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Can anyone identify this drummer...

ReGaL Music

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Just wondering who the drummer is? Very tasteful playing...and a GREAT song.

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TommyWells

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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. :icon_smile:

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.
 

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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. :icon_smile:

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.

That isn't Tommy on the video. Tommy is an Austin drummer who was Eric Johnson's regular drummer on Eric's first monster selling albums such a "Colors". I had several conversations with Tommy who is a terrific guy. He was (may still be) an avid vintage drum collector. I once asked a drummer friend who worked at an Austin music store how Tommy dealt with the perfection obsession that Eric has for his gear and for recording. My friend laughed hard while telling me that Eric's perfection obsession pales when compared to Tommy's.

Look for Tommy up close at the 7:07 and 8:06 marks. Nice Gretschies, too.

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I agree the drummer in the OP's clip is not Tommy Taylor. He does sound great and since we mentioned Tommy Taylor, I have to say that I saw him with Eric Johnson a couple of times and he was amazing. He had a moonglow set of Gretsch's tuned perfectly and played great both times. The last I heard is that he is playing in a wedding band in Austin. He was credited on some of the Chris Cross albums along with Eric Jonson and bassist Kyle Brock. They are all Texas boys.

 

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After some research (thank you Google) I am almost certain the drummer in the clip is Jody Cortez. He is the former drummer for the band Cinderella, Crosby,Stills & Nash, Peter Cetera, Boz Scaggs and many others.

His bio shows that he toured with Chris Cross from 1990-2001 and the video is from 1998.

Tommy, cool that you got to play with CC. He is a great musician!
 

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I believe this version is with Tommy Taylor on drums. What a great track he created.

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I believe this version is with Tommy Taylor on drums. What a great track he created.

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That sure looks like Tommy Taylor on those Sonors and backup vocals.
 
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Renaissongsman

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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.
 

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Good thread. I was recently trying to figure out who was who. Those are beautiful tracks. There is also a C.C.video somewhere with a female drummer who sounds great. I'm not sure who. she is.
 

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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.
interesting. thanks for the info, and welcome!
 

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Speaking of Christopher Cross, when I played in a house band at a resort in Western Mass back in the eatly 80s, Chris used to come down a lot as a guest and sit in. Here's a pic of him with the band.
 

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TommyTaylor

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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 :icon_smile:

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.

TT
 

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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 :icon_smile:

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.

TT
Welcome and roarsome story you have there! :hello2:
BTW,can you tell us the drums/cymbals setup you were using for the first CC album?
 

David Hunter

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Tommy, that was an amazing story from an important period in your life, and I want to thank you for sharing it. I know that you've continued on with a successful musical career after this period (deservedly so), but it really was interesting to learn about the inner workings of what brought you to international attention. I remember those days well - you were all over the airwaves, Grammy awards, etc... It's as ingrained into that '79-'81 era as MTV would be just a year or so later. Fascinating read, and thanks for the hat tip. :wink:

Now, I wanna hear about those Sonors!

David Hunter
 

ConvertedLudwigPlayer

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Tommy,

Thank you so much for taking time to share your experience and advice to those that are trying to make it in the industry to be cautious and to stand up for themselves, especially on the contractual end of things . That must have been an exciting time for all of you.

We would love to see you spend some time on the forum if your schedule allows.

Thank you again for taking time to visit us and share your story.
 

Hop

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WOW... great to hear the inside track / behind the scenes info... thanks for sharing Tommy!!!
 

TommyTaylor

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I have composed this for the Sonor page a few weeks back. You all are seeing it first. Some of it is repetitive from the above post but please bare with me :icon_smile:





So…some folks wanted to know the story on the little Sonor kit.


I guess I should start with my history with SoNor.

I started playing drums one afternoon at a friend’s house when I was 9 years old…it was a rather automatic occurrence and the details of that are really another story except that he factors into this.

Now I got my Gretsch Bomber kit before Larry had a kit. He only had a Super Classic Green Sparkle snare and a hi hat stand.

His father ran one of the local music stores and one day…he brought home a 20” red sparkle bass drum and 9x13 rack tom for Larry. He was always kind of randomly producing instruments for Larry but…he never really seemed to support him playing music..just he would get something every once in a while for no reason. They were Sonor…Made In Western Germany. They looked weird and no one had ever HEARD of them…but he assured me they were VERY good drums and VERY cool…I’m sure he didn’t know either…But I thought they were AWESOME! My bomber kit was pretty tired and these were modern and had good hardware and sparkle and all of that. The slotted tension rods and weird lugs and pipe tom mount…was all so not Ludwig…or Gretsch or Rogers or anything like we knew. The drums sounded GREAT that 20” kick had a pop that would break windows. I loved ‘em and I used to go up to his house and play ‘em every chance I got.

As I got more professional and started playing casuals and bars when I was 11 or so, I got a newer dilapidated Gretsch Burgundy Sparkle round badge kit. We used to buy those things cheap coz down here in Texas NOBODY wanted ‘em. They used to sit in the stores forever new…with the wraps peeling off from the crappy booger glue that they used. We found you could strip ‘em if you were patient and make really cool maple kits….before Charlie Watts ever dreamed about it. I remember distinctly listening to a brand new copy of Magical Mystery Tour over Christmas of 68…with a gallon of gasoline in the living room while my parents were in L.A. peeling that booger glue off with my finger tips after soaking it with a rag dipped in Good Gulf :icon_smile:….ah youth!

So…I got to where I was pretty well known…and I was making some money and I ordered a new Ludwig Rock Duo in BOP in late fall of 1969. I was 12 years old. Ludwig was back ordered so bad they didn’t show up until Oct 70 if memory serves. I played those for a while and kept my old Gretsch Refins. In 74 I bought a BIG new Gretsch kit coz all the local guys were into big 24-26 kicks with big Bonham rack toms…I ordered walnut lacquer. No one had ordered a Gretsch kit here in years and it spawned a buying spree of Gretsch that lasted years. The drums were hard to play and I really didn’t like them except they looked Marvelous. Gretsch was actually pretty taken aback by it because the store was all of a sudden placing a LOT of orders and they hadn't ordered any Gretsch at all for a long long time.

I became very enamored with a regional drummer named Gary Osier. He was very avante garde in his approach to rock and pop music…uber simple…he had chops but really played restrained..think Charlie Watts meets Al Jackson on the Al Green records…he always had strange drums too…Camco’s and Zikos and off the wall stuff. His group was from Ft. Worth and they were called Texas.

He was very tone oriented…and these guys had pro sound gear…like no one around here did. Folks were still singing out of columns..these guys had sound reinforcement gear…huge P.A. tri amped system for clubs…with 18’s for subs and the lot when NO one did. You could actually HEAR the drums…

One week he shows up at the club where they used to come down from Ft. Worth to play and he has this weird kit….REALLY odd but I recognized them…teardrop Sonors…but they looked honestly like they were covered in woodgrain drawer lining paper….I thought they were REALLY funky and I knew Gary to only have really good gear....and it looked like he was playing a dilapidated Sonor kit covered in contact paper...lol...I was actually in disbelief.

We’d become pretty good friends and I talked to him on the break about them. He set me straight right away. That’s ROSEWOOD! Not contact paper! And these are RARE! The coolest EVER!. They did sound good…no question…remarkable…now Gary was into single headed drums…and he mic’d them from underneath. He also used Evans Hydraulic heads and tuned them WAY under normal tuning range so they were fat as hell…if he hit his rack tom it would cave your chest :icon_smile: His kick was 20”. HUGE. His snare sounded like someone stabbing a Christmas package with a butcher knife and pulling it toward them.

So…I talked to him about my Gretsch kit and he said…Gretsch are cool but those drums are too big…dump that stuff and get a smaller kit and tune it down with some different heads. He was very strong minded and didn't mince words.

A side note: Gary had been already at 27 years old involved in bands that had major label record deals and he had also spent 2 years as a live drummer to a disco, playing 7 nights a week to records. Now before people really played to click tracks and sequences there really was no better way to develop your time and his was impeccable...He could manipulate different limbs...to change the feel at will. I recently heard an old recording of their group during their peak and I honestly couldn't tell if it was him or me playing...I took a lot from that guy and I never fail to give credit where credit is due. I had my own thing and I came with my own talent but you emulate what you love and his playing was infectious.

I couldn’t argue his sound was beyond awesome. So…as young kids do when you idolize someone, you imitate…and so it came to pass…I got a smaller Gretsch kit and set them up like Gary’s Sonors…but the Sonors…were just better sounding…and way more unique…but not available…they didn’t make those anymore…and they were rare anyway, even so. He actually ordered a 10” and 12” and 14x14 in rosewood to match with teardrops and they made them for him….even smaller drums…still sounding VERY cool.

Gary used to have me sit in with the group every night so I got to experience the kit first hand…I jumped at the chance. So…their manager was someone I had known for many years…he had played white satin flame teardrop Sonors when he was a drummer as well. He had bought them from Uncle John Turner, Johnny Winter’s Drummer…the drums you hear on the Progressive Blues Experiment Lp are those drums.

I was working at Strait Music next to the club Mother Earth here in Austin where Gary and his group would play. I had mentioned to Tim their manager that I knew that Gary was the drummer in Texas but I could recognize they were really going for it…and although my group was good they weren’t as serious and I really wanted a career. I said I know I can’t be in Texas but if you ever come across anyone else who is that serious, you know I can play and you know I’m responsible and I’m going for it, give me the shot.

So one day Tim calls and says I want you to come to my office this afternoon. So I took off work early and went to meet with him. I said what’s up? There was another cover group from Ft. Worth named Stony West that he managed. No originals just covers traveling around a 5 state area playing bars and frats. He said Billy Cooke is leaving Stony West and they wanted me to ask if you would join. I was pretty deflated. I had to say that they were an excellent group but it would be kind of a lateral move. I’d have to move out of my parents’ house where I paid no rent and move 200 miles away and rent an apartment and pay bills to do basically what I was already doing….and be on the road all the time. I said…pass.

He said well I thought that might be the case but they really like you and your playing.

I want you to listen to something. And then he put a tape in. It was the most amazing thing I had ever heard. I said jeez who is that? I love it where can I buy that record? He said it’s a demo tape, it’s a band I manage in Houston named Christopher Cross. I said YOU MANAGE THEM? He said yeah. They’re thinking of making a drummer change and moving here would you be interested in auditioning by recording another demo for them? I said…where and WHEN?

So it came to pass I joined Christopher Cross and remained great friends with Gary.

When it came time to do our record for Warner Brothers…Chris and I were gear heads in a bad way lol…we decided I should get some special drums for the record. I was working at the dealer so I got cost + 10% on anything I ordered so….I said…I’ll design a Sonor kit! I figured if I was recording for Warner Brothers I could step out with some funds.

So being a bit of extremist I was going to take everything Gary and I had talked about and that we were implementing and go too far… :icon_smile: I ordered 14x18, 5x8, 6.5x10, 8x12 and 14x14. I saw no reason to have lugs and bottom hoops…and pay the extra dough…and they must be ROSEWOOD. Now of course they had all the fancy shells and they were more money. Gary said thinner…better…champion…get as close to the old ones as possible. I concurred. I tried to get teardrop lugs like he had gotten recently on his extra drums and they would have made them except it was a 60% up charge. :-/ So the drums are Champion shells. Beech inside rosewood outside only.

So I settled for the block lugs. The order was placed through Charles Alden in Massachusetts and we were off and running. They thought the sizes were quite odd and were reluctant to order specifically what I asked for. They said these are custom sizes and rosewood must match so you won’t be able to return anything. I said fine. :icon_smile:

So we waited…and the record was scheduled for late April or May recording in 1979. There was a dock strike in Boston harbor and we couldn’t get the drums off the boat so the record was actually postponed FOR the drums!!!!!

Once we had them…the only hitch was a snare. I had been using Rob, our keyboard player’s brass 6.5x14 Slingerland for a while. Great drum. I wanted something more. I went into Strait Music one morning and there it was..a kind of scruffy but not totally hammered 6.5 x 14 chrome supra phonic. My friend Tony Villegas had just left it on consignment. $75.00. I said to my boss…David I think this could be the one. He said take it out on demo. So I made myself out a demo ticket and I took it to preproduction. We mic’d it up and Chet ran the faders up on the console in the control room. I hit it once and he said. STOP! that’s IT! Put it in the case we’re taking it to L.A. So I paid for it the next day. Tony came in to collect his money and said it was the worst snare drum he’d ever owned. It’s been on probably 20 MILLION record sales world wide. :icon_smile: I call it “The Hitmaker”

So we cut the record in June of 1979 at Warner Amigo Studios with our own engineer Chet Himes at the helm. The drums were as you see them in the photo. Equipped with smooth white black dot heads. I didn’t bother to change them they sounded awesome. The kick was mic’d with a Sennheizer 421 with the bass roll off switch ON…go figure…18” sounded TOO big. The snare was a Beyer RE 201 The hat was an AKG the little condenser with the flip tip capsule The overheads were 414’s. The toms were beyer M 88’s all from underneath.

The day we got there we went down to the studio and Carlos Vega was playing that evening with someone and his kit was there set up. Camco’s….10 x 14, 12 x 15 16x18, 14x24 maple. It was the norm. Everyone was still into big drums there tuned normal for low notes.

My tech Jim Pledger starts to set up my kit the next day…and everyone is looking with their eyes darting sideways back and forth. 18, 8, 10 ,12 ,14. Then Chet starts putting the mics on from the bottom…and it’s REALLY getting dicey. (I had to fight with him for months to get him to try it…once he finally relented he heard it and supported me).

So we start getting sounds and the assistant and our producer are pretty freaked by the sound. Michael Omartian marveled over that drum kit. He loved to go out and play on them. So we commenced recording. Every day some big wig from the studio or Warner’s label…Lee Hirschberg, Lenny Waronker, Ted Templeman, Russ Titelman…they would come in with some folks…we’d be listening to playback. They would turn to the unknown person they had brought with them, point through the glass at my tiny little drum set, point to the speakers…shake their heads and walk out. It happened all during tracking…many many times.

Once the record was released and Ride Like the Wind started blowing up the charts…Helene, the studio receptionist said the calls would come in daily. What kind of drums are those? What sizes are they? What kind of heads were on them? What mics were on them? How were they mic’d up? Seems me and my little Sonor drum kit had created quite a stir in recording land :icon_smile:

That three tom set up was not common at all at that time…it became quite seen afterward…and little drums…started to be the thing. Only in hard rock bands did you see the big toms and 24 kicks…lots of players moved in that smaller drum direction.

At one point in the session we were having trouble getting a track on Sailing. We were kind of stuck. Rob had been moved to electric pianos and synths and our producer had taken over on grand piano. Of course he was famous for that sound. He played on all the Steely Dan records.

It was decided that Jeff Porcaro would come in and give Sailing and one other tune called Maryann a whirl. He played my kit to keep the sound universal to our group and also…NOBODY was complaining about my drum sound! ! ! Now Jeff plays REALLY hard…so hard that at one point the bearing edge of the 12 CUT the head around the collar. His approach wasn’t really right for the kit. I had honed my approach to work with the set up. He played some neat stuff but we all decided that wasn’t really “it” either. I was able to take what he did and play it my way coupled with the parts we already had been playing and make the track as you hear it on the record. Jeff was very very sweet to me and extremely engaging and not intimidating in the least. It was like your older brother came to sit in. Very nice man. He was one of my favorite drummers and it was such a great thing to meet him and have one on one time with such a master. I recently watched his PIT video…funny I could have said everything he said word for word…we have a very similar take on things.

When it came time to record the second record lots of forces were at work that we don’t need to go into here. It came to pass that I was off the project and Steve Gadd was going to do the rest of the record. 2 tracks of mine were kept for the final release. Jeff played the single and Steve played the rest.

When Steve came and played his kit…it really didn’t sound very good and certainly was a step to the left of where we were at with drums in Christopher Cross. I was asked if I would rent my kit to the session and Steve could play them. I was out my session pay and had a new mortgage and my future with the group was questionable in my mind…so I took the money. And so it came to pass that Steve Gadd played my kit on Another Page. He rather enjoyed it actually. He really enjoyed my snare drum….that is for another forum. At that time I was using a home made zero ring and a fiberskyn II head tuned very deep. HE LOVED THE SOUND and the feel. Now evidently no one in L.A. had ever SEEN a zero ring yet….it later became known as “the Gadd Ring” He was asked by Olivier at Batteur Magazine in Paris about the invention and he said basically “I didn’t have anything to do with it…I don’t remember his name but I got it from Christopher Cross’s drummer”. I was very humbled that he had given ME the credit. Olivier asked me about it in 1991. I had to admit that Richard Mullen, our monitor engineer with Christopher Cross and later producer of Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble and Eric Johnson had shown to me at Red Rocks in Colorado. He had just returned from a session at Rivendale Studios in Houston and it was hanging on the wall in the drum booth. I remember taking it and showing it to the head of the drum department at Strait Music Co. and discussing making them and selling them. We decided no one would pay for something they could cut out of an old used drumhead…DOH!

So that is the story of the little Sonor drum kit. It’s a very historically significant drum set and a very unique sounding drum set. I think it was part of what set our record apart from everything else that was happening at that time and contributed greatly to the unique sound that we had.

Here is me with Jeff at the kit. As you can see I'm just a little kid. :icon_smile:



Here is me on the kit in 1980 at the Greek Theatre in L.A.

Peace! TT
 


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