At the age of 15 I enrolled in Mission High School, where I had as one of my classmates an Al Cernick, who had a real fine voice. This is the same Al Cernick who upon graduation went to New York, changed his name several times, and ended up as Guy Mitchell and started a long list of hits, including "Singing the Blues", "If", and many others!. Sadly his career ended in the 70's after a failed attempt to make it in motion pictures.

 

After Mission High, I enrolled at San Francisco State College, progressed rapidly on the clarinet, and in my second year there I was already playing solo first chair clarinet in the symphonic band, one of the very best in the country, conducted by Professors Lee Chrisman and Edwin Kruth. Ed and I have become very close and dear friends over the years since I left State.

 

After several years at SF State I decided to leave the school after being asked to join the band at KCBS radio, performing on a five-day-a-week talk show hosted by Bill Weaver. I played in the band and also became the male vocalist on the show. It was my very first big break, and at that time I finally realized that singing was going to be my main career in music, although I briefly attended the prestigious Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY, as a clarinet major shortly before my KCBS job.

 

 

 

 

Biography

I was born and raised in San Francisco, youngest of three boys, from a very musical family. My father played the accordion and my mother had a very lovely natural singing voice. My brother John, second born, became a wonderful accordionist, but his life was tragically cut short at 22 in World War II when his B-24 was shot down over Germany shortly after D-Day.

 

I have to thank my oldest brother, Vic, for briefly taking up the clarinet and then quitting the instrument shortly after, allowing me the opportunity to take over his studies. I was around 13 at this time and really wanted to play the trumpet, imagining myself as becoming another Harry James, but quickly discovering that I had no talent for the instrument! I began studying diligently on the clarinet and started playing the saxophone as well, and I soon became proficient enough on both instruments that I was able to join a local dance band organized by a friend and close neighbor, Jim Polos. The band played for dances at local halls and churches for parties and weddings. I remember that my biggest paycheck (in cash) was for $3.75, tax free! Not bad for a start. I loved playing with the band, with an occasional small solo on saxophone, but the idea of singing never entered my mind at that time. I really didn't know what the future would hold for me, only that I hoped it would be in music.

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