When I was growing up, dad was always bringing home extra copies of 45 r.p.m. records from the radio station. I loved them all, no matter what genre. I don't remember the first record I ever played on a turntable. I wish I could remember that. I remember playing records by the Beatles, Elton John, Jim Croce, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash and others. I remember playing Spiders and Snakes by Jim Stafford and Ringo Starr's Your Sixeen over and over and over and over. I wore out two albums; Progressions by the Five Americans, a Texas-based rock band in the 1960s, and Psychotic Reaction by the 1960s California garage rock band, Count Five. I not only loved the music, I also loved dissecting the songs; how each song was structured and what instruments were being used. There was one instrument in particular that I would always listen for.
I remember that one day in the fall of 1970 when dad brought home a record by Jerry Corbetta and Sugarloaf. It changed my life. The song was Green Eyed Lady and the reason it changed my life was because of the organ solo that Corbetta played in the middle of the song. Dad was a master guitar player and he tried to teach me to play, but what I really wanted to do was play the piano like Jerry Lee Lewis. It didn't help any that dad's friend, Cecil Pryor, played the piano like Jerry Lee Lewis. I was almost 11-years-old when dad brought that record home to me. Earlier this summer, nearly 38 years later, I had the opportunity to meet Jerry Corbetta backstage at a concert by his Classic Rock All-Stars group, which consisted of Corbetta and Mike Pinera of Blues Image and Iron Butterfly, Dennis Noda of Cannibal and the Headhunters and the great Peter Rivera from Rare Earth. I heard they were going to be in the area and I arranged for a backstage pass. My one and only purpose for going, aside from getting to hear some great music, was to tell Jerry Corbetta that he changed my life. When the big moment came, I shook his hand and said, "Nice to meet you. You changed my life." He said, "Really?" And, then for some strange reason, my voice no longer worked. I got his autograph though. It was a big moment for me and it all began with that 45 r.p.m. record.
I recently wrote Jerry Corbetta, relating pretty much the same story as I have told here. Here is his reply:
Thanks for the nice email. I grew up in a house of music. we had a Piano and an organ. I would Listen to the Tv and play along with the music on tv. I loved music from the time I was 3 years old.
I was 6 years old when I saw Elvis on the television .Something clicked inside me . I asked my father to buy me a piano and get me piano lessons. He did . I often think about the time I saw Elvis,I think that he inspired me to be a musician .