I was born in Philadelphia in 1948. My father was an opera singer with the Philadelphia Opera Company. Obviously, I didn’t follow in his footsteps, but did learn a bit about music appreciation.
I started singing and writing songs about about age 10. I didn’t really play guitar till much later. In my teens I would audition at coffee houses like “The Second of Autumn” and “The Edge” in the Philadelphia area. I never got a job, but learned about acoustic music by hanging out at these places listening to Eric Andersen, Chris Smither, Jimmy Webb, and other great song writers and poet guitar players.
I married young and made a beautiful daughter, “Corrina,” after the old blues tune. She is the inspiration for lots of songs, especially “Pretty Little Thing.,” from my new CD, THE SEVENTH LAKE.
In the late ‘70s, I became enraptured with the punk movement – Dead Boys, Ramones, Pistols, Clash, etc., and formed a band, Robert Hazard and the Heroes. We played every bar in the Philadelphia area. We were either working or rehearsing seven nights a week for two years.
By 1981, the band had become well-known in the area. I had written some strong material and the band was getting tight. My generous Uncle Vaughn loaned me $12,000 to make a five-song EP which we recorded at Sigma Sound. By 1982, the self-produced EP had sold over 50,000 copies locally.
One night, we were playing a little joint called J.C. Dobbs on South Street. Kurt Loder was in town to review the opening of a world tour by another band called the Rolling Stones, who were playing at JFK Stadium that same night. After the Stones concert, Kurt stopped into Dobbs for a beer. I stayed up talking with him till five o’clock in the morning. The next month, there was a two-page spread in Rolling Stone Magazine, pictures and all, raving about the band. Soon after that, we were signed to RCA Records.
RCA did a national release of the EP featuring the song “Escalator of Life,” getting us into the 50’s on the Billboard chart. We played everywhere from clubs to concert arenas, including all the music television shows like Bandstand and Solid Gold. We toured with U2 and the Motels and on our own for about a year. Then we made the Wing of Fire full length album. “Escalator of Life” and “Change Reaction” were featured on MTV.
Back in ’79, I had written a song, “Girls Just Want to Have Fun.” In 1984, Cyndi Lauper had a big hit with it. The song continues to live on classic rock radio and on TV commercials like the Carnival Cruise Line ads.
In more recent years, I formed a country band called “The Hombres” and made a record called Howl, produced by Ian Cross (Janet Jackson, Rickie Lee Jones). I played a string of shows opening for “Bob Dylan,” which were magical for me. But my favorite shows were the stripped-down acoustic concerts I did with my buddy Michael Pilla. I thought these were the most rewarding and the most appreciated by my audience.
My music and my life have come full circle. I am married again with two wonderful sons. We live in Vero Beach, Florida in the winter and in the Adirondack Mountains in the summer. I think I am writing the best songs I ever have and feel satisfied with the poetry and stories all their depth and simplicity. Also once again, I feel that this is music to share with whoever wants to listen.
THE SEVENTH LAKE, my current CD, was recorded in Brattleboro, Vermont and produced by musician extraordinaire Tom “T-Bone” Wolk. We had a great time making it. I hope you like it.