I was lucky to have an older half sister, Jean who was 15 years older
than I. She loved rock and roll, and she would babysit me while listening to
records by Elvis, Little Richard, Ricky Nelson and others while looking
at their photos. At the age of three, I understood the feeling of R&R.
I then went on to listen to a pirate radio station on my new transistor
radio broadcasting R&B from Tijuana, Mexico. Wolfman Jack was the star DJ
there and was playing the real thing, not the white versions of cool
early rock. I made a drum set out of cardboard ice cream tubs, and saw
myself as a musician from age 5.
I listened to pop radio, all of it.. Crooners, Doo Wop, Hot Rod music,
surf music and Motown. Then along came the British invasion!! that
changed everything with a fresh take on our R&B and a new form of pop.
The Beatles, Stones, Kinks, Animals, the Who and Jimi... These bands
altered my tastes bringing energy, excitement and fashion to all of
us here. They turned my world on it's head!
My sister was a singer in the Folk-Rock scene so I was exposed to the
late night club world from age 11. I loved American and British blues
of the 60's. I got into atonal experimental music with friends of Jean's.
Then 70's R&B, and arena rock and then I began writing all kinds of
rock, pop and R&B.
I was so fortunate to be born in the middle of Rock's infancy, and
grateful that I heard the real thing when it was brand new.
Brian Ray has become well known for his fantastic work as guitarist and bass player on Paul McCartney's recent world tours. In the past, however, he has shared stages with some of the biggest names in the music business and has produced and recorded on numerous albums, from rock to pop to rhythm and blues.
Brian cites his biggest influences as being Elvis, Little Richard, The Teddy Bears and The Everly Brothers. At the age of 3, his older sister Jean would baby-sit him and play records by all the rock 'n' roll greats. Inspired by The Beatles, Brian started playing guitar at the age of 9.
In 1974, right out of high school, he was invited to sit in on a rehearsal with legendary blues singer Etta James. He played his first show with her the following night. Brian worked with Etta for the next 14 years, serving as her guitarist and musical director.
During his time with Etta, Brian shared stages with some of the biggest names in the music business, including Keith Richards, Joe Cocker, Van Morrison, Carlos Santana and Rory Gallagher. During the late 70's and early 80's, he also toured with Cherie Curry of The Runaways, Laura Branigan and Nicolette Larson, for whom he acted as guitarist and musical director. In 1987, he co-wrote, arranged and played on the massive Smokey Robinson hit “One Heartbeat”.
In 1988, Brian formed two Los Angeles based bands. “Charm School” was formed with Steve LeGassick, who co-wrote One Heartbeat with Brian, and together they wrote most of the material for the band. The music for Brian's other band, “The Natives”, was all written by Brian himself.
From 1992 to 1996, Brian acted as guitarist, writer, producer and musical director for Rita Coolidge. Following this, he spent five years touring in Europe with French superstars Johnny Hallyday and Mylene Farmer. Paul McCartney's drummer, Abe Laboriel Jnr, also toured with Brian during this time. It was Abe who put Brian's name forward for the McCartney band.
Brian's first gig with Paul was at the 2002 Super Bowl in New Orleans. After the show, Paul turned to him and said “welcome aboard!” That was the beginning of Brian's career with Paul McCartney. Over the past 2 years, Brian has toured the US twice, toured Japan and Europe, appeared on Paul's live CD and DVD and has just finished working on Paul's new studio album, which is expected to be released later this year or early next year.
In May/June 2004, Paul and the band completed a 14 date stadium tour of Europe, performing in many cities where Paul had never played before, including the St. Petersburg Palace Square in Russia. The tour culminated with Paul and the band headlining the 2004 Glastonbury Festival in England.
Whilst working with Paul McCartney over the past 2 and a half years, Brian has also continued to work on many other projects. In 2003, he completed his first film score for the film "The Failures". He co-wrote a track from The Bangles album "Doll Revolution", called "Nickel Romeo". This song was written with Michael Steele [of the Bangles] and Steve LeGassick [of "One Heartbeat" fame].
He played on the new album by Adam Cohen's band The Low Millions, called "Ex Girl Friends". Brian also recently completed work on a new record by Etta James, called "Blues to the Bone".
* Your musical inspirations?
Laura Nyro, Phil Spector records, Carole King, Stephen Sondheim, Dionne Warwick, Burt Bacharach, Hal David, Aretha Franklin and Ellie Greenwich.
* Any CD's or songs which are meaningful to you?
There are too many to list, but a few would be anything by Laura Nyro, especially Eli and the 13th Confession, Court and Spark and Hejira by Joni Mitchell.
* Has music helped you thru a difficult or traumatic time in your life?
Music definitely helped me through my teenage years. Also, I started writing and performing very early, so it kept me out of trouble.
Singer/songwriter/background vocalist David Lasley’s prolific career spans more than three decades. He is perhaps best-known for the hundreds of songs he has written for the likes of Anita Baker (“You Bring Me Joy”), Maxine Nightingale (“Lead Me On”), Patti LaBelle (“Come What May,” ”I Don’t Go Shopping”), Aretha Franklin (“There’s a Star for Everyone”), Boz Scaggs (“Jojo”), Bonnie Raitt ("Got You On My Mind," "I Ain't Gonna Let You Break My Heart Again"), Tina Turner, Whitney Houston, Dusty Springfield, Crystal Gayle, Natalie Cole, Jermaine Jackson, Phoebe Snow, Herb Alpert, Rita Coolidge, Patti Austin, Dionne Warwick, Al Green, the Oak Ridge Boys and many more.
His work as a background vocalist is equally auspicious. Most familiar for his more than 24 years singing with pop/folk icon James Taylor, Lasley has also backed such artists as Bette Midler, Bonnie Raitt, Luther Vandross, Aretha Franklin, Jimmy Buffett, Joni Mitchell, Ringo Starr, Cher, Chaka Khan, Teddy Pendergrass, and countless others.
Matching his tremendous talent as a songwriter, vocal arranger and background vocalist is his stature as a solo performer. He was the third person – after Elton John and Donna Summer – signed to David Geffen’s Geffen Records. Between 1982 and 1999, he issued four highly regarded solo albums in addition to two other albums with a group called Rosie and five single releases. The solo albums, Demos (Rondor, 1981), ’Missin Twenty Grand (EMI America, 1982, produced by Lasley), Raindance (EMI America, 1984, produced by Don Was), and Soldiers on the Moon (Agenda, 1990, produced by Jeffrey Weber), all have received substantial critical acclaim.
In 2000, he issued Back to Blue-Eyed Soul (ZACODA), a retrospective of his work featuring rare recordings dating back to 1966. Music critic Dave Marsh described Back to Blue-Eyed Soul as "the Basement Tapes of high-pitched heartbreak. The great falsetto singer David Lasley…put this together by rummaging through his 35-year career. Call it the best Smokey Robinson CD of the 21st century."
Also in 2000, Expansion Records, the highly regarded soul/smooth jazz label, released a new Lasley recording in the United Kingdom called Expectations of Love. In 2001, Expectations of Love was released in the U.S. on the Thursday Market Music label, garnering praise from New York's Next Magazine which said, "Lasley hasn't lost his knack for writing and performing timeless and soulful R&B ballads and pop tunes."
Lasley has also seen a resurgence of interest in his career in Japan during the last few years. Three of his solo works and two Rosie albums were re-issued by Japanese labels, including Missin’ Twenty Grand with four bonus cuts from Raindance (Toshiba-Emi Ltd., distributed by Vivid Sound Corporation), Demos featuring most of the original songs plus 18 bonus cuts (Cool Sound), Soldiers on the Moon with five bonus cuts (Cool Sound), Rosie’s Last Dance (Cool Sound), and Rosie's Better Late Than Never (BMG Japan).
Boasting a rich, versatile voice and an astounding four-octave vocal range, Lasley sings mainly in his distinctive higher register. He was named with Smokey Robinson as one of the music industry's five top falsetto singers by Esquire magazine. His voice has been compared on more than one occasion to Laura Nyro’s, and his vocal style has also been likened to Dusty Springfield's. A review of Missin’ Twenty Grand by respected New York Times critic Stephen Holden characterized his voice as “a passionate, penetrating falsetto which he shades with an unusually expressive authority.” Chicago Magazine’s Lloyd Sachs’ review of Missin’ Twenty Grand enthused, “A better white-soul album hasn’t come out in years; a better white falsetto you have not heard in a longer time than that. Don’t miss it.”
Lasley was born in Michigan and grew up in a small town about 250 miles from Detroit in a musically inclined family. Lasley’s first group, The Utopias, which included his younger sister, Julie, patterned itself after “girl groups” like The Raindrops, The Jelly Beans and The Dixie Cups. “My roots were firmly established at a young age by the songs and styles of Frankie Lymon, Carole King, Ellie Greenwich, Darlene Love, Dionne Warwick and Dusty Springfield,” Lasley has noted.
When Lasley and his sister were still teenagers, The Utopias signed to Detroit’s Fortune Records, where they recorded their first local hit, “Welcome (Baby, To My Heart),” in 1966, followed by “Good Friends Forever” (1967) on Hi Q, a Fortune subsidiary. In addition to recording, The Utopias performed on Swingin' Time and other local television programs and in R&B clubs in Detroit (like the Twenty Grand) and nearby Canada. Lasley also began composing around this time.
In 1970, Lasley expanded his geographic and artistic horizons when he joined the cast of the hit musical Hair, initially performing with the Detroit company and then with the touring company. He left the show in 1972, moving to New York City to appear in the Broadway musical Dude and several off-Broadway productions.
Over the next few years, he lent his talents as a background vocalist and vocal arranger to the music industry’s top artists. He also formed his own group, Rosie, with fellow Hair alumni Lana Marrano, who wrote lyrics to Lasley’s music for the trio’s two recordings, and Lynn Pitney. Rosie’s first album, Better Late Than Never (RCA, 1976), features the classic Lasley/Marrano composition “Roll Me Through the Rushes,” later a big song for Chaka Khan on a 1978 recording on which Lasley sang background vocals along with legendary session singer and gospel great Cissy Houston. Rosie’s second and final album was Last Dance, which contains mainly Lasley/Marrano songs but also includes “I See Home” (later recorded by Patti LaBelle), which Lasley composed with a new song-writing partner, Allee Willis. Lasley and Willis continued to collaborate for many years.
While the two Rosie recordings were just minor successes, Lasley himself emerged as one of the busiest and most successful backup singers in the business during the mid-1970s. The songs on which his backing vocals appear numbers well into the hundreds. Among them are his work in a quartet of singers (which included Luther Vandross) that performed on most of Chic’s (“Everybody Dance,” “Le Freak,” “I Want Your Love”) and Sister Sledge’s (“We Are Family,” “He’s the Greatest Dancer”) recordings. Other hits from around this time on which he performed lead and/or back-up were “Native New Yorker” (Odyssey), “Paradise” (Bionic Boogie), “Take Me Home” (Cher), “You're My Choice Tonight” (Teddy Pendergrass), and “I Really Didn’t Mean It,” “So Amazing,” and “Stop to Love” (Luther Vandross), to name just a few. It should also be noted that Lasley was the un-credited group vocals “voice” for The Ramones on most of the tracks for their classic recordings The Ramones Leave Home and Rocket to Russia.
In 1977, Lasley began touring and recording with James Taylor, an association that has lasted to this day. Over the years, he has also toured with Todd Rundgren, Melissa Manchester and Bonnie Raitt, for whom he has sung backing vocals on many albums. (Raitt has recorded several of Lasley’s songs including “Got You On My Mind” from Streetlights and “I Ain’t Gonna Let You Break My Heart Again” from Nick of Time, which he co-wrote with his sister and erstwhile Utopias partner, Julie. Of this latter song, Raitt has commented, “I waited a long time to be grown-up enough to sing [it].")
Lasley continued to write by himself and with partners besides Marrano and Willis, including Don Paul Yowell, Luther Vandross, Michael Kamen, Peter Allen, Felix Cavaleri, Gary Wright, Robin Lerner, Kathy Wakefield, Kiki Dee, Josh Kadison, Sophie Hawkins, Boz Scaggs and others. He worked as a sought-after background vocalist and arranger and sang lead vocals on a number of songs featured in films, among them “Teamwork” (a familiar tune in many aerobics classes during the 1980s) from Body Rock, “Stay Gold“ (The Outsiders), “The Black Stallion” (The Black Stallion), and “Hollywood Cowboy” (City Slickers). Additionally, his voice was heard nightly on Broadway for a time in a recorded song called “The Snow,” a Tennessee Williams poem set to music by Hair co-creator Galt McDermot that was featured in a play called Vieux Carre.
In 1981, Lasley issued Demos, the first of his solo releases. A two-LP set, Demos is, literally, a collection of demos showcasing his versatility as a singer/songwriter, plus versions of a few of his hit songs by the original performers, including “Lead Me On,” “Jojo” and “Dark Side of Your Soul” (Kiki Dee).
As a solo artist, however, Lasley really came into his own in 1982 with the widely praised Missin’ Twenty Grand, which takes an uncompromising look back at his early years in Detroit as a teenager breaking into the music business. Music critic Dave Marsh described the album as “one of the finest of the year.” In another review of the album, Marsh added, "’On Third Street’ is as good a confessional song as Joni Mitchell's ever written.... Beautiful music in the best sense."
According to music critic Don Shewey, Missin’ Twenty Grand was “the finest blue-eyed soul album since Boz Scaggs’ Silk Degrees.” A review in High Fidelity magazine said that the album was “noteworthy in much the same way that Rickie Lee Jones’ debut was, because it combines a high level of vocal and compositional craftsmanship with a very personal approach... an impressive, panoramic debut.” The New York Times’ Stephen Holden said, “The wide-open emotionality of Mr. Lasley’s singing, combined with his confessional lyrics and the way his tunes blend the style of Motown with more sophisticated Broadway and Hollywood influences, recalls the pop style of Laura Nyro’s classic late-60’s albums.”
Adding to Missin’ Twenty Grand’s allure were guest appearances by The Who's legendary Pete Townshend, who contributed guitar sounds to the album's "Roommate," and James Taylor and Bonnie Raitt, who -- in a nice twist -- performed background vocals for Lasley on "Got to Find Love" and "If I Had My Wish Tonight," respectively. The latter song was a hit single, reaching Number 36 on Billboard's Hot 100.
Missin’ Twenty Grand was followed two years later by Raindance. Unlike Twenty Grand, which features more organic music from piano and electric/acoustic bass and guitar, Raindance's sound is far more in the techno-pop vein. The use of synthesizers, an Emulator, and a Fairlight -- as well as the inclusion of a Lasley-esque rap number -- put Raindance well ahead of its time. One critic wrote, "The strength of this album comes from Lasley's..... sense of harmony and poetry." The recording -- particularly "Saved By Love" and "Where Does That Boy Hang Out?" -- was a big hit in Europe, making the list of Britain’s The Face magazine’s Top 20 albums of 1984 along with Prince’s Purple Rain and Madonna’s Like a Virgin.
Lasley’s Soldiers on the Moon was released in 1990. An all-star lineup of talent joined Lasley on the CD, which was one of the inaugural releases from Agenda Records. Luther Vandross provided vocal arrangements, Rita Coolidge performed a duet ("Give My Heart Back to Me"), and the musicians included pianist David Benoit, drummer Jeff Porcaro, and percussionist Luis Conte. Among Soldiers' outstanding numbers is Carole King's "It's Too Late," which was described by one critic as offering "a totally fresh interpretation that makes this timeless song sound like a hit all over again."
During the last ten years, in addition to his work on Back to Blue-Eyed Soul, Expectations of Love and the Japanese re-issues, Lasley has toured regularly with James Taylor. His web site's "Tales From the Road -- David's Reports from the James Taylor Tour" was a big hit with fans of his and Taylor's during the 2001 "Pull Over" tour.
Lasley has remained a highly regarded songwriter, session singer and arranger. He has worked frequently with Bonnie Raitt, performing on her Nick of Time, Luck of the Draw and Longing in Their Hearts albums. Bette Midler’s “From A Distance” featured not only his background vocals but also his vocal arrangement contributions. He has performed and recorded with, among others, Michael McDonald, Huey Lewis, Olivia Newton-John, Elton John, Julio Iglesias, Boy George, Dr. John, Timothy Schmidt, Vonda Shepard, Jennifer Warnes, Neil Diamond, Aaron Neville, Amanda Marshall, Brenda Russell, Janet Jackson, Shawn Colvin and Jewel.
David Lasley CD's
* Your musical inspirations?
I was inspired by all the same people as the beatles.
Everly brothers, buddy holly, roy orbison and the more pop and up singers
of the 50s and 60s including the works of rogers and hammerstein /hart, and
the music of our parents ink spots, mills brothers perry como, etc.
* Any CD's or songs which are meaningful to you?
All music has meaning to me. If it has been recorded it is even more special
because it has now taken a place in history, whether it is heard or not!
because now recorded music can last forever.
Shame for all the wonderful talent that came before recordings were possible.
* How has music inspired you?
I sing all the time. Sometimes the blues, sometimes I'm into something good.
Just now as I crossed a street in toronto canada I sang Oh Yeah Oh yeah
from a beatles song coz it felt like the right moment for it.
Last night I sang vindaloo nah nah nah nha nah but ended up eating japanese.
* Has music helped you thru a difficult time in your life?
Music is the centre of everything I do. I appreciate it in every one of its
forms. I don't like all the forms but I appreciate them all, and I am a
Peter Blair Denis Bernard Noone is a multi-talented entertainer, who has been delighting audiences nearly all his life. He was born in Manchester, England, where he studied voice and acting at St. Bede's College and the Manchester School of Music and Drama. As a child, he played "Stanley Fairclough" in the long-running British soap opera Coronation Street. He was also featured in the television series Knight Errant, Family Solicitor and Monro's Saki Stories.
At the age of fifteen, Peter achieved international fame as "Herman", lead singer of the legendary Sixties pop band Herman's Hermits. His classic hits included: "I'm Into Something Good" "Mrs. Brown, you've Got A Lovely Daughter", "I'm Henry VIII, I Am", "Silhouettes", "Can't You Hear My Heartbeat", "Just A Little Bit Better", "Wonderful World", "There's A Kind of Hush", "A Must To Avoid", "Listen People", "The End of the World" and "Dandy". Ultimately, Herman's Hermits sold over sixty million recordings. In all, fourteen singles and seven albums went gold. The Hermits were twice named Cashbox's "Entertainer of the Year".
As "Herman", the photogenic Noone graced the cover of nearly every international publication, including Time Magazine. He performed on hundreds of top-rated television programs and appeared with such luminaries as Ed Sullivan, Jackie Gleason, Dean Martin and Danny Kaye. He also starred in ABC's musical version of The Canterville Ghost, Hallmark Hall of Fame's presentation of the classic Pinocchio (in which he played the title role) and three highly successful feature films for M-G-M: Mrs. Brown, You've Got A Lovely Daughter, Hold On! and When The Boys Meet The Girls.
Throughout the seventies, Noone performed, composed songs and produced recordings with such artists as David Bowie, Debby Boone and Graham Gouldman. His album with the Tremblers, "Twice Nightly" and his solo effort "One of The Glory Boys" were both critically and commercially successful. With characteristic zeal, Peter took on leading roles in full-scale theatrical productions of Dick Wittington, Aladdin, and Sinbad The Sailor. These live stage spectaculars were mounted at major theatres throughout Great Britain and Noone was highly praised for his outstanding work.
The eighties found Peter starring on Broadway in the New York Shakespeare Festival's production of The Pirates of Penzance. He won rave reviews for his superb portrayal of the dashing, young hero, "Frederic". His performance was so well received, that he went on to reprise the role at the world-famous Drury Lane Theatre in London. Noone charmed audiences worldwide as he continued to play "Frederic" with both the U.S. National Touring Company and the International Touring Company of "Pirates".
Peter's acting career flourished with guest-starring roles in prime-time television shows such as: Married With Children, My Two Dads, Quantum Leap, Dave's World, Easy Street, Too Close For Comfort and Laverne and Shirley. He also starred in the Los Angeles stage premiere of Topokana Martyr's Day and the U.S. National Tour of the smash Broadway hit Romance, Romance.
For four years, Noone served as the winsome host of VH1's My Generation, the highest-ever-rated half hour retrospective of popular music. He also hosted the informative PBS Special The British Invasion Returns and recorded the title song for the Kirk Douglas film Diamonds. He created two unique websites (peternoone.com and hermanshermits.com) that have become so popular, the New York Daily News dubbed him the "King of The Sixties on the Internet."
Accompanied by his band, Herman's Hermits, Noone consistently plays to sold-out venues the world over. He has a legion of faithful fans (known as "Noonatics") whose loyalty is unparalleled. Today's teen girls scream just as passionately as their mothers did back in 1965, prompting VH1 to select Peter as their viewer's choice for the "Sexiest Artist of the Year". Most recently, Noone starred in the recurring role of "Paddington" on the CBS daytime drama, As The World Turns. His colorful performances instantly made him a favorite of the soap opera magazines and online message boards. There is no doubt that Peter Noone's extraordinary talent, disarming wit, handsome features and compelling stage presence will continue to delight fans of all ages, for a long, long time to come.
Peter Noone Shop