Paul’s amazing career as an arranger started with work as a session trombonist at Motown, but it wasn’t long before he became one of the top arrangers in the history of American popular music. As it is with so many talented people behind the scenes, you may not recognize his name, but you will certainly remember his work arranging such songs as “Papa Was A Rollin’ Stone,” “My Cherie Amour,” “I Believe I Can Fly,”, “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” “Two Hearts,” “If I Were Your Woman,” “My Girl,” “Tear of A Clown,” “I Heard It Through The Grapevine” and “Never Too Much”.
Paul co-wrote “What Becomes of the Brokenhearted,” in addition to arranging the recording. In 2009, Paul’s work as an arranger is still in demand. He recently completed a new project with Stevie Wonder.
As a Producer, Fred’s career would be legendary for his work with Roy Orbison alone. Foster produced such standards as, “Only the Lonely,” “Crying,” “Blue Bayou,” “It’s Over” and “Oh, Pretty Woman”. Fred also played a huge role in the careers of Dolly Parton, Ray Stevens, Boots Randolph, Al Hirt, Charlie McCoy, Tony Joe White, Larry Garlin and Kris Kristofferson to name a few.
In addition to signing Kristofferson to Monument records, the label he co-founded, Fred gave Kristofferson the title that became Janis Joplin’s definitive record, “Me and Bobby McGee,” which he and Kristofferson co-wrote. In the 60’s, Fred also started an R&B label called Sound Stage 7. Artists who recorded on the Sound Stage Label included Joe Simon, Allen Toussaint, The O’Jays and Ivory Joe Hunter. In 2006, Fred Foster produced Willie Nelson’s Grammy nominated “You Don’t Know Me: The Songs of Cindy Walker,” and in 2007 Foster produced Willie Nelson’s collaboration with Merle Haggard and Ray Price, “Last of the Breed.”
As a guitarist, Chet was inspired by Django Reinhardt, Merle Travis, George Barnes and Les Paul. Chet started out on the ukulele and fiddle and got his first guitar at age 9. As a result of hearing Merle Travis on the radio, Chet soon developed his own style of finger picking that became, unmistakably, Chet’s Sound.
Chet’s early career had its ups and downs. Believe it or not, Chet was even fired for not sounding country enough. Che’ts luck changed when Steve Shoals signed him to RCA Victor. Chet’s first records did not earn enough money for him to support a family, so he joined Mother Maybelle & The Carter Sisters, who were performing on KWTO. Chet moved with Mother Maybelle & The Carter Sisters to Nashville to perform on WSM-AM and the Opry. Chet soon began working on recording sessions as a session leader with Steve Shoals for RCA Victor’s Nashville artists.
Chet’s first big record was “Mister Sandman.” Chet was featured on the Eddy Arnold Show in the summer of 1956. In 1957, Shoals put Chet in charge of RCA Records Nashville. Due to the success of Elvis Presley, country sales had dropped dramatically. It was Owen Bradley and Chet who were credited with creating what became known as the Nashville Sound, Making country music more appealing to pop fans. During his career Chet won 14 Grammy’s, 9 CMA Instrumentalist of the Years Awards, The Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and The Billboard Magazine Century Award. Chet was also inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1973 and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002.
“Years from now, after I’m gone, someone will listen to what I’ve done and know I was here. They may not know or care who I was, but they’ll hear my guitars speak for me”.
Billy knew greatness the first time he ever heard Jimi Hendrix play guitar. Billy introduced himself to Jimi when they were both in the 101st Airborne, stationed in Fort Campbell, KY. This was the start of a lifelong friendship. After leaving the Army, Billy and Jimi moved to Nashville where they started their band, The King Kasuals and played in Nashville’s Printers Ally and the surrounding “chitlin’ club circuits.” When Hendrix hit the road touring with other bands, Billy opted to stay in Nashville. After Hendrix was discovered by Chas Chandler, bassist from the group The Animals, Jimi asked Billy to go to Europe with him. Billy declined Jimi’s offer because, as he put it, “I only had two strings on my bass and not enough money for a bus ticket.” Hendrix told him he would come back and get him when he made it, and he stayed true to his word.
When bassist Noel Redding left The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Hendrix brought Billy to Woodstock, NY where they rehearsed with drummer Mitch Mitchell and played the iconic 1969 Woodstock festival. Soon after, Hendrix, Billy and drummer Buddy Miles became The Band of Gypsy’s. After The Band of Gypsy’s, Mitch Mitchell reunited with Billy and Hendrix to rekindle The Jimi Hendrix Experience. After Hendrix passed away, Billy moved back to Nashville where he was hired as a member of the The Charlie Daniels Band. Billy continues touring, writing songs and recording to this day.
After seeing a Dick Dale show, Leo Fender, founder of Fender Musical Instruments Company, designed an amplifier named the “Showman.” Leo increased the power output, and he had new speakers designed to handle the extra wattage that Dick needed. The volume and energy radiating from Dick’s performances led to him being called the “Father of Heavy Metal.” Dick’s love for surfing and recreating the sound he heard while surfing earned him the name “King of the Surf Guitar.”
Dick’s first records were released on his own Deltone label with his back up band, The Del-Tones. His hit, “Let’s Go Trippin,” was regarded as the first surf rock song. That record was soon picked up and distributed nationally by Capital Records. Dick has influenced generations of guitarists worldwide and is still touring today.
Charlie started his career as a session musician in Nashville, working for Producer Bob Johnston. Bob booked Charlie as a session guitarist on three of the four albums Bob Dylan recorded in Nashville. Dylan was so impressed with Charlie’s musicianship that he later included Charlie in recording session with Beatles guitarist George Harrison. In the mid 70’s, Charlie also played fiddle on recordings for The Marshall Tucker Band and Hank Williams Jr. Charlie recorded his first solo album in 1971, but it was his second album in 1973 that yielded his first Top Ten Billboard hit “Uneasy Rider.” Charlie followed that hit with two records in 1975 entitled “The South’s Going To Do it Again” and “Long Haired Country Boy”. In 1979, Charlie had a monster crossover hit with “The Devil Went Down to Georgia,” which won him a Grammy for Best Country Vocal Performance.
In the 80’s Charlie continued to have pop airplay with singles like “In America” and “Still in Saigon.” Charlie and the band continue touring the world playing for his fans, including our troops in Afghanistan and Iraq. In 2008, Charlie was inducted as a member into the Grand Ole Opry.
Victor Feldman was a musical prodigy at age 7. Born in Edgware, Middlesex, England in 1934, Victor came from a very musical family. At age 10, he was featured playing drums in a concert with Glen Miller’s AAF Band. He also became an accomplished player on the vibes, but it was his talent as a pianist for which he was most noted. In 1957, Victor recorded with various jazz artists including Benny Goodman and Cannonball Adderley.
His most famous contribution was to Miles Davis’s 1963 album “Seven Steps to Heaven” on which Victor wrote the title cut. Victor became an in demand session player in L.A. not only for jazz, but for his work with L.A. session musicians known as “The Wrecking Crew,” who played on most of the southern California pop records in the 60’s and early 70’s. Victor was also known for his work with artists such as Frank Zappa, Joe Walsh and Steely Dan. Victor was only 53 years old when he passed away following an asthma attack in 1987.
Toto, consisting of some of LA’s finest studio musicians, has sold over 30 million albums to date. The original line-up consisted of Jeff and Steve Porcaro, David Paich, Steve Lukather and David Hungate. Mike Porcarotook over the position of bass guitarist for David Hungate in 1980. The Porcaro and David Paich came form musical families. The Procaros’ father was session percussionist Joe Porcaro, and David Paich’s father was session player, arranger Marty Paich. Given their family history, the Porcaros and David Paich quickly established reputations as stellar musicians playing in local L.A. bands and in studio sessions.
The addition of session bassist David Hungate and local guitarist, Steve Lukather, completed Toto’s line-up of Musicians. Most of the musicians, having been session players for artists such as Steely Dan, Seals and Crofts, Boz Scaggs, and Sonny and Cher, were pursued by CBS Records to put out an album of their own. After signing Bobby Kimball as lead singer, Toto began work on their first of 18 albums in 1977. The airwaves of pop radio are filled to this day with Toto hits, such as “Hold the Line,” Rosanna” and “Africa”, along with the countless records they have recorded as session musicians.