(1972 - 1977) - Olympia/Lacey WA (Suburbia)
At about the tender young age of eight, Chris begins guitar lessons at Yenney's in downtown Olympia, anxiously wondering every Saturday morning if the instructor will actually show up (as his parents have paid the instructor to actually do). But, alas, as usual the free-spirited instructor is once again a no-show. Shoot, Chris thinks, "if he would have shown up, he most likely would have at least drawn me a neat picture, surrealistically illustrating a song title or something." Oops, um, excuse me I digress.
Let's start at the beginning. The inspiration for these (seldom administered guitar lessons) was obtained by Chris' watching of the Beatles movie "A Hard Day's Night" late one evening when his parents let him get up late at night to watch. Chris had seen the Beatles cartoon every Saturday morning for some time (you know, the one where George Harry's son has the long banana chin).
Now, for those not in "the know", the Beatle's movie showed that if you played wonderful rock and roll music and grew your hair long you'd have girls chasing you all over the place. That provides some inspiration in itself for sure, but the opening guitar chord and snare crack of A Hard Day's Night was really the key inspiration here. At this point, Chris knew what he wanted to do with the rest of his life. Funny how nothing has altered that view four decades down the road.
So, back to the Mr. No-show Guitar Teacher at Yenney's. After several months of this futile Saturday morning Yenney's ritual and the purchase of a black, Lyle SG style cutaway guitar, Chris' parents signed him up for lessons at Johnny Lewis Music Center, now called Music 6000. These lessons were actual "lessons" with teachers that showed up and seemed to know what they were doing. Hank was Chris' first teacher - about 6' 3" with brown leasure-suit, stetson, foo-man shu beard and cowboy boots, Hank brandished a Telecaster and taught pentatonic scales, eventually setting up two bands for his students to play in, one of which Chris was to play lead guitar in. Originally, there was to be one band, but there were two lead guitar candidates and it could not be decided between Chris and Hal Anderson - a talented neighborhood friend who Chris jammed and hung out with - so they split all the student kid drummers, bassists, and guitarists into two bands (Chris playing lead in one and Hal the other). In Chris' band on rhythm guitar and vocals was a schoolmate named Howard Roll (a very intelligent, nice guy and a good guy to know when you need some cred with the tougher crowd). This band covered Steve Miller and Bachman Turner Overdrive among others, with Chris doing his first lead vocal on Steve Miller's Keep on Rockin' Me Baby. The end result of these endeavors was to be a gig in front of the Chamber of Commerce?! Ironically, this gig was canceled at the last moment, coming at the expense of a scheduled family vacation. Chris' rock and roll education had just begun. It would not be the last opportunity cost of a life dedicated to music.
Though Chris continued sporadically with lessons and had one or two decent teachers, the best being Kevin Wire, who taught him one or two lessons of basic theory, he saw no logical flow to the lessons, with teachers coming and going all the time ducks in a shooting gallery - one telling Chris that he was too advanced and couldn't teach him. Bound and determined by pure desire, he began to learn by ear, dropping the needle on his favorite records. Recall that there was no internet or decent tabalature available back then. He spent literally hours every day by the stereo after school, dropping the needle on almost every Zeppelin song, lots of Cheap Trick, and the entire first Aerosmith and Cars debut albums to name a few, nicking the solos of Jimmy Page, Elliot Easton, Rick Nielson, Joe Perry, Angus Young and others note for note. As he was as a runner on the track field, this was combined with a natural ability to play fast - something that few players have the natural affinity to do, but is almost a must-have to be a good lead guitarist.
Perhaps the most original or unique aspect of his style evolved as a result of not having proper lessons and being left almost entirely to his own devices. He would play random geometrical shapes on the neck of the guitar, resulting in some very dissonant, atonal licks that could be used for riff creation or improvising and extending a solo. Ironically, almost all of the advanced level theory that Chris uses now in his guitar instruction business was either learned later on in college courses at the UW or self-taught, driven by Chris' personal need to keep progressing on the instrument.
Back to our story: In 1977, seventh grade, to be precise, Chris met a kindred spirit in Journalism class - a guy named Randy Lance who not only became a great friend, but was, like Chris, determined to form a rock and roll band. At this point, Chris' favorite album was Led Zeppelin I and Randy's was Boston's debut album. Needless to say, they hit it off splendidly and commenced rehearsing with just Randy on drums and Chris on guitar at Randy's parent's house the following year.
Dreaming of rock and roll stardom was stunted only by the fact that they had no singer and no bassist. After playing with several bass players, Angelo Batungbacal was recruited from another local band in early 1981. Angelo had some experience gigging (parties and such), which was a plus. Also, Angelo and Chris were good enough singers to add backing vocals to fill out the group's sound. In addition he had a cool Rickenbacker bass guitar which would go splendidly with Chris' Les Paul and Marshall amplifiers (a gift from his maternal grandmother who was always a believer) and Randy's Olympic white 10 piece Ludwig drum kit!
Now they needed a singer as none of them fancied playing and singing difficult material at the same time. We are talking Zeppelin, Cheap Trick, Beatles, Queen - Randy and Chris' usual faves. Plus, all the cool bands at the time were a power trio plus one.
Many close friends and acquaintances were auditioned for this role, but all the candidates either A) couldn't sing B) could carry a tune but couldn't project over the amplification or C) sang their voices out after the first song or two (which is related to B actually).
In 1981, at a high school lecture hall, gig, Chris spotted a good candidate singing for a drummer friend's band. This was Burr Lundgren who seemed to have the requisite projection and could actually sing. This band did the Immigrant Song, which impressed Chris and Randy as this was exactly the type of material they were planning on incorporating into their live set.
Chris set about recruiting Burr to join the band, which actually proved easier than originally thought as Burr's band was breaking up for reasons unknown. Their drummer was Ray Hagen,, a school friend of Chris and Randy's, so it was good not to have to attempt to siren away the singer from a friend's band.
Burr came over to Chris' house one day for the initial meetup, where he and Chris hit it off immediately, Burr sharing with Chris a passion for Led Zeppelin, early Queen, and JRR Tolkien. Plus (and this was important), Burr had his own PA system. As a result, the band, now Chris, Randy, Burr and Angelo, could commence rehearsals immediately with no additional expenditures!
Chris christened (pretty clever, eh?) the band "Kingsfoil" after a Tolkien reference and he and Randy plotted the band's direction, targeting clubs and setting up rehearsals and promotional packages, even making sojourns up to Seattle to present the band to the biggest name booking agencies - the key pieces of promo being the Queen II influenced white background promo photo shot by Teresa Mabee at her and Saulius Pempe's studio and a 5 song demo recorded at local musician Bruce Whitcomb's Tumwater studio. Tracks on the demo were Dream On by Aerosmith, Twist and Shout by the Beatles, Big Eyes and Hello There by Cheap Trick, and of course Zeppelin's, the Immigrant Song.
Rehearsals commenced at Randy's folk's house (they needed a two hour plus set) while Chris and Randy worked like madmen, traveling around to all the area high schools, obtaining bookings for their high school dances. This was back in the day when rock bands played dances! Their first show was their own high school's move up day. Chris, Randy, and Angelo all attended Timberline High School so this was fairly easy to procure. The gig went well with the whole student body cheering us on. The only drawback was that the principal stopped the show before the band could do their piece de' resistance, Sin City by AC/DC.
They played numerous school dances and Olympia's big summer festival, Lakefair. Some of the best gigs with some great exposure were playing at the Evergreen Ballroom's All City Dances. These were heavily promoted for miles around and hundreds of people, mostly teens would be there in the audience. Big regional bands like TKO would come down and play - very big at the time - and Kingsfoil opened several of these shows, eventually becoming the main attraction due to their local fan base, which was quickly growing. They had also started playing clubs at this time and had obtained an interest from Seattle's biggest booking agency at the time, Far West Entertainment. It was not quite as fun playing the clubs and bars because the whole band had to sit in the kitchen sipping cokes on breaks because they were under-age.
Chris realized the band were becoming popular when girl's he did not know would come in to his work place (Sears hardware dept.) at the mall and peer around the aisles and giggle,run and scream when he spotted them. This became a running joke with his co-workers as it happened numerous times. It turned out that these were his first "groupies" who had seen the band and had tracked the guitarist down at his workplace (stalked)! On one particular occasion while driving down East Bay Drive near downtown with a friend, two cute girls sitting on a curb spotted the car and yelled "that's him!", then proceeded to literally chase the car down the street for a block or two. There were also the phone calls, with girls calling the house at all hours and giggling incoherently or (for the bolder ones) actually asking about the band or a date. The after gig parties were a blast as well, with girl's outnumbering the guys about 4 to 1 and the band members in attendance getting all the attention.
Now, this was getting interesting. Chris was now beginning to experience just a taste of the type of attention afforded by his heroes, the Beatle's. Chris could definitely live with this sort of attention or "girl trouble".
Well, by the summer of 1982, senior year had ended and Chris' chose to forgo his first year of 4-year college so he could pursue promoting Kingsfoil, whose prospects looked very good at the time. The band were only 17 to 18 years old and the future looked bright. It was time for another rock and roll lesson. Within a year of his foregoing college, the band had broken up.
To continue the history, proceed to the Decadent 80s.