I grew up in the Hollywood Hills, in a show-biz family. My mother was a ’50′s “B” movie and TV actress, and my father was a be-bop trumpeter named Red Rodney.
You can check out my dad Red Rodney’s MySpace page here: http://www.myspace.com/therealredrodney.
Red played with many famous jazz musicians over the years. Here’s a famous photo of him with Charlie “Bird” Parker. .. .. People like Steve Cochran, Lawrence
Tierney, Jason Evers, Roy Jenson, Larry Storch, Charlie Chaplin Jr., and many others, were always over the house.
Dizzy Gillespie and Ray Brown were regulars too. Although I always heard a lot of jazz and show tunes growing up, it wasn’t until I heard Dave Brubeck’s “Take Five” that I really listened. Paul Desmond’s alto was so cool, and Joe Morello, wow! Even as a kid I knew it had changed music. The sound of the record went right thru me. Then the Beatles…yes! Everyone at Bancroft Jr. High — where I was a student — saw them on TV’s “Ed Sullivan Show,” and the world hasn’t been the same since. .. .. Now, my dad had always drilled it into my head about life that God first created the Heavens and the Earth, then man, and then man invented the wheel, then Charlie Parker was born, and after that, it all went downhill. He was wrong!
The Beatles and the Stones came and that’s when everyone my age started playing guitar. My mom was very hip for the times. When I was ten years old she would say, “you need some good books,” and then she gave me a couple by Henry Miller (..Tropic of Cancer..), and her favorite, Thomas Wolfe (..You Can’t Go Home Again ..). Then she said, “…when you’re done with those, read these…” and she gave me books by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Tennessee Williams, William Faulkner, John O’Hara, Arthur Miller, Capote, and then the ‘Beats’ and poets like Blake, and Dylan Thomas. Of course, it took a long long time to read all those, but looking back now I’m so glad that she recommended those books. When i discovered Hunter Thompson and Bukowski, i was ready… ..
As a teen, I started hanging out and jamming at clubs on the Sunset Strip. In those days you could jam with anybody at a club called ‘Thee Experience’, (rumored to be partly owned by Jimi himself). Jimi Hendrix (he was always there), Blues Image, John Mayall, Eric Burden, and Albert Collins were just a few I was lucky enough to jam with.
L.A. got too crazy after Manson, so I reconnected with my dad, who was then living in Las Vegas and playing with the “Rat Pack.” .. ..I was all set to attend Berklee School of Music when I saw John Batdorf playing guitar at UNLV’s “The Kitchen,” Vegas’s only folk club, and my life changed again. CSN, and Neil Young had come out, and we both loved those groups, so we switched to acoustic guitars, started jamming together and developed our own sound. .. .. .. We went back to L.A. and discovered the new scene at the Troubadour, the mecca of the new sound.
The Byrds, and The Eagles, had met and started there, and next to the Beatles, the Byrds were my favorite and maybe still are. I use to hang out after school with all the other kids at this beatnik’s sculpture studio — his name was Vito, and with his wife Sue, and their “mascot” Carl Franzoni, we were always welcome to come and hang out and watch the Byrds rehearsing there. We all thought they were like the Beatles. Anyway, much has been written about Vito and his freaks — they were house dancers in the clubs, first for the Byrds, then Love, then Frank Zappa.
Eventually we signed with Atlantic Records, and Ahmet Ertegun himself produced our first album, recorded at Muscle Shoals, Ala.
We then toured with every big act of the 70′s, bands like Chicago, The Youngbloods (we played Carnegie Hall with them), Seals & Crofts, Jackson Browne, The Doobie Brothers, Dr. John, Dan Fogelberg, Poco, Harry Chapin, Linda Ronstadt, Fleetwood Mac, etc, etc, etc…, and the amazing thing was, we were just teens!
A year later we recorded an album for David Geffen’s Asylum Records, which was produced by Bill Halverson, who produced CSN, America and so many others. Finally, Clive Davis gave us the opportunity to record an album for his Arista label. Our album, .. Life Is You, .. even produced a modest Top 100 hit with, “You Are a Song,” which stayed on the charts for seven weeks, peaking at number 87.
Eventually I started playing with jazz cats like Raj Rathor. We were both friends of Lenny Breau, one of the all-time greatest guitarists ever! Now, all the music I heard as a kid is part of who i am and what I play…Thelonius Monk, John Coltrane, Miles, Bill Evans, Dave Brubeck, all the way up to the Beatles, the Byrds, Buffalo Springfield and approximately 5,347 more! .. .. When we were asked “What do you guys sound like?,” I said Pop-Folk-jazz! And on and on it goes…. .. .. .. .. As Robert Frost said…”Miles to go, before I sleep.” .. .. As i said…”I’ll sleep when i’m dead”
In the 80′s, I resumed acting in bit-parts in movies and television;.. .. check out my various credits at this Internet Movie Database link.. http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0734941
CSN and Buffalo Springfield were our main influences — Stephen Stills’ solo on “Bluebird” was/is the best acoustic solo I had ever heard so we modeled our sound in that style. Neil Young was also a big influence at that time, especially his album After The Gold Rush.
Later on, I loved Gabor Szabo, and started to do extended solos on some songs. Then we saw Seals & Crofts, who just blew us away. Now, mix all that with John Lennon and Paul McCartney, the Everly Brothers, David Crosby, Simon & Garfunkle, a little Jefferson Airplane, etc…and you get a Jazz/Folk blend. That’s our sound. ..