I am from Richmond, Virginia and the son of a great set of parents who gave me my 1st guitar at the age of four. Big mistake! I fell in love with the guitar but we broke-up for a while when I found the sport of diving. By the age of ten I was Virginia State Diving Champion. I then left the diving board for ice hockey (the greatest sport of all time). GO RED WINGS! The guitar came back into my life at the age of 15 and won my heart over. I still love ice hockey and play a couple times a week but I don’t tell my guitar!
My first guitar lesson was in the 8th grade. I took a guitar course in school where the teacher taught us basic guitar chords. It was a one hour lesson, once a week for 6 weeks. I was hooked! I went on to take music theory in high school. That was the best course I ever took in school.
Some of my influences are Stevie Wonder, Simon & Garfunkel, Led Zeppelin, Carlos Montoya, Rare Earth, Peter Frampton, Billy Gibbons, Jimmy Page, Aerosmith, Ted Nugent, Kiss, Michael Schenker, UFO, Doobie Brothers, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Outlaws, Allman Brothers, Steve Morse and the Dixie Dregs, Pat Travers, Eddie Van Halen, Al Dimeola, Allan Holdsworth, Scorpions, Randy Rhodes, Warren DeMartini and Ratt, George Lynch, Joe Satriani, Steve Lukather, Steve Vai, Eric Johnson, Carlos Santana, Neal Schon, and (my favorite guitarist of all time) Jeff Beck.
THE EARLY YEARS
My history with FireHouse begins when my band White Heat needed a drummer. We auditioned at least twenty guys. Finally Michael Foster answered the ad in the paper and showed up at our rehearsal room. I remember he had a really ugly green drum set but he could sing REALLY well and he had a GREAT groove. His first song to audition was Say What You Will by Fastway which has a swing feel and he just SLAMMED it! What really impressed me was his ability to sing and play drums at the same time. He was given a song list of the 35 songs we were playing at the time, and when he came back the next night he knew them all perfectly with harmony parts nailed! He obviously got the gig. That was in 1984.
Michael and I used to go out to the rock clubs when we weren’t playing gigs. One night we saw this band called Maxx Warrior. Their singer, CJ Snare, and a bass player, Perry Richardson, both blew us away. CJ and Perry sang so well together I just remember thinking, “Wow! If Mike and I could work with those two guys we’d be a really strong four piece band.”
Over time Maxx Warrior broke-up. I sent CJ some songs that I had written and asked him to sing on our tape. He just tore it up. We did a show in Virginia with him as our singer a few weeks later and I’ll never forget him telling me that after performing live with us that he felt like this was the right band for him. I told him that I knew that he was the right singer for me and I thought we could make it in the music business together. I couldn’t believe what a great voice he had. I am still amazed to this day at his song writing ability and clever musicianship, and of course his pipes! CJ is also a great piano player.
After we had a tape with CJ’s voice on it we took it to Perry. He really liked it, but had promised the band that he was in at the time that he’d complete 6 months of gigs. We just said, “We’re coming to get you when that 6 months is up!” We sold our P.A. system, moved to Charlotte, North Carolina, and started recording demos in my bedroom. Our band house had a basement where we would mic the drums and guitar speakers, run the mic cables through the air conditioning ducts into my room, and record all day. We’d play hotel gigs at night to make money to pay the rent and bills.
THE NEXT LEVEL
One night in December of 1989 a guy named Michael Caplan, Epic Records VP of A&R, flew down from New York to see our gig. He told me after the show, “You guys are ready for a record deal.” I said, “Well it’s about time!” Michael didn’t want to change us at all. He saw our vision, and I’m forever grateful to him for giving me my first chance in the big league. We went right into the studio with David Prater (Dream Theater) as our producer. I learned quite a bit from Prater and I think he did a great job on our CDs FireHouse and Hold Your Fire. He’s a genius with outstanding musical talent who used to play drums with Santana. When the CD was completed we finally signed the record deal with Sony.
We won the American Music Award for Best New Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Band of 1991, Metal Edge Magazine’s Best New Band of 1991, Young Guitar Magazine’s Best Newcomer of 1991, and Music Life Magazine’s reader’s pop poll Best Newcomer of the Year 1992. Our first album, FireHouse, sold over 2 million copies, while our song Love of a Lifetime sold over 500,000 singles reaching #5 and Don’t Treat Me Bad went to #14. Our Second album, Hold Your Fire, sold almost 1 million copies to date with Reach For The Sky getting into the top 20 and When I Look Into Your Eyes reaching #7.
We changed producers for the next CD FireHouse 3. We used Ron Nevison, who is famous for producing and engineering Led Zeppelin, Ozzy Osbourne, Damn Yankees, UFO, Michael Schenker, Vince Neil, and others. He gave us more of a live feel. I learned quite a bit from Ron. He’s a world class producer. FireHouse 3 enjoyed more success overseas than we’d ever had. We went gold in several countries in Asia enabling us to take our music around the world. Our 4th CD was produced by me. It was the first FireHouse album that I got to produce. It’s called Good Acoustics and we used our favorite engineer in the world, Mark Severns. At the time, Mark was teaching advanced audio recording and mixing at The Full Sail College in Orlando, FL. He is extremely well respected in the industry and very musical as well. He is also a great guitar player so we instantly hit it off. We had some of our greatest success stories overseas with Good Acoustics going gold in 6 countries.
I produced our 5th album, CATEGORY 5. We started recording it in the spring of 1998. It’s a very diverse album for us, and it shows us stretching our musical wings a bit. We went to Japan in 1999 for an amazing tour. Pony Canyon suggested that we record a show so that we could have a live album. We agreed and the result is Bring ’em Out Live, our first ever live album recorded one night in Osaka, Japan.
In 2000 I produced and engineered our 7th album O2. This album has been called our best album ever by fans and critics from all over the world. It’s a return to our melodic hard rock roots with a 21st century twist. As a result of musical and personal differences we decided to part company with Perry Richardson. We found an extremely accomplished bassist/vocalist named Bruce Waibel who fit our band perfectly. Bruce had previously played in The Gregg Allman Band for over 10 years, recording on the I’m No Angel and Just Before The Bullets Fly albums. He also toured with The Marshall Tucker Band for 5 years while Gregg was not on the road. I had a great time recording and touring with Bruce, but he departed FireHouse and about a year later, he tragically passed away.
FireHouse released Prime Time in 2003. I engineered, produced, mixed, and mastered this album. We had a great time writing and recording it and you can hear that vibe in the music. Everyone went the extra mile to make this recording the best it could possibly be. Michael’s drumming is the best I’ve ever heard him play. He ever takes the vocal on one track for the first time ever and he did an awesome job. CJ’s voice is as amazing as ever. The press gave the album great reviews. We followed in 2011 with our next release Full Circle. For years we have been wanting to go back to rerecord many of our favorite FireHouse songs in an up-to-date style. Finally the timing was right and everything fell into place for us to do just that. There are eleven tracks on Full Circle and we hope you enjoy every single one of them as much as we did recording them.
O2 also featured my vocal debut on track #7 I’m In Love This Time. I got some good feedback on that song and since then I’ve written more songs that fit my voice. You can hear two of them on the FireHouse CD Prime Time which was released in September 2003. In 2004 I released my first side project Wanderlust. The album received wonderful reviews from both critics and fans. I am very grateful for the overwhelmingly positive reaction.
In December of 2007 I released my first instrumental album Southern Exposure. I played all of the instruments except drums, as I was able to bring in Michael Foster for his amazing drumming talent. The album has received many great reviews. I plan on going out and playing these songs in music stores around the world as I do clinics to demonstrate various gear that I play. Please join my Mailing List so I can send you the latest clinic tour dates.
In June of 2009 I released my first album of cover tunes. After finishing the album I realized that all of the songs had originated in the Southern United States, so I named the album Deep South after an amazing piece of artwork that my Grandfather, William G. Leverty, had created called Deep South. The music is very diverse and most of the songs were written in the late 1800s and early 1900s. I’m playing a lot of instruments on this album that I had never recorded before. You can hear some sound clips on the Deep South page. I hope you enjoy the music!
In 2013, I released an album of classic cover tunes that influenced and inspired me in my youth. The album is called DRIVE. I thought it would be a great learning experience for me to go back to the songs that made me want to become a musician. I learned from not only the greatest artists and songwriters of all time, but also from the producers and engineers who made these timeless recordings. Some of these songs were number one hits, and some were songs that were so important to me in my formative years that I HAD to put them on this album. The result is an album that will show you how I started. I hope you enjoy the DRIVE.
After the release of DRIVE, I’ve been very busy working with other artists as an engineer, mix engineer, producer and vocalist on their songs. I’ve also been working on my fifth solo album. I’ve decided to release each song as soon as it’s finished. After I finish enough songs to make an album, I’ll release the album; but, in the meantime, you can keep up with my progress by getting the singles.I hope you’ll check them out on iTunes, Amazon, and CDBaby.
I found my soul mate on a hot summer’s night in 1995. When I first saw her I got weak in the knees and my heart started beating like it never had before. We fell madly in love and got married in April 1996. Her name is Kris. She’s my best friend in the world and I can’t believe I was able to get her phone number that night. We had our first child, Dabney, in November of 2001. She’s a gift from God. Every time I look at her, I see God. Kris and I are truly blessed to have such a wonderful daughter. My wife, daughter, and all of my family truly are my love of a lifetime.