To remember what started it all, watch video above! Love you Gary!
My Friend and Partner
I just lost my oldest and closes friend. The memories keep swirling through my mind of a friendship and business partner spanning over 50 years. There is no way to condense all we shared as friends into a few paragraphs but I would like to share these thoughts in his memory.
Gary and I first met in the early 60’s at Perkins Jr High School in Akron,Ohio but it was later in high school that we both got the bug to play in bands. Garywas the first to form a 2 piece band. I remember seeing him for the first time playing at a dance in the gym at our school. It was just him on guitar and a drummer. Their playing was not so good but his vocals were powerful and I knew then he had a special talent for singing. It was shortly after graduating BuchtelHigh School that we started playing together in a variety of groups. Some of my fondest memories were when we played as a duo, Gary on guitar and me on piano. We loved to play anywhere and anytime whether we were paid or not. If we were somewhere and there was a piano we would play and usually end up getting a job. One night we hired a guy to haul my spinet piano to a job for an audition. Afterward we were so revved up to play that we stopped at a small bar and unloaded the piano and played for 3 hours free.
We eventually hooked up with a friend who had a recording studio and started recording original songs and jingles for local businesses. We became very good at writing jingles but what we really wanted was to score a hit with our songs. We would take the songs toNew Yorkbut be promptly sent on our way by every record company. Out of frustration we decided to record a novelty song with nothing but a beat and repetitive lyrics as a joke and see if they would buy that. Surprisingly they did. We sold it to a major record company. It was called “Gotta Hear The Beat” with a made up artist name of Animal Jack. The record didn’t sell much but we realized we had a knack for writing good pop songs with great hooks.
After moving to Atlanta,GA in the mid 70’s we met Arnie Geller who with partner Buddy Buie was having a successful run of hits at their production company including The Atlanta Rhythm Section and Alicia Bridges hit, “I Love The Nightlife.”
It was through BGO that we had our first national hit “Pac Man Fever”.
Gary and I wrote Pac Man Fever in my front room. He mostly handled the lyrics and I the music. He was a gifted writer. His opening line, “I gotta pocket full of quarters and I’m headed to the arcade” is a classic and summed up the entire video game craze that was sweeping the country at that time.
Achieving success in the music business is very difficult. It’s like going to war. Through it all Gary and I formed a unique bond that was broken yesterday with his passing. But we had a personal bond that was also broken. The pain of losing his friendship is immeasurable to me. He was a kind hearted, loving, caring person who was always there for me and can never be replaced in my life. I loved him like a brother and will miss him beyond words.