I was born in Akron, Ohio, in 1955 (yes kids there was e;electricity back then), and grew up in a small town called Cuyahoga Falls. I was (and still am) the youngest and best lookin of 3 boys. In 1964 I saw something on TV that changed my life forever. It was the Ed Sullivan Show with The Beatles. WOW! I was amazed at the response those guys got. They wore the coolest suits, the hair, those Beatle boots, and lets not forget the mighty VOX amplifiers! My parents had already gotten me somewhat interested in music as they used to listen to Chet Atkins (who I thought was very cool I might add) and Tony Motolla and some other instrumental artists of the day. The VENTURES also played a role in my young development. I remember seeing the album cover for WALK DON'T RUN and seeing a sunburst Fender Strat and knew I had to have a strat like that one! The topper for me though, was seeing George Harrison playing a Gretch guitar like Chet's. I knew my goal in life was to replace George in the Beatles! My parents got me started taking lessons right away (I had to hurry and get George's job). My first guitar teacher, Mr. Rhodes, had a Gretch guitar so I knew I had the right guy! My first guitar was a Gibson LG-0 acoustic. A year later I got my first electric guitar and amplifier. The guitar was a Hagstrom I, and a VOX Pacemaker amplifier. I shoveled a lot of snow that winter to pay for that guitar, and my parents kicked for the VOX amp! By 1966, I had achieved "guitar gawd" status in my grade school, and had da wimmin' chasin me around the play ground tryin' to smooch on me. My dad said it was the family curse (his side of course), but I still say it was my suave personality and "blazing abilities" on the guitar.
In 1967 I started playing in my first "combo" (as bands were called back then). It was called THE THOUGHTS OF LIFE. We played all the groovy hits of the day and I was a real stylin' dude too! Pictured above, is my first gig at the Polish/American Club in Akron, Ohio. I made $5 plus all the cokes, Polish sausage, and hot dogs I could eat. In true rock star fashion, I overdosed on my first gig! I ate to many hot dogs and got sick when I got home. In 1969, these guys sacked me. It was obviously due to the fact I was light years ahead of them and they did not want to hold me back (plus they wanted their cousin in the band).
THOUGHTS OF LIFE 1968
By 1967 I had moved on to another guitar instructor as Mr. Rhodes was, shall we say....rather drunk all the time. My next instructor was a guy named Bill Jenkins. Bill became the most influential mentor on the guitar! He was a great instructor and friend. Always encouraging me and always strict when I was not prepared. Sadly, November 6th, 1969, at the age of 22, Bill was killed by a drunk driver. One of the finest compliments I have ever received came to me in 1998. I was over at a friend of the family's house playing his vintage 1961 strat when he said my playing reminded him of an old friend of his, Bill Jenkins! That brought tears to my eyes, and when I told him that Bill had been my teacher for several years he had tears in his eyes as well! We miss you Bill!
The early 70's began to bring about a dramatic change in my playing. In 1973 I heard this new sound and style by a guy named RITCHIE BLACKMORE who had a band backing him called DEEP PURPLE. Ritchie later went on to form Rainbow and now has a new band called BLACKMORE's NIGHT. His tone was unlike anything I had ever heard. His playing had a fire and emotion that was totally different from everyone else. It is to bad he has been so underrated all these years!
There was also a local legendary band in the Akron area called GLASS HARP. I had been listening to them since 1970 and they had a guitar player by the name of PHIL KEAGGY. Glass Harp were playing around town all the time and I went to see them as often as possible. However, it was Blackmore's influence that won me over and I began to try and master his playing style. I think the uniqueness of his tone is what made the difference to me (sorry Phil). Plus Ritchie used to smashed guitars, amplifiers, and TV cameras and that was cool! However, Phil had an influence on me personally. Phil left Glass Harp to pursue playing music for his new Savior, Jesus Christ. This happened right at a time when Glass Harp was about to make a break at the big time. Phil's personal dedication to what the Lord desired for him and his music left a lasting impression on me. I mean here was a local guy who had fame fortune knocking at his door, and he turned it down. That really says a lot about this guy's convictions. I strayed further away from a clean lifestyle (remember this was the 70's where drugs were everywhere), but Phil's music was always present in my life.
In May, 1974 I was offered a job in a band in Kentucky that had financial backing to it. Things sounded promising, but it turned out to be the worst month of my life! These guys were all lunatics! I was staying with a guy named Bob. Bob had failed to tell his parents that he was having someone move in with them! Needless to say, his parents were NOT impressed with me or my appearance (I had a rather large Afro). I quickly discovered the band had some serious drug problems too. The drummer and I called home and got money from our parents and went to Florida and try and get a band going there. Florida turned out to be not much better than Kentucky as they liked that sickening Southern rock (go figure), so I moved back home to Ohio in December 1974.
In January, 1975 I decided to get a real job and save some money so I could put a band together and play full time. A friend had arranged for me to get a job where he worked in a machine shop just outside of Cleveland. I spent 9 months camped out on a hard wood floor in my sleeping bag. Luckily, I got a call from a drummer in Akron whose band was looking for a lead guitar player. I had been practicing about 6 hours a day by then so I was ready to audition and get out of the machine shop. Like every other band, this band had some problems too. The other guitarist was always late (I am compulsive about being on time) and the fact that he did not play well did not help. I talked to the bass player about getting rid of him and he said it was fine with him, but the drummer was his best friend and if the guitar player went we would most likely be looking for another drummer. I already had the drummer replaced (my friend was still in Florida wanting to come to Ohio) so that was not a problem. The band would come to be known as TWISTER. I was with TWISTER for 3 years and we were quite good. By 1978 things came crashing down however. I had gotten to the point where I refused to play any more KISS crap, and there were three different camps musically within the band when it came to writing original material. The bass player wanted to sing about death, fire and hell (he was before his time I guess), and the singer, and other guitar player and myself were into a more classical hard rock thing, and the drummer just wanted to play and did not really care. Then when the bass player put a loaded and cocked .357 to the other guitar player's head, that pretty much did it form him and me. He left to go to California, and I quit as I was sick of all the crap we had been playing and we were getting nowhere.
In 1980 I got a chance to go back to Florida. Before leaving for Florida however, I was asked to play in a band for a one night only gig at AKRON UNIVERSITY. The band was called QUICKIE as we rehearsed for 5 days and then played the gig! That band was one of the best bands I ever played with. None of us had ever played together before and things just worked out so well.... I almost considered not moving to Florida.
DEMOLITION STAGE ONE
QUICKIE DEMOLITION STAGE TWO
A few days after the QUICKIE gig,I left Ohio for the sunshine state and its fine snook fishing (see my fishin page too). I quickly found a job and within 2 months I was playing in a band called TEASER (the drummer from TWISTER had moved to Florida in 1979 and married the singer).
TEASER 1980 AGAIN
Things in my life were beginning to change now. I had lost all desire to play guitar back in 79 but I could not admit it. I had also started reading the Bible after getting settled in Florida (where that came from is beyond me) and was really searching what my life was all about.
In March, 1981, I started dating a young lady and started attending church with her. From there my life style took on a whole new look. In May of that year I accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior. Jesus Christ became an important part of my life and we were married 6 months later. At this time I quit playing guitar all together and sold most of my gear. In 1982, I somehow got involved working with a local volunteer ambulance squad and became an EMT. I did this for 11 years and loved every minute of it. Lots of stories there...perhaps another web page is in order! "Stories of an EMT!!"
In 1990 another event changed my life. This Keaggy fella made another lasting impression in my life. Although I was still up to date with his music, I had not seen Phil perform for a very long time. Phil was playing a local concert so I talked my wife into going to see this Keaggy guy I had been talking about all these years. After seeing Phil play that night I walked away inspired to start playing guitar again. I decided to pray about it and decided if I was going to play guitar again, I was going to play music that would glorify God. I remembered that Phil was playing a strat styled guitar made by ZION GUITAR TECHNOLOGIES. I had never heard of Zion guitars before. I checked out these Zion guitar guys through a friend who was managing a music store in Columbus, Ohio and he helped me get a custom made Zion just like the one I had seen Phil playing. Not long after receiving my guitar from ZION, Phil was playing locally again so I took the guitar with me to see if Phil would autograph it. Not only did Phil sign it, he also spent 30 minutes playing it and just chatting with me. What a great guy! Thanks Phil! BTW, ZION GUITAR TECHNOLOGIES make the finest electric guitars I have ever played! I will never own anything but a ZION electric in the future!
PHIL KEAGGY AND ME
PLAYING MY ZION 1991
PHIL AND ME 1991
In 1994, I played my first gig since 1981 at our church for a youth concert. I was still searching to see just where and what God wanted me to be playing. I kept venturing off towards fingerstyle playing, but I was really unsure about exactly what to do with it. I was also playing for our praise and worship band at church and with with our youth group.
AGAIN AFTER 13 YEAR RETIREMENT
A lot of changes have taken place since that meeting with Phil. I still have the "Mighty Zion". It plays great and sounds great too (not as good as when Phil played it). In January 2000, I bought a 1996 Taylor 514C while in Salt Lake City and have been playing mostly fingerstyle guitar. I also released my first solo CD, WASATCH BOULEVARD" in May, 2000. I have had a hard time getting started on my next CD, but I am slowly pluggin along here.
Here is a look at some of the guitars I have had over the years. I sure miss my woodgrain strat and my black strat. I also had a 75 Sunburst strat but i kind of broke it in a moment of wild abandon. I also had a Fender Coronado II, pea green color. It was so ugly I had to have it. I have not been able to locate a picture of it yet though.
PAST AND PRESENT GEAR:
71 GIBSON LES PAUL
BLACK 74 STRAT
MY FIRST GUITARS AND AMP-'64 GIBSON LG-0, 65 HAGSTRUM I, 65 VOX PACEMAKER
ME AND MY OLD 68 ELGAR 12-STRING
Here are a few recent solo pictures. The Covenant Presbyterian Church shots are from my home church in Florida. The Vineyard Church shots are also in Florida. The WASATACH Tour shot is from the Inter mountain Music Association coffee house in Salt Lake City, my home away from home and my most favorite place to play! The Guitar Center shots are from a 2 hour gig I did for them on a Sunday afternoon while in Utah. If you stop in there ask for Floyd! He da man! The other IMMA coffee house shots I was using a borrowed LARRIVEE guitar compliments of Local Music in Salt Lake City! Tom, the owner is a GREAT guy! I blame all this acoustic stuff I am playing on him. He made me do it!
PRES. CHURCH FLORIDA 1998
COVENANT PRES. CHURCH FLORIDA 1999
COVENANT PRES. CHURCH FLORIDA 1999
VINEYARD CHURCH COFFEE HOUSE 2000
WASATCH TOUR SALT LAKE CITY 2001
KENT, OHIO 2001
PLAYING AT GUITAR CENTER SALT LAKE CITY 2001
PLAYING AT GUITAR CENTER SALT LAKE CITY 2001
INTER MOUNTAIN MUSIC ASSOCIATION COFFEE HOUSE SALT LAKE CITY 2001
IMMA COFFEE HOUSE SLC 2001 WITH A LARRIVEE GUITAR
Ken Hoover and company at ZION GUITARS make the finest guitars I have ever played! Period. I am so spoiled with the one I bought from them I refuse to play any other (electric) guitar. Well.... I still have not found one that compares to my Zion!!! Check 'em out!
ZION GUITARS RULE!
ZION GUITAR TECHNOLOGIES
MATTHIAS' ZION GUITARS FOR SALE
KEAGGY SIGNATURE MODEL
While visiting Salt Lake City I wandered into a little music store called LOCAL MUSIC. This store is full of top end acoustic guitars! I had my eye on several choice models, and I settled on a TAYLOR 514C. Hopefully I can add a GOODALL GUITAR to my collection (when I win the lottery). Tom also carries LARRIVEE, Santa Cruz, Thompson and a host of other fine quality guitars! If you are ever in Salt Lake, be sure to stop in and see Tom, the owner! Tell him Mike from Florida sent you!
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