SONGWRITER – PRODUCER – FILM DIRECTOR – GUITARIST
I sort of lied my way into my music career. As a guitar player I wasn’t competitive with the better players, and I didn’t want to spend my life playing tuxedo gigs. I had a friend who had a recording studio and we started writing jingles. We couldn’t sell anything – until the “Midway Mall with a Treasure Chest of Values,” as the jingle would go, needed a TV spot and jingle and we got the job by showing all these fake jingles we had done. The jingle worked great for the mall and that got us on our way. In the late ’70s we moved from Florida to D.C., and I got a job as creative director in an agency there. Jingles were big in the D.C. area, and we were able to land some big accounts, like Sunbeam Bread, Wendy’s and McDonald’s. We won Clio Awards for our Sunbeam take on, “I like bread and butter” and a Jiffy Lube jingle, “We’re good for your car so your car will be good for you.”
Jingles came easy to me. I always thought of them as adult nursery rhymes – keep them simple, memorable, and if it sticks in people’s heads, they’ll buy the product. You do have to be somewhat of a musical chameleon; take on the style of music that is called for by the product or company.
Over the years, the jingles have evolved into songwriting and producing, I’m writing materials for my kids, too, both of whom are very musical. The song I’ve posted here, “The Sister I Never Knew,” about a half sister of my wife’s we learned of just a few years ago, features my daughter on vocals. Both kids have considered careers in music, even moved to L. A. to try to make it in the business. But there’s a million people trying to burst through the door and only a handful do. And it’s not always based on talent alone; timing, luck, connections – all have a lot to do with it.
My current project is a children’s book, “Sweet Potato Pete and the Green Garden Gang.” I have done a lot of work in film as well, and capitalizing that in animating the book – with original music, of course.
I recognized early that whatever I did in music was going to be based on something other than my ability as a player. I found a way to use what talent I had and build a life on that.