I began playing guitar with the dreams of rock & roll stardom. Isn't that how it always starts? At age 7 I received my first guitar as a gift from my mom. Didn't do much with it at first. I just thought it looked cool. I'd look at myself in the mirror and pose with the guitar pretending that I was Ace Frehley, while blasting my brothers' KISS albums. Then things changed a bit.
As a teenager, I started learning how to form a few chords and play some of my favorite songs. When I was 17, I found a few guys and we formed a band called Foul Play. We played covers from bands like Motley Crue, Cinderella, Guns & Roses, Poison and Skid Row....then eventually Anthrax and Metallica. That lasted a few years, then I wanted to record my own music.
In 1993 I released my first album. Completely self-funded I went to United Technique recording studio, which then was in Monee, Illinois. Mark Boyd played drums and I did the rest. The idea was to record the album THEN find a band and name it Suckerpunch. The CD, Vicious Uppercut, was released in June of 1993, but no band was ever formed.
In the years that followed, I kept writing and recording demos at home. Nothing really happened with them. In the mid 90's I joined a band based in Chicago called Fallout. They were a good band with great guys, but it was going nowhere so I left.
For the next several years, not much was happening musically. The dream of conquering the international rock world had died. I played on and off at the church I was attending at the time, but that's about it.
In 2008 I had an idea to put together an event that would benefit a local cause. A band was formed that included Mark Boyd, Tim McNally, Tommy Roberts and myself. I also had the great idea of adding two female backup singers. Sounded great! A couple of other bands filled the bill and Kankakee Rockfest took place in May of 2009 at the old armory building at 150 N. Indiana Ave. in Kankakee. All of the money raised went to the Kankakee Veterans Assistance Commission.
This is where things really pick up.....
The thought of forming or joining another band was a bit daunting. I didn't want to play the same old songs that every other cover band was playing. I had to LOVE it, or there was no point. To me, there were only two options. First was the idea of playing mainly originals. I figured that if I liked my stuff, chances are somebody else does too. The problem was, I didn't have a lot of material yet. The second option was a KISS tribute band. Yes! Everybody knows who KISS is! Sounded good to me. But I wanted to do it differently than all of the other KISS tributes. I just wanted to play and celebrate the music....no makeup, no outfits, no trying to act like the real band. So I recruited Jon Thill on bass, Dann Taylor on drums and Tommy Roberts on lead guitar. We were damn good! We were all KISS fans to one degree or another, and booking shows was a breeze. However, we very quickly found out that if we weren't in makeup, nobody was interested. That was incredibly frustrating! So....we wore makeup and made our own versions of outfits. People loved it! But as with all things like this, life gets in the way, people go different directions, and it becomes harder to stick together. So....I pulled the proverbial plug. But from 2011 through 2015, we had a lot of fun! We even won the award for "Best Live Band" for 2013 at the Kankakee Area Music Awards!
Technology had come around that allowed independent musicians such as myself to make really good sounding recordings at home! So in 2010 I began writing a whole new batch of songs. The songs were completed by 2013, but I was going through a lot in my personal life. So that material was shelved and I had no idea if it would ever see the light of day. But alas....in 2016, my album Undefeated was released! This was not just a CD to be sold at the local record shops and music stores. The internet was now the vehicle to release music worldwide!
And now, home recording and online distribution had made it easy for musicians of every kind of music to record and put their creativity out into the world! So I kept working. In 2018 I released an album called Roots. This was comprised of cover songs that had influenced me over the years. Bands like Led Zeppelin, Alice Cooper, REO Speedwagon, Aerosmith, Judas Priest and Stryper were a HUGE part of what I had become and how I played. So I wanted to give my own tip of the hat to those bands. Mason Lillig, Brian Watt, Jim Johnson, Mike Smarjesse and Roy Brozowski were guest players. There were also two new original songs that I had written. This album got an award for "Best Album" at the Kankakee Area Music Awards!
As I pondered what to do next, my wife Beth asked me if I would be willing to try something. Beth is a certified yoga instructor and she asked me if I would try putting together some music that she could do yoga to. The idea was a bit odd to me, but I also saw it as a challenge for myself. I went to work and the results still amaze me. No drums, no electric guitars, no screaming vocals. It was lots of soft acoustic guitar, strings, piano and nature sounds. Believe, Restore, Inspire was released in March of 2020 and is my most popular album to date. The emotions that I poured into that the making of that album are evident in the songs. There are six songs that I had played before in church in the past that I thought were great tunes, and six songs of my own. It is soothing to listen to, but for me it is also a roller coaster ride of emotions. I still can't help but get tears in my eyes while listening to some of those songs. And I'm not even going to try to explain it.
After that experience, I decided that it was time to get back to my hard rock self. 2020 and 2021 saw the world going in strange directions because of the Covid-19 outbreak. There were so many restrictions on people, so much government overreach, and so much anger among the citizens of the world. I started writing songs that captured that anger. The guitar riffs were heavy, the lyrics were unrelenting. The result was what turned out to be somewhat of a concept album. For A Time Such As This was released in April of 2022, and as far as I'm concerned it is my greatest work. I'm very proud of what I did on that album. In the summer of 2022, I was booked for two festival shows in Kankakee. I enlisted the talents of John Hebert, Justin McCarty and Mitch Breckenridge to form my band and they rocked!! This would be my first time on stage for a full show in over seven years! It was very exciting as well as gratifying for me because I was finally playing MY music on stage. The fantasy of being a rock and roll star were LONG gone, but this was a chance to get up on stage and be me. And I decided that the show on September 17th would be my last. I am done performing live. I truly loved being on stage, but the time had come to stop.
Who knows what is next. Whatever it is, I look forward to it. Now, I record music simply as a way to leave behind a legacy for my kids and grandkids. I want them to look back, listen to my music and say.....that was him.
I hope you appreciate what I do as well. There is a little something for everybody. A rock star, I am not. But I have had a fantastic life. And music has played a huge part in that.