Rolling Stone interview sequence Unknown Legends options long-form conversations between senior author Andy Greene and veteran musicians who’ve toured and recorded alongside icons for years, if not many years. All are famend within the enterprise, however some are much less well-known to most of the people. Here, these artists inform their full tales, giving an up-close have a look at life on music’s An inventory. This version options pianist Alan Pasqua.
When Bob Dylan entered the recording studio in early 2020 to chop his 17-minute epic “Murder Most Foul,” he might have phoned up most any pianist on the planet to play on it. But he opted for Alan Pasqua, a professor of jazz research at USC with an extended historical past of recording credit, together with Dylan’s 1978 LP Street Legal and the accompanying 114-date world tour.
“He handed me a stack of lyrics,” Pasqua recollects over Zoom from his house in L.A. “I’m studying by means of it and he’s speaking about Bird [Charlie Parker] and Bud Powell, along with every thing about JFK. I’m him like, ‘What?’ Then we began taking part in it and it’s all free time. At a second like that, I needed to be simply be centered on his vocal, what he wrote. I don’t need to play the incorrect chord. It’s an intuitive course of at that time.”
Years of expertise working with everybody from jazz greats like Tony Williams and Peter Erskine to pop and rock icons like Eddie Money, Carlos Santana, Rick Springfield, and Pat Benatar ready him for this second. “People say to me, ‘How are you able to play all these completely different types of music?” Pasqua says. “The solely factor I’m not likely good at is taking part in nation music. If you play what’s in entrance of you, and pay respect to the composer and the custom of the music, you’ve gotten an opportunity to have a lifetime in music.”
Pasqua’s lifetime in music started in Roselle Park, New Jersey, about 20 miles from New York City. His father was a bass participant, and he began taking part in piano on the age of six after watching his older brother Michael take classes. He first encountered jazz a pair years later when his household took a visit to Atlantic City. “We walked into the Steel Pier and Buddy Rich’s Big Band was taking part in,” he says. “A giant band was like standing in entrance of a firing squad, and that was the primary time I heard something stay. That was my first ‘Oh my God, that is so cool’ second.”
He started accumulating jazz data by Oscar Peterson, and André Previn with Shelly Manne. “The file that just about modified my life was the enduring Jazz Track by Miles Davis,” he says. “That’s the place I heard [pianist] Bill Evans and [John] Coltrane for the primary time. That modified every thing.”
At the identical time, Pasqua was listening to the Byrds, Led Zeppelin, Spooky Tooth, Steppenwolf, and Vanilla Fudge, and he headed into the town as a teen to see Grand Funk Railroad, Three Dog Night, and the Guess Who, deepening his love of rock & roll.
He spent two years on the University of Indiana earlier than an opportunity encounter with jazz nice Jaki Byard on the New England Conservatory of Music modified his plans. “I performed two piano rhythm modifications with him in his studio,” says Pasqua. “When we have been achieved, he stated to me, ‘Why don’t you switch to Boston and come examine with me?’”
Pasqua’s work on the New England Conservatory of Music led to a efficiency at Carnegie Hall, the place he met Tony Williams, who requested him to affix his jazz fusion band, the Tony Williams Lifetime. That began him on a path that may take him to Eddie Money, and ultimately Bob Dylan.
How did you develop as a musician throughout your time with the Tony Williams Lifetime?
Tony was superb in that he by no means instructed me ever what to play. He would make solutions. He was a extremely nice composer and he studied orchestration. He’d say, “Listen to the sound of the band, the place the holes are the place he’s taking part in. How are you able to play the melody with him that’s not not solely doubling, however enhancing? How are you able to orchestrate?”
When I am going again and play my college students outtakes of Miles’ recording dates, like “Freedom Jazz Dance,” no one knew what to play at first. Little by little, Miles make these very refined solutions to each band member. Boom. And little by little, by take 13, there’s the grasp. But after they began taking part in it, they have been simply making an attempt to determine it out. Tony didn’t have an agenda. He led by instance.
How did you meet Eddie Money?
It was by means of Bruce Botanic, who produced the Tony Williams file, and who additionally produced the Doors. He’s a genius, cutting-edge digital engineer. When I moved to Los Angeles, that’s the one telephone quantity I had of anybody that I knew. I known as Bruce and instructed him, “Hey, I moved to L.A.”
One day he known as me. He goes, “I’m in Century City.” He was working for Epic Records on the time. They had their places of work on the Century Towers. He stated, “I’ve bought this new artist they only signed. His title is Eddie Money. We’re going to make a file. We want a piano participant. Come over, Eddie needs to fulfill you. I instructed him all about you.”
I stroll in, and there’s Eddie sitting there. The very first thing out of his mouth is, “Hey, Al. I don’t need to hear any jazz shit.” [Laughs.] We talked for 10 minutes. Then he sits down on the piano along with his knuckle-sandwich piano taking part in and performs me “Two Tickets to Paradise” and “Baby Hold On.” I’m a fast examine. I sat again down and performed it again for him. He goes, “OK, man, you bought the gig. You’re employed.”
You’re on each these songs?
Yeah. I’m on quite a lot of his early recordings.
Did it take quite a lot of takes to get these songs?
It got here shortly. [Drummer] Gary Mallaber and [bassist] Lonnie Turner from Steve Miller’s band have been the rhythm part. Andy Johns was the engineer. Jimmy Lyon performed guitar. It was unbelievable. We did it at Wally Heider’s.
What’s it like to show on the radio and hear your self taking part in on these two songs?
It’s enjoyable. I at all times take pleasure in it. I at all times need to cease individuals and go, “Hey, that’s me taking part in piano.” [Laughs.] But I by no means do.
Tell me extra about Eddie. He appeared like such a daily man for a rock star.
He was sort of a daily knucklehead man from again East. I associated to him since that’s the place I grew up. But onstage, he completely turned it on. He knew what to do when he bought onstage in entrance of a microphone.
How was the tour for you? You have been fairly younger and that was your first actual rock tour.
I’d been on tour with Tony previous to that. That was quite a lot of station wagons and driving by means of the U.S. and doing a couple of dates in Europe. This was flights and driving. Two guys to a room. This was naked bones. I used to be making no bread in any respect. They provided me the identical cash that I used to be making with Tony Williams. I stated no. And then they stated, “Bill Graham needs to speak to you.” [Laughs.]
I am going into Bill’s workplace. I’m flipping out. I’m like, “Oh, jeez.” He’s like, [gruff and angry] “What’s the issue right here?” I instructed him, “Look, man. I simply bought off the highway.” He provided me $25 extra per week. Of course, I took it. He stated, “And if I discover out you instructed anybody, I’m going to kill you.” [Laughs.] I stated, “OK, Bill. You bought my phrase.”
This is the height of punk. Quite a lot of critics noticed Eddie as lame and passé. They have been incorrect, although. Those songs are unbelievable, and he’s such a fantastic singer.
Killer. He was a white soul singer. He liked the Rascals. You might hear it.
Were you a fan of Bob Dylan within the ’60s and early ’70s?
Honestly, no. It’s not that I wasn’t a fan. I simply wasn’t…I knew who he was. But I wasn’t conscious of his music actually in any respect.
How did you get phrase about the opportunity of the tour you probably did with him in 1978?
I used to be rehearsing in New York at SIR, Studio Instrument Rentals. We have been on a break. I used to be standing out within the hallway, and there was this different man standing out within the hallway. We stated “good day” to one another. It turned out to be Rob Stoner, who was Bob’s bass participant.
I stated, “What are you doing right here?” He goes, “I’m rehearsing with this band. Where do you reside?” I instructed him I lived in L.A. He stated, “I’m coming on the market in a few weeks. I’m placing Bob Dylan’s band collectively for a tour. Give me your telephone quantity. Maybe after I get on the town, I’ll name you and we will get collectively and play.” I used to be like, “OK, no matter.”
Eddie’s tour was three months. It was completely brutal. I get house proper earlier than Christmas. I’m sitting at my little place on the sofa, simply making an attempt to decompress. The telephone rings. It was Rob. “Hey, I’m in Santa Monica. Why don’t you come down and we’ll play. I’ll put a tape collectively for Bob.”
I stated, “You know what, Rob? I’m actually drained. I’m burned out. Thanks anyway.” And then I hung up [laughs]. I sat there and stated, “What the hell did you simply do?” I known as him again and went, “I don’t know what I used to be pondering. Will you let me come down?”
I got here down. We spent a few days simply jamming. I assume he put this tape collectively and performed it for Bob. Next factor I knew, he known as to say we have been going to have rehearsal a pair miles from my home. I stroll into [Rundown Studios] on Main Street in Santa Monica. There’s like three drummers, 4 guitar gamers, three keyboard gamers. The complete bit. I’m like, “I don’t know what’s going on right here.” Bob was there. He went, “OK, see you tomorrow.” Next day, there’s two of all people.
This went on for about three or 4 days. I’m like, “Jeez, I’m wondering what’s going to occur.” I walked in and I used to be the one keyboard participant. I simply didn’t say something. I used to be like, “I’m not going to ask if I bought the gig as a result of they’ll in all probability fireplace me only for asking.” During that rehearsal, Bob checked out me and went, “Do you understand ‘Positively 4th Street?’” I checked out him and stated, “No, however I’ll study it.” He began laughing. I assumed, “I’m toast. I’m out of right here.”
Looking again at it, that may have been the rationale I bought the gig. I used to be trustworthy with him. I didn’t attempt to bullshit him and play it poorly. Through my lifetime, we’ve intersected various occasions. It’s at all times gone actually nice.
Did it shock you that he was assembling an enormous band with a sax participant and background singers? It was so completely different than all his earlier stay bands.
Yeah. I didn’t actually do a deep dive. But it appeared like a departure. The critics have been throughout us, calling us a Las Vegas revue. But he taught me quite a bit. My greatest reminiscence is that each evening he and I might play two duets: “Girl From the North Country” and “I Want You.” I’d play one on piano, and the opposite on this horrible little Yamaha synthesizer, a dinosaur from the early days of synthesis. I simply keep in mind listening to him sing and breathe, his phrasing. It was particular. It was completely different.
It’s an actual disgrace that the one present most individuals have heard from this tour is Bob Dylan at Budokan. It was actually a number of the first reveals you guys did on a year-long tour. It was the present in its earliest stage of growth.
Yeah. Really early. Before that first present, we’re backstage and there’s a ping-pong desk. I wish to play ping-pong. There’s this man desirous to play ping-pong. He’s standing, like, 30 toes behind the desk. I’m like, “What are you doing, man?”
He serves and it’s like a fastball. I’m holding on the most effective I can. I went for this ball and ran smack right into a metal beam. It didn’t knock me out, but it surely knocked me down, and blood began coming down. I reduce my scalp fairly unhealthy. Patrick Stansfield, who was our tour supervisor, took a turban and mainly made a tourniquet out of my head, pumped me filled with Tylenol, and stated, “Get out on stage.”
I lasted by means of the entire live performance, however I keep in mind about two hours when it said to put on off, all of the low notes within the subwoofers simply hitting me…it was like, “Oh, my God.”
I completed the present. They put me in a automobile and took me to some medical facility. I keep in mind it was darkish. I’m mendacity down on a desk. This physician is available in and stands on a friggin’ milk carton. I keep in mind that, nonetheless. And he stitched me up. I went again to the resort. The band was there. One of the background singers, Jo Ann Harris, says, “Here, you’ll want to have some chilly sake.”
Do you suppose that’s the evening they captured on the Budokan stay file?
I don’t know. That can be attention-grabbing to seek out out. I assume if I hearken to my components, if I used to be sounding significantly terrible, I’d determine possibly it was that evening.
I assume the tour bought higher from there for you.
Yeah. He taught me quite a bit. We have been in Berlin. There have been some individuals within the crowd that have been planted, I assume, to trigger a bunch of shit. They began throwing shit on the band, like paint and rags. It was ugly. We left. We cut up. I’m again in my dressing room. We had outfits that we wore. I become my avenue garments, simply sort of hanging out and ready for somebody to say, “OK, let’s get on the bus.”
Bob is available in. He appears to be like at me and goes, “What are you doing?” I am going, “What are you speaking about?” He goes, “What are you sporting?” I stated, “Street garments.” He says, “Get again in your stage garments. We’re going again on.” I used to be like, “What?” He goes, “Alan, I’m simply ready for these individuals to depart. The remainder of the gang continues to be there.”
We waited about an hour and a half. We went again on. I imply, he was a hero. It was all these folks that paid their cash to see them. He didn’t need to allow them to down.
If you return and learn opinions of that tour, so lots of the writers are evaluating it unfavorably to Neil Young’s Rust Never Sleeps and Bruce Springsteen’s Darkness on the Edge of Town excursions. It had the misfortune of coming across the similar time as two of the most effective excursions in rock historical past. The critics additionally simply didn’t get it.
Totally. They had no clue. Everyone has an agenda. They have expectations about what it’s going to be like. The mark of a real artist is that they stroll in their very own sneakers, and they make their very own artwork how they see it.
It can be really easy for Bob to stroll onstage with an acoustic guitar, a harmonica rack, and play “Mr. Tambourine Man” identical to it sounds on the file. The viewers would go loopy…
And he’d be taking part in the Morongo Casino in freakin’ Palm Springs. It’s that straightforward.
Right. You can simply do the factor individuals old flame about you endlessly.
Well, you may, however you gained’t develop as an artist doing that.
Bob’s factor has at all times been about burning the previous. And even should you play an outdated track, there’s no rule it has to sound the outdated method. Why not play “Tangled Up in Blue” as a torch ballad with a sax solo?
That’s the jazz a part of him. That’s why I stated that gig was virtually like doing a jazz gig.
Tell me about making Street Legal. I do know it was achieved in a short time after the conclusion of the primary leg of the tour.
[Laughs.] Yeah. We recorded it within the rehearsal studio. Don DeVito produced it for CBS. There was a distant truck. It was a horrible room to make a file in. There have been vinyl flooring. Everything was reflective. They put Bob in one of many bogs as a vocal sales space. I believe, if reminiscence serves me accurately, we recorded the primary day and then everybody bought fired. Fired the entire band. I believe that was through the recording of Street Legal, however I could possibly be incorrect. It’s been some time.
We undoubtedly have been fired sooner or later early on. Then we bought the decision that we have been re-hired. I believe all that occurred in the course of making the file. It was all only a few days. It was like making a Tony Williams file.
Those songs started as piano demos. Did you play that stuff earlier than you recorded?
No. He would simply begin taking part in. We would comply with alongside.
You have been monitoring stay?
“Changing of the Guards” is certainly one of my favourite Dylan songs.
Me too. What I didn’t find out about him then…life’s regrets. I didn’t know the way deeply educated he was about every kind of music. He was at all times on my ass about Augie Meyers. I used to be like, “Who the hell is Augie Meyers?” “Go hearken to him!”
That was in all probability one of many causes…effectively, the entire band was let go. But he needed extra out of me than what I might give him due to my restricted data of that earlier music.
Do you recall recording “Señor?” To me, that track is a masterpiece.
It is a masterpiece. That track instantly evokes a temper, immediately. I at all times inform my college students, “Play the track in entrance of you. It’s not about something on the web page, it’s not a couple of chord change. It’s concerning the track in entrance of you. What’s the sensation? You must method it from that emotional second.” Instantly, that track simply captivates you. It’s stunning.
You’d performed 114 reveals by the point that tour ended. That’s extra reveals than he’s achieved in another yr.
Isn’t that loopy? I didn’t know that.
Did you are feeling burned out by all of the journey?
No. It was nice…I keep in mind we went to Japan first. We landed. I wasn’t even off the aircraft but. Bob was off with safety. That was his first journey to Japan. They rushed him previous the media. A combat broke out. It was nuts. They needed to defend Bob, because it wasn’t cool what was occurring. We went from there to New Zealand and Australia.
Traveling by means of Europe, we had our personal personal practice automobiles that have been connected to different trains that pulled us by means of Europe. And then within the United States, we had a good looking jumbo jet. I used to trip with the pilots each evening. It was the good factor.
He hadn’t performed Europe since 1966. There was a lot demand to see him play, particularly in England.
We performed Earl’s Court for per week. We did per week in Paris. It was simply superb.
On the latter legs, you closed with “Changing of the Guards.” You actually velocity it up, and he spits it out like fireplace.
We turned it into an anthem. It was a wild band with [drummer] Ian Wallace and [saxophonist] Steve Douglas and [bassist] Jerry Scheff, who got here on after Rob [Stoner] left.
In the ultimate weeks of the tour, Bob begins sporting a cross round his neck and you’re soundchecking songs that would seem on Slow Train Coming. Do you recall that?
That’s attention-grabbing. I don’t actually recall soundchecking these songs. I do know we misplaced certainly one of our crew members. There was an accident. That sort of appeared to be the turning level.
As far as what?
I believe that may have made him need to change instructions.
I’ve heard there are only a few board tapes of that tour.
There are some board tapes. Arthur Rosato was our head honcho. I keep in mind him telling me there have been some board tapes floating round.
I actually hope they do a Bootleg Series about it in the future. That tour is a lot greater than Budokan. It was completely different each evening.
Every evening was completely different. It actually was like taking part in a jazz gig.
How did you are feeling concerning the gospel stuff he did the next yr?
Honestly, I didn’t take care of it. I assumed it was such an about-face. I didn’t perceive the connection there. But I see it now, for positive.
When the tour was achieved, did you hope that you just’d stay in his orbit? Did you sense that was it?
We didn’t know. Nobody ever stated to us, “Thank you, it’s over.” It simply sort of by no means began once more.
How did you wind up on Santana’s Marathon album the following yr?
While I used to be out on the highway with Bob, I bumped into him someplace. Maybe we have been on the identical invoice at a competition or one thing. He stated, “Man, I do know you. You performed with Tony Williams.” I used to be like, “Yeah, man. I do know you too.” I liked the very first Santana file. That one and Abraxas are in all probability my favourite. I at all times love that band as a result of it was a rock band, however there was blowing. There was soloing. He stated, “I’d like to play with you.” I stated, “So would I.” He stated, “Stay in contact. There might be a time within the not-too-distant-future the place we’ll make a change with our keyboard participant.”
They bought ahold of me and requested if I needed to fly up and play with the band, so I went as much as the Bay Area. Next factor I do know, they requested me to affix.
You co-wrote some songs on Marathon, together with “Aqua Marine” and “Hard Times.”
There was at all times the prospect to jot down in that band. I by no means favored the R&B sound of that band. I favored the extra hard-edged, rock, Afro-Cuban, Latin side of that. That’s what drew me to it. I wrote, with a number of the different bandmates, a whole album of music that was recorded and within the can. It was mainly bringing that band again to its authentic roots. That can be like asking Miles to play [1963’s] Seven Steps to Heaven after he’s performed [1986’s] Tutu. But Carlos was open to enter.
Was “Aqua Marine” from that shelved album you narrow?
It was, yeah.
How was the tour? Did you’ve gotten quite a lot of probabilities to improv?
Yeah. It was structured, for positive. But there was time to solo. There was room to blow. It was open.
How was Carlos completely different as a bandleader than Bob?
I assume Bob was extra quiet. To me, Bob appeared extra direct, although. Carlos, possibly not a lot. Honestly, the rationale that I left that band — I used to be truly fired [laughs] — is that I didn’t take care of the best way the band was being handled by way of respect. I let him find out about it. That’s the sort of individual I’m. That didn’t sit too effectively [laughs].
Before that, you additionally performed on Santana’s Zebop! periods.
Zebop! was nice. That was my first assembly with [producer] Keith Olsen, who additionally taught me a lot. He realized the extent of musicianship that I had within the band. He was an ally. He relied on me quite a bit. He took me below his wing and mentored me in quite a lot of methods.
You’re credited on “Hannibal.”
Yeah. We did all that on the Automatt in San Francisco. Armando Peraza is the bongo participant on that. He broke a microphone. I’ll always remember that. He was testing a Neumann mic taking part in bongos, and the man was so robust, he hit the bongo like “BAP!” and the microphone diaphragm simply died.
As a fan of the early data, it should have been enjoyable to go on tour and play outdated songs like “Black Magic Woman” and “Evil Ways.”
Totally enjoyable. “Jingo.” Loved it.
How did you wind up on Pat Benatar’s Precious Time?
Well, Keith Olsen. When my stint with Santana ended, I got here again to L.A. and needed to circle the wagons and work out how I used to be going to proceed making a life as a musician. And Keith known as. He was working at Sound City. He invited me to return up and play piano on that file. That’s the place I met Pat and Neil [Giraldo] and [drummer] Myron [Grombacher]. Great individuals. Iconic studio. I labored there quite a bit.
How did your Rick Springfield interval begin?
Keith Olsen. At that time, Keith had constructed his studio subsequent door to Sound City known as Goodnight L.A. I wasn’t on “Jessie’s Girl.” I used to be on the file following “Jessie’s Girl.” My good pal Tim Pierce was on “Jessie’s Girl.” Many many years since, he’s nonetheless on the market doing it.
Rick was nice. Super, tremendous good man. Really, actually good at what he does. Had a fantastic canine, Ronnie, who was a pit bull. He was nuts. I keep in mind I used to be monitoring within the management room, not within the taking part in room, on a Wurlitzer electrical piano. I used to be tapping my foot and it was making a shadow on the ground. The canine was in there. He noticed the shadow and he simply bolted, in the course of the take, for my proper foot. It scared the crap out of me. I used to be like, “Rick, get your canine out of right here!”
Are you on “Don’t Talk to Strangers?”
Yes. I’m truly going to see Rick this weekend since my daughter Greta is doing a present on the Village Recorder. Rick and [his wife] Barbie [Porter] are going to return down and cheer her on.
Then you have been again to Eddie Money for No Control in 1982. Do you play on “Shakin’”?
I do. That was co-written by Liz Myers. She’s my pricey pal. Gary Ferguson performs drums on that and simply actually made it occur. It’s a fantastic track. That was an absolute magic mixture of gamers and engineers and producers, the entire thing.
It’s actually attention-grabbing. Songs like that don’t want quite a lot of assist. It’s not such as you want an arranger. If you get the precise musicians in there and they hear the track and they react to it emotionally, they’re going to play a component that sounds prefer it was made for that track.
You then co-wrote Christine McVie’s “Keeping Secrets” with Todd Sharp.
You’re digging all of it up! I used to be so sorry to listen to of her passing. She was an angel. What a voice.
I met Todd within the studio whereas working on a file and we sort of hit it off. Back then, I attempted to jot down with as many individuals as I might. I by no means solely thought-about myself as a keyboardist or pianist, however as a composer/songwriter as effectively. I bought along with Todd…and I actually favored his voice. He had an attention-grabbing voice, and a fantastic pop sensibility. He was working with Christine on the time, and he introduced that track to her. She favored it, and they reduce it.
How did your John Fogerty chapter begin?
I bought a name from my good associates [bassist] Neil Stubenhaus and [drummer] John Robinson. I had labored with them quite a bit throughout that point interval. They had simply labored on a session with Fogerty. John favored the 2 of them. He sounded them out about doing a tour. He stated, “We want a keyboard participant. Who ought to we get?” They stated, “Call Alan.” I bought a name from Neil saying, “This factor may occur.” We all met and performed and growth! We did a three-month tour. It was unbelievable.
This is a daring tour. You’re taking part in zero Creedence songs.
Exactly. He was below that complete factor with Saul Zaentz. I keep in mind we performed a track known as “Zanz Kant Danz” [later retitled “Vanz Kant Dance”]. It went “Vanz can’t dance, however he’ll steal your cash/Watch him or he’ll rob you blind.” [Laughs.]
Did you are feeling any hostility from viewers members who’d come anticipating to listen to “Proud Mary” and “Fortunate Son?”
I don’t find out about hostility. Maybe some disappointment. John was unbelievable, man. That’s the factor. All these guys that we’re speaking about, the quantity of output that they’ve evening after evening after evening to deliver it to their followers… Nobody phoned it in.
But not relying on your hits, you’ll want to win over the viewers differently.
Exactly. His voice is so iconic, and his vitality. The band was nice. It was a lot enjoyable for me. I used to be an enormous baseball fan, as was John. The tour was arrange in order that we’d play a metropolis, there can be a National or American League ballpark within the metropolis, and the workforce performed both the evening earlier than our present or the evening after. I in all probability noticed 15 or 20 Major League ballgames in several parks. We went to Cooperstown to see the Hall of Fame. We had a ball.
Then you have been with Bruce Willis on his blues album, The Return of Bruno.
[Laughs.] My God. Yeah. I keep in mind strolling in. I used to be like, “What?” Bruce had gotten all of the A-team studio guys for that band. There have been these large, inflatable dinosaurs within the studio. I used to be like, “What the hell goes on right here?” That was his current to all of us. He bought us every inflatable dinosaurs. To me, that simply meant he was nervous as hell [laughs].
How was he as a singer?
He was tremendous. He was man. I don’t keep in mind an excessive amount of concerning the date in any respect. It jogs my memory, for some motive, of a time I labored with Johnny Cash. It was for a movie. He got here in and sang a track. Without a doubt, one of many nicest and most humble guys I’ve ever run throughout, utterly self-effacing. He opened his mouth and it was like, “What?”!”
You play on Starship’s No Protection. What do you keep in mind about that session?
That was Keith Olsen. I used to be overdubbing at that time. The band had already tracked. Keith introduced me in to play on some overdubs.
How did you are feeling about fashionable music manufacturing at this level? It was quite a lot of synths and that gated reverb drum sound.
I used to be at all times a annoyed guitar participant that might by no means learn to play guitar. I believe the rationale I had success in pop music as a keyboardist is as a result of I didn’t method that music as a keyboardist. I approached it extra as a guitar participant. I used to be taking part in rhythm components.
Sammy Hagar known as me as soon as, late at evening, when he was in Van Halen. They have been in L.A. recording someplace. He goes, “You know, man, I believe keyboard gamers suck. But you suck the least.” [Laughs]
It is. He goes, “Can you come down right here now to do a keyboard overdub?” I simply stated, “No, man. I’m going to mattress.”
Tell me about forming Giant. Why did you are feeling it was time to affix a correct band and transfer away from session work?
I saved working into Dan Huff on file dates. [Producer] Richard Landis introduced us collectively early on. We completely hit it off. He’s a superb guitarist, actually fast learner. He simply had it collectively. We have been buddies. We frolicked exterior of labor. We have been burned out from studio work. We each needed to have a band. We began writing collectively. That’s what began all of it.
“I’ll See You In My Dreams” was a success in 1990. Why do you suppose the band didn’t get greater from there?
We have been too late. If we have been 5 years earlier, we in all probability would have had extra success. I keep in mind once we made the primary file, Last of the Runaways. Bob Coburn from KLOS in L.A. broke that file. I nearly had a automobile accident. I used to be driving and he stated, “I’m going to play one thing now that’s going to blow your thoughts.”
We have been the darling band of KLOS for a brief time period. Mark and Brian have been on the air. We did the Christmas present and all that stuff. “I’ll See You In My Dreams” was one station away, one add, from changing into a Top 10 hit, for positive. We have been actually, actually shut. But it took an excessive amount of time getting the provides that we wanted. Some of the stations that first added dropped us down of their rotation. The numbers didn’t fairly click on to get us over the hump, however we bought into the Top 20.
Then grunge hits, and bands like Giant cease getting radio play.
Correct. Beavis and Butt-Head…Soundgarden. All these issues modified the music. It was time for one thing else. We have been too late.
Did session work dry up within the Nineties as soon as the trade modified?
Yeah. It did. At that cut-off date, I truly moved to Santa Fe and lived in New Mexico for 5 years. The band was nonetheless collectively. Our A&R man left A&M and moved over to Epic. Then we moved over to Epic. We made the second file [Time to Burn]. By that point, half the band moved to Nashville. I used to be in New Mexico. We simply sort of misplaced our focus, our energy. The second file, I assumed, was horrible.
Tell me about writing the CBS Evening News theme track.
That was my good associates John Trivers and Liz Myers. I met John as a result of he was making an attempt to succeed in any individual else, and I picked up the telephone. We began speaking. We’re each from New York and New Jersey, so we have been like, “Hey, let’s seize some dinner some evening.” We went to dinner. I met Liz. We grew to become associates.
She’s a fantastic pianist, a fantastic musician. John is a good bass participant. They began bringing me into their fold. They have been doing quite a lot of composing for commercials, radio and tv. They bought so busy that they stated, “We might use an additional hand.” I began writing with them.
One day, John known as and stated, “We simply bought a name from CBS. They’re pondering of getting music for the primary time for the Evening News.” It was at all times the sound of a ticker tape earlier than that, like through the Walter Cronkite period. They requested us to pitch a theme. And we bought collectively and wrote this theme. We pitched it to them, and lo and behold, we bought it. We recorded it with an enormous orchestra.
It ran for various years with Dan Rather. And then Dan Rather went, they introduced in a brand new manufacturing workforce, and our theme went away. But then Scott Pelley got here on and stated, “I actually like that music from Dan’s interval.” They appeased Scott and they introduced our theme again. Then I bought an e-mail from Liz this yr. I assumed she was kidding round. She stated, “Don’t you suppose the CBS Evening News sounds even higher with Norah O’Donnell now that our theme is again?” I used to be like, “What?” It’s had three lives.
They should pay you a ton in royalties for enjoying your track on TV that always.
They do. The cash has been good up to now. We’ll wait to see what this spherical is like. I bought my fingers crossed. That’s why I inform all my college students it’s important to be composers along with nice musicians, since you by no means know.
Later on, you labored on the soundtrack to The Waterboy?
I did. I composed it. It was actually cool. Frank Coraci was the director. He did a bunch of different Adam Sandler films. I did the music for a film for him [Murdered Innocence] that went straight to video. I used to be dwelling in Santa Fe at the moment. He came visiting whereas he was working on The Wedding Singer. He went, “When that’s achieved, I’ll in all probability get one other Adam film, and I’m going to deliver you in and get you a composing gig.” I assumed, “Oh, yeah. Sure, positive.” He known as me one evening and stated, “We’re on the town and taking pictures at Gower Studios. Come down and I’ll introduce you to Adam.” Next factor I do know, I get green-lighted to be the composer.
How did you wind up writing and recording the background music for Dylan’s Nobel Prize speech in 2017?
[Dylan manager Jeff Rosen] calls me in his typical vogue and goes, “What are you doing?” I am going, “What would you like?” He stated, “Do you keep in mind The Steve Allen Show? He’d sit across the present, sort of noodle, and interview his visitors?” I am going, “Yeah.” He stated, “We want some music like that.” It was this sort of roundabout factor. I am going, “When do you want it?” He goes, “Today.” I used to be like, “OK.”
At that point, I didn’t ask what it was for. I did say, “How a lot do you want?” He goes, “About half-hour.” I am going, “What?! That’s a freakin’ movement image.” I say, “All proper, I’ll provide you with a couple of samples.”
I went to the piano and did, like, three 30-second issues. He went, “I don’t need it to be jazzy, but it surely ought to be type of bluesy. A bit bit jazzy, however type of rambling.”
I simply tried to focus on these phrases. I gave him three samples. He calls again and goes, “That’s good. That’s simply what we’d like.” I stated, “OK. Instead of providing you with half-hour, I’m going to provide you six items which can be 5 minutes lengthy. You can do regardless of the hell you need with them.”
I recorded them. We got here to our phrases [regarding money], and I despatched it in. He goes, “It’s all good.” I am going, “Jeff, what is that this for?” He stated, “Bob bought the Nobel Prize. He has to provide a speech, however he gained’t be capable to attend in individual.” I stated, “When is the speech?” He goes, “It’s tomorrow. We needed to only have an underpinning of piano. What you probably did was good.” I stated, “I’m honored. Thank you.”
How did you are feeling watching it?
I used to be thrilled. Here I’m with Bob once more, doing one other duet [laughs].
Did you ever communicate with Bob after the 1978 tour?
Yeah. I noticed him within the studio a couple of occasions. I did a recording that [composer] Vince Mendoza organized of “He’s Funny That Way.” I performed piano on that and frolicked with him that day within the studio. Then we did the Nobel factor. Then we did “Murder Most Foul.”
Tell me the story of “Murder Most Foul.”
Another name from Jeff. “What are you doing?” I stated, “Well, I’m sort of doing this tonight. I’m round over the weekend.” I then hung up and thought, “Oh, let me name him again.” I stated, “Jeff, are you seeking to do one thing tonight?” He goes, “Yeah, kinda.” I used to be like, “All proper, let me transfer issues round.” I went out to the studio and simply frolicked for some time. Benmont [Tench] was there, who I used to be so completely happy to see. I believe he’s the best.
Was Bob there once you arrived?
He was, however he was within the recording studio and we have been out, simply sort of hanging. We weren’t in there but. We waited for fairly some time. Then it was like, “OK, fellows. Let’s do it.” Bob performed what he had recorded already and needed us to play on prime of it. We went within the room and did our components stay.
It’s 17 minutes lengthy.
It is. We did it various occasions.
How was the work divided up between you and Benmont?
He was taking part in organ. I’m taking part in piano. Bob is taking part in guitar. The producer’s title was Blake Mills. Fiona Apple was already on it. She’d already recorded her half…The complete factor is in free time. There’s no tempo or something. I turned to him and stated, “Bob, this like A Love Supreme.” He simply sort of checked out me. He didn’t say something. It was so, so particular. If he had [saxophonists] Archie Shepp or Pharoah Sanders are available in to play on prime of it, it will have completely match. Even although it wasn’t jazz, all these strains are being blurred huge time.
How did you are feeling once you heard these lyrics and realized the scope of the story he was telling, together with the JFK assassination?
I used to be 11 when he was assassinated. It was an enormous deal. That complete time period with Martin Luther King and Bobby [Kennedy]…that was an enormous weight. A heavy, heavy factor.
Was Bob monitoring his vocals stay?
Yeah. He was taking part in guitar and singing stay.
How many occasions do you suppose you narrow it?
Oh man. Five or six?
Did Bob say something to you that day?
Yeah. I really like him. I simply suppose he’s very particular. Over the years, I want I might play with him extra. It can be so attention-grabbing now. I might in all probability deliver one thing to the music now I couldn’t deliver again then.
The track got here out through the first few weeks of Covid within the U.S. Everyone was in lockdown, and abruptly there’s this 17-minute Bob Dylan track. People have been surprised.
Yeah. Really unbelievable, too. It holds, all 17 minutes. There isn’t a gap in that factor.
You’ve achieved quite a lot of jazz excursions in recent times. That should actually maintain your chops up.
Yeah. Once I hung up my rock & roll cleats, and was achieved with studio work in L.A… No extra synthesizers… I centered on simply taking part in the piano.
Working as a professor should be fulfilling.
Especially at USC. The degree of musicianship they’ve is awfully excessive. It’s actually saved me within the sport. I design my lessons in order that it was difficult for me yearly, so I’d by no means get able the place I used to be drained and desirous to telephone it in. The materials that we work on each semester, I play that with them. I crash and burn with them if it’s actually troublesome. It’s no enjoyable you probably have a trainer excessive and mighty. It doesn’t work.
Are your college students impressed by your work out of the classroom? Not that many professors are taking part in on new Dylan tracks with Fiona Apple.
Some of them, in all probability. They are additionally so scattered and distracted. Maybe they’re.
Why is that this your final semester?
I’ve been there for 22 years. What I seen after some time was, “You guys are the identical age, and yearly I’m somewhat bit older.” [Laughs.] It’s not that what I’ve to supply isn’t legitimate. If something, it’s much more legitimate. I believe it’s additionally legitimate and essential for them to get the data from somebody youthful who has strong roots within the custom and the inspiration of the music, but additionally has a extra modern method to it.
Now that your schedule is free, what do you hope to perform?
I’m going to maintain writing. My piano trainer, Jaki Byard, that is the one hundredth anniversary of his beginning. I’m going to attempt and put collectively a gaggle of tunes within the essence of Jaki and his spirit. Some might be solo piano. Some could be quartet. I’d go to Boston and file with [saxophonist] George Garzone and a number of the guys in Boston. I need to recreate the spirit of his music. It must be preserved.
Do you suppose you’ll ever retire?
And by no means play music once more? No. I’ll at all times play. I play in my sleep. I’m sort of possessed that method. I typically ask my college students, “Do you guys apply away out of your instrument?” They go, “Oh yeah, on a regular basis.” I am going, “Oh, good. I assumed I used to be loopy.” I’ll be available in the market and fascinated with a track or a solo or one thing.
You don’t appear 70. You look and sound a lot youthful.
I believe that has quite a bit to do with music, and being round actually good college students. If I used to be round some not-so-good college students, possibly I’d look quite a bit older [laughs].
I’ll wrap in a second, however I need to say once more how a lot I really like Street Legal. I can’t rely the variety of occasions I’ve listened to it. I do know each notice you play.
That is so cool. I’ll let you know that I’m very pleased with one factor I play on that. It’s earlier than he sings “Changing of the Guards.” I play this little organ riff, simply this little cascading half. I attempted to sneak in just a bit little bit of jazz. I really like that little sound I made. [Pasqua walks over to his piano and plays the part you hear exactly six seconds into “Changing of the Guards.”] Then he is available in: “Sixteen years!” [Laughs.]