Tag Archives: Music

Once a musician, always a musician

Last month I had the great fortune to reconnect with a childhood friend whom I haven’t seen since I was about 14 years old. I met Sam Hawkins after my family moved to north Raleigh when I was 11. He was one of the first neighborhood kids I met and we quickly became friends.

Me on my first drumset, age 12

Me on my first drumset, age 12

Though I speak often of my first band in high school, Sam was actually the very first guitarist I ever played with. Soon after I got my first Silvertone drum set on my 12th birthday Sam and I started jamming together in neighborhood carports and basements. We had grand visions of becoming rock stars.

Our moms drove us to a Battle of the Bands competition being held at Dorton Arena on the NC State Fairgrounds. We were not yet teenagers, too young and inexperienced to compete, but the event organizers agreed to let us set up on the floor near the arena entrance and play a couple of songs before the real show started. We were nervous, enormously self-conscious, mostly unnoticed, and I’m sure we stunk up the place. Nevertheless, we were bitten by the music bug in a big way.

Disraeli Gears album coverIt was Sam who turned me onto an album by a cool new band called The Israeli Gears. This band combined blues and rock in a way I’d never heard before and I promptly fell in love with their sound. Some time later we discovered the band’s name was actually Cream, and the album we were digging on was Disraeli Gears. Pretty heavy stuff for a couple of middle school boys.

My family moved away from Raleigh shortly after I turned 15 and I hadn’t seen or spoken with Sam since. We connected on Facebook last month and messaged each other briefly, which in turn led to a 45-minute phone conversation the next Saturday morning. It did my heart good to learn he still plays his guitar, and I was excited to tell him I’m still playing drums every chance I get.

For better or worse – once a musician, always a musician. Rock on, Sam!

What’s up with the name “Studebaker”?

If you follow me on Twitter, you know my handle is @ChipStudebaker. It’s a pseudonym I’ve used in various settings for nearly 30 years but I’ve rarely explained it.

The question came up again the other day so I guess it’s time to tell the story. I was sitting in the control room of Dark Pines recording studio with Max, the owner, and my old friend Steve.  We were getting ready to add some tracks to a song we’d been working on for Steve, with whom I played in several bands dating back to our late teens. This recording was being done under the name The Studebaker Brothers.

“So I gotta ask,” says Max…

“Where did the name ‘Studebaker’ come from?” Continue reading

Of Paul McCartney’s imagination, Marvel characters, and a shocking discovery

“Then it occurred to me you couldn’t be bad. Magneto was mad, Titanium too. And the Crimson Dynamo just couldn’t cut it no more….”

For over three decades I assumed Magneto, Titanium Man, and the Crimson Dynamo were figments of Paul McCartney’s imagination. After all, this was the same mind that gave us Rocky Raccoon, Eleanor Rigby, Billy Shears, Helen Wheels, and others.

Magneto and friends were featured in Venus and Mars, Paul’s 1975 follow-up to the astronomically successful Band on the Run album. (I actually have an original vinyl copy in my collection.) Being a deep cuts kind of guy, “Magneto and Titanium Man” has always been one of my favorite tracks. It really never occurred to me that these guys were anything other than a few more whimsical characters from the most prolific songwriter of the 20th century.

Fast forward a few decades Continue reading