When we last left our hero he was hanging around doing nothing musical, and nothing on the horizon.
When I was in Bootleg we hooked up with a sound-man named Bugsy. Bugs we lovingly referred to as “Grandpa.” He reminded me the other day that he was younger at the time than I am now. I feel his pain. Bugsy taught us all a lot. He had run with local legends Powder Mill Hill. The stories he told us about them and the places they played definitely set the bar high for me. I’ve since met Jerry Nichols, a member of Powder Mill Hill. I need to grab him for beers and talk about those times. To say he is a Rock Star in my mind is an understatement. I’m glad to know him. He played the Playboy Mansion!
I loved 60’s Soul Music. Sam and Dave, Otis Redding, Marvin Gaye. All the biggies. It was the Blues Brothers movie that introduced me to these guys. What if I put together a band that played these great songs? I asked the musicians I knew from out of town and they all thought I was crazy. It won’t work. Too big. You’ll never get paid enough to make any money. So I went back to the drawing board.
I grabbed George and Doug and put up an ad at Eastern Illinois’ music department. Looking for horn players. Two people answered. Mark Cornell and a very young Pat Lee. Trumpet and sax. It took a while to get all the ducks in a row and some personnel changes and adding another trumpet player, Shane Pitsch, to the mix. We met Chris Schaff after our first drummer quit over five dollars.we all pitched in for stamps for our band newsletter. Remember we didn’t have email in those days. After he left the band we hit every small town from here to Timbuktu. We got management; we cut our hair bought suits and then started playing festivals, high profile gigs, high paying private functions. All the while I was getting better as a guitarist. Now I had formed a killer band built around my love of the music and my lack of guitar playing skills. I was the lead guitarist and only played about three leads a night. We had great soloists. Chris moved and we grabbed Kent “Sweet Leaf” Aberle. We all got to ride the rise of very successful band. That slow rise made us very close.
I’m still close with these people. I talk to Pat weekly, Doug is always there and we don’t see each other enough, but when we do we picked up where we left off. Chris Scaff was a crazy mo fo in those days and we just loved him. I’m forming a band with him now. Shane is someone I miss and don’t talk to enough. George I see almost everyday. Sweet moved to Atlanta and I talk to him occasionally. We all fought like cats on a clothesline but there was true friendship. No one was sneaking around trying to replace someone out of personal reasons or envy. We were a band and we worked toward a common goal. That’s what I have done ever since. I’ll leave the petty jealousies to the insecure musicians that don’t have the good sense to realize you need to be unit. I’ve played with that band too and it doesn’t make for friends or band mates even. The prize is too magical to worry about your self all the time. I wish bands like that all the success in the world, but what good is it to celebrate something that you had to walk over others to get?
It is lonely at the top and people you can’t trust to work with really don’t need to be considered friends by me. You see the same folks on the way up as you do on the way down. I’m happy I can look at George, Bugsy, Kent, Chris Scaff, Chris Taylor, Doug, Pat, Mark, and Shane and know we did the best we could and we became brothers. We played to our strengths. We met and played with heroes, celebrities, and heads of state. We played places I never ever dreamed of. I played in the band for ten years before I moved on.
Being gone too much isn’t good for a marriage and I lost a wonderful wife in the process. Depression, gigging all the time. I don’t know what I could have done differently but ever since losing Shannon I’ve been trying to make it up to the world. She’s doing great. Remarried and a new baby. I see her about once a year and she always gives me the best hugs. I’ll always love her and would give her the world if I had it.
Speaking of love, I fell for a wonderfully beautiful woman in Ohio. Kathleen will probably be the love of my life and I lost her due to depression, lies, and most of all fear of leaving my band and friends. I’m older now and if she said “Yes” you’d never hear from me again. I’m pretty sure 90% of the love songs I write are inspired by her. She is my biggest regret.
I joined Poprocks. We made a conscious effort to focus on disco and new wave 80’s music. It was the demographic of the people who were spending money in the clubs. I had a ball with these guys. We played a million great gigs. I married the singer. She was an amazing performer. Communication was our problem, not music. If she would have let me know we were allowed to date while we were married I think things would have went better. Turns out she was the only one dating during our marriage. So I left that situation. The part that hurt the most was even though I was there for eight years only one of the members ever spoke to me again. Mike Poss you are a class act. Thank you.
Music was the cause and solution to all my problems. After Becca’s cheating and having my band mates and friends I knew through Poprocks ALL turn their backs on me, I decided to give it up. I moved into an apartment and threw my gear in the extra room and didn’t even listen to music for six months. I was a ghost to everyone I knew. Since I had nothing for them to take, I was pointless. I made new friends and contacted my old friends. Real friends.
Two years later I decided to play again. Joined 5 Gone Mad for a year. Became close with the singer Brandi Yagow and we talk quite a bit. She is one of my favorite people and one of the best singers I know. She sings lead on a couple of songs on my latest album.
Matt Poss called I took the gig had a ball and now am back to forming my own band again to play my music and the music that my friends have written that fit the band.
The points I want to make is this. I lost two wives. One great one and one cheating one. I made close friends with many people I have played with and have seen that some people weren’t really friends in the first place. But I can look myself in the mirror and know I didn’t fuck over anyone in this business. They all can’t do the same thing.
We have to remember the people we play with have problems from depression in my case to serious addictions. Be there for these people. Don’t turn your back on them. It may come back to bite you in the ass. Plus it just makes you suck as a person. I have a hard time thinking about the good times with Poprocks because the next thought is how they pretended to be my friends when in reality they only cared about themselves.
My friends, both musically and non-musicians now are true blue. We argue and laugh and make great music. This group of musicians that I surround myself with now have character. They are all flawed in many ways but they are actually great people. Not everyone can say that about their friends. I can. I’ll shout it to the world that I love these people and other musicians I grew up with. Jon Clarkson, Bobby Reynolds, and Dave Baldwin are all amazing and I can’t wait to play with you all again even if it is just in the studio or at Jam Night. Ike and Tommy were surprise friends I met when I moved. Unlimited talent and now I’m playing with them.
Was it worth it? Maybe. Probably. I’ve lived out my dreams and have seen and done more things than many people have ever thought about. On the down side, I have no kids, no wife, and at the moment am still nursing a broken heart from the last one I dated. I’m coming out of it and the next lady will hopefully have the balls to stick around through the good and the bad. Like the music, I think it’ll all work out in the end.
• I played with the greatest of friends.
• I played and met rock stars and R&B legends. I stood toe to toe with these guys and could hold my own.
• I saw places all over the world that I would have never seen
• I made a shitload of money
• All the people who let me entertain them for a few hours
• I can now make that “sound” even though I don’t make it often. My tastes have changed by being exposed to the music of my friends.
• Making my first album with Becca, and making my first solo album.
• Losing Shannon and Kathleen.
• Meeting and marrying Becca
• Realizing band mates aren’t the friends you thought they were. Along with the friends who hung with us.
• Driving from San Antonio straight thru to my home in Illinois.
• Snow and Ice
• Slow nights
• Band fighting
I’m not saying it was worth it but it’s the life of this musician. Older and wiser and would do a few things different but I wouldn’t trade the memories of these times for all the gold in the world.
I made this video out of clips I had when I was in Poprocks. It was my Christmas present to them. Be warned!!!! There is nudity!!!! But it was all in good fun. No one was harmed by the flashing. If you are easily offended I have already written my disclaimer.