Redwood City, California -- living in SoCal since 76
When did you begin seriously listening to Top 40 radio?
Summer of '62
What station and where?
KYA 1260 and KEWB 910... KYA had the better jocks --
Emperor Gene Nelson (I too was a Royal Commando -- good
for discounts at Playland at the Beach and that was about
it, as I recall); Russ "The Moose" Syracuse, Bobby Mitchell
3-6pm, Tom Donahue 6-9 and Tommy Saunders 9-midnight (first
guy to play a solid straight hour of Beatles that I can
remember). On KEWB I remember Bobby Dale and Ron Lyons (who
stayed with them through about ten format changes, didn't
he?) and that's about it.
For better or worse, earliest songs etched in your memory?
"Pussy Cat" by the Ames Brothers. One of my brothers
had the 45 record. On the radio I remember "Calcutta" by
Lawrence Welk, "The Chipmunk Song" and "Hound Dog." No wonder
I turned out the way I did.
If stranded in the jungle, ten songs you would take:
"Can I Change My Mind" (Tyrone Davis)
"It's Alright" (JJ Jackson, although it's getting overplayed
on oldies radio in LA now
"No Particular Place to Go" (Chuck Berry's best guitar solo
as far as I'm concerned)
"Come Go With Me" (Del-Vikings
"Since I Fell For You" (Lenny Welch -- primo pipes)
"You're the Reason God Made Oklahoma" (Frizzel and West)
"You Never Even Called Me By My Name" (David Allan Coe)
"She's No Lady, She's My Wife" (Lyle Lovett)
"Smoke from a Distant Fire" (Sanford Townsend
"Summer Wind" (Frank Sinatra)
First few records owned and why:
"Tie Me Kangaroo Down Sport" Rolf Harris -- why not? He
played his diggeree doo, mate and he tanned his hide when
he died, Clyde and that's it hanging on the shed -- does
it get any better than that?
One Song, a Hit the first time you heard it and why:
"Honky Tonk Woman" by the Stones -- the guitar lick which
came after the second line just seemed like something every
air guitarist at school would soon be doing.
First trace of show business in your blood:
I played a wicked accordion at age eight -- right hand only,
First performance in front of a captive audience:
We had a trio of accordionists in my fourth grade class
at Taft School. The teacher punished our class by making
them listen to us around Christmas time.
Between the ages of 6 and 16 what was your favorite
For music: KYA - then KFRC... KSFO (for the Giants
and Niners) and before it was top 40 -- KFRC for listening
to the then San Francisco Warriors in the dark, with Bill
King - best sports anouncer ever -- even counting Vin Scully
or Chick Hearn.
Between the ages of 6 and 16 your average daily exposure
always on in the background at least 2 hours a day
Ulterior uses of music (this one's for Julio but if
you can answer it too):
To get out of doing real work
Name of first band?
Dan & Jean & the Bop a Dips
Musical repertoire of first band?
Oldies between beers
Earliest musical influences and why:
Jerry Lee, Floyd Cramer, Victor Borge
Between ages of 6 and 16 favorite comedians?
Bob Hope, Jonathan Winters, Charlie Manna... and all
the movie comedians on KGO's Mad Mad Movie every Saturday
morning: Abott & Costello, Red Skelton, etc.
Punch line of earliest joke you can recall:
"I know! Why don't you take your flashlight and look
in mommy's cave and see if you can find my little red bike."
(Don't ask me why the dirty ones have stuck in my mind.)
Who or what influenced your sense of humor?
Bob Hope, Ben Hecht, Woody Allen
How did you first hear the name BWGP?
A buddy of mine had seen them at the Sand Castle and raved
about them, so in Spring of '73 I went to see them at Homer's
Warehouse in Palo Alto, where they were supposed to open
for Asleep at the Wheel. (I was a sportswriter for the Redwood
City tribune, and was moonlighting doing some reviews).
Unfortunately, Asleep's bus had a flat or something so after
a long delay (and a couple pitchers of beer later) Butch
and the Boys went on and did three sets. I died laughing
(especially at the Big Fella show) and saw they had no piano
player (Carino was sick that night or something). I got
to know Gary and Karl that night and then after writing
a glowing review (major suck-up action, I know) I got to
know Jerry. When Carino went down with tetanus Jerry asked
me to fill in for a few weeks and it turned into a three
year full-time gig and this 20-year part time session work.
When and why did you join BWGP?
see way too long answer above
Earliest recollection of performing with BWGP?
First night was at the Boathouse, Dec. 73. Overlooking
Sausalito, packed house, the Hells Angels providing "security",
The owner, John Ballestrasi (however you spell it) working
the room, and Wally trying to work the blonde named CiCi(?).
Most desperate BWGP moment:
July 1974 -- First performance without Jules, Karl
or Hag and first show with with Rob and Peter Gordon. A
theater in Santa Rosa... Bob does the talk-up to "Misty"
and then says Mister Music Man, if you please... amd Perry
(our lighting man) turns every light in the house off and
I can't see the friggin' keys... I just put my hands down
and start playing ( I think I was about two steps off, but
the way I played anyway -- no one noticed, much like now)
although as Perry slowly brought the lights up, I eventually
hit the right lead-in key for Bob.
Most embarrassing moment performing with BWGP:
So many, so little time... Stretch Fortune (Bob was sick,
so for some reason Gary and Jerry thought I could pull off
the DJ routine. I was so nervous, all I could do was some
stupid laugh) Never Can Say Godbye during our dance set
in Saskatoon -- I think that will always be a band classic
Fondest recollection of BWGP:
In no particular order:
1)Indianapolis 1976 - Johnny B screaming at the top of his
lungs "She's biting my *** off!" at about 3:30am in our
Indianapolis rent-a-pad, and then moments later telling
us to go back to bed, everything is under control.
2) Rome, Georgia - 1976 - when the huge Big Fella sign lit
up revealing the redneck boys ready to throw stuff at us.
3) Saskatoon 1975 - Bob pretending to be Yogi Bear ordering
food from Gerald Ford at Jack in the Box and killing Perry
who was dying laughing.
4) Winnipeg 1975 - Sunday lunch with the Strippers at Lake
Winnipeg. (actually that was more weird than anything else).
5) 1983-present - The look on women's faces when Laz turns
around for the Tom Jones bit, revealing the strategically
placed sock -- always classic.
6) 1974-76 -- Vancouver and The Cave -- watching Nixon resign
at the Fraser Arms, the Sylvia Hotel... Tim and Kevin and
basketball at Kitsilano Beach by day, hitting the Columbia
and LaBatts's Breweries with Harry Kirkpatrick... Johnny
B booking me to make some extra bucks playing piano at the
female impersonators lunch shows that Stan Grozina somehow
thought would be a hit.
7)1974 Sacramento - Johnny B doing a Freduian and saying
"Mary Jo Kopechne" had been expelled -- the Oaks in Sacramento.
8) 1974-76 -- Playing with Commander Cody and the Boys.
9) 1974? -- Backing up Chuck Berry for two-and-a-half hours
in Monterey , with no set list, no idea what song we're
doing next or in what key, and doing a piano solo for 96
bars (I thought Chuck would only want me to do a standard
12 so I went all out, and then he let me go for 12 more,
and then another 12 and I was having severe arm fatigue
and cramps by bar 72) and then having Chuck invite the crowd
on stage only to find out seconds later that he's boogied
out of there, and we have to finish and then get our equipment
off stage before it's toast.
10) The whole process. The hectic wait til the last minute
sketches with Gary, still the funniest writer I've ever
worked with. The Sunday and Wednesday practice before the
shows when we finally get a chance to rehearse the new sketches
and then start chopping away the chuffa and cricket fodder
and revising lines and just making it work. Gary somehow
amazingly coming up with fifteen new funny lines; Bob being
his usual pain until he gets an audience -- and then making
it fifty times better than we imagined). Julio, Laz and
Craig just not being afraid to commit -- 90% of the battle.
Jery's calm, efficient organization, Dede's voice, the boys
in the band quickly adapting to left hand turns we throw
at them on the spot...the guys to just trust us on faith
and they do (even when they shouldn't) and it usually works...
Last, and most importantly, the lasting friendships, the
comraderie and the shared experiences. That's something
we have and no one else ever can... although some of the
wives may not necessarily think of that as a good thing.
Big Fella Show is still a classic -- Love Notes to the Big
Unabomber (Return to Sender),
Lucky Strike Singers,
Phil Donahue/Pete Rose/Wade Boggs/Margo Adams
Hey Little Girl (Prince Charles and Princess Di)
Jose & Renee (although it kind of kept growing over the
Father Duffy (ditto)
Call me crazy -- but I always laughed at Wally doing Jolson
in blackface -- especially in Atlanta -- we were pretty
stupid then, weren't we?
Not so finest sketches:
Stretch Fortune I think, via trims and a couple new jokes,
we somehow rescued a lot of our bad stuff and turned it
into okay bits.
Weirdest BWGP moment (on or off stage):
Mister Peanut performing with us in Vancouver is right
up there. (He was a performance artist
The Santa Clara College fight when Julio and Jerry went
after the guys who threw beer cans at us.
Laz hitting his head when he misstepped on his jump into
Up in Redding when the bass singer from the Coasters, bolstered
by more than a few drinks, kept wanting to get on stage
Oh, and Saskatoon -- right before we get ready to go on
and the lovesick boyfriend trying to win back his waitress
girlfriend. She says no and to prove his love he sticks
his hand into the deep fryer.
How do you explain your role in BWGP the 19th Annual
Farwell Performance to new friends or colleagues who have
never heard of BWGP and didn't know you have a secret closet
I start to tell the entire story of the band and its
social relevance to the people of Guatemala and by the time
I reach the Eric Burdon in Santa Cruz chapter, people have
usually fallen asleep on me and I kind of sheepishly let