Since launching my career as an assistant engineer on Guns N’ Roses 1987 classic "Appetite For Destruction", I have had the most incredible journey as an engineer, mixer, producer, arranger, drummer, and editor. I have worked on songs and projects that have been nominated or won over the years in 76 Grammy categories, collecting seven of those pretty little statues for my mantle (plus an Emmy Award for Streisand's Millennium Concert). I feel proud and fortunate to have my name associated with helping to shape the sounds of hundreds of superstar platinum selling artists whose songs and performances have defined a generation.
I have had the incredible opportunity to work side by side with some of the greatest Producers and Artists of the past century for countless hours learning their techniques and drawing inspiration from their musicality and creativity.
I’ve been making records for over 30 years and I love it as much now as when I first started.
I grew up in Fall River, Massachusetts, about an hour south of Boston. At an early age I began learning how to play the piano, guitar, and trumpet, but soon found that being a drummer was my real passion. I dedicated practically every spare moment I had to practicing the drums and I had big rock and roll ambitions.
By my mid-teens I was getting calls from local bands to help them out in local studios. The studio environment fascinated me and I enrolled in an engineering class at Bristol Community College, followed by courses in ear training, harmony and percussion at Boston’s famed Berklee School of Music. My next step was to study music for a year at the University of Rhode Island, and then it became obvious that I needed to go where the music was being made. I packed my bags for Los Angeles and attended the Institute of Audio Video Engineering in Hollywood with the goal of learning as much about engineering so that I could make my drums sound the way I heard them in my head (John Bonham).
In L.A., when I wasn’t spending my nights experimenting, composing and playing music in the school’s labs, I was hanging around my apartment building which was filled with students from the nearby Musicians Institute; my next-door neighbor and friend was the future legendary singer-songwriter Jeff Buckley. Originally after graduating from engineering school I had thought that I could now go back East and continue my pursuit to be a rock-n-roll drummer. But now, armed with some real formal education, I decided to pursue the more practical path of becoming an audio engineer.
So I hit the pavement in search of a job at a pro studio. It took massive determination, but I finally got my first gig as a runner at Cherokee Studios in Hollywood. Six months later, a similar position came up at the famous Sound City Studios in Van Nuys and I put my name in the running for the job. Veteran Studio Manager Paula Salvatore gave me the job and I got busy learning everything in front of me.
At Sound City, I was an assistant and also the manager of the rehearsal studios. My hourly wage at the time was $3.15, so I had a second job as a messenger to help make ends meet. One day as I was on my messenger job, I decided to hang out at Sound City to wait for the next delivery call. I was helping to answer the phone at the studio when someone from Rumbo Recording Studios called looking for an assistant engineer to cover a session for someone that was sick. The person they were looking for wasn’t there, so, caught up in this serendipitous moment, I offered up myself for the job. Incredibly, they gave me the gig and Sound City gave me their blessing to move over to Rumbo.
The session that I offered myself up for was The Call’s “Into The Woods”, mixed by Don Smith. Other awesome projects at Rumbo included assisting Tom Petty, Jeff Lynne, and Mike Campbell on Petty’s ‘Full Moon Fever’ including the massive hit “Free Fallin’ . A few other projects along the way and then I received my first major breakthrough opportunity to work on ‘Guns N’ Roses’ “Appetite For Destruction”.
After the success of that album, Guns N’ Roses’s producer Mike Clink was producing an album for the sister of multiple Grammy winning mega-producer David Foster; Foster at the time was looking for a new young and hungry engineer that was eager to learn, and Clink, impressed with my ambition and talent, recommended me for the job. David hired me right away and that was the start of my entry into the Pop world of making records with the biggest Artists in the world!
The introduction to David Foster changed my life in ways that I would have never imagined. It forged a new path in my life that I am so grateful for, and appreciate with every breath I take!
Over the years, I’ve really learned how to enjoy the process of making a record, finding pleasure and excitement in each moment along the way. I like being the first one in the studio and the last to leave; staying focused and making sure that I give my best to insure that every session is a great experience for everyone involved. My great passion is making records with other creative people.
34 years of experience with six Grammy’s and an Emmy Award, I treat each and every project as if it is the most important thing I’ve ever done.
My specialty is vocal production and melodic pop mixing and recording, but I’ve also been recognized for Live Concert DVD mixing/fixing, and Mariachi production.
Hobbies are poker, magic, and reading gear manuals. I’ve always been on the leading edge of Digital Technology, but I still love to do a majority of my work using the most powerful Analog consoles and Analog outboard gear.
I am guilty of preparing too much for things to go right and having plans for when things go wrong.
Going the extra mile is built into my DNA. When a project is done, I move right on to the next one, but the Artist I have just worked with has to live with and perform that recording for the rest of their careers; so I take that very seriously and make sure that I've given my best to their music.
I’ve really been blessed to work with so many great Artists and on such a wealth of classic songs.
At the end of the day, I’ve done my job when I can make the Artist happy that they chose to work with me.
More stories and history to come!!
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