I was born in Needville (Fort Bend County), Texas in 1938. My Dad was very influential in my playing the accordion. As a boy I would hang out with a buddy whose father played a 2 row Hohner diatonic and watch. However, when the family watched the Lawrence Welk show my Father would say “That’s the kind of accordion that you should learn to play”. When I became 15 years old my parents took me to Sears & Roebuck and ordered my first 120 bass Silvertone Piano Accordion, of course it was made in Italy. I soon started taking lessons from a municipal band director who offered to teach many instruments. Unfortunately he was not the right teacher and I soon lost interest and put the accordion in the closet until my Dad threatened to sell it.
With the fear of losing my accordion I started learning songs by ear and when I had a repertoire of around 20 songs I was ready to play beer joints with a 30 year-old guitarist (I was 16 years old at the time). As time went on my repertoire grew. During that period I listened to Dick Contino who was huge in Las Vegas and was earning over a $1,000 a week. The 3 Suns were also my favorite band, but regardless of who was playing the sound of an accordion on the radio or TV would immediately capture my attention.
After high school I played saxophone and the accordion with some regional bands while attending University of Texas at Austin. I was thinking that I wanted to be a music teacher. In 1961, I ended up in Detroit where I studied Marketing and Merchandising. In 1962 while playing at a night club in Detroit called the Royal York, The famous Joe Vento (see our Honorary Member section) dropped in after doing a show with the 3 Suns and he sat in and played a couple of tunes on my accordion. That was a real thrill.
After working for a large retailer of that time for about 2 years I was recruited for a sales rep position with Chicago Musical Instrument Co. aka CMI. In 1975 the M. Hohner Co. of Germany offered me a position as a sales their sales representative for Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Puerto Rico, The Virgin Islands, Dominican Republic and Mexico. In 1978 I left Hohner because I wanted to spend more time at home and also began experiencing growing demand in Houston for society parties.
In 1991 I returned to the musical instrument market as an independent representative and currently market Solton keyboards by Ketron Labs and Gabbanelli Accordions.
Reflecting back on my sales career and experience, I have been involved with: Gibson Guitars and related product lines, Cordovox, Moog, Farfisa, KORG, Olds Band Instruments, Meisel Strings, Pearl Flutes and am currently involved with Gabbanelli Accordions and KETRON Digital keyboards products.
Although I have been around electronic instruments since the 50’s and 60’s I prefer to play the accordion as an acoustic instrument. I especially enjoy playing in a trio with the accordion, guitar and string bass. This combination is my idea of musical perfection.
I also play saxophone, guitar, flute, string bass and electric bass. But, my favorites are my Ketron SD-1 keyboard and the accordion. I also do an occasional gig on Sax, Guitar or Electric Bass.