brecker
  • Piano: McCoy Tyner, Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, Dave Grusin, Jeff Pittson
  • Bass: Ron Carter, Ray Brown, Paul Jackson, Eddie Gomez
  • Trumpet: Louis Armstrong, Lee Morgan, Wynton Marsalis, Freddie Hubbard
  • Hammond B3 Organ: Joey De Francesco, Larry Goldings, Martin Kulakov
  • Drums: Tony Willians, Mike Clark, Bob McClaren
  • Guitar: Wes Montgomery, Joe Pass, George Van Epps, Feddie King, Jimmie Hendrix

When I was a young turk I had that Jack Kerouac attitude. Today I'm grateful just to wake up and have some gratitude for the gifts that each day presents. Thanks for visiting. (update March, 2007)