I was born in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada, the youngest of eight children to my parents Albert and Wilhelmina. They and all my siblings were musical in one way or the other. My dad played banjo, violin. guitar, piano and harmonica. My sister Marge sang in jazz bands in her late teens and early 20's. On more than one occasion she would bring some musician home that she had met one of whom was Jerome Richardson who had been on tour with the Count Basie Orchestra. I was maybe three or four at the time. She sang several times on CKCK radio live studio broadcasts. She also built up a fairly extensive jazz record collection. I got an earful of a lot of great music from those old 78's. I sang at an early age. Once I got to go to the radio station with Marge and sang Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer over the air. The DJ gave me 50¢. My first paying gig! As a kid I enjoyed playing the harmonica, singing in school choirs, listening to the radio and trying to pick out tunes on my Dad's violin. At 12, he bought me a student violin but that just triggered my desire to play the guitar. I never did learn to play that fiddle.
At thirteen in my sister Millie's house in Regina with my brother-in-law's Stella acoustic. I hadn't yet gotten my own first guitar, a Harmony arch-top which my brother Willie gave me for Christmas '61. Sometime in 1960 I had gone to see the movie "The Gene Krupa Story" and was so inspired I tried to turn my dad's tenor banjo into a drum by laying a cloth over the strings and tapping on the gut head with chopsticks. I wound up busting all but one string and decided I had better try to play it as a banjo instead. After re-stringing that banjo I attempted to play the Duane Eddy tune, The Theme from Peter Gunn - with one finger. I found that those early Duane Eddy and Ventures tunes were a lot easier to play on the guitar. Thankfully the rest of my fingers joined the party. That old Stella is long gone but I still have the banjo!
Winnings from the CKCK-TV quiz show for 8th graders "Knowledge College" including a set of the Encyclopedia Britannica, the Great Books Of The Western World and the Beltone electric guitar and Gibson GA 8-T amp I bought with my Grand Prize cash. I was on my way. Those days a lot of my influences came from what I'd hear late at night in bed through the earpiece of my geranium crystal "Rocket Radio". I'd listen to US AM radio stations like WLS Chicago and KOMA Oklahoma City. I had learned the Freddy King tune Hideaway from hearing it on that little toy.
My first 'axe' On the back porch at 15, contemplating a future in rock & roll