Q & A WITH TERRY WOLLMAN?
What is your first musical memory?
Growing up in Miami, I remember being at school outside in the play ground and hearing this amazing music drift through the air. I walked towards the sound, which was coming from a limo parked under a tree in the shade, and heard “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay” for the first time, sung by Otis Redding… And I was hooked.
What or whom do you go to for musical inspiration?
Living and working in Los Angeles since 1981 has exposed me to amazing music and musicians. I listen to what my peers are writing and also find out who they are listening to. I have learned how important it is to go back to the original source for musical inspiration. If you like the Stones, then you might like Muddy Waters. I also am inspired by traveling and experiencing the sounds and cultures of the world. Dig deep for inspiration.
Who is the most interesting person you have met?
President Barack Obama. No contest.
Stones or Beatles?
Beatles… However, reading “Life” by Keith Richards has changed a few things for me.
Contemporary Jazz mixed with R&B, World, and Pop… Oops, I said Pop!
What’s your dream collaboration?
I actually accomplished my dream collaboration on my new album “The Very Best – Silver Collection”. The simple truth is these world class musicians and singers were my first and only choice of who I wanted to record with.
Do you find the song or does the song find you?
Typically I go looking and we seem to find each other. Once in a while I get woken up, or tapped on the shoulder, by a melody or a lyric. I make it a point to give a warm welcome to any of those unexpected visitors.
How do you discover new music?
I am curious by nature and ask a lot of questions. I also find new music by using computer apps like Soundhound and Pandora. When I am in a new city, or country, I flip through radio stations to see what I might trip over.
HOW DID IT ALL START?
Tell us about your first band.
I must have still been in elementary school back in Miami, Florida. My first rock trio… two electric guitars and a snare drum with cymbal. We had learned two Beatles songs and “Louie, Louie” (Paul Revere and The Raiders version). We figured that we could audition at one of the beachfront hotels outside by the pool. What we didn’t figure was that they would hire us on the spot to play for the afternoon. You could say we wore out “Twist and Shout.”
What was the first concert you ever went to?
Donovan. I was 13 and the opening act was an unknown singer/pianist named Carole King. I still remember the emotion I felt as I walked down to the front of the stage mesmerized by the sight and sound of an artist performing their music. I guess I’ve been walking towards great music ever since.
What’s the weirdest experience you’ve had on stage?
How about scariest? My first tour was playing guitar in Billy Preston’s band. We were performing in Germany, using rented amps, and right before my feature solo on “Get Back” as the spotlight hits me… no sound! The amp quit. There is no book or class that tells you what to do in a situation like that. So, I just played my solo like I had my show together while somebody else was not taking care of their business. I guess that’s what separates the men from the boys.
What about television performances?
I have great memories of playing at NBC for 3 years when I music directed my second late night talk show. We had some amazing performances there with everyone from Little Richard, Al Jarreau, Dave Koz, to George Burns. I’ve been fortunate to perform on most of the talk shows so it’s hard to pick just one, but I had a really fun time playing with Keb’ Mo’ on on the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson.
When was the first time you heard yourself on the radio?
In 1986, while driving south on Sepulveda Boulevard in Los Angeles. I don’t think I will ever forget that feeling. The world stopped for that moment. I remember thinking how good the recording actually sounded on the radio and feeling like I was exactly where I belonged. What a powerful experience to fulfill one’s dreams.
LET”S TALK ABOUT YOUR TRAVELS
Once! I was taking the train from Lisbon to hang on the beach in Lagos, Portugal, eating grilled fish fresh from the ocean, exploring ancient pirate caves, then swimming in the Mediterranean. Didn’t suck. Well actually there have been a few other great vacations, but that one is probably my favorite.
I can see you are a world traveler. Do you have any travel tips?
Bring healthy snacks. Nuts, dried fruit, protein bars. You never know how long it will be before your next meal.
So you must have a favorite hotel then?
Hotel de Paris in Monte Carlo, Monaco. I never actually stayed there, but had a fantastic meeting in the bar. They have the largest area rug in the lobby that I have ever seen in my life! Seriously.
DO YOU LIKE TO READ?
1. Life – Keith Richards. A crystal clear recollection of one musician’s personal and humorous perspective of The Rolling Stones, the music business, and life itself. I could not put this book down.
2. Water For Elephants – Sara Gruen. “I am ninety. Or ninety-three. One or the other.” Best ever opening paragraph. I often forget how old I am… sometimes thinking I’m a year older, other times a year younger. It’s been that way since I was in my 20’s. Probably because my life never seems to coincide properly with my actual age. I’m never off by more than a year.
3. Anything written by Stephen King. I can completely disappear inside a Stephen King book. When I read his stories I no longer exist. I find myself transfixed in another world, only drifting back to my life as the pages close.
4. James and the Giant Peach – Ronald Dahl. I first read this as a child and revisited this book as an adult. The idea of a child escaping to see the world, in a giant piece of fruit with overgrown garden insects. I mean, how cool is that? I guess I’ve always been interested in travel and love that part of being a touring musician. Fortunately, the accommodations are usually better.
(Bonus book. My website… I can stretch the rules.)
6. Tao Te Ching – Lao Tsu. Given to me on January 6, 1975 by my life long friend (and math teacher) John Shaw. I apparently have carried this book with me to wherever I have lived since high school. Looking back, and present, I can see where these words have influenced me.
Thank you Terry.
It was really nice having this chat with you.