The Early Years
My love affair with music most likely began in the womb. My mother said she was frequently listening to music when she was pregnant with me so I can only assume that early exposure embedded me with a passion for music. I first got bit by the guitar bug when I was about eight years old and from then on it was a constant obsession... the guitar hardly left my hands. By the time I was 13 years old I had formed my first band Whiplash. The other guys were all 5-6 years older than me, but I was the founder and leader. It was my first paying gig. OK, so $5 a piece for playing backyard parties and campgrounds wasn't exactly making us rock star rich, but it did mean we were ‘professional’!
My high school years were filled playing weekends in bars and outdoor concerts throughout the Western New York area with Southbound, covering the Classic rock and Southern rock hits of the day and throwing in a few originals. We even had our own dedicated fan club: a group of girls from my high school that came to every gig adorned in Southbound T-shirts and regalia. Little did I know that that was just the start of my exposure to fandom.
After graduating my senior year (as class salutatorian) I moved to Boston to join a band called Steel Assassin. Heavily influenced by the New Wave of British Heavy Metal movement of the time, we patterned ourselves after our heroes Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Saxon and early Def Leppard. Sadly, after recording a few demos and playing a handful of gigs, the band disintegrated into oblivion.
After a few more lean years in the Boston area playing in an Aerosmith cover band and doing studio sessions, things started to look bleak. I was tiring of the brutal winters and felt that my future lied elsewhere. If I was going to be starving, I might as well be starving out West where the sunshine, beautiful girls and blossoming Hard Rock scene were all at. So in January 1984 I took a plane to Los Angeles and never looked back. In those days, you could sell your unused portion of a round trip airline ticket, so that's exactly what I did... I knew I wasn't going to need it.