I was born on the 10th of August, which I only recently discovered is also the birth date of Leo Fender, the inventor of the electric bass guitar. My mother says I started walking at 7 months old and that I could whistle a melody when I was 3. My dad was an ardent music lover who introduced me to his favorite: Dixieland Jazz. He really enjoyed seeing greats like Al Hirt and Pete Fountain on The Ed Sullivan Show. Unfortunately, (for the rest of the family because it sometimes didn’t keep him from trying) he couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket. But Mom was a singer… in the church choir and also in a ladies’ choral group called the Carillons.

I got my first guitar as a Christmas gift when I was 12 years old, a black Silvertone electric. I first tried formal lessons but soon reverted to just learning my favorite songs by ear or from friends. I remember that the first song I could play and sing was the Beatles’ version of “Chains”. The first albums that I recall owning (and wearing out) were “Meet The Beatles”, Donavan’s “Hurdy Gurdy Man” and Cream’s “Disraeli Gears”. At some point, I got an old Guild 12-string acoustic and began to learn songs by Cat Stevens, James Taylor, Neil Young and Crosby, Stills & Nash. My first paid performances were weddings, where I would play and/or sing - anything from love songs to “The Lord’s Prayer”.

Later, probably due to experimentation with certain illicit substances, my tastes turned toward harder, more electric music by groups like Led Zeppelin, Blue Oyster Cult and Grand Funk Railroad (“Grand Funk Live” is another album I played to death) then ultimately, to progressive rock pioneers ELP, Genesis, Pink Floyd and YES. But in order to play those kinds of music, I needed to be in a band; and the one that I’d struck up with already had a guitarist (funny, his name was Dave Mathews) but no bass player. This prompted me to acquire my first electric bass gear: a cheap Kay 4-string and a second-hand 30-watt Kalamazoo amp.

OK RayRobin
So, during high school I was singing in the chorus (we went to the finals in state competition), performing in the musical productions (as Buffalo Bill in “Annie Get Your Gun” and Curly in “Oklahoma”) and playing in talent shows and at parties- acoustic guitar by myself and electric bass with my rock band.


Oh... and I was dating a senior, the head majorette.

More to come as I think of it…