FOLLOW IN MY WAKE
Three weeks ago today, I woke up to a world that was much less colorful, happy, and musically joyous than when I had laid down to sleep just a few hours earlier. The night before, the band had performed a very entertaining and successful concert in Tucker, Georgia. Everything was as it should be. The weather was beautiful, and a large audience was smiling, dancing, and singing along with the band, who were feeling great and playing wonderfully. All that was forgotten when I turned on my phone at 7:00 a.m. to discover that Jimmy Buffett had passed away the night before, most likely while I was performing one of his songs onstage.
The 24 hours that followed were an unexpectedly painful, frightening, heavily emotional, and confusing blur. As you all know, we had a show at The Boot Barn Hall that evening, which I was prepared to cancel as late as 1:00 p.m. that afternoon. Thankfully, prayers and some words with Mike Davis and Peter Mayer brought me to my senses, and I went on with the show as Jimmy would have wanted. Our show that night turned out to be one of the most inspired, emotional, and best performances I, and possibly the band, have ever given. All our spirits in the room came together as one with the music to sing through the pain and confusion we all were feeling. It was all very difficult, yet magic, cathartic yet heavily draining on me. But when it was all over, I felt we had all sent Jimmy on his way in style and that the evening could not have been orchestrated any better than it had been. I felt that Jimmy may have even stopped by for a minute to help me through some very difficult moments I had onstage.
In the three weeks that have followed, like all of you reading this, my heart and soul have been on a strangely unprecedented, painful rollercoaster. I am on a little steadier ground than I was three weeks ago, and even though it is far from over, my eyes are dryer, and I see how important it is that A1A continue. I have had thousands of messages from fans near and far to drive that point home. To all of you who were at The Boot Barn Hall show on September 2, all of you know how special it was. It will be a day and a show I will remember and cherish for the rest of my life. Now, in accordance with Jimmy's dying wish, it is time for us to have fun and keep the party going. There's still so much to be done.
Come Monday, It'll Be Alright
September 4, 2023
I cannot fathom that in five short months, 'Come Monday' will turn 50. I still vividly remember the summer of 1974 when I worked for my Grandfather, helping with construction in Inman and Spartanburg, South Carolina. My job was to sand, caulk, putty, clean up, and paint. I worked nine to five, Monday through Friday, and made $50.00 a week. That was a lot of money to me back then. I was a mere 13 years old and happy to work as hard as possible, for I was saving up my money to buy my first electric guitar. While at work, I listened to the radio all day long, WORD from Spartanburg, South Carolina, to be exact, and Come Monday graced the airwaves a lot that summer. I can still close my eyes, smell the sawdust, caulk, and paint, and feel the putty and sandpaper beneath my fingertips.
I remember one house we worked in that summer for a few weeks. It was a two-story in progress and sat close to a beautiful home next door. The home was attractive, but my eyes were drawn more to the beautiful swimming pool in the backyard. Yes, it was a hot summer, and I loved to swim, but I was more interested in the attractive young girl who lived there, who would swim with her friends every day. I worked hard to impress my Grandfather, but the girls and the music were distracting. (Some addictions start early.) In an odd coincidence, all my memories of her, which have stayed with me all my life, revolve around 'Come Monday.' Jimmy's beautiful melancholy love song embedded itself deeply in my heart that summer and has never left. In case you are wondering, I never had the opportunity to meet her. I would have been too shy to say hello anyway.
I have been listening to Jimmy's music all day today while working, but when 'Come Monday' began playing early this afternoon, I had to pause, look out the window, listen, and reflect. Upon doing so, I suddenly realized that the lyrics would never feel or mean the same to me again. For 49 years now, whenever I listened to my 45, cassette, 8-track, album, CD, MP3, or stream of 'Come Monday,' it filled my heart with many emotions; even when some were sad, I still gained comfort, because I knew things would be alright once the long Labor Day weekend was over. Then came today.
For countless people like myself, whose lives were deeply touched, changed, and even guided in part by the music, lyrics, books, and lifestyle of Jimmy Buffett, the Monday our then-young Troubador sang about will never again feel as carefree and comforting as it did just four short days ago. The L.A. haze will remain, and from now on, we will all have an aching space by our side that will stay unfilled, for our hero will not be returning come Monday. The Hemisphere Dancer has flown its last voyage into the sunset and taken our beloved Frank Bama with her.
Those of you who have followed my writings and concerts with A1A this past weekend know how difficult this has been for me, as I understand it has been for those who have taken the time to read this far. So much has changed in three short days - three short days that have seemed like a month. I have spent Labor Day 2023 listening to Jimmy Buffett's music and continuing to go through endless emails, messages, texts, voice mails, and social media posts addressed to me. It is nearing the end of the day, and unexpectedly I am starting to see a distant ray of light. No, we will never again have the chance to see Jimmy work his magic in concert. As heartbreaking as this is, today, I have been thinking deeply about the music, magic, friendships, relationships, laughter, tears, and endlessly beautiful memories he gave all of us. These memories are treasures and can easily last for generations.
Ah, the stories we can tell, and eventually, we will, through smiles without tears. In time, the storm shall pass, the heart of Margaritaville will beat again, and there will be songs to sing forever in tribute to a man who touched millions. No, the coming Labor Day weekends will never be the same. The following Mondays will sting, but eventually, the blender will start to spin. We will once again find our one particular harbor, and all live happily ever after every now and then.
Count all your blessings, remember your dreams....
September 4, 2023
It is amazing what 24 hours can bring. I woke up yesterday to the crippling news that Jimmy Buffett had left us, and today I opened my exhausted eyes to a beautifully written article in the Atlanta Journal Constitution mentioning me, A1A, The Atlanta Parrot Head Club, and discussing Jimmy's passing and how Atlanta was dealing with it.
For so many of us, yesterday was devastatingly difficult. I am humbled, flattered, surprised, and deeply moved by the viral response to my Facebook post yesterday paying tribute to the passing of Jimmy Buffett. You will also be happy to hear that our sold-out A1A show last night at The Boot Barn Hall in Gainesville, Georgia, was a phenomenal success in every way.
I have so many people to respond to and much to share. Everything has changed overnight, and it is hard to take in. I have an emotional hangover today, the size of Texas, but please know that I am reading your emails and texts. Each one is special, and I thank you for taking time out of your life to share your thoughts and deepest feelings with me.
Please enjoy and share the article, play Jimmy's music all day, hell, all week, and find joy in the music, legacy, love, and friendship he left us with. Love to everyone.
Last night, like so many countless nights before, over the past 40-plus years, I went to bed with a Jimmy Buffett song playing on an endless loop in my mind, and like always, it kept me from sleeping. I no longer consider that a bad thing when my insomnia has a good soundtrack. I haven't in years. I just roll with the tide. Yet, when I awoke this morning, the wind had unexpectedly shifted, the tide was rolling in, and I felt an instantaneous realization that an unprecedentedly dreadful and unavoidable hurricane had finally made landfall.
The music, lifestyle, and global community that surrounded the man and all he stood for and gave us is that of legend. Jimmy Buffett was responsible for bringing an unfathomable amount of people together. Be it for fun, community outreach, relationships, careers, sharing memories, fantastic music, concerts, and a good story, or to simply sit on a boat or beach and look at the sunset while his music plays softly in the background.
I find it difficult to believe that this morning, September 2, 2023, anyone who followed in his wake can fully process what Jimmy's departure profoundly means, what a lifetime lived, unprecedented, and like no other. Like the universe, the ripples in the ocean of life that his drop made will expand forever. It is impossible to measure. He gave you a personal island in your soul, like no other where you could retreat to when the world was just a little too much to handle or whether you just wanted to blow off steam, smile, enjoy life, turn up the radio, and crank up your blender.
I have had the distinct honor and pleasure of making a living performing my tribute to Jimmy Buffett's music for the past 34 years. I cannot even imagine how my life's songline would have played out or where I would be today had it not been for the man and his music. I haven't the words to describe how the ripples of his music affected my journey. Perhaps in time, they will come, but this morning, I feel adrift at sea, alone in the doldrums and praying for the wind.
Jimmy Buffett, the man, all his band members, and his organization have always been very kind to me, stood behind the band, and given us many great opportunities. I have so many spectacular memories. We had a fantastic gig last night in Tucker, Georgia, and unfortunately, or fortunately, it is how you look at it; we have a show this evening at The Boot Barn Hall in Gainsville, Georgia. If I could, I would cancel, for I have no idea how to get through it in one piece, but the show must go on. I am sure Jimmy would agree. If you can make the show tonight, that would be wonderful. We can all say goodbye to an old friend together. I could definitely use a shoulder.
Ironically enough, tonight is our official Labor Day Weekend show, and Jimmy set sail for the last time yesterday evening, probably while I was onstage singing one of his songs. One of my fondest musical memories of my youth is falling in love with 'Come Monday' at the tender age of 13. Little did I know how far the love of that song would take me in life. It seems poetically fitting that Jimmy came to us through his first hit and pulled the curtain down for his last bow, heading out full circle for the Labor Day Weekend show.
My deepest sympathies and condolences to Jimmy's family, friends, bandmates, the entire parrot head nation, and the thousands of people I have had the honor to get to know and to perform for through the music and life of Jimmy Buffett. His was a life well lived, a long and memorable lovely cruise.
September 2, 2023
Listen On Spotify
With the recent vast public attention around the catastrophic and tragic fatal accident of the Oceangate Titan Submarine, which occurred on the way to visit the wreckage of The Titanic, I was reminded of a song I wrote and recorded some year ago which deals with the ignorance selfishness of man and the harshness and beauty of the ocean.
In 2008, I was commissioned by The Save The Manatee Foundation and The Tampa Bay Parrot Head Club to write and record a song to be included on a CD that was being produced by The Save The Manatee Foundation entitled "Saving Paddy Doyle." The CD's objective was to bring awareness to the rising danger of man to the Manatee.
I was given the topic of "The Steller Sea Cow" as my topic. The Steller Sea Cow was a forefather to today's Manatee and was discovered by Georg Steller in 1714 in the Bering Straits in the North Pacific Ocean. They were docile, friendly, family-loving, and trusting creatures, which soon led them to complete extinction due to humanity's greed. I encourage you to read all about The Steller Sea Cow by visiting this link. - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steller%27s_sea_cow
When setting out to compose "The Steller Lines," I wanted the lyric to be relatable to those who knew the story of Steller's Sea Cow and those who did not. It is a sad story of loss and greed that takes place in the ocean for the Sea Cow; however, we all experience loss, death, and greed in some form throughout our lives, so I wanted to make sure it would resonate with everyone and in doing so, I might be able to encourage some to gravitate to learning about The Steller Sea Cow and the danger of which our saltwater and freshwater manatees face today.
I pray for the lost souls who perished at sea while traveling to see the Titanic. I hope this tragic accident will encourage the scientific community to treat the power and boundaries of the ocean with the respect it deserves. Know when to say no. Life is so fragile, and our world is so unpredictable and powerful. Both should be highly respected and handled with great care.
I also placed the song on the A1A 2008 CD release, Beachwrecked. I hope you enjoy my song and will share my music with your family and friends.
Around this time every year, I still find it challenging to decide how much to share about the year that has just passed so quickly. I do not want to come off as long-winded, yet I like to share as much as possible; well, providing my news is worth sharing. Ok, I am already ascertaining that I am writing unnecessary words, so I will get to it.
First things first - Happy New Year to everyone. For those who are alive to read this, God bless you, and congratulations - we made it, and many did not, so please take time every day to express gratitude and thanks for just being alive. While I am giving thanks for life, I want to thank my creator from my hands and knees for the blessing of still having my mother and father alive to share this past year and Holiday season. We have had two extraordinarily long years of caretaking and moving back and forth, which has taken most of our time, patience, energy, and resources. But when all is said and done, and we are together at Christmas, regardless of what walls surround us, we are deeply grateful to have the opportunity to care for our parents.
On a more positive note, many good things happened in 2022. My year started in January as it has for the past eight years by hitting the road with MANIA - The ABBA Tribute Show. I cannot believe eight years have passed since I first put on my platform boots and satin pants. We toured North America from January 26 to March 14. It was very successful, and I made many more happy memories to cherish as the years pass. If you want pictures and videos from my MANIA tours, check out my Instagram and TikTok accounts. You can find the links under the Social Media Page here at JeffPike.com. You can also find detailed and personal tour blogs filled with pictures and videos under the Ramblings From Jeff page at JeffPike.com. Enjoy.
Keeping in the spirit of routine, as it has for the past 30 years, when springtime arrives, it is time to don my flip-flops and get ready for spring and summer of fun with A1A. I never cease to pinch myself onstage and revel in gratitude for all the incredible musicians who comprise A1A. I am incredibly blessed to have some of the best musicians in the country in my band, and I am very proud. We had a great season this year and once again had more fun than one should be allowed to get paid for. I will repeat it - I am very lucky. It is a bit too cold to be out by the pool now, but stay calm, A1A fans and Parrot Heads, springtime will be here before you know it, and we will be back out playing live again.
One of the highlights I had this year was returning to perform at Sharky's in Panama City Beach, Florida, for the annual Parrot Head Rendezvous Trop Rock Music Festival. My good friend and ace harmonica player, Dave Matchette performed with me. Jeff Pike folklore still floats around the panhandle for all the years I spent performing at Sharky's back in the 1990s. I have not performed there since 1997, and it was surreal and joyous to return. Everything felt full circle, and I am excited to say I will be returning in April of 2023.
In other long-awaited news, I will finally release my new album, which I did with Gino Vannelli, 'Right Where I Am,' later this year in 2023. (www.ginov.com) We have been working this past year with Ross Vannelli on music videos to promote the album. (www.rossvannelli.com) Presently we have completed four videos, with more on the way. We are thrilled that 2023 will see the release of what I feel is the best music I have ever recorded. It is beyond a lifelong dream come true, and I am anxious for the world to hear this astonishing record. It is a departure from what most people have listened to me perform, but I am confident that, like it or not, you will be very impressed. This is going to be spectacular so stay tuned.
In another beautiful coincidence, while out in L.A. working with Ross Vannelli on videos for 'Right Where I Am,' Ross quickly came to know Kathy Mullen and all about her non-profit, Mullen's Miracles, with which I am also involved. Being very sympathetic to the ever-growing problem of mental health and suicide, Ross wanted to become involved and help as much as possible. As of this writing, we have completed two original songs and videos for Mullen's Miracles. I perform the vocals and acoustic guitar, and guitarist Chris Blackwell plays the electric guitar. Ross Vannelli performs, produces, and engineers the rest. All of the songs were recorded at his studio in L. A. Our goal is to eventually have an album of at least ten songs with accompanying videos for a potential band or me to perform at speaking engagements and benefit fundraisers, at which Kathy Mullen and other guests will be speaking. We head back to L.A. on January 8 for two weeks to work on more new songs and videos. We have a lot of great things in store, so stay tuned, and if you want to volunteer and get involved with us, visit our website at www.mullensmiracles.org. We are always looking for passionate volunteers.
On December 18, we had an invitation-only fundraiser for an early preview of our first official and, for now, private music video, 'I Keep The Light On,.' We also auctioned off a guitar signed by Ross Vannelli, Chris Blackwell, Kathy Mullen, and me, and those who made donations were given a private link where they could download their video copy. The event was beautiful and successful and was the perfect way to take out 2022. I will write more about that and share more pictures in an upcoming blog later this week, for we have big plans for 2023.
Amidst all the work this year, we did get out and see some live concerts, something I have loved since I attended my first concert in 1972. (FYI - My first concert was David Cassidy in Atlanta, Georgia. My second was The Carpenters later that same year.) Due to not being able to see many live shows over the past couple of years, I made up for it a little this year. Bob Dylan, Elton John, The Atlanta Rhythm Section, Daryl Hall, Todd Rundgren, Chicago, Brian Wilson, Rod Stewart, Cheap Trick, Ringo Starr, Alice Cooper, Larry Carlton, John Waite, Mannheim Steamroller, Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Ticket To The Moon and Meet Loaf all had the pleasure of having me in attendance at their performances in 2022. :-)
Time is marching on, and I have seen quite a bit of it go by. I have been blessed in many ways and experienced many beautiful and magical events in my life. However, if I combined all of them, their beauty and emotional impact on me would not come close to how I felt this past year on October 14, 2022, when my daughter, Ashton, got married to Blake Schuck. It was a perfect day, and dancing with my daughter at her wedding was by far the most emotionally satisfying and joyful 3 minutes of my life. I mean that with all sincerity. The years passed quickly, and this memorable day arrived much sooner than I had expected, but it was a journey well worth taking. I don't anticipate that anything else I experience here on earth will top it. Thank you to the great spirit and Ashton for giving me the gift of a lifetime of being her father.
MANIA - The ABBA Tribute hit the road once more in October for a month. For me, it was a perfect tour. It started for me at The Peoria Civic Center in Peoria, Illinois, where the spirit of Dan Fogelberg accompanied me. It ended in Atlanta, Georgia, surrounded by countless friends and family. In case you missed it a few paragraphs up, if you want pictures and videos from my MANIA tours, check out my Instagram and TikTok accounts. You can find the links under the Social Media Page here at JeffPike.com. You can also find detailed and personal tour blogs filled with pictures and videos under the Ramblings From Jeff page at JeffPike.com.
I sit here astonished at how this past year and ten years have so quickly flown. I tell you honestly that I have never felt the quickness of time and the brevity of life quietly intrude into my soul as much as I have this past year. To quote a classic song by The Allman Brothers, 'I ain't wastin' time no more. Cause time goes by like hurricanes and faster things.'
I have a lot yet to do. I have much to think about, amends to make, dreams to dream, and new music to write and record. For more detailed updates, check out current 2023 projects at JeffPike.com. I come from a family of procrastinators, and after spending years thinking about it, I believe this dreadful disease may be embedded in DNA passed on from generation to generation. But then again, it might result from too much time spent at the bar and onstage in the past. Or if you believe the immortal words of Jimmy Buffett, there might be a woman to blame. Hmm...now that I seriously sit here and think about it, in my case, I believe it is a hybrid of all three. At any rate, it is time to leave past times behind and get on and dig in with what life I have left to live and what I still have to offer the world.
Assuming you have read this far and are interested in my music, here is your call to action. If you still need to get on it, please sign up for my mailing list by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. As for Social Media, please "like" and, most importantly, "follow" my Facebook pages so you will not miss any important updates. I am also on Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, etc., and all of the necessary evil social media. You can find links to all these under the Social Media Page at JeffPike.com. I look forward to seeing you there.
I wish you happiness, good health, love, and a spirit filled with compassion, empathy, and beautiful music.
Happy New Year,
January 1, 2023
Greeting my music-loving and music owning friends,
In my previous blog, I shared my thoughts and a YouTube video from 'SoundMatters' about the social, psychological, economic, and emotional importance of purchasing and owning the physical medium of the music you listen to. I also asked for your thoughts, opinions, and experiences. I further said that I would choose the best response to post in my following newsletter and offer them a free CD and T-Shirt. Well, my peeps, we have a winner.
Below is an excellent short editorial on the importance of owning your music by Mr. Paul Leslie. Please enjoy his words of wisdom and check him out at www.thepaulleslie.com. He is a very fascinating and intelligent man who is worth your time. A huge thanks to everyone who submitted a response. Happy record collecting!
Happy Record Collecting,
Streaming music is everywhere, and because of that it can be started and stopped in an instant. It's so effortless that you sometimes don't realize what you have at your fingertips.
There is an art to listening, and one of the keys is to reduce the distractions and really absorb the music. For me, playing a CD or vinyl record is an experience meant to be enjoyed completely. This means from the silence before the first track starts, all the way to the very last note gradually fades away back into silence.
It also ideally means staying away from screens, which is harder to do with the streaming services. You may find that the more simple your environment is, the more you can enjoy the music. That's not always easy to do with your phone beeping every other minute from texts and one notification or another.
Streaming on Spotify or Apple Music can be convenient at times, but they can deprive you of a quite different experience. For me, frequently some of the music I enjoy the most is perhaps a bit rarer to find. There are some real gems out there. Some of them used to be on Apple Music and Spotify, but guess what. They no longer are. Others never were there!
I'm always thankful in those cases that I have the CD or record. Sometimes it's really the only way you can hear that particular recording.
There's also the visual element. Some of the cover art and booklets are really beautiful, truly creative works in their own right. Reducing some of the stunning album jackets out there to a small glowing cluster of pixels feels like a crime.
Furthermore, I can think of liner notes that have essays, excerpts from literature or even a word from the artist that have inspired a greater thought, or a different way of looking at the music I heard. Sometimes it's an indelible part of the whole experience.
Most of the time, the great album you just heard was not the work of only the primary artist with their name emblazoned on the cover. That's almost never the case. Frequently there were other songwriters, a record producer, audio engineers, and session musicians. Their names deserve to be known or at the very least accessible. It's another reason that truly owning your music is important.
For anyone who is in doubt about what they may be missing, I offer this easy to do idea. Instead of listening on a streaming service like you normally do, get an album. It really helps to have quality speakers or decent headphones. Put on a CD or vinyl you really like, but close the door and turn off the lights. Consider closing your eyes. Stay as far away from an open laptop or your mobile device as you can. They should be in another room.
Listen to your album, from your library from beginning to end.
Now tell me. Do you feel any differently?
The Paul Leslie Hour
The Importance of Owning The Music You Listen To
“There is nothing more dangerous than to build a society with a large segment of people in that society who feel that they have no stake in it; who feel that they have nothing to lose. People who have a stake in their society, protect that society, but when they don’t have it, they unconsciously want to destroy it.” - Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
"…And that, I would argue, is what we’re unconsciously doing to music – we’re slowly, but surely destroying the value of music by removing the consumer’s stake in any collective music culture. It is my belief that ownership of music in a physical form is as essential to music culture as homeownership is to society. In an age where homeownership is becoming increasingly difficult for young generations to achieve, this may stir up some controversy, but I really do believe that music matters more when we own it. Can't find an album or track you love on Spotify? This happens a lot, and it's one of the core reasons why music ownership matters. Quite simply, if you value the music, it's best to own your own copy - preferably on vinyl. But there's more to it than just access. There are huge societal implications (at least in terms of music's importance in our society) when we shift from music being something you own to something you rent." - Marc Henshall of Sound Matters.
Greetings, my music-loving friends,
I hope you took the time to read the previous quotes above seriously. I agree 100% with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Marc Henshall and believe this is happening to our country and music, but I would rather discuss music instead of politics.
I have collected music since I received my first small record player when I was five years old. My first 45rpm was Johnny Rivers - Secret Agent Man, and my first album was Johnny Rivers Golden Hits. These events started my love affair with recorded music that would last for the rest of my life. 45-RPMs, albums, EPs, 8-tracks, cassettes - all would become a lifelong obsession and envelope a large part of my heart, physical living space, and my money. I could write several long blogs on this topic, and I may at a later date, but today I encourage you to watch this video by Marc Henshall, or if you would instead wish to read it, you can do so by going here - "The Importance of Music Ownership."
I am curious about what you think about this topic, and I would like to know your story and opinions on physical vinyl/CD collecting. So please write to me and let me know your story. The author of the most exciting and captivating story will be given a free T-shirt and CD, and I will feature your story in a future blog.
I look forward to reading about your love for music.
First, I want to extend my heartfelt thanks to Todd Alexander and Katy Waugh for reaching out to me and requesting that I write this article for the July 2021 edition of 'Phlockers Magazine.' Ironically, I have wanted to write an article on the friendship I shared with Greg 'Fingers' Taylor for quite some time now, so their kind invitation could not have come at a better time. Greg's Birthday is in June and mine in July. We are both celebrating significant birthdays this year, and I have been doing a tremendous amount of reflecting lately. My article ran a little bit too long, and they had to edit it a wee bit for their publication, so I am posting the unedited version here at JeffPike.com.
If you are a fan of Trop Rock music, Jimmy Buffett, and the tropical lifestyle, I want to encourage you to check out Phlockers Magazine. It is free and published monthly online at - http://phlockersmagazine.com/ - It is full of great information and is your one-stop shop for all things Trop Rock.
GREG 'FINGERS' TAYLOR - AN OLD ROCK N' ROLLER WHO HAD TO BE THERE
I have vivid memories which are dear to my heart of the first time I heard the music of Jimmy Buffett. It was during the summer of 1974, and I was in the 7th grade. Every summer for a few years in Junior High and High School, I worked for my Grandfather in South Carolina as a carpenter's assistant. I spent my days in the heat, caulking, puttying, painting, and sanding. I remember doing so much sanding that I could not even see my fingerprints by the end of the summer. Memories that stand out to me of the summer of '74 revolve around one house in particular that we worked at for several weeks. I worked mainly upstairs with a view that looked out over the next-door neighbor's pool. I would listen to the radio all day while I worked in anticipation of two teenage girls who would come out every day to enjoy a swim. But, being the shy boy I was and being on the clock, I never even considered working up the nerve to walk on over during my lunch break and introducing myself. 'Come Monday' was on the radio a lot that summer, and I fell in love with the song. In fact, every time I hear the original version, my mind goes back to the summer of 1974. Looking back now, it seems ironic that decades before Jimmy Buffett's music would become an enormous part of my life, I was dreaming of swimming pools, girls in bikinis, and getting away to the beach and forgetting about my teenage woes. I feel that, without a doubt, the Parrot Head mindset was hardwired entirely into my brain that summer.
After that summer, Jimmy Buffett's music was absent from my life until 1978, when I was offered two free tickets to see him at The Fox Theater. As fate would have it, it turned out to be a concert that would be recorded and make up half of his next album, 'You Had To Be There,' an album that would make a tremendous impact on me the following year. However, the timing was not perfect, for I had been invited to spend the week with my new girlfriend and her family in Mobile, Alabama, where she lived, at their beach house on Dauphine, Island. How is that for ironic coincidences? I did not even know that Jimmy Buffett was from Mobile at the time. So what does a young boy of 16, who is head over heels in love with music and rock and roll, do under these circumstances? Why he goes with the girl, of course.
Several months later, during my senior year in high school, I was gifted 'You Had To Be There' from my best friend and acoustic duo partner, Ken Mercer. I remember first hearing the album at his house in College Park, Georgia. When he put the needle down on side 1, the wild and most likely alcohol-soaked voice of Greg "Fingers" Taylor roared through the speakers introducing Mr. Jimmy Buffett. No offense to my then-girlfriend, for I had the time of my life in Mobile, but after just one song, I knew I had missed something extraordinary by not going to that show. That album was rarely off my turntable that year, and when it was, it was replaced by Dan Fogelberg. I did love Jimmy Buffett, but the voice and harmonica playing of Greg "Fingers" Taylor intrigued me greatly. I sensed he had soul and could most likely swing hard with the best of them. It was never even a dream, or much less occurred to me that we would one day become good friends and that he would be in my band for a while. You never know where the roads of life will take you.
The fall of 1979 saw me as a college freshman in Rome, Georgia. I spent a lot of time in the student lounge that year, and I remember 'Fins' playing over the music system frequently. I loved the song, but the coolest part of the song to me was the harmonica solo. So I immediately went out and bought 'Volcano.' Many nights of laying on my dorm room floor with my headphones on listening to that album were to follow. After that year, the music of Jimmy Buffett once again drifted out of my life. It wasn't until the release of 'Hot Water' in the summer of 1988 that love for his music would reenter my life, and like the memories of 'Come Monday' forever embedded in my mind, it was there to stay.
The history and story of how I started A1A-The Official and Original Jimmy Buffett Tribute Show with Scott Nickerson are well documented, so I will not go into that long history lesson here. So instead, let's jump into the way back time machine and go back to New Orleans sometime in the early 1990s. A1A performed at every Meeting Of The Minds Convention for, I believe, the first 12 or 13 years of its existence. During one of the very early shows in New Orleans, there was a rumor that Greg 'Fingers' Taylor was in town and that he may want to play. Naturally, I was instantly excited and nervous. After almost 30 years of Parrot Head madness, music, and mayhem, I have forgotten some of the details on how it came to be, but it was finally arranged that Greg would join us for one song.
The song chosen was 'Some White People Can Dance.' Like the rebel and wandering soul that he was during those years, he came at it like Chuck Berry. There would be no rehearsal. He would enter the building when it was time, jump onstage, make his mark, and quickly exit - and that is just what happened. I was very nervous and could not wait to have him join us. Luckily, the song was a staple in the A1A set at the time, and I had spent a lot of time perfecting the backing track we would be performing with. So I was confident. I still remember him making his way through the crowd and bouncing up onstage in his blue jeans and black tank tops. There was a quick introduction, and then we were off to the races. The sound was excellent, and the monitors were rocking, so everyone felt at ease. I remember my mind quickly time-traveled back to the fall of 1978 when I first heard 'You Had To Be There', and I could not believe where I was. I suppose you could say I was lost in a daydream while I was soaking in the moment. All was dreamy until it came time for his solo - holy cow - I had never heard anyone play harmonica like that in my life. Hearing Greg play on record and then standing beside him while he wails are two completely different experiences. I highly recommend the latter. I played a little harmonica in my youth, mostly Bob Dylan and Neil Young kind of stuff, but I never pursued it any further than that. Fingers totally floored me. His sound was huge. His tone was fat, warm, soothing, brutal, exciting, and comforting, all at the same time. He had complete control over his instrument, the crowd, and the stage. I was mesmerized and starstruck. Then as quickly as it began, it was over. Greg said thank you, bounced off the stage, and disappeared into the crowd in search of what a true bluesman loves the most, a drink and a pretty girl. I am quite confident he found them.
Over the next few years, A1A's star continued to rise as The Parrot Head Club movement grew rapidly. However, I did not see Greg again until I performed with Jimmy Buffett and The Coral Reefer band onstage at Lakewood Amphitheater in Atlanta, Georgia, in the summer of 1995. Unfortunately, we did not have a lot of time to reconnect, but he did compliment the success of A1A and my performance with Jimmy and the band. I was beaming. We had a short chat together, and he seemed to be in good spirits.
In 1997, Scott and I decided it was time to make our first CD, and naturally, we wanted it to be a live CD. We talked about having a special guest on the CD, and Greg 'Fingers' Taylor quickly came to mind. As luck would have it, he would be performing on the bill with A1A at the New England Parrot Head Convention in the fall of 1997. We took immediate advantage of this and asked him to join us for a few songs. He quickly and excitedly agreed. I was over the moon.
I have to mention here for those who may not know or did not have the opportunity to see A1A back when we were just a duo, but we played with very elaborate and energetic backing tracks, which were all programmed, recorded, and mixed by me—all those years as a keyboard player and tech nerd in the 80's finally paid off. Very few people were doing that back then, and it became a substantial part of our success for quite a while. Greg, however, was an authentic and down-to-earth blues musician. He was the real deal. Greg walked the walk, talked the talk, and could seriously back it up. He hated technology, and he hated drum machines and backing tracks. But he liked and respected me and A1A, so he agreed to play with us. Just like before, there would be no rehearsal, we would learn the songs, and I would program them and put the backing tracks together, sticking strictly to the arrangements on his albums. The songs he recorded with us were two of his songs, 'Drop Down Mama' and 'The Hammer,' and 'Steamer' by Jimmy Buffett. He sang lead and played harp on his two songs and just played harmonica on 'Steamer.' I remember vividly the time we spent alone in the dressing room before the show.
This was the first time I had ever had one-on-one time with Greg, and I intended to take advantage of it. We had some time to kill, so we got to know each other better. After some time (and a few shots) went by, I finally worked up the nerve to ask him if he would share some old stories with me about all of his time with 'Buffett.' I say that because he never called him Jimmy. He always referred to him as Buffett. Lucky for me, he was in a great mood and very willing to talk. I think back now and would have given anything to have had any kind of pocket recorder with me so that I could have recorded all of the insane stories he told me for posterity. This was long before iPhones, kiddies. Unfortunately, the stories I do remember him telling me I am unable to include for you here. I will say, however, that if even only half of the stories he told me are true, and I believe that they are, then all of the wild stories about booze, drugs, women, and insanity about The Coral Reefer Band's behavior in the 1970s, and the 1980s that you may have heard were highly understated. As the years moved on and Greg and I spent more time together, he would share other stories with me. Over time, I would begin to see, experience, feel, and understand firsthand the realities, temptations, and effects of the demons that lurk in the shadows, backstage, hotels, buses, bars, and the deep dark areas of some musician's souls.
Storytime comes to an end, and it is time for A1A to take the stage. The convention is in full swing, the place is packed, and there is massive excitement about A1A and Greg 'Fingers' Taylor performing together. The A1A set is flawless, and when we introduced Greg, the place erupted. This was going to be good. We went directly into 'Drop Down Mama' and then proceeded into 'The Hammer' and 'Some White People Can Dance.' Greg looked great, sounded amazing, and was running on all cylinders. After he closed his part of the show, we did 'Steamer,' and much to our delight, he stayed on stage and did a few more numbers with us. After the show, Greg told me how much fun he had and how great we sounded. Then he gave me a compliment he had never given anyone before. He said that all my programmed backing tracks sounded great and that they did indeed have a swing. I was floored and very flattered. After that evening, our friendship and mutual respect for each other deepened. It was certainly a pleasure and a hell of an evening, but there was much more to come. You can hear these recordings on the album, 'A1A Live', which is still available. Click on the link below to order your copy.
Over the next several years and through much of the 2000s, Greg would join A1A on many public and private gigs. He was even an official band member for a while, and he and I became tighter as friends. Over the years, I came to know what it must have felt like to be Jimmy Buffett way back in the day when it was just him and Fingers playing side by side together. I feel deeply blessed that I had the opportunity to hear him play all of the classic solos he recorded for Jimmy Buffett with me as his accompaniment on many occasions. No matter how he was feeling, physically, psychologically, or emotionally, at any given time, his playing never faltered. Once he was on stage, he was always magic, and I can honestly say that every time he played, I gave him my full attention and reveled in the moment. I have still yet to hear anyone play blues harmonica as he does, and he will always remain the best for my money.
Life as a career musician is a dangerous and slippery slope on which to travel. Chasing fame, fortune, and happiness by hitting the long open road and singing your songs is an age-old story. If you choose to take this journey, then be sure and take a close look off the side of the road occasionally for perspective. As you cruise alone through the night, you may find the ghosts of countless bodies, broken hearts, destroyed dreams, tragedies, addictions, and endless sad stories. That is not to say that you should not follow your dreams and believe that all stories end this way, for that is far from the truth. There are many success stories. But keep in mind that fame, fortune, and happiness rarely exist together.
The friendship Greg and I shared was held together by mutual respect for our individual musicianship, lifelong dedication to music, tendencies to buck authority, live on the edge, and the fact that we both partied hard. Greg had some severe demons that haunted his soul, and he was his own worst enemy in many ways. I can say the same thing about myself for much of my early career. But even at my worst, I was still not in Greg's league - and that frightened me. After a few drinks at the bar, he would often strongly suggest that he and I "chunk all this parrot head shit," put together a blues-rock band, and hit the road. Twice I almost gave in. But something told me that if I did, I might never come home. The last time I saw Greg was when we played in Chattanooga, Tennessee, together some years ago. He did not look well, and I was saddened and worried about him. Unfortunately, our paths kind of drifted apart after that. He would call me from time to time, and we would catch up, but eventually, we lost touch. I regret that, but then again, I have, like many people in my line of work, a road of regret that runs far into the distance.
Greg was a helluva guy, a tremendous musician, and a good friend while he was passing through my life. He is definitely someone I will never forget. I miss him. Trust me when I say, "you had to be there." Greg, I wish you a very Happy Birthday and safe travels to wherever your next road takes you.
With the spirit of the blues,
Mullen's Miracle Spotlight
Our team is the heart and soul of MM. We're excited to spotlight Jeff Pike today!
Hi there! I'm Jeff Pike. I am a lifelong career musician and co-founder of Mullen's Miracles. I have had the privilege of working with Kathy Mullen since 2012 in a music management capacity, and it was an honor to be asked to cofound such an essential and needed nonprofit. Being a full-time musician at any level of success is never a smooth road. I have dealt with depression and addiction and have lost many friends and loved ones to suicide throughout my life and career. I found personal help through Celebrate Recovery in 2010 and have been on a steadier and healthier road ever since.
I am grateful for all who have helped me, including Kathy. She is an amazing, passionate, and caring woman who has helped me, my music, and my family tirelessly for years. Being a large part of Kathy's and her family's life is a blessing. When we lost Eric at 26 years old in 2018, our world was shaken to the core. Eric was a bright, sensitive, caring, passionate, and intelligent young man who deserved life. He, too, was a great help to me, my family, and my band. He was wonderful, and I miss him very much. Eric's constant presence and Kathy's dedication to his memory are a driving factor at the core of Mullen's Miracles.
The team that we work with are an amazing group of people who are all professional and committed to the cause of Mullen's Miracles. Their belief in our cause, hard work, and all they give make it easy for me to believe that we are on the right road. I think that Mullen's Miracles has the capability of making a significant impact on a vast number of people as we grow, and I look forward to seeing where it will lead.
We're so grateful for Jeff and all of the team members that are helping us grow Mullen's Miracles.
"Ramblings From Jeff" - is a dedicated personal blog page within JeffPike.com written and posted by Jeff Pike.