I'm not sure who those musicians are, but they are not the same people that played on the recordings. The records were produced in L.A. by Michael Omartian, using session players. They are great records, and this band does a nice job of reproducing them live. When I did a sho with Chris, he seemed like a really nice guy, that has been on the top and bottom of the music business. He was singing great when I played with him, probably 10 years ago. It was a show that also included Michael McDonald, so we played with a couple of great singers that night.
edit: I just pulled my old copy out. Tommy Taylor is credited with drums, although there are others credited with the percussion, including Lenny Castro. Guitars are Larry Carlton. I don't know Tommy Taylor, so if that's him on that video, he made a great record.
interesting. thanks for the info, and welcome!Renaissongsman said:For the record and for general interest, Omartian actually used Chris's backup band as the primary players. Andy Salmon (bass), Rob Meurer (keys) and Christopher "Cross" Geppert (guitar) had been playing together for quite some time in Austin, and added Tommy Taylor as drummer sometime before Geppert sent a demo to Warner Bros. corporate lawyer and "aide-de-camp" to the president of WB records. Every drum track on the "Christopher Cross" album was Tommy Taylor.
Due to Omartian's connection with Steely Dan, he got Larry Carlton & Jay Graydon to play some guitar solos. Don Henley was also from Austin and came to sing on one tune, and brought JD Souther with him. Omartian mentioned the project to Michael McDonald, who came down and laid some vocal tracks. Nicolette Larson was also at WB at the time and added some BGVs. Lastly, Eric Johnson was brought in as a friend of Christopher's and fellow Austinite.
So, the only real "session players" were Victor Feldman and Lenny Castro on percussion and the horn & string players, and, possibly, Carlton (depending on how you count players). Chuck Finley's flugel solo on "Spinning", Graydon's guitar work and several of the BGV people are credited as guest artists. The rest of the BGV people were known to Omartian ("Never Be the Same", for example, was his wife and two of her and Omar's friends who just *happened* to also do session work).
All this is available on the WWW, especially from the "Living Legends" Youtube channel, which has a 10-part interview with "Cross"/Geppert. Rob Meurer's website describes a bit of the genesis of the band in a nutshell on his bio page. Data from the album liner is here.
Welcome and roarsome story you have there!TommyTaylor said:Hello all,
I was made aware of this thread by David Hunter.
First of all I very much appreciate the nods and appreciation of my contribution to this music as well as the overall general appreciation of the music that we created created together as a group.
I feel like I have spent the better part of my life trying to set the record straight, so to speak, on this subject and I will just clarify a few things for anyone who has an interest here.
It's funny when you are the only drummer on an lp that has sold probably 15 million copies worldwide and was one of the biggest records of the 80's...and everyone thinks you're Jeff Porcaro.
While that is a very nice compliment it hasn't helped my career in the least
I can't blame anyone really for any comments. There is and always has been a huge misconception about Christopher Cross and the entire saga of the recording process of that record.
I have to say that I resent us being called Chris's back up group. I realize no one knows otherwise...Chris won't even acknowledge that we even existed at this point so...how would anyone know?
Let's just cut to the chase.
WE WERE Christopher Cross.
HE was Chris Geppert. That is his real name. That is the only name I ever knew him by. The first time I ever knew HIM to be called Christopher Cross was when I saw him credited on OUR album with that name. I will try not to be too industry bitter...but this is a classic case of screw job.
In the spring of 1977 I was playing in Austin, Texas in a cover group called Reunion who I still play with.
I was just turned 20 years old. Music was my life. I had been I guess, what you would call a child prodigy of sorts. I was professional by the time was 11 years old, playing for pay in rec centers and country clubs, and even bars. I had only been playing drums for about a year when I was good enough to hold my own amongst the semi pro crowd. By the time I was thirteen my band was headlining weekends in the same Club that Don Henley and the like played. I never had any doubt that this would be my career.
There was a group from Ft. Worth who called themselves "Texas". They were managed by a former drummer acquaintance of mine named Tim Neece. I became very enamored with their group and very friendly with their drummer Gary Osier. He was a very big influence on my playing and on my attention to drum tone and sounds and the like. He was very gracious and always asked me to sit in with them at the end of the night in their shows when they would come to Austin.
I spoke to Tim one evening and mentioned that I realized that Gary was THE guy for Texas and I would never be able to play in that group but if he ever heard of another group that was as serious about making it as they were, that I would love the opportunity. My band was very good and talented well respected but they weren't the type of guys that were going to push to make it in the business. They were going for a more normal life. I knew Tim had known me for 7 years and had seen me play and knew that I was a pretty solid guy and someone who could deliver the goods as both a drummer and a vocalist.
I was also working retail at the local music store next to the club where all the groups played. One day I got a call at work from Tim, asking me to come to his office he had something he wanted to talk with me about. So I arranged with my boss to get off an hour early and I drove to his home office. There was another cover group from Ft. Worth he also worked with named Stoney West. I sat down across from him at his desk and we made small talk and then he said basically that Billy Cook was leaving Stoney West and would I be interested in joining up with them as their new drummer? I had to say that they were an excellent group and I liked all the guys and the female singer but this wasn't a good move for me. I would have to move to Ft. Worth, rent an apartment and be on the road all the time...playing covers. I was playing covers already and living at my parent's house for free. I also had a good part time job at the music store. It just didn't make any sense. At best it was a lateral move and it was a money loser. So I politely declined. He said, I figured that would be your answer but they asked me to put it you and see. I was flattered but like I said, lateral move.
Then he said I want you to hear something. He flipped on his playback system and put in a cassette and played a tune. From the opening notes it was light years above anything I'd heard locally and I thought genuinely it was some new lp that he was into. The song finished and I said Wow! That's incredible...who is it and where can I buy a copy? He said that's a band I manage in Houston called Christopher Cross. I blurted out YOU MANGE THEM? WOW! Where can I get a copy of their record? He said it's a demo tape they don't have a record yet. I said well it sounds like a record to me! He said listen to this. He played another song....same incredible sound same quality writing and performing...just world class. I gushed further. He said...well...they play 6 nights a week in a club playing covers and they work on their originals on the side and we're trying to get a contract. He said, they're thinking of making a move to Austin and making a drummer change. My first question was who is the drummer now? He replied that they had used a few guys and the current drummer was not on these tapes. He then told me the guy's name and it turns out he was a friend of mine that I had kind of lost touch with. I felt bad and I asked are they firing him? And it was put to me that it was a kind of mutual decision. The guy was a fantastic vocalist and he wrote his own songs as well and the two situations weren't really compatible. Then Tim said would you be interested in doing a kind of audition for them by recording on their next demo? I'm about to water myself at this point because it's just too good to be true. I knew that the band was going to make it...and here I was being offered a chance to possibly play in it. And so it went. I said yes Tim of course...where and when?
So we met I believe on a Saturday and worked up 4 of their new tunes and Sunday we cut 'em. Ride Like the Wind, Sailing, The Light Is On and another song that didn't make the lp called Mary Ann.
I was 20, Chris was 26 Rob was 28 and Andy was 29. That's a big difference at that age and also in 1977 it was much more apparent than it might be today. Somehow even though our musical tastes and ages differed we shared a lot of commonality. Over the next 3 years we became like brothers. We had our own lingo...our own jokes our own pet peeves...we had our one crew guy who was another brother and then...it branched over into the girlfriends and wives and Tim's family and our engineer Chet Himes and his wife and...it was a pretty big family....it was a unified effort of many people to make that music heard and successful. It was NEVER a solo artist. NEVER.
We did a couple of showcases for Warner Brothers. The ins and outs of all of that are not really pertinent. Chris tells a completely different story than is factual regarding how we actually landed the record contract. He leaves out a very key player and production company in the process. He has memory loss of convenience. But I'm not into this being a bash Chris session. Just trying to make things a little more clear and in the open.
It came down that the label, after the bidding war happened between many labels, was only going to sign Chris since he was the lead singer and writer. Chris explained it to me that in the past companies had ended up being beholden to departed members of groups they had signed where there was a principle singer/writer and this was just the way the situation was but that it would NOT in anyway alter our status or financial participation in the band. It was presented as merely a formality of contract.
We trusted our friend.
Of course all of that became evident as lies as the story developed. Money and success changes perspectives and promises. I can only say that no one in the music business is your friend. Get a contract. But I was 22 years old and completely naive, a nice guy who took everything and everyone at face value.
In the cover band part of Christopher Cross I sang 1/3 of the lead vocals. Chris sang 1/3 and Andy and Rob split the other 1/3. Regionally were one of the top paid and most popular groups around. We would play separate shows where we showcased our original material and many of our cover fans spilled over into that fanbase. We were a big deal. The Austin paper did a day by day play by play story during the recording of the lp. We were the first band from Austin to ever be HEARD of pretty much. No one had ever gotten a million dollar record contract and 5 album deal in our town.
As I said it was NEVER a solo artist. The promo shots that were taken before I joined had a big logo that said Christopher Cross and there were four head shots each with the individual member's names underneath and he was listed as Chris Geppert.
I recorded ALL of the drum tracks on the first Christopher Cross Lp. Rob Meurer played electric piano and synthesizers on all tracks and Andy Salmon played all the bass. Michael Omartian, being the fantastic grand pianist that he is was gladly given that slot. Rob was very cool with and it was probably tough for him but he was confident in his own contribution to the band. Rob was also originally a drummer and had played on some of the demos. We all arranged those songs and created that sound. Our individual sounds and techniques are what make that music sound like that. If you heard our demos they really aren't that much different. Michael had a f****** great and easy cake to ice. Pardon my French and no offense to him. He's a genius and I loved working with him.
At one point in the sessions we were having a great deal of difficulty getting a track on Sailing and it was decided that Jeff Porcaro would come in to track it. I was at a loss so ... I sucked it up and had to let it happen. He also tracked a version of Mary Ann which I mentioned before.
It was decided that he would use my drums for continuity...pointing if you will, to the fact that MY seat and position in the group was being protected.
Now we had never considered Sailing to be a single. We liked it..me probably less than they, because I was more of rocker and though I have become very accomplished at ballads and love to play them...it was not my best suit at that time.
Jeff was wonderful. He was extremely kind and reassuring in a way. He had been in similar situations on both sides of that coin...and he in a very subtle way went out of his way to take any fear of intimidation or undermining of my confidence completely out of the picture. I idolized him for a long time...and here he was playing on my record on my kit. Pretty pee shivers moments. But like I said he was like your older brother...just swell...what can I say?
It came to pass his technique was pretty heavy handed for Sailing and the track on Mary Ann it was really just a bit much. Watching him play I was able to take from what he had done and combine that approach with what Rob had shown me and what I had morphed out of that with my own ideas, make what we have on the record today. Once I saw Jeff do it...I knew what we needed and it was just a matter of getting a chance to re visit it. For whatever reason...it was a fulcrum...in our process....we knew subconsciously that we needed that track to be great...but like I said...when Warner's said they were releasing SAILING as the second single...we almost came to fists....we thought they were sabotaging our career. We had a near gold single with Ride Like the Wind and the lp was already gold in a matter of months. This was far more than we thought we might ever get...we only had hoped to sell enough to get to do another lp.
As for the guests on the record. Chris is a world class lead guitarist. He loved Larry Carlton as a player and Omartian had been involved with Steely Dan from the get go and he knew all of those guys well and to get Larry to do a guest slot was a phone call.
Once people heard what we had cut for basics...look it's a damned hot record and it was VERY different from the humdrum of what was going on..it was fresh and not rehash...people WANTED to be on that record. But seriously we weren't sitting around worried about polishing a turd to try and be successful. We liked those artists....and we had an opportunity to feature them. Nicolette was my idea. I had loved her Lp with Lotta Love on It and I was the one who turned Chris and the guys on that record. I knew she was on Warners so when the talk of vocalist to feature came up I put her name in the hat. We had never heard of Jay Graydon and he ended up playing most of the leads. Fabulous! As far as McDonald's infamous answer part on Ride Like the Wind...Chris says that when it came to Ride Like the Wind they came up with that answer part and asked Michael to come in and sing it....it's a bit misleading...as Andy and Rob sang it in unison on the demos and we all three sang it in unison live...for years before it was ever recorded on the record. Michael merely sang OUR part. Stormy was teamed with Myrna Matthews and Venetta Fields....they were part of the "Sweet Inspirations" backing group. Stormy completed that line up. They had been the number one call black female backing singers in L.A. for a decade. Who else would you call?
As I said...and I will reiterate here...the chemistry of the original 4 piece band Christopher Cross was what got that music signed and what made it unique and what made it successful. People in the music industry are often short sighted not the smartest people in the world. They don't really think outside the box much. They don't see the subtleties of what music is and what makes it happen and what the complete formula for success is. They very often think only in terms of numbers. I can't change history. I was a part of the catalyst that made it go. They had been working for years to get signed and been turned down by every major label in the business multiple times. When I was placed in the band...for whatever reason...it changed very rapidly. We also began working with a production company that produced those demos and shopped them....Destiny and chemistry are much bigger than people realize. The proof is in the pudding. What happened once we were gone? The original line up is only on 2 songs on the second Lp. That record sold about 1/5 of what the first one did. The biggest song on that record is the one song where we all played together as group by ourselves in the original studio where the first demos were cut. "Think of Laura" was never meant to be on the lp.
We recorded that as favor to Chris who's good friend and best friend of his current girlfriend at that time had been killed by a stray bullet coming through the rear windshield of her family car as they drove through downtown Hartford Connecticut where she lived. There was a shooting in the street and she was killed instantly. We were really lacking in "new" material for the second record and this was already cut. Michael heard it and decided to include it. He was desperate to get a record done as we were very very late because of waiting for Chris's divorce to be final so he wouldn't owe his ex 1/2 of THAT record too. We SHOULD have revisited songs that we didn't include on the first record that were part of the old demos...but that was not considered...it was a different machine at that point destined to crash.
If anyone has any particular questions about the record or the recording of the drums I will be happy to answer to that. I have a near photographic memory and can give specifics if I ever knew them.
Once again thanks to everyone for enjoying our music. It was a very exciting experience to make it for you. We all loved that band and we loved those songs...and we loved the having the chance to record them for eternity.