Well back on the band trail, due to some devastating
domestic changes, Monk was no longer singing for the band, and because
the Roadway Inn was so pumped about our crowd
drawing, I had to pull together a group to head back out to Lake
So I held some auditions to find a replacement for
Monkey, and this incredible singing Goddess showed up with a Pat Benetar
kind of style, but also with a flare for show tunes and
the theatre. Hiedi Free was stunning in her right, and a perfect addition
to the band, not to mention the perfect humerous 'straight man'
personality for the on stage magic antics.
Gil stayed with me on drums, but
due to the time it took to re-compass my life after
Monk and I split up, Gerard had left the bass for other endeavors.
So bass auditions ensued as well. A fellow by the name of
Joe Maury aswered my adds. He and his wife Terry, had just moved
to california from Tennessee, (I think). They were the nicest
people, with a great attitude, and happy to head for this nice vacation
wonderland of Lake Havasu. Joe was an excellent bassist
and had a good time on stage.
Not too long before the gig, the club requested we
come with a larger group. So I decided to expand the group and add
a guitarist. This would ease the pressure of covering all
the melodic parts, and give me more space to ham up the magic
routines. So through a friend of a friend I hired
a different sort of character. His name was Doug Yankis, (not pictured).
He was kind of a Chicago, Les Paul, blues, sunglasses type.
He was a nice fellow, but reminded me of an underworld kind of
mafia sort. He wasn't of course, but between the way he
spoke, the way he dressed, hidding from the ever present sun, and
administering himself diabetic insulin injections,
he was a trip.
We played to packed houses, told more jokes,
drank more Teqilla, and consistantly tore down the house each
night, and recouped with the sun and watersports
everyday. Hiedi and I became sweethearts, Gil's girl friend Marleen
stayed with us, and Joe and Terry Maury soaked in
the California life. Doug although alittle recluse, had a precious smile
that did surface from time to time. All in all life was good
and everyone was happy as a clam, except inside, my heart ached
for my broken family. It seems that my musicians life,
although instrumental in creating my problems, had pulled me from a
desperate time, and helped me recover.
The band did a few more gigs in town, and then
I think I lost the drive to keep promoting and booking more gigs.
An era had past. I was looking for a new fulfillment now.
I started to dive into my writting and original material creation.
I felt my experience in the last twelve years of
nightclubs had prepared me for whatever showmanship might
be required of me to step out as an original artist.
I didn't know quite where to start, then the phone rang, and
an opportunity came to me to work in a recording
studio owned by Gee Lux's uncle. Here, was a start, a foot in the
door to the world of new music.
As I look back, I am indeed most fortunate for the
friends, comrades, band mates and associations I had made along
the way. Everytime life called for a new frontier,
a person from my past remembered our association, and gave
me the leg up I needed.
I' m deeply indebted to Gee for giving me
the opportunity to step back into the recording world. His offer to come
work at Evergreen Studios, not only got me on the creative
side of music, but also gave me the opportunity to partner with him again
to form Lux / Moreno Productions.
Every chance we got, we would be writing
and recording our creations. The management there at the studio took
notice of us, and opened the doors for us to produce,
record and perform new projects.
We started an original project together,
which spawned the songs "Don't Put Me On Hold" and
"Hello Lover". At the same time we produced spots and jingles
for the Heart Assoc., and various TV commercials.
We recieved the Heart Association's Entertainers Contribution
Award for the "Give To The Beat Of Life" campaign,
We got to work with major profesionals,
two of which were the owners of the studio, Artie Butler and Charlie Fox.
The regular business at the studio placed us recording
such greats as, Frank Sinatra, Natalie Cole, and Ray Charles. We worked with
the finest film composers like, Jamie Horner, David Rose
and John Williams, and learned from engineers like, Armin Steiner,
Shawn Murphy and John Richards.
Because Evergreen Studios was a film scoring studio,
on a daily basis there was an endless parade of the worlds top first call
recording musicians to work with. From Lee Rittenhour
on guitar, to Mike Lang on piano, the professionalism was all around us.
The top brass players and percussionists like Jerry Hey,
Emil Richards and Joe Picaro shared their dailly lives and philosophies
with us. It showed me that just because you're a big star,
it didn't mean you couldn't be a really nice guy.
Gee and I would write, record and produce
everyone we could get our hands on, from budding artists,
to national television spots. One time we overdubbed
a million tracks of our stage crew singing, as we recreated
Handal's Messiah, for our annual Christmas party.
I of course conducted, as we all lip synced a spectacular
performance. Heck, one time I even brought in a live studio audience,
and recorded a comedy album for the Hispanic comedian
All and all, much of our freedom was due to the
kind indulgence of Artie Butler and Charlie Fox who I thank sincerely.
The entire staff at Evergreen was exceptional,
and left their imprint on our hearts. Murray McFadden, Rick Riccio,
Mike Hatcher, Mark Gebaur, Greg Russel, Steve Burger,
Richie Cusano, Kevin Erikson, Dave Trough, Sandy Heart and Donna Morbly,
Thank you for some of the greatest years.
From Evergreen, I moved on to A&M Records, were I
recorded The Commadors, Barbra Streisand, Michael Jackson, etc..
Gee became the premiere surround sound mixer and inovator
for 5.1 Entertainment, and now, is the President of Music Ent. for
Bennet High Definition Television.
I came to develope new production relationships,
and kept writing, recording and producing new acts. But I'll always
make comparisons back to my forever pal, buddy,
and confidant, Gee. He called me "Le Moose", and he was
"The Antelope". God bless you Gee.
A few months after arriving at A&M records,
I formed a partnership with Jack White, the drummer from the
Rick Springfield Band. He was a great guy with a bigger
than life attitude. We shared a philosophy of clearly imagining the final
product of our creations before any note was to be played.
He had excellent drum chops, and brought us the two clients that we produced;
Emmy award winning Stan Bush, and the female metal rock band, Vixen.
Stan Bush was a hard hitting guitar playing singer,
ala the style of Brian Adams. The two songs we produced for him
were solid, punchy rock tracks. Good additions to the
material he already had from his prior albums. What a voice!!
You can hear some of his most recent work
on the end credit music in the movie "Transformers".
Vixen was an exraordinary group of girls,
each of which, with their own track record of experience.
They played well, sang well, and performed in front of thousands
with precision and style. Their music was solidly
executed by Jan Kuehnemond on guitar, Roxy (of Madam X fame),
Petrucci, on drums, the spectacular voice of
Janet Gardner, and bassist Pia Maiocco, (who soon after our recordings,
became Mrs. Steve Vai).
Most of the band's recordings were done at
Steve Vai's studio and A&M records. The band was responsive and fun to
produce and record. Jan had great guitar chops, and
Roxy was was better than almost any rock drummer out there.
I liked their music and their style. They were truly
excellent down to earth people, who had mastered the art of putting on a
persona of big hair metal rock excitement and glamour.
Each one was a princess and a jewel in their
own right. They were beautiful inside and out. I can't show you their
inner beauty, but I can show you some of their outer
style here below. In the top row is one of the only pictures
I could find of Pia. She left the band soon after
we worked together. In the second row below her is
Share, who took the bass spot when Pia left.
It was my association with Vixen that brought
me the opportunity to do the Skyscraper album with David Lee Roth.
Vixen and I were doing overdubs at Vai's studio
when Steve brought me in to do the album for Dave.
Jan and the new line up of Vixen are touring and
recording again now, possibly with me producing, we'll see.
It would truly be wonderful to produce the band again.
They are legends of rock and roll,
and I was honored to be a part of their history.
The Production team of Brannon and Moreno, came about
in a most unexpected way. Cynthia Brannon was a fencing student at the
fencing club that I joined while at Evergreen studios. Cindy,
as she was known, was an unstopable Irish princess, If I may say that
with all due respect. She had the heart of a lion, the courage
of a tiger, and the brains and witt to rival most T.V. screen writers.
Which is what she did to relax and stretch out her imagination,
she would write scripts.
Because of her need to do anything and everything
that would normally not suit a woman of her beauty, she was drawn
to do physically impractical things like stunt work.
She was an excellent horse woman, and did high falls, fire breathing,
and full body burns.
She was one tough cookie. But in dramatic
contrast to the fact that she had also been a Playboy Bunny,
a private investigator, and a mother of five.
She loved animals and loved to travel. She'd give
the shirt off her back to help anyone, and had a business head on her
shoulders. Cindy was fisty, brave, and a little bit of a
con man, all at the same time.
It thrilled her to go against the grain, and she
made a habit of it quite often. I think it was her quest to
beat the odds, that even though she struggled
with Lupis for many years, and raised two families, her
face to the world was that of an airess, a winner,
with ease and grace, in all she attempted.
I struck a chord of real undeniable talent
within her, when I heard her humming one day. Her voice was
clear, pristine, and pure. There was no doubt
about the gorgious vibrato, sensitive poise or delicate
texture of her voice.
She didn't have to convince anyone of
her voice, it just was. It was uncanny how she would just
opened her mouth, and with seemingly
no effort, the scent of flowers would fill the air.
Cindy and I had become sweethearts since
our fencing days together. We traveled together though Europe
and Hawaii, always very difficult to be away from
the true treasures of her life, her children, Eric, Schad, and Jesse.
She loved, and loved, and loved them so dearly.
Her favorite thing to be, was the hero in their eyes.
Her precious children had that same spunk
and zest for life, that made me fall in love with her and
One day little Jesse got hit by a car crossing
the street with Schad outside our house, on the way
to school. Cindy heard Schad screaming to us,
ran out through traffic butt naked to hold her baby who
was pinned under the car. I was so overwhelmed,
I picked the rear end of the Pinto up and off of her
without thinking. I think someone helped
me,...definetely God, but this was the way that Cindy's
life, filled with passion and love, held me.
We had talks about possibly marrying,
but it wasn't ment to be. One situation, and then
another, pulled us apart. We both left
with broken hearts, but not before we had completed
three of the most beautiful songs that
(CLICK)>>>"One Love", "The Rose", and "Life Goes On".<<<(CLICK)
Listen to my precious Cindy. Her gift to the world is as
precious as the gift she was to this world.
After our relationship, we stayed in touch.
I got to see her youngest two children, Arrielle and Mickey, grow
up to be beautiful extentions of Cindy's love.
Yes, in March of 2007 Cindy passed from
this earth plane. Leaving behind grateful hearts everywhere,
from the kindness and rich blessing of life that
she gave and enjoyed fully.
I recently saw the whole family, and heard about
Cindy's grand children, at her memorial service.
Her personality and poise gave her great charge
over the lives that surrounded her. And I know that she's having
a good time on the inner plane still in charge, looking
after her precious children, and all who she cared
so dearly about.
God bless you darling, thank you for blessing my life.
During the mid 80s, while Cindy Brannon and I were
at our high point, I ventured out to put together my first original project:
As always I relied on my friend and confidant
Gil Walters to play drums, and from the fencing world I came into
contact with the boy friend of a fellow fencer who
was a very talented bassist / keyboardist. I'm speaking of Marty Doran.
A real treasure of a guy, whos brother Tommy Doran
also played keyboards. They were a band almost already made
especially when we brought in their fiend, guitarist Jeff
(I forget his last name).
We rehearsed down in Huntington Beach,
and once again I found myself doing the long trek to
rehearsals with my friend Gil.
At one point in the design of this group
I had envissioned three girl backgroud singers. The
background singer rehearsal only lasted for
one rehearsal, and then we were going to wait until
the recorded project was finished to continue
with the parts. Although we never got to do a gig with the
singers, they were, Jaynee (Bush) Thorne, Karen Hearn,
and Julie Clark.
Some of he songs, some of which I still have
the masters for were: Photogenic Sleeper, Bombardeer,
Slow Burn, My Love, Don't Put Me On Hold,
and I'll Be Right There.
The only Gig this band got to do,
was at Madam Wongs, pictured above.
Cindy Brannon made me my camoflage
tuxedo jack. And one of our dear friends, Lew Hopson,
who is a great singer / performer in his own right,
during the show start intro, came out in front of the stage
in a military toxic clean uptype of suit and a
gas mask, holding a mine sweeper. We covered the dance
floor with a knee high pea soup fog, and had sirens,
michinr gun fire, flashing lights and the sound of planes
flying over as we riped into the first song of the set.
It was a dynamic start to a great gig.
We recorded most of our songs at A&M Records
where I had the ability to bring in, record and produce
my dearest projects.