Actually, my biggest questions were about your history. Long before The Forrest McDonald Band, you were playing with the Boston Rock Symphony and Wadsworth Mansion. How did it feel, being involved with those reputable groups at a young age?
FM) It was incredible! In fact, James Montgomery, who got a deal on Warner Brothers Records as the James Montgomery Blues Band, was in the rock symphony with me. It was cool! I was 19 and playing Symphony Hall with a tuxedo on in the Boston Rock Symphony, with Marshalls blasting these old symphonic people. They had a hard time with that, but it was fun. The Wadsworth Mansion was cool. We did a 35-state tour, opening for Alice Cooper and Edgar Winter, and we did a lot of TV, such as Bandstand and the Dating Game Show and things like that. It was a trip!
I read that it's your guitar solo that we can hear on the song, "Old Time Rock and Roll." Is this true?
FM) "Old Time Rock and Roll"? Yes, it's true. That was me. I was working as a studio musician in L.A. at the time. I went to visit my dad in Alabama and said, "Dad, let's go up to Muscle Shoals and see what's going on." So we jumped in the car, drove up there, and made our way to Muscle Shoals Sound. When I walked in and met Jimmy Johnson, who was producing the session, he asked me if I had my guitar with me. I said "Yes", and he said to go get it. He said that they had just put this track down and they needed a solo. So, I put on the headphones, plugged in my guitar, and gave him a solo. Then he said, "Hey, that's pretty good! Give us your phone number and we'll call you." Well, two months later, I got a call from the studio, and they said that Bob Seger had just bought the track and it was coming out on his "Stranger in Town" album. They wanted to know what my union card number was so they could pay me for the session. Capitol Records sent me my session fee. It was quite by accident that the whole thing happened. It was all in the timing, and apparently, it was meant to be. And that was the start of my Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section days (a/k/a The Muscle Shoals Swampers). It was a pleasure being associated with both of those organizations. I have fond memories.
What were some of the more memorable events of your early years in the Greenwich Village in the 60's and then later in LA in the 70's?
FM) One time, when I was 14, I was in New York City at the Cafe Waa on Bleaker Street. The house band was called The Raves. They were great. On their break, this left-handed guitar player came up and just went nuts all by himself until they came off break. This left-handed guitar player was none other than Jimi Hendrix! Once in L.A. on an audition for Tanya Tucker, I played with the bass player for The Raves, and the drummer from a group called the Bobby Fuller Four. This bass player from The Raves and I recounted Jimi's frequent impromptu jam sessions all over New York City. Another cool time was when I was backstage with Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck at the Newport Jazz Festival in 1969, in a three-way jam session. It was incredible!
FM) Meeting and working with Steve Perry who became the lead singer for Journey was certainly memorable. Playing with Van Halen, week in and week out, on the Sunset Strip was loaded with spice. Playing with Tony Carey and writing with him was most enjoyable. Basically, just making the Hollywood scene and running into anybody who was once one of my idols --and playing with them on some project or another was a blast. Touring Asia with current band member, Raymond Victor, was certainly a memorable experience as well.
Can you tell me something about the songs on your first CD "I need You""? There are a lot of different vocalists on there. You have 16 songs please tell me something about each one.
FM) Ok, I'll try. Let me begin by saying this was not a CD that I sat down and planned to make as one cohesive effort recorded in a limited time.
This was not the case with I Need You. I had recorded most of the songs with a few different groups I was in from 1975 to 1993. The recording quality varies as do the performances. The songs are snapshots of where I was musically during those years. The songs were too good not to be assembled I was just lacking one more strong song. When Raymond Victor came to visit and sang the title track I decided the time had come to assemble the best recordings I had from past groups and "I need you" is the result of that offort.
The title song I Need you was a combination of feelings I had for a woman I was in love with. It was a rainy spring afternoon in GA and the lightning was striking all around preceeded by the booming thunder. I sang the first line (When the rain starts falling down, I hear the thunder when the lightning strikes the ground) and the rest of they lyrics just flowed out. Raymond Victor does a great job on the voacls. Recorded on an 8 Track tape recorder at my house.
FM) I started playing in 1964 and got my first electric guitar (An $85 Kent) for Christmas in 1964. I played my first band job New Years Eve.