January 13, 1950 in Downey, California, I was born into a musical family. My mother, Ruthevelyn was an arranger for live radio in the 40’s and for Rhythms Productions an educational music publisher in the 50’s and 60’s. I was surrounded by music of all types growing up. My mom had a vocal jazz quartet along the lines of the Hi-Lo’s, and my brother Richard had several jazz/pop ensembles including RCA recording artists, The Match. At age 10, I begged my parents for guitar lessons and was fortunate to study with Lou Morrell, a well respected studio musician and eventually with jazz great, Herb Ellis.
In 1965 I joined my first rock band, “The Nervous System” as an electric bass player. We were popular around Southern California and recorded several demo recordings for Mike Curb, later to become founder of Curb/Warner records. Unfortunately, none of our songs became hits and I continued to play sessions on bass with the likes of Teddy Neely (Jesus Christ Superstar) and the Association (Along Comes Mary, Cherish).
At 19 I ventured to Northern California, to a small community college where I decided to major in music…duh! It seems obvious now, but realize that I was a songwriting, singer-guitarist. NOT your typical music major. The fact is, I probably would have washed out of a large program such as the ones offered by area schools, UCLA, USC and Long Beach State. I ended up with two very talented and supportive teachers: George Mattos and, the then unpublished, Kirby Shaw. It was….a match made in heaven. These two men recognized my musical nature and proceeded to impart all of the necessary theory, sight-singing, vocal and instrumental skills required of a music educator. I will be forever grateful for their wisdom and encouragement.
In 1973 I graduated from Southern Oregon University, in Ashland, Oregon, with a degree in Music Education and landed my first teaching assignment in Mt. Shasta, California, some 60 miles south of Ashland. For four years I taught band, choir, and general music to grades K-8. It was a wonderful learning experience in the broad spectrum of music education. It was during this time that I decided to tryout my songwriting skills on my choirs. In 1977 I published my first pieces with Jenson Publications. By 1980 I was writing or arranging 20 pieces per year and my royalties far exceeded my teaching income. At that point I resigned my teaching position (I had moved on to the high school by that time), in order to devote my full attention to writing. The rest is…well as they say, history. I continue to compose or arrange 20 to 30 pieces per year and up until recently, taught the guitar and vocal jazz programs at College of the Siskiyous.