Use the form below to sign up for our free email updates. You can unsubscribe at any time and by becoming a member you will have an opportunity to get free schwag and exclusive news and content.
Click on any city to view details and buy tickets.
Date & Place of birth: September 1, Louisville, KY
Instrument: Drums, percussion
Primary influences- Musical:
1. Motown was my biggest influence and love. I loved pop music of all kinds, Always loved radio hits.
2. Drummers: Steve Gadd, Billy Cobham, Dave Garabaldi, Larrie Londin, Kenny Malone, Buddy Rich, Keith Knudsen
3. Loved albums by Bob James, Deodato and other early pioneers of melodic funk jazz.
4. Still love blue-eyed soul: Tower of Power, Cold Blood, Bonnie Raitt, Bekka Bramlett, The Doobie Brothers (particularly the Michael McDonald years)
5. Favorite country artists: Trace Adkins, Josh Turner, Trisha Yearwood
6. Some favorite songs:
1. If You Don’t Know Me By Now—Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes
2. I Can’t Make You Love Me—Bonnie Raitt
3. You Look So Good In Love—George Strait
4. Icy Blue Heart—John Hiatt
J.P. Pennington has had the most enduring affect on me artistically. I’ve learned more from him than anyone about shaping music for commercial markets. I studied classical music at the University of Kentucky and the training proved invaluable, yet its practical application to a career in pop music took time and interpretation. Learning J.P.’s understanding of pop music gave me the best tools for interpretation.
Primary influences- Personal:
1. Most current influence is Cormac McCarthy, possibly America’s greatest author. As an aspiring writer/author, I see McCarthy as a phenomenon. His work is so rich and deep.
2. My wife, Beverly, bears an uncanny resilience as she confronts the trials of life, and her devotion to growing her inner peace is a constant inspiration.
After high school and a six-month break to “find myself,” I took a one-year accounting course at a local business college. Then came a six-year-long break from school while I traveled the Southeast playing in different bands on a night-club circuit. In mid-1974 I moved to Atlanta and discovered a new jazz/funk fusion that I fell in love with. A year later I went back home and enrolled at the University of Kentucky to study Music Performance and English. When I received an offer to play with Exile, my school schedule would not blend with the Exile schedule, so I quit UK.
Over the years I have picked up various college courses in music publishing, performance, music business and English.
I can remember setting a goal to be in show business at a very early age. Not sure what I would use as a vehicle, I discovered, by chance, a kind of natural ability for drumming. It happened when I went to audition as lead-singer with a garage band. After a few songs the drummer said: “Man, I hate your singing!” I snapped back: “Well, I hate your drumming!” He said, “I don’t wanna to play drums anyway,” and moved over to an upright piano. I sat down at his drums and started playing. I’d found my vehicle.
By early 1977 I was finally making decent money as a drummer. UK student in the mornings, session musician in the afternoons and playing in a Hilton Inn jazz trio at night had me burning candles at both ends, but I was living pretty well. JP and I were roommates in a nice, new apartment complex and playing together in the studio quite often. Marlon and other Exile guys were playing on those sessions, too, and we were getting to be a pretty tight rhythm-section. One afternoon JP and I sat down in our living room and he asked if I’d like to join the band.
Exile was the regional hit band that we all looked up to and they’d worn the crown jewels for many years. In fact, the first time I saw them perform I had yet to start playing drums. “The Exiles”, as they were calling themselves, had the opening slot on the 1966 Dick Clark Caravan of Stars and played behind the solo artists on the show, as well. When the Caravan came to Lexington I went to the show, Ironically, Marlon and I both were both in the audience that night and it was the first time either of us had seen the band.
I played my first show with Exile in June 1977 at a local club called The Camelot. By November we were in a northern Kentucky studio with Mike Chapman recording master tracks, one of which was “Kiss You All Over.” With those tracks Chapman landed our deal with Warner/Curb Records in L.A. and we returned to the studio in March 1978 to finish the album. By September we had the biggest record in the country.
Struggles with poverty transformed into struggles with wealth. We suffered identity crises, member changes, outside influences, internal disagreements and too many hangovers. While we had great success overseas, we finished our run in American pop music as a one-hit-wonder band.
The move to Country Music was a good one and we had lots of success, but an average of 200-300 shows every year took its toll. After losing Marlon, then Les, then JP and finally, our deal on Epic Records, we were exhausted. Nonetheless, we rallied with a new line-up of players, landed a deal on Arista Records and had a few more hits. As we lost our grip on radio, though, our success dwindled and so did our spirits. We played our last show in Maryville, Tennessee in February 1993.
Post-EXILE (Arista) / Pre-Reunion:
I laid down my drumsticks and ran to the business side of music. Having greatly admired our own manager, Jim Morey, I felt compelled to take a shot at artist management. The artists I represented throughout fourteen years of management included Steve Wariner (Arista), Regina Regina (Giant), Clinton Gregory (Polydor), Eric Heatherly (Mercury), Kristin Garner (Atlantic) and Bering Strait (Universal South). I also had a very enjoyable experience representing writer, author journalist, Alanna Nash.
For several years in the late-80s and early 90s I wrote articles for Country Music magazines and I’m back at it. I am the Nashville Local Music Examiner for examiner.com and you can see my page here: http://www.examiner.com/x-21485-Nashville-Local-Music-Examiner
I recently signed on to host a nationally-syndicated radio show dedicated to honoring the music and artists from 1960 through the mid-90’s. The show is called “Country Memories” and produced by Steve Graham for Cool Broadcasting. Radio stations are being cleared and the show will launch in the coming weeks. Please have a look at www.cool-broadcasting.com.
What life has taught me:
The next twenty-four hours is all I need concern myself with. I can and must do the work in front of me, but I have no control over outcomes.
I’ve learned that Sonny LeMaire always takes a positive outlook, Marlon Hargis is a keen observer and thinks like a manager, JP Pennington loves people and animals and takes great delight in those qualities that make each one unique, and Les Taylor places high value on presenting himself well; sharp, crisp and funny. I’m surrounded by good hearts, including the one in our new manager, John Dotson.
Having a sustained close encounter with someone of a different color shatters racism.
When people show you who they are, believe them.