When Randy suggested I contribute to the new Hyperspace blog, I knew where he was going. I am now happy to be part of the Hyperspace family, only becoming aware of Randy’s accumulated “Hyperspacerecords.com” productivity upon reconnecting with Randy in 2014, I have been privileged to have featured on some amazing music over the few short years since.
Long before there were any of Randy’s incredible “Hyperspace” projects, bands, rescue missions, or live acts, there was a chance Spring/Summer 1975 meeting after I answered an ad in Good Times from a Long Island bass player looking for a lead guitarist.
Like most players of my generation witnessing that Ed Sullivan Show that “special” Sunday night in February 1964 turned what had been a childhood love affair with guitars into a full-on obsession that by the end of 1974 had me at a crossroads. The band I was with had gotten to an interesting place in the “Downtown NYC” scene. We’d gotten some great press playing at the right NYC venues, and seemed poised to move on to the next step. Then, key member and future RocknRoll Hall of Famer, Ricky Byrd succumbed to the inevitable outside temptations and abruptly left for what he thought were brighter pastures. This left us in the lurch. Not sure what to do, we imploded.
I started going to auditions…and frankly, it seemed that heavy, blues-based guitar-driven Rock had become unhip “Downtown”. However, that wasn’t the case in the Long Island clubs where bands like Rat Race Choir and The Bonnie Parker Band were drawing crowds. It was with this in mind that I answered the ad in Good Times with a suburban phone number.
Enter Randy Pratt. I drove out to distinctly “ green, safe town" with my Marshall amp and mongrel Gibsonized Fender Telecaster for a “Jam”. I found a very interesting “early days” Randy. Great gear. A long-scale Gibson EB-3 and a Fender Telecaster Bass, with an Ampeg SVT. Superior gear no question about it. Randy had more potential and nascent ability than he ever thought he did. As good as he was, he wasn’t obsessed with music…or, playing bass. He appeared to be a normal upper-middle-class suburban kid doing things a lot of similar kids did back then. As a guitar-obsessed guy, who seemed to have a guitar in hand 24-7, I couldn’t get my head around a guy with such great gear, who could play as well as Randy did, not being as single-minded as I was. One thing even back then. Randy didn’t know any chords. He was and has always been riff-oriented. As a result, he is a very unique bass player. And, he still is. Back then, he just wasn’t all that serious about it. Apparently, this would eventually change. Randy has over the years become extremely good at what he does.
What had been a childhood love affair with guitars into a full-on obsession
But, in 1975, we started a band; “RATTLESNAKE SHAKE”, and, eventually we got good. We did gigs at LI clubs and even played at Kutcher’s Catskills resort. A parade of players came and went ( including a short period when Ricky Byrd was in there with us too) as we played our guitar-driven, blues-based, hard rock…until? I don’t know. I know we stopped. I went back to school, got married. Tried to stay in touch with Randy. But, life is life. I think I gave up bands the first time in 1976 until 1984 or so. I’d quit again. And go back again. Quit bands. Not quit playing. Ricky Byrd got me back onstage in 2011...another story with a different cast of characters. Although Interestingly, Randy and my own story overlap here because Mark Stein was the keyboard player on some of those shows that I did with Byrd. But, other than a very few chance late seventies meetings, I pretty much lost track of Randy. Until 2014. This time courtesy of Ricky Byrd ( again) re-connecting with Randy at a Cactus function, and passing Randy’s phone number to me...
So, a new door opened that has continued to force me to revisit aspects of my guitar playing that I hope will continue. All courtesy of Randy and Hyperspace. Stay tuned. It should be an interesting journey.