Gary started out by telling me "Luke's work as a writer and leader certainly stands out. In hindsight, we can look at what those guys were doing and really see what Luke's contribution to Toto was. For me being a fan of all those guys, Luke, Mike and Jeff in particular, since I've always been a fan of drummers. When you look back there would be no Toto without Luke. There can be no Toto without Luke. He is, in my opinion, Toto. There's a time whenever a musical entity achieves a lot of success, we tend to dismiss it. They're successful, it's not as good. We start to think that maybe there's some
integrity that has been omitted because it's successful, right? When you go back and listen to that stuff that they did, it's ALWAYS great. It's well played. Luke's a FUCKIN' genius! Sorry. I'm just grateful that I got the opportunity to play with him as much as I did".
Reggie: Let's talk about your new release. What's it called?
Gary Ferguson: "GF1 Via Mia. Spanish for my life. The reference is in Spanish because I speak fluent Spanish because I grew up in Puerto Rico. It's basically music that I've written and pieced together by beg, borrowing and stealing and having friends play on it. In this day of technology, I was able to exchange files with people, ask favors and reciprocate favors. I was able to put enough music together so that I could put it out as a body of work. It's really hard to say that something is done and this is a body of work and I'm putting it out. For me, the process is ongoing forever. I finally just said good or bad I'm putting it out and see what is going to happen. Who knows where it's going to go? I have no idea because it's self-funded, self-promoted. I'm doing everything myself right now."
Reggie: Who played on it?
GF: "A lot of guitar players. Guitar players are my best friends. I love guitar players. James Harrah, Kirk Fletcher, Michael Thompson, Marty Walsh, Todd Robinson who is a friend of mine that I grew up with who plays with Luis Miguel. Those are the main guitar players. I had Brandon Fields, Jimmy Z. and Craig Thomas play saxophone. David Benoit plays piano. Taras Prodoniuk from Dwight Yoakums' band plays bass, John Pierce plays bass."
Reggie: John Pierce came to the Baked Potato to see Luke with Nerve Bundle and to hang out.
GF: "Johnny Croissant! John Pierce. He is one of my favorite bass players of all time. He and I played on that New Radicals single "You Get What You Give". John Pierce and I. Philip Bynoe also played bass, from Steve Vai's band,"
Reggie: Is it an all instrumental release?
GF: "There is one vocal song that my friend Danny Timms sang. He's from The Highwaymen. He used to play with Kris Kristofferson, Willie, and Waylon. He moved to Tulsa, living in Oklahoma so it's hard to get him out to do a gig."
Reggie: How can people get this release?
GF: "You can listen to it on Spotify. You can buy it on CD Baby or buy it digitally on iTunes. CD Baby put in on YouTube. It's all over the place. I haven't made any hard copies, physical copies because who does that anymore? But I probably will make a limited number of them just so I can give them to people, self-promotion because it's all coming out of my pocket and I'm doing it all. I have the artwork done and all put together. So it's a matter of time."
Reggie: You also had a record from 2001 called "Surf Christmas".
GF: "That was my brother Tony's idea. We did that right after I got off the road with Luke and Larry. We went into the studio and knocked that out for fun. It was basically my brother's idea. My brother Tony is a guitar player. He's not really involved in the music business. He thought it would be fun to make a Christmas album. Surf music style. He wound up giving it to me. It's now being pitched as me. It was never intended to be me. It was my brother T's project. It was called "surf Christmas" and it was an idea now attached to me."
Reggie: I listened to some of it and it sounded pretty cool.
GF: "It's good! It's really good. I'm not ashamed of it at all. I'm proud of it. Every year people listen to it. I still have about 3,000 of them down in the garage. Maybe I'm down to the last 1,500."
Reggie: I saw you twice on the Luke and Larry Carlton Tour. At the Key Club in L.A. and the Ventura Theater. Talk about those gigs.
GF: "How did we sound?"
Reggie: Great! I loved the first one so much I went again.
GF: "The Key Club. That's where the power went out, right? It was a weird gig."
Reggie: I think so. I remember that was a funky gig.
GF: "I think the power did go out. Luke in prime Luke form didn't give a shit. He just wanted to press on. The rest of us were sort of panicking. But not Luke. He sort of said 'LET'S GO". You know. You can't stop him."
Reggie: On that gig, you were set up stage left facing in an odd direction. It was a way different look for the fans of the drummer. You were closer to the front of the stage. I thought it was kind of cool for the fans. What was your thought on the setup?
GF: "I had nothing to do with that. I think there were benefits to it. I think our Tour Manager Sonny Abelardo, it was his idea, He'd seen other people do it and he liked it a lot. He was sort of putting it together, the shows and packaging. I think he asked me if I was okay with it. Years ago I'd seen Return Forever, Lenny White do that. He sat on the side. I didn't have any big objection to it at all. As far as how it affected me it was irrelevant because half the time I play with my eyes closed. Larry would always scream at me 'open your eyes'. Steve was always 'open your eyes, Ferg'. I rely on what I hear more than what I see which is sort of a detriment. I would probably look a lot cooler if I would just keep my eyes open and pay attention. I'm paying attention by listening. When I think back about my
time with Luke and Larry, it was for me, musically like a highlight of some of the music that I've gotten to play because I've really respected both of those guys immensely as musicians. The other thing is Luke I think has as much respect for Larry as I did. So to see someone of Luke's caliber almost hero worship status of Larry was just sort of funny. They would joke around together. When we would be at gigs I could tell that Luke would be sort of listening to Larry noodle around sometimes before we would play just takin' notes... but at the SAME time man, I think Larry was checking Luke out and copped a lot of his thing. It was a mutual admiration thing. There's a couple of shows that were documented where you could see the genuine joy that those two guys had and the band had. You could see at the ends of these shows that it was sincere and we were having fun and everybody liked
each other a lot ."
Gary with Luke & Larry in Paradiso Amsterdam 2001
Reggie: I just saw Larry this Summer with Steely Dan at Dodger Stadium in front of 55,000.
GF: "L.C. was when I got the opportunity to work with him, mind-blowing to me on a few things he did. He would do this one thing every night. He'd come out and play a solo piece, nothing scripted. Basically, he was going to pull shit out of the air. I saw him do that every night that we played for a year. It was fantastic every time. I have an interesting story about Larry. When I was playing with him I was a huge Larry Carlton fan forever, from when he was starting out around town doing sessions, the Crusaders and Tom Scott and the LA Express. I'd follow him forever. When I was working with him with Luke when we were soloing, I could ALWAYS connect with Luke and sort of grab figures. I could hear
what Luke was playing. I could hear it coming. When I would play with Larry I would always think his time was a little funny or something was off. A little off kilter. It always felt funny to me. So I would get soundboard mixes of the show and take them to my room and listen to them and analyze what was going on. And Larry was right and I was wrong EVERY fucking time! L.C. was nailing it! And that's when I realized where he was at harmonically, rhythmically was in a different place than I was. He heard the big picture in a different way. It inspired me to get better because prior to that I'd just been sort of a meat and potatoes player. Which is fine. 95% of the work I do is that kind of drumming. But it really made me aware of how good Larry Carlton truly is. It was a revelation for me because when I was in
the middle of it, it felt odd. At times it would come together for me, but when I went back and I listened to it... I went oh... oh...oh... I'm a jerk. Larry's heavy. It was inspiring. So it made me get better. I thank him to this day for letting me learn from him. I sort of see it as a learning process."
Reggie: How about the Odd Couple with Luke and Edgar Winter both who were Ringo All Starrs?
GF: "That was before they were All Starrs. That's when they were the Odd Couple. What a weird couple they were. They were great together. They were fantastic. What can I say? I love them both. Edgar Winter, I'm a huge fan. I always have been. White Trash was one of my favorite bands of all time. Luke and I had that in common, we're both Edgar Winter fans. It really was a fun time. I really don't think there was any giant objective with that. We had no rehearsals. We showed up and we played. That's not true. I think we got together one time to figure out what key the songs were going to be in. And then we flew to Japan and started playing at the Blue Note. It was kind of like do your best and have fun."
Gary at the Odd Couple tour North Sea Jazz Festival The Hague 2000
Reggie: How about Luke?
GF: "I met Luke about the same time that I met Glenn Hughes in the late 70's, we were playing with Jay Gruska. He'd been out on the road with Boz Skaggs, and this was pre Toto. Toto didn't exist yet, but I think that they were kind of kicking the idea of Toto around. We played with Jay Gruska at this little place called the Bla Bla Café. I remember that Luke was this incredibly gifted musician and one of the funniest people that I'd ever met. So we became friends and we did a few gigs with Jay and then he ran off and did his thing and I did mine. Then years later through our friend John Pierce, the bassist, who I had been doing a lot of session work with, who'd grown up with Luke, they were childhood buddies, we got together and did this run of Japan with Edgar. We had so much fun doing it, it was
really fun. After we did Japan we did a run of Europe. We had more fun. It was like ongoing and I really had a great time with Steve because regardless of what was going on he always had a sense of humor that never went away. He kept the mood light. Even when Edgar was crashing and burning with his equipment failing and he can't see anything, Luke would ALWAYS find a way to make a joke out of it all and keep laughing to ourselves and keep going. Then we would get up their and play our asses off. It was really fun for me to be with someone that was so highly respected as a guitar player but is such a funny individual to where I felt no pretense to his ability or who he was or anything. It was just my friend Steve who was cracking me up. It was fantastic! I thank him for that forever. It was a great time with him on those tours."
Reggie: To me Luke always seems to pull positivity out of a negative situation.
GF: "I couldn't agree more. That's part of his personality. He's a genuinely warm guy"
Reggie: That's got to be a huge part when you are touring/traveling so closely with someone.
GF: "Absolutely. The hang is EVERYTHING. You spend two or three hours at the gig, sound checks and then playing. It's not that much time playing your instruments. The rest of the time you're in close proximity with people, either in busses, planes, hotel rooms, cabs or cars. If you don't have someone who can keep it funny it gets kind of old, fast. Luke is great at that. He's a pro at touring. He's obviously made a lifetime on the road. He's really got it down."
Reggie: I went out on the road with Vince Gill and he brought a comedienne out on the road to open for him. Vince told me it was about having a comedienne on the bus and traveling with him and keeping us laughing while traveling as much as having him open for him. Never a dull moment.
GF: "What a great point because he just keeps it entertaining. In a lot of the tours that I've done, the more fun tours, there's been a lot of humor from the members. Like with Eddie Money despite all the drama he's actually a very funny guy. We had a lot of fun on the road because there was a whole lot of joking going on with a whole lot of camaraderie based kind of way, which was always kind of nice. Whereas when I started touring with some of the English bands like Gary Moore their sense of humor was so different than an American sense of humor that I wasn't really getting it. You're absolutely right, the personalities and sense of humor on the road is critical to making it a fun experience."
Reggie I got a hold of Neil Carter (UFO/Gary Moore), just about a week ago.
GF: "Oh, WOW"!
Reggie: Neil told me "Fergie was our drummer for the 1985 tour. He was a great player and I think probably Gary's (Moore) favorite of the drummers. Gary loved the Hughes/Thrall album that Gary played on and he came highly recommended by Glenn and Geoff Glixman, the producer. Such a solid feel. I have connected with him through Facebook after many years." Talk to us about Neil's words about you.
GF: "They're good to hear. That's a long time ago. I always enjoyed Neil. Gary Moore, probably in his style of music was every bit a strong of a player as Luke or Larry. I consider him as one in the same and equal to them in terms of what they bring to the instrument and how they play. Gary Moore was no doubt a Tour De Force. Unfortunately the style of music that I got to play with him wasn't really what he loved and wanted to do, which was that Blues oriented music. I would have LOVED to be a part of! When I was playing with him we were playing heavy Rock, which is a good thing to do and it was fun music to play and we were making money. An interesting story when I was playing with Luke and Larry
in 2001, I think it was. We played at the Montreux Jazz festival. We played the same day as Gary Moore. As a matter of fact Gary Moore played right before us I believe. There was a part in the Luke and Larry show where Larry goes solo. He does this solo improvisational piece. I went off into this place on the side of the stage to hide, to watch it. And who is right there watching?"
Reggie and GF (simultaneously): GARY MOORE!
Gary with the Gary Moore Band & Phil Lynott 1985
GF: "So we looked at each other and we started giggling and it was if nothing had changed. We were all good again. We talked about playing again and reconnecting. And then before anything happened, he died. I was always hoping I was going to get to play with him again. Because there was no doubt, he and I had chemistry at times that was really, really great. It was tragic."
Reggie: I was able to see that same Gary Moore band at the Reseda Country Club with Eric Singer on drums after you were gone.
GF: "In that era Gary really wasn't getting the acclaim and gigs in America that he was in Europe. He really wanted to crack America. When 'Still Got the Blues' hit, it was his day of reckoning. He waited a long time for that. I was glad for him. He deserved it."
Reggie: How about playing on the "Run For Cover" Gary Moore release. How did that all happen?
GF: " 'Run For Cover' would have been, the negotiations and conversations would have started in late '84. I met Glenn Hughes in 1978 through David Kirk. I got off the road in 1978 with Olivia Newton-John, I toured with her. The front of house mixer was a guy named Davy Kirkwood who'd mixed Purple and Rainbow and all that kind of stuff. He knew Glenn Hughes. He said there's a guy you need to meet named Glenn Hughes and he asked me if I knew who he was. Glenn was pretty famous through Deep Purple. I had no idea, I was like, ok. Because I had never really listened to Deep Purple. I met Glenn at a Christmas party at Davy's house. Christmas of 1978. After that we ended up putting together, through
1979 and 1980 various incarnations of bands to try and do a project together. While we were doing that I was playing with Cher and then Les Dudek and trying to do this thing with Glenn. We wound up with several different incarnations of bands. I had this friendship with Glenn and Glenn had gone over to England to work with Gary Moore. They had bee using Paul Thompson on drums. And they didn't like Paul Thompson. Glenn like me was a big fan of American Funk and R&B. I'm basically a funk drummer that plays Rock 'n' Roll, that's how I've always seen it. Paul Thompson is a really good Rock drummer, Glenn just didn't think he had what he would call the 'funk'. Gary Moore happened to be a huge fan of the Hughes/Thrall album. For some reason the Hughes/Thrall thing could never get going.
Glenn was always trying to connect with people to keep his music going. So he had been working with Gary Moore and they had been using Paul Thompson and Glenn wasn't happy with the way it was going. Gary wasn't 100% happy either. Somehow some conversations came up where, Glenn, thank God, I will thank him forever for this, said they needed to get me to do it. They called me out of the blue and the next thing I knew I flew over to London and I played with him for a few days. Then they said we want you to join the band and do an album and a tour. In the U.K. they did it a little differently back then they put me on a weekly salary. For a year. Like a year contract. It was amazing. I was like, ok, sure I'll do that. The next thing I knew, Stacy, that's my wife. We weren't married at the time. We
got married right around then. We packed up all the stuff and left L.A. and moved to London. That's how I ended up with Gary. I was really sort of poised for this thing with Gary Moore to be a version of Hughes/Thrall but with Gary Moore, Neil Carter along as well. Glenn was supposed to be the bass player, and I guess you know the lead singer of the project. Gary and Glenn you know, it just didn't work out... The next thing I know, Glenn's out and what do we do now? I guess Gary Moore's team and camp already had figured out what they wanted to do. They had Bob Daisley in the wings and he had already been talked to for six months prior to that. It just worked out that way. It was tragic the way it went down. I was really unhappy with the way that they let Glenn go. You know, it was messy. It
Reggie: From my perspective, as a fan. That could have been something magical.
GF: "I'd have to agree. I was so looking forward to it."
Reggie: How about playing with Phil Lynot?
GF: "He was fine. I didn't really get to play with him in his full regalia. For me, Phil Lynot you can only really think of him in Thin Lizzy. Those songs 'Whiskey in a Jar' and 'Boys are Back'. Those are the songs you'd want to play with Phil Lynot. Once again another tragic story. I met Phil Lynot through my relationship with Gary Moore. W were playing and doing some things and Phil said 'ya, I want you to play on my solo record'. He had it in the works and then he fuckin' dies. You know what I mean? Like tragic".
Reggie: How about playing with Glenn Hughes?
GF: "Like I said I had met him in about 1978 and we agreed that we would try and play some music sometime in the future. We did. We tried different incarnations of bands and eventually ended up with Hughes/Thrall with Glenn and Pat Thrall. I played on a lot of his solo records and had a long relationship with Glenn. We had a strong relationship. We drifted apart in recent years and I wish him the best. Today he is totally happening."
Reggie: Watching some of your work on YouTube with Gary Moore and Glenn Hughes those Festival shows were played in front of epic size crowds with fantastic crowd responses.
GF: "When I went over there to play with Gary Moore I had played with Eddie Money and done some fairly high profile gigs. Live gigs. Obviously the Eddie Money at the US Festival was the biggest live gig to this date that I've ever done. I get over there and I'm recording with Gary Moore and I still didn't really grasp that he was such a big kind of celebrity kind of person in the rest of the World and not the United States. It was kind of weird. I'd tell people over here in L.A. oh ya I'm going over to play with Gary Moore and they would say 'Gary who? Isn't he that English guy' and I'd say no he's not English he's Irish, but ya it's him. They'd say ya Ferg, great. Then I got over there and we're selling out between
1,500 and 5,000 seat venues across Europe and sold out the Budokan in Japan for three nights in a row which I think holds like 5,000 or something. He was a BIG deal. I had no idea. I remember one of those tours, they built this riser that I was up on. They were trying to increase their production value. Just this ginormous riser, I was so far away from everybody. It was so weird. I was up in the air higher they they were. It was echoes of being in KISS or something. That was the enormity and they had pyrotechnics, smoke and bombs, lights. I was a full on Rock regalia production. Yet here when I came home to the States to visit people they had no idea who I was working for or what I was doing. It
wasn't until later that he cracked the States playing a direction of music that he always wanted to do. The Rock stuff that I played with him, I'm not sure that's where his heart truly was. I think he was more of a fusion/blues player really. I think where he got to play later on was where his heart truly was at."
Reggie: I saw him open for Rush at the LA Forum 2 nights in a row in 1984 and had to explain to people both nights who Gary Moore was.
GF: "That was the tour right before me, before I went over there and joined them with Bobby Chouinard from Billy Squire's band playing drums with him. Bobby played on his albums and was a great Rock drummer but he had commitments with Billy Squier so it just sort of worked out that he ended up working with Billy so Gary's thing opened up for me to jump in. And once again that was through Glenn, so thank you Glenn for hooking me up."
Reggie: Talk to us about your work with Eddie Money.
GF: "We'll another bigger than life character with his demons and everything. It's always a negotiation and a challenge. We all had our issues. I certainly had my issues as well at the time. But as I look back on my time with Eddie Money I'm proud of the work I did with him. I'm proud of the things I did and I can't understand truly why I quit when I did. I guess part of it was, I had a band when I was playing with Eddie Money and I had Hughes/Thrall going, I had another project I wound up on. It was with Robert Fleishman from Journey. Trey Thompson on bass who was a buddy of mine from sessions and a guitar player named Tony Berg who's gone on to be a pretty good producer. in his own right. He's produced a lot of great stuff. We had a band called Channel and we had a deal on Epic. I basically was
a member of that band and I put all my eggs in that basket. Because when I was playing with Eddie Money, it's funny because Steve Farris who I played with earlier with Glenn Hughes, then here we are with Eddie Money and Steve was leaving Eddie Money to go play with Mr. Mister. I was leaving Eddie Money to go play with Channel. So we were deserters. So Eddie was sort of mad at us for doing that. In retrospect now I don't see any reason why I couldn't have maintained some kind of touring schedule with Eddie and staying involved with Eddie AND done Channel and kept everything going. For me, it was like I wanted to close that door for some reason. It's really ironic because Eddie called me the other day and we were chatting and laughing about it. So we're still friends."
Reggie: He still gigs around. I saw him at an 80's show at the Microsoft Theater and at the Ronnie James Dio charity gig in Encino recently.
GF: "He played down here at St. Rocke and I called him up and I went and saw him. It was nice to see him. Iove Eddie. He's my friend."
Reggie: He still is bigger than life and was overwhelmingly friendly to everyone at the Microsoft gig.
GF: "He's just trying to keep it going. Eddie's a good guy. I don't hate Eddie. Now he's got this thing going with Glen Simmons, his drummer. They're at each other's throats. Glen is a cancer survivor like me and Eddie's trying to get his kids in their in the band, so he's letting some of the guys to do shows with his kids and stuff. Glen is suing him or was suing him or something. So once again, welcome to the music business. You know what I mean? Nobody gets along forever."
Reggie: You played with Eddie Money at the US Festival in front of 150,000 to 200,000 people. What do you remember about that gig?
GF: "Hot!I remember HOT! One of the things I remember is at the end of the song the applause would have like, a two-second delay. It was the weirdest fuckin' thing. It would end and then .........aaaahhhhhhh! What an opportunity. One of the things that happened at that show, which people don't know about...... I had been, down here at the beach where I live, never got very good regular television, so I have ALWAYS had cable. I have always lived like about a block up from the water. So back then Stacy and I had to have cable. When I was surfing around the cable channels I found this music video channel called MTV. I would watch it and they would rotate about 20 videos tops. I remember the Buggles over and over again. The fuckin' Buggles! "Video KIlled the Radio Star", I remember I was at the US Festival and I was talking to Eddie Money and telling him you know I've been watching this cable channel and I keep seeing these videos. And he says ya,ya,ya. So I'm in the Green Room at the US Festival and I see one of the VJ's, a guy named JJ Jackson, who's voice I'd know from KLOS radio station here in L.A. So I cornered him in the Green Room and we started talking and he wanted to interview me and ask me questions about what it was like. I said to him JJ, I really want you to meet Eddie Money and talk to him. I want to get you guys involved. So I pretty much got Eddie Money involved with JJ Jackson and MTV. And the next thing I knew we had knocked out like three or four videos. Bang, bang, bang, bang. I think that those videos really helped Eddie's career from '82 to '83. When we did "No Control" we started that in '81. Those sessions were pretty broken up until the record was out. I really think that I had something to do with that because I helped connect those guys."
Reggie: You played on the Lana Del Rey record 'Lust For Life' that was a #1 U.S. album, #1 in ten countries and in the Top 5 in 20 countries.
GF: "It made it to #1? No shit! Does that mean I get a new Gold or Platinum record?"
Reggie: You should if it shipped 500,000 in the U.S. and you played on it.
GF: "I did play on it. For me my friend Rick Nowels, who was producing the tracks I worked on, called me to do it. I was happy to show up and play on it. It's another session. I have no relationship with Lana. I get to do what I've always wanted to do, is basically be a studio musician. That's all I've ever really wanted to be and I'm still trying to be to this day."
Reggie: What are the benefits and drawbacks for studio and live playing?
GF: "Well there are benefits to both. I think you have to do both to be a happy musician. None of us are truly happy. So if you only do session work you get bummed out because you want to play live. If you only play live you start to wonder why aren't you playing in the studio. For me, it's always been this kind of a thing I wind up playing with someone in the studio and then I get asked to tour with them. Or I'm doing some shows with someone live and I get asked to record with them. I've always felt that being documented on the recordings is what I lived for because that's sort of my legacy, you know. When I look at the list of all the people I've gotten the opportunity to play with on their records
I know my drumming will live on past my time. People will be able to discover my work if they look for it and find it. Future drummers will be able to see how I played by looking at all of the stuff that was documented."
Reggie: Tell us about your involvement in the Los Angeles College of Music and in particular your involvement with Joe Porcaro.
GF: "Wow. You know, Papa Joe, man. I love him."
Reggie: He's great. I still see him at Toto gigs and at the NAMM show every year.
GF: "I love JoPo man, he's my inspiration man because he never has a bad thing to say and he always has a smile on his face. I bow to Joe, I kneel to Joe."
Reggie: It's true. You're smiling now talking about him.
GF: "Ya man, it's the power of Joe. The thing about Joe Porcaro is everything he does on the drums is musical. He's just such a musical person. That's what's so wonderful about him. My involvement with the Los Angeles College of Music is strictly by accident. I was studying here with a drum teacher, after I toured with Larry and Luke, named Richard Wilson who was a guy who taught Carlos Vega and Vinnie Colaiuta. He was sort of like this guru kind of educator in Los Angeles. For the complexity of the studies that you would do, he would really bet you up and get you to work. So I was trying to improve after spending all that time with Larry and Luke, and he passed away. I'd gotten used to having an every
other week commitment with a guru, someone to look up to. So I was wanting to work on a part of my drumming that incorporated the lower end of my drumming, my feet. I somehow discovered that Ralph Humphrey was really had an approach to playing the pedal that was different than what I was used to, as well as a lot of knowledge with hand technique. So I called him up and I'd known Ralph forever because he's like an old friend of mine. I've known him since I was eighteen and I've always looked up to him. Ralph's always been, in the World of drummers, someone that I have ALWAYS, really
looked up to. Like a big brother. I love Ralph. Ralph's just such a good drummer. So I went over to his house to have a lesson. We hadn't seen each other in twenty years and we just hit it off. We just started hanging out and bullshitting. The lesson was minimal and the hang was everything. He started showing me stuff that he was teaching at the Los Angeles Music Academy at the time and I could play it . It wasn't hard for me. I could do it. There was no learning curve and he said to me after a couple of lessons 'hey, do you wanna teach'? I really hadn't thought about it. I've always historically, never been an educator. I never wanted to be an educator. I always thought that people that taught were people
that couldn't play. So I always considered myself a player. So Ralph asked me to do it and I agreed to it and I sort of enjoyed it. The best thing was when I could actually help some of these young players, we actually had people from all over the World there. I was sort of flattered that a lot of them knew who I was and what I'd done. Then when I could show them ways to approach the instrument that truly help them and I could see that their cognition was reached, like a door opened for them, a revelation and they were grateful. They were really appreciative. I went 'oh, maybe being a teacher really isn't
such a bad thing'. It changed my whole overview on it and I got more involved and then I got less involved. Now I'm sort of coming back to it for fun. I do it because I enjoy it. I don't know where the futures going with me and education. I enjoy having a commitment out there and being part of it but if I had to do that only, I would go insane but I find if I don't do a little bit of teaching I miss that too. So I do a little bit of it to round out my life. I have a couple of drummers that come here to the house to take lessons occasionally but I don't focus on being an educator. I don't define myself on being an educator. I define myself as being a player. I define myself as being a player that teaches, not a teacher
Reggie: Outside of music what do you enjoy doing?
GF: "Surfing. That's what I did this morning. I just got out of the water when you got here. Surfing and spending time with my daughter and my wife. My daughter rides horses and I enjoy watching her ride horses and listening to her sing. She can really sing."
Reggie: "Is she out there singing?
GF: "No. She wants to be an actress and a singer and a model. I've deliberately not really pushed her too hard because I didn't want her to be ruined, certainly at an early age. John Keane, years ago told me if you want ruin someone's life put them in the entertainment business as a kid. Because he went through that being a child star and it was really hard on him."
Reggie: Anything you want to add?
GF: "The only thing I want to say is there's a lot of people that I've played with that people aren't aware of. I should get a list and read it to you. Off of the top of my head it goes to Etta James, Ray Charles, Billy Preston, Lonnie Hall, Bette Midler, Albert Lee now, The New Radicals, Cher, Olivia Newton-John, Frankie Miller, Fastway, Michael Schenker Group, Bobby Womack... The list of people that I've played with goes into the hundreds. That's a career of being a drummer. That's what people don't realize is that I continually work. I don't really talk about it and I don't really promote myself. I don't do anything. I just play. I let my playing speak for itself. I'm one of the guys that lets my playing speak for itself whether it's good or bad. I do, you know."
Reggie: How did you make the Billy Preston connection?
GF: "In the 80's through David Benoit. I played with this Canadian saxophone player named Doug Richardson and I was very much a Jazz drummer coming up here in Los Angeles. A Jazz Fusion/Funk drummer. That's how I met Ralph Humphrey because we were involved in that same style of music. I was working with David Benoit doing gigs and stuff and then Dave calls me to play on this Doug Richardson solo album for American Variety International at Producers workshop. So we go over there to play on Doug Richardson's solo record and basically David ended up getting a record deal out of it. So David called me to play on his record... Oh, that's another thing, I played on six or seven David Benoit records... people don't know that. But I was basically a Smooth Jazz drummer before there was Smooth Jazz... and the records are out there. So here I am working with David Benoit at Producers Workshop and one of the engineers was a guy named Galen Cinegols who'd gone through the whole Producers Workshop School, the way they would educate the recording engineers. Galen while he was working at Producers Workshop sort of ended being a sort of Independent Producer. He managed to get a job with a another Producer named Ralph Benetar. We would do all of these Disco and Dance records at the time. We would do these things called LAX and these really cool kind of Funky Discoy kind of records and Galen and Ralph ended up getting a job Producing Billy Preston. Then they insisted
that I be the drummer on it. So I went in there an traced that record with Billy Preston, George and Louis Johnson and I. This was around 1981 and there's a song there called 'I'd Like to Go Home Again', it sort of has me playing a half-time shuffle beat and I think I have to say I think I got it on record before Jeff did. I think I did it before 'Rosanna'. So you know Jeff and I were listening to the same shit at the time. We were both Bernard Purdie fans. Kind of cool you know. So that's how I wound up on that one, just a studio guy. So I was the leader on that so I did all the contracts and everything".
Reggie: I wasn't as aware as much of your live playing credits but I was aware of your studio playing. Some people get pigeonholed into one type of music. You have credits with all kinds of playing from MSG and Fastway to Lana Del Rey, Susanna Hoffs and David Benoit.
GF: "All of the training that I did here in Los Angeles, the teachers I studied with, which were Kaye Carlson, Les Demerle, Murray Spivak and Richard Wilson at an early age was just the training to be studio musician. One of the things about being a studio musician was that you had to be able to play any style of music convincingly. Growing up as a kid, in high school I would listen to Prog Rock bands Genesis, Yes and Greenslade as well as Johnny Hammond Smith, Jimmy Smith and King Curtis. Then I would listen to the Butterfield Blues Band and The Band, The Faces and Zeppelin. Then I would listen to Bob Dylan and Terry Riley in C. I'd listen then to Miroslav Vitous Infinite Search. Me, I'd listen to Jack
Dejohnette then I'd listen to Ringo. I'd listen to Jim Gordon..I'd listen to Kunkel and then Elvin Jones. Tony Williams... then Mott the Hoople. I've always just been a big fan of MUSIC. I tried to find the values in ALL styles. I tried to find the quality in every genre of music. I never wanted to be a Rock drummer. I sort of fell into it. I had to adapt, maybe that's why I've been able to play with so many people because I never just was a Rock drummer.
Reggie: That's what being around Vince Gill did for me. It exposed me to other types of quality music. He enlightened me to the fact that there's good in all types of music. Before him I had a closed mind to certain types of music.
GF: "Now you just happened to mention Vince Gill. If you're around Vince you're around the good because it doesn't get ant better than him. Albert Lee is right in there. Vince is Tour De Force man."
Reggie: Albert Lee is the first 'name person' I met through Vince in about 1982 at The Palomino and Albert who had played with Clapton, in his mind was a minute or two late and was super apologetic for his alleged tardiness.
GF "Alberto! He is a gentleman. There isn't a nicer man, than Alberto. Great guy. I hope I get to continue playing with him. I consider it a privilege to work with Albert. I don't take it lightly. I know at this stage of his life I'm grateful, genuinely grateful, to get to play with him and I'll do it as long as they want me. They're nice people."
Reggie: You really do have a diverse list of credits so let me throw a few of the more interesting names and tell us a little about each.
Olivia Newton-John: "I did a World tour with her in 1978 called "Totally Hot" when I was 23 years old. It was the first real high end touring I'd ever done. Six or eight weeks around the World. I all of a sudden went from playing Jazz gigs in Los Angeles to doing a World tour staying in 4 star hotels. It was a really great experience and she as wonderful. It was a pleasure to do that tour."
Cher: "I went straight from Olivia to Cher. I wound up working for Cher for a couple of years. With Cher I wound up playing together in a band we put together called Black Rose , I played on the recording of "Black Rose". David Paich wrote a song for us and Luke came down to the studio when we were making the "Black Rose" record. It was like old home week when he showed up. It was all hugs and laughs and chuckles. Jeff Porcaro had played with Sonny and Cher before that so Cher knew all of the Toto guys. So they were always welcome to stop by at Sunset Sound when we were making the record "Black Rose". I also played in her Vegas show for a few years and toured with Black Rose."
Little Richard: "I played on a Las Vegas television show for Little Richard. They needed a band. They hired some players to come in and play behind him lip syncing. You could hear the piano, it was pretty loud and we started playing love and it sounded so good that they set up microphone's and started recording us playing live and it wound up being used on the television show. That was with James Caan and all of those guys t was called "Las Vegas".
Ray Charles: "Ray Charles I met through James Ingram who's a singer/songwriter here in Los Angeles but when I met him he was a keyboard player around town. Ray Charles had a production company called RPM Productions and he had a publishing company so I would go over and play on demonstration recording's for some of the songwriters that Ray had signed. Ray heard my drumming and then asked me to play on one of his records. He was making a record for RCA called "Love and Peace". I ended up being in the studio with just Ray and I. We cut basic tracks for a handful of songs and then I ended up overdubbing drums on some of the tracks that had already been recorded. So I'm on this sort of obscure Ray Charles record which is funny now because it's like being sought after because it's been neglected and people are trying to find out about it. There's some cool stuff on it. It
sounds pretty good."
Etta James: "Live performance with Etta for several years from when I was about 21 to 23. Met her through a guitar player named Brian Ray. She used to introduce me 'looks like a surfer, players like a motherfucker". I had an on and off musical relationship with her for the next 20 years after that and I started with her in 76. And that's where I met Freddie Beckmeier and Brian Ray and Gene Dinwiddie. Basically it was a lot of the guys from a band called Full Moon so they basically became friends. I had a good experience with that. She taught me a lot. I learned a lot from her."
Geezer Butler: "That was after Gary Moore I was living in the U.K. we put together an original project managed by Smallwood & Taylor who managed Iron Maiden. We put together a band. We recorded and we did videos. We were poised to sign to EMI and right as we were putting this band together the direction of music changed radically because Guns 'n' Roses came out of the shoot and it changed everything for us. We all sort of lost interest in it after putting in a year or a year and a half of our time in it to bring it to fruition, I knew it broke Geezer's heart because he really worked hard. I believe some
of the material that we recorded has made it's way onto Black Sabbath records since he returned to Black Sabbath. Songs like "Computer God" and things like that I believe are now Black Sabbath songs. But we put all that stuff together with this Geezer project. It was a band it wasn't like it was Geezer's solo project. It started out with Geezer's nephew , a guy named Pedro Howse. He was the guitarist."
Yoko Ono: "Yoko Ono was something I did with Eddie Money. We played on a record that was a tribute to John Lennon called "Every Woman Has a Man" and Yoko was involved in the record. It was released under her name but I guess technically it would have been the Eddie Money band I was playing with for Yoko Ono."
Stevie Nicks: "It's funny. I played on a few things for her. I played on her solo album called "Trouble in Shangri-La" and I worked for two different producers Rick Nowels and David Kahne who produced Paul McCartney, a really good producer. I met him when I worked on a Susana Hoff's record that he produced. That was the early days of Pro Tools so it was a cut and paste on a track for David and Rick Nowels did a song for him that he was producing for Stevie. Then ironically just recently in 2017 I'm on this song with Lana Del Rey and Stevie Nicks, this sort of collaboration tune. It went full cycle with Stevie."
Pat Benatar: "Pat Benatar was on the 2002 Women TV show Lifetime Rock I played behind her. There was a couple songs I played with her. She did a duet. One of them was with Sheryl Crow so I played with Sheryl Crow and Pat Benatar at the same time."
Don Dokken: "I played on his solo record called "Solitary". I met him through my friend Wyn Davis and I've known Don for a long time. He's a good guy."
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