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Bobby Messano interview 

Bobby Messano
Submitted by Kaj Roth on 2009-06-18
I created a Starz tribute page on Facebook and before I knew it, I was friends with Starz guitarist Bobby Messano´s ex.first wife who introduced me to Mr.Bobby Messano himself.
When I was young, I listened a lot to Starz classic albums "Violation" and "Coliseum rock" - I still think the riffs on the instrumental "Coliseum rock" are among the best riffs ever written.
I´m honored to present to you, Bobby Messano in person for an exclusive interview for melodic.net!
Hello Bobby, it´s really nice to have you aboard the melodic.net ship.
I´ve been a huge fan since the 70´s when I discovered Starz, are you still playing with Ranno and the guys?

Bobby: Hi Kaj, great to be aboard. Thanks so much for the interview. Richie is one of my best friends and as a matter of fact, this past weekend my wife Kathy and I showed up to see the Richie Ranno Allstars (with Dube and Insane George from STARZ) play at a club and we did TAKE ME and NO REGRETS from Coliseum Rock. We were trying to do between 5-10 shows a year, but between the market being a bit strange right now and the fact that Michael Lee lives in Los Angeles, it’s been tough to book shows. We’re looking at stuff for 2010, possibly even Europe.

I cannot recall Starz ever touring Europe, have you ever played over here?
Bobby: I toured Europe and the U.K. first in 1983 when I was with Steve Winwood. We did Germany, France, Belgium, Italy and many other countries. I then was going to London periodically for session work. The next time was a 1987 tour of Germany with Lou Gramm and the last time I was there was in 1990 when I toured Germany with Robin Beck as the Music Director for her “Trouble or Nothing” tour. I really want to get back to the EU and U.K. for shows, either solo or with STARZ.

You have a new solo album out entitled "Trials, traumas, tribulations and demos", are these songs spanning over several years?
Bobby: Yea, they span quite a few years. Some were tracks that didn’t make Dominion Roads and others were on TV/Cable shows. “Pride Of The Cockney Rebels” was a co-write with Tony Colton (I’m No Angel) that was written specifically for Eric Clapton a few years back. One was a co-write with Paul Taylor from Winger that ended up in the movie Bonneville. Just demos and cool new tunes that I wanted to get out there on ITunes.

My thoughts go to guitarists like Eric Clapton, Joe Bonamassa and Steve Ray Vaughan when I listen to your latest album, are you influenced by any of these extraordinary six stringers?
Bobby: Well, Clapton was always one of my guitar heroes (not the game!!) SRV and I knew each other peripherally, and we used to send messages to each other through mutual friends. When the comparison comes up between he and I, I always say that we had the same influences, I was slightly older and that by the time he did his first album, I had already been on between 6 and 9, so it’s probably just influences. I was also asked to replace him on the Bowie “Let’s Dance” tour, but had already committed to Steve Winwood. Joe lived in either Utica or Syracuse, NY and I actually had his DEMOS when he was a teenager. By the time he came out, I had probably played on 30 or 40 records and for about 2 or 3 million people, so maybe I was an influence on him..lol…who knows? He’s a really good player.

Your latest musical work is more bluesy compared to the melodic rock of the 80´s, have you always been a fan of blues rock?
Bobby: When I started playing a million years ago, I began by learning Beatles songs and early English pop stuff, including the Yardbirds with Jeff Beck, Clapton and Page (Beck freaked me out) but I grew up listening to the radio which was R&B and Phillie Soul music mixed in with The Four Seasons, James Brown, The Beach Boys and The Young Rascals. Somewhere around ’67-’68 when I was ACTUALLY starting to play a bit I was turned on to Freddie King, and about that same time Hendrix and Cream appeared. That blew my mind to hear players like that, even though I was already copying Beck. I then started listening to BB and Clapton with Mayall and it went from there to Robert Johnson McKinley Morgenfield etc. I’ve always loved the edgy-rockier Blues stuff, so this is just an extension of what I listened to years ago.
Any chances of us fans getting another AOR album in the same vein as your first solo album from 89?
Bobby: Well, I re-released “MESSANO” on RETROSPECT RECORDS with bonus tracks last year to rave reviews and actually did a few warm up shows and then the “ROCKLAHOMA” festival doing ONLY my AOR stuff. I have some tracks and songs that might end up appearing on an AOR CD/Download, plus I’ve been doing some collaborations, so you never know. Richie Ranno and I and the STARZ guys have been threatening to put another STARZ CD out also. We found all of the rehearsals for what would have been the follow up to ”COLISEUM ROCK” and there’s some tasty stuff there, so that’s also a possibility.

You have played with some of the biggest artists out there like Steve Winwood, Lou Gramm and Joe Lynn Turner so I guess you have a lotta memories but if you could only choose one thing to share with us, what is the most dearest musical moment for you?
Bobby: WELL…maybe not a musical moment….my bass player Steve Geller insists that I tell this story every show, so this might be the one. When I was playing with Steve Winwood, he picked Eric Parker (drummer) and I up at our flat in London and said “I have a surprise for you”. We parked in a lot and were met by security who took us through the front door of Hammersmith Odeon, where the marquee read” Appearing Tonight, Eric Clapton and Band”…I was floored…getting to see Clapton (one of my idols) with Steve (one of my idols).
Steve had just sold out 3 nights there the next month, so that made it even cooler. Anyway, we saw the show and ended up in the backstage queue, and EC’s road manager came out and ushered Steve, his wife Nicole, Eric Parker and I into the dressing room. The next thing I know, I’m standing in front of Clapton and Pattie Harrison Clapton being introduced by Winwood, who is saying…” he’s a bloody great guitarist…” while I’m kicking him in the shin saying shhhhh!!!! This is Steve Winwood and I’m kicking him telling him to hush up!!!! Anyway, Eric graciously looks at me and says, “…I know who you are, and he names 3 or 4 records that I’ve played on and says”…I always stay on top of who the hot players are…” and congratulates me on playing with his friend Steve…Amazing…EC, SW and I ended up just hanging out in the back of the dressing room talking for about an hour…how cool is that!!! The best “musical” moment would be the last night of the TOTO IV tour at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia with Franke & The Knockouts jammin’ with Toto on the last song!! WHERE WAS YOUTUBE THEN!!

Is it true that you alone played the guitar on "So young So bad" on the Starz album Coliseum Rock?
Bobby: Yep I’m guilty, it was just me…I think RR was sleeping. Jack (Richardson) wanted to start in the morning, so, since I was an early riser, I was there at the studio, already coffee-d up!! It was a wild track. Much more complicated then it actually sounds. Somewhere between 8-12 guitars on it, I think. I played one rhythm track with the tape literally upside down and backwards…I have no idea how I did it, but I pretty much played the entire song from finish to start and the chords were in the opposite order, then I did the Brian May 3 part harmonies and of course the Talk box solo, which was sort of a goof, but it worked. I was never comfortable using Talk boxes. We didn’t know back then to use a very low wattage amp, and you would always end up loosening teeth and blowing fillings out. Great song though. Tons o fun.

I spoke to you earlier about the riff showing up later on Jack Blades solo album from 2004, have you spoken to him about it yet?
Bobby: No..I never did, still an interesting thought…

Your previous album Holding Ground from 2003 was Grammy nominated for Best Contemporary Blues Album, how much did that mean to you as an artist?
Bobby: It was a First Round Grammy Nomination, which in itself was amazing and an honor. It justified my change to Contemporary Blues, (not that I’m not playing Rock!) which almost gave me a second career as a guitarist and an artist. It also flipped me out, I had an anxiety attack when I found out.

What are the nearest future plans for Mr.Messano?
Bobby: Well I’m doing lots of shows and I’m writing as usual for cable and TV. I’m co-headlining a festival in September with Chris Duarte’ and I’m working on putting some shows together with FIONA. We’re trying to lock some STARZ dates down including possibly Europe in 2010…Pretty much doing lots.

Any famous last words for the readers of melodic.net?
Bobby: Just a HUUUUGGGGEEEEEE THANK YOU to all of my fans around the world for sticking with me for my 25 year career…KEEP ROCKIN’ YA’LL

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