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Chapter 1 Born A Musical Creature


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I was born July 8, 1955.

I don't remember at what moment I became aware of how much I loved music. I guess nobody really does. All I remember is having my own record player at a very young age. All kinds of records too. Not just the "hits" of that time. In addition to records by The Diamonds, Drifters, Coasters, Buddy Holly, Connie Francis, Brenda Lee, Bobby Rydell and Ritchie Valens, there were jazz records, adult contemporary records (back in those days that kind of music shared the charts with the rock n roll), and classical, R&B & C&W. So I learned to like it all.

In 1964 when I was 9 years old I heard a record by the Dave Clark Five. There was this weird instrument in it that sounded like it was buzzing. Now, I had heard that sound in the many records I had before, but the dude in the DC5 left a special impression on me. I saw a picture on an album cover of this guy in the group holding a weird looking horn. Was that the thing that was making that weird buzzing sound? Well, Yes it was. The name of that weird looking and sounding thing was a tenor saxophone and the guy who played it was named Denny Payton. I don't know why it wasn't King Curtis that I noticed first. He was around first and I'd heard "Short Shorts" and "The Stroll" which had that weird buzzing sax too, but it was Denny that made me really take notice to the saxophone, and made me decide that that was what I wanted to play.

Oh, the ignorance of youth. My 9 year old musical fantasy was getting my horn (which my parents wisely rented), and making that cool buzzing sound too, just like my man Denny. To my utter disapointment, it was not the way I expected it. They always start a kid that size on an alto (Denny played a tenor) and the first time I put my chops to it, it didn't buzz. It SQUEEKED!! When I told my mom about my plight, she told me the awful truth. I had to LEARN to play like Denny,and I had to practice alot. The alto didn't sound anything like Denny's magnificent horn. But the story had a happy ending. I quit the horn, but picked it up again a few years later, got my tenor and learned to appreciate the saxophone for what it was and all that it could do. From there I went to learn clarinet, flute and piano.

LATE EDIT: Just learned tonight (6/15/07) that my sax hero, Denny Payton passed away last December 18 (2006) after a long battle with cancer. He was 63 years young. Very saddened to learn of this. Denny's style and sound will always be a part of my musical psyche. IMHO the best rippin' tenor man to ever grace the music world!!! Will miss ya, Denny! :(DP.jpg

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