I'm a weird dude...
I was born in '71. I remember the early years of Saturday Night Live. I remember 1220 WGAR and it wasn't a country station. I remember where the phrase "Calgon, take me away" came from. I remember when Saturday Night Fever, Star Wars, and the first Rocky movie came out.
Music has been a big part of my life since the beginning. My dad played keys. He had a Hammond X77 organ that he played quite a bit and I remember falling asleep to his music many nights. I know the melody to "The Girl From Ipanema" very well. (Oh, I know what you're thinking. "Who doesn't?!" Right?) Classical music was also a big influence.
As I grew up, I kept saying "I don't know what I'm going to be when I grow up, but it'll definitely be music related". Well, other than some early employment in the food service industry and my later career in computer repair, I wasn't wrong. I've been performing music since 1992 and people seem to enjoy it. I was a drummer all through school but ended up being more of a singer. It seems I have some unique musical talents that God gave me that nobody else seems to be able to do. I can impersonate Steve Perry and Neil Peart fairly well. Seeing how both of those guys are considered to be possibly the best at what they respectively do, I'm grateful for the talent to be able to duplicate what they composed. That's the big difference. They wrote all that music. I didn't. I'm just their parrot.
So, after a single year at Kent State as a music composition major, I decided not to return. That's when I worked in several restaurants for a few years. At least it taught me how to cook! That's a skill I've needed most of my adult life. But karaoke was just becoming a new fad and me and some friends were into it full throttle. This is what led me to switch from drumming to singing. I found a band looking for a singer and we did one Journey song. That led to a Journey tribute band that ended up touring the eastern states for 6 years.
When that band called it quits, I ended up managing a game store for a couple of years. The experience of managing a retail business was very educational to say the least. I'd never go back to it, but I did learn a lot. And I never want to see another Pokemon card ever again.
Meanwhile, I was getting into computers big time! By the time I started a job with Gateway, I already knew how to build and repair a Windows-based PC with one arm tied behind my back (as long as it was the left one - I'm no good with a mouse in my left hand). The Gateway job showed me that somebody should be offering in-home service because of all the problems Microsoft Windows always has. So, borrowing the name from my Journey tribute band, I started Escape PC Service.
I started running sound for a local bar which got me back into the music scene again. That led to a musician's night band. That led to a fill-in gig with one of the most popular bands around. And that led me to creating my own similar band called Breakfast Club. But the musician's night band was becoming more successful so I left Breakfast Club seemingly just at the wrong time. They got hugely popular right after I left. I must have been holding them back. The other bands I was playing with was paying the bills though, so I thought nothing of it at the time.
And then it happened. I ruined their party by becoming a born-again Christian. I wanted out of the bands and went full time with the computer repair business. I eventually had an article written about me in the local paper and worked like a dog which got me out of debt finally! Praise God!
I eventually returned to playing music. I consider my audience my mission field. I'm never pushy about it, but I want people to find out what changed me into the faithful man of God that I've become. Anyone willing to take the red pill?
I grew up with classical music and soft rock as a kid. My dad liked the Beatles (mainly the Abbey Road album) and the Rolling Stones (the early stuff). My mom liked the Bee Gees and Barry Manilow (and thanks to that I've actually seen both live in concert!). My love of Billy Joel's music stems directly from my mom.
One day, it must have been around 1982, I discovered 98.5 (WGCL) on the radio. I vividly remember Night Ranger's first hit 'Don't Tell Me You Love Me' from back then. This kind of rock was more fun than soft rock. Eventually, Journey's 'Separate Ways' was released in 1983 and I fell in love with the keyboard part. I continued listening to that basic genre of 'radio hard rock' all through school. My favorite band was Journey, until I discovered Van Halen, until I then later discovered Rush!
When I went to Kent State in 1989, my roommate Mike introduced me to a lot of 'harder' music. This is where I discovered Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, The Doors, The Guess Who, Jethro Tull, and even R.E.M. It was a whole new musical 'enlightenment' for me. Oh, Mike! Thank you! Where are you now?!?!
I only spent one year at Kent. I was supposed to be a music composition major and practicing many hours a day. Instead, I was majoring in marijuana and minoring in euchre. I wasn't really interested in pursuing an orchestral music degree. I just wanted to rock. Oh, yeah, and I didn't have the money for a second year either.
The karaoke craze was just starting up around this time and my friend Jim and I would find a place to sing almost every night of the week! Aerosmith's 'Dream On' was my big 'hit' at first. It seemed like I was the only one who could really sing this stuff like the record. So I decided to look for a band who needed a singer (instead of a drummer). I auditioned for several bands and landed in 'Heavens Reign'. They originally didn't want me because I had short hair when I auditioned :) but later asked me back because they just couldn't find anyone else. My hair eventually grew pretty long.
So now I'm a singer (not a drummer) in a band! I had to learn a bunch of their original songs (which I still think are decent quality songs) and many cover songs I didn't yet know like 'Mr. Crowley' and 'Man on the Silver Mountain'. That kind of music still was unfamiliar to me. Stuff like AC/DC, Ozzy, Iron Maiden, Dio, Motley Crue, WASP, or Judas Priest, for example, was too 'evil' (whatever that word meant to me as a child) and it didn't appeal to me back then. But as I continued singing in bars over the years I quickly got to know all that stuff, too.
Anyways, 'Heavens Reign' did 'Stone In Love' as one of our cover tunes and it always went over great. That led to the formation of E5C4P3 - The Journey Tribute soon after the guitarist quit the band. E5C4P3 played from 93-99 all around the eastern half of the country. Burn out eventually took its toll and I stopped booking dates in 1999.
After a while of working in retail, I was asked to run sound for the Backstreet Cafe near my home for the bands on Friday and Saturday nights. This introduced me to a lot of local musicians. Everyone knew me as the guy that sings Journey, so it wasn't long before I joined up with someone. The most successful local band at the time seemed to be 'Disco Explosion'. They were great musicians and would PACK every bar they played. They were SO successful that the singer lost his voice because they played SO much! That's where I come in. Two of the guys in the band, Mike and Ron, teamed up with me and drummer Jim Simonian to form 'The Cocktones' to host a Tuesday night Musician's Night at the Backstreet. Shortly after we started doing that, they asked me to fill in for their singer in 'Disco Explosion' until his voice healed. That's when I discovered the concept of a dance band. They used prerecorded tracks and dressed up in costumes and used fictional personalities to truly entertain their audience. It was a 'production' as opposed to 'just some band'.
So using what I learned in Disco Explosion, I formed Breakfast Club. Danny McGuire, a local Musician's Night guitarist, and I teamed up with Billy Venditti and Paul Holobinko. We played for a while until Danny had to step down for family reasons. Rob Biglin responded to our ad looking for a guitarist and we kept pressing on. Meanwhile, Disco Explosion finally broke up and the guys in 'The Cocktones' wanted to move ahead with some big plans that included me including our own disco band called 'Disco Away' and a hairband tribute called 'Son Of Glam' to go up against the popular local band '1988'. That meant I couldn't really keep going with Breakfast Club, too. I had to make a decision. Based on my friendship with Jim, Mike and Ron, and the uphill struggle of trying to get Breakfast Club going, I made the decision to leave Breakfast Club. Soon after I left, Billy quit (I'd love to know why, Bill ;) ). They replaced me with Dave Brooks and Billy with Brian Dossa and they became one of Cleveland's most successful cover bands. So, either I was the one holding them back ;) or I left just at the wrong time. I'll always wonder what would have happened if I decided not to leave. Interestingly, Rob was eventually replaced by Billy Morris and Paul was replaced by, get this, ex-Disco Explosion drummer Tim Burris (talk about coming full circle)! Therefore, nobody in Breakfast Club today is an original member! But my 'original' idea came from their current drummer. I find that funny :)
So 'The Cocktones' (I would tell people that I was one of the 'tones'), 'Disco Away', and 'Son Of Glam' played until everything changed when I became a Christian. I didn't want to be in bars anymore. I didn't want to be drinking and driving anymore. But I didn't want to just quit and leave them in the lurch. I asked them to replace me and they eventually did with a one-armed keyboard player! (The guy is awesome! Todd Waites. He actually went on to be in a Christian band! In a way, he's the angel God sent to set me free.) So as of summer 2004, I was finally out of the local music scene.
In 2008, I bought a huge drum set which eventually led to my involvement in Eclipse and 2112 - The Rush Tribute. Strangely, I was contacted from the E5C4P3 guys to discuss reforming right around the same time I was starting up with Eclipse and I agreed to reform to play big festival-type gigs once in a while. After Paul Soos left Eclipse, we played out the rest of our bookings with Mark Matthews filling in and then we broke up. I formed Juke Box Heroes as a replacement. I did some fill-in work with a band called Sellouts which led to a permanent position until Juke Box Heroes had too many scheduling conflicts.
Then in 2016, a new band arose called Rubix Cubed. Today, E5C4P3, Juke Box Heroes, and Rubix Cubed (and Lakeland) are my active gigs. See you at a show!