Bio: A Lifetime Of Music
(and why I can satisfy everyone from seven to seventy+)
From the time I was born, my parents always had music (records) playing in our house. From Mario Lanza (78rpm) to Hank Williams to Roger Williams to Earl Grant (go ahead, look that up) & even the 'Jackie Gleason Orchestra'. I grew up listening to my parents' music & they had very varied tastes, that they shared with me. I also started 'reading' the record jackets. Important for later in my life...
Because I showed such interest in music, et al, my parents used to either let me 'stay up' late or would wake me up when a great musical act was coming on TV. Not just the Beatles or Stones on Ed Sullivan, but ANY musical act, including country. I was a very lucky boy, because my parents were also listening to Carl Perkins, way before the Beatles 'covered' his hits on their first & second albums. (go look). So by the time the first Beatles album was available (at our local grocery store, LOL, there were no 'record shops' around my town) I knew WHY the Beatles had 'covered' Carl Perkins songs. (Do YOU know why? Hint: Skiffle)
These were the days when I used to go to bed, with a earplug in one ear, the other checking to see if my mom was gonna catch me, so I could hear 'Cousin Brucie' each evening as I fell asleep. And those 'transistor' radios had no 'speaker', no kidding. Just an earplug.
Ever hear of 'Hullabaloo'? Well, my mom & dad & their friends would get together & watch that, plus Dick Clark 'ABS' & a show local to New York, the 'Clay Cole Show'. Let's just say, early on, I knew who Tammi Terrill & Marvin Gaye were, because they were playing right in Newark and Perth Amboy, NJ! I was allowed to watch 'everything' on TV re: 'music' and loved, loved live performances, from an early age. Full disclosure: I still attend at least 20 live performances a year, from large arenas to local theatres around VT, NH, MA, NY. It's so thrilling & inspiring...& why I still love 'spinning'.
Fast forward a bit through High School. Loved Deep Purple, Free, Allmans but always had this 'hankering' for Hank; to understand just how all of this 'music' was connected. One great way: read album covers. See who the great 'session players' were. Learn about 'Mixing' & 'Mastering' & who the greats in those arenas were. It's why Jimmy Iovine, Bob Clearmountain & yes, George Martin were 'behind' the hits. All collecting in my musical head, that 'it' was more than a 'hook', more than cool lyrics, more than power guitar riffs that made 'music' so universal. Concerts? Hundreds of them, not the least of which was unknowns named 'Hall & Oates' opening for: 'The Bee Gees'. (way before below...)
Did the Bee Gees create 'Disco', et al? No. Nor the dancing, nor the advent of the 'DJ', mixing danceable music in clubs. But...they made it more 'acceptable' & mainstream. For that...we actually have Eric Clapton to thank, but more on that some other time. (Ask me). No, the Bee Gees & 'Saturday Night Fever' ignited a generation of sociable 'dancers' to get together & act like ladies & gentlemen & just 'dance'. It was an exciting time & I got introduced to 'mixing' (we called the mixes 'changes' back then) by a Professional DJ who noticed me listening intently to the 'mix', more than the music. Let's just say, if it wasn't for the drinking age changing to 18 & being 6'3"/240, I'd have never met the man who introduced me to 'disco', but more to what a 'turntable' was really used for. This was before Saturday Night Fever, but...pretty close to it. Anyway, one night he invites me in the 'DJ Booth', shows me basics, about BPM & energy levels & says: 'Robert, I think you can do this'. I did, successfully.
Lotsa fun 'war stories', but fast forward & long story short: the 'clubs' begin to fade. The 'life' of working till 3 am (& later) gets tired. And guess what? I'm making more money at 'mobile jobs', with a lot less hassle & getting home to sleep (some nights) so .....that's where I've been for the last 30 or so years. Working as a Wedding DJ & Event DJ, still 'mixing', still trying to 'educate' when I can but otherwise taking requests for music with a smile & putting sets 'together' better than the next guy. It takes a solid three hours, per week, to 'keep up' with the new music I get. Sure, I can skate through a wedding or party with songs from 50's-2000's, mixing the floor 'just right' to keep your guests hopping. But I also can take a High School Prom or Homecoming Dance & make Nicki & Ariana sound even better by mixing them with some history. Bottom line: any 'entertainment service' who tells you it's about the 'event' is half right: the 'floor' & the 'flow' is my real job as a Professional Event DJ. And I love it more than ever.
So, how does being 'dance club trained/tested' differentiate me from my competition? Here's a good analogy: imagine you train for four years at a time to compete in the Olympics. And you train three times, for three Olympics? Think an athlete who goes through that process learns things other athletes don't? Believe what an athlete learned sticks with him/her for life? Well, working 'dance clubs' (discos too) back in my 20-30's is just like that. You never forget how important 'pacing, selection but especially mixing BPM's & energy levels can be to a dance floor. Can it be learned on your own? No. It's just that simple...I think differently, work differently & 'produce' differently than my competition. Most of them: 'entertainers' who play music. Me? a Pro DJ who 'entertains' you & your guests by taking the best music on earth & presenting it in a very special way.
Let's just say, a longhaired kid wearing RayBans, Hawaiin shirt & shorts didn't look like your 'normal' disco DJ, but over the next ten years, I worked more than I didn't & I played in straight, gay, 'more black than white' clubs & yes, plenty of country line dancing clubs later on...but when I had the chance, plenty of 'mobile jobs' too. I was taught to make a 'change' (mix) by a Professional DJ who was taught by Jim Burgess, the 'father' of multi-table 'riding' & within a month, I had three & four turntable DJ booths. More on that sometime, if you wish, but here I was, this 'kid' with the 'rock/country/etc' music brain mixing 'disco' & blending it all together. Once someone asked 'How do you start a 'set' with the Stones 'Sympathy For The Devil at a disco'?", I replied: 'It's all Dance Oriented Rock' (DOR) & my future was cast.