If a picture is worth a thousand words perhaps in Mitch Perry’s case, it’s a thousand notes.
“There’s no doubt I’ve lived a circus life from the word go,” Mitch comments, perusing walls of photos that show him with legends from the worlds of racing, rock, and writing.
Mitch’s library is astonishing. Thousands of books cascade down shelf-lined walls and he’s read every one. Pulling one of his favorites from its niche, he points to a picture of his father, a race car driver who competed against the likes of Mark Donohue and Dan Gurney in the 60’s and 70’s.
For Mitch, life on the road began at birth. His nomadic parents dragged the family from race track to race track eventually landing them in London, England. It was there that Mitch’s first public performance took place at Westminster Abbey, singing with his school choir. “I never even considered a career in music,” he reminisces. “My heart was set on becoming
a race driver like my dad.”
Mitch’s passion for music was sparked at twelve by the passing nod of a cute classmate whose affections were turned towards a boy with a guitar. “I started to pick it up on my own at first, but then my mother got me an instructor. After one lesson, I told her if she ever wanted me to look at a guitar again, she’d let me learn it on my own, even though it was the pre-YouTube dark ages when we still had to learn by ear,” he laughs.
At 16, after a near perfect score on the SAT’s, Mitch convinced his parents to let him take the GED and leave school behind. He moved into a band house with his new group The Kids. Their dedication eventually landed them a gig on one of the most visible stages in South Florida. “In those days, if you were recording at Criteria Records or Quadradial chances are you frequented the Tight Squeeze Club,” Mitch recalled. During his time there he shared the stage with Bon Scott of AC/DC, Simon Kirke of Bad Company, Pat Travers, and a host of other celebrated performers.
At 18, on Pat Thrall’s recommendation, Alfonso Johnson flew Mitch to L.A. to record an album. The rest is history. Mitch’s resume reads like a Who’s Who of music icons. His career has spanned decades playing with the best of the best. What is his recipe for success?
“Stay teachable is one of the keys,” Mitch adds. After all these years, the man who is widely regarded as one of the top three rock guitarists in the world still practices four to six hours a day. “When I’m at home, I have a guitar in one hand and a piano in the other.”
On being asked what inspires his writing, “It’s not something I push. It comes from anything at anytime. Saint Valentine was written on a plane, in my head. I often wake up at three a.m. with an idea that I have to write down.” While Mitch’s writing style may be organic, the sophistication and precision of his finished product clearly illustrates a craft that has been honed over decades.
In the following years Mitch played with everyone from Graham Nash and Heaven to Michael Schenker, Edgar Winter, Lita Ford and countless others. He is featured on more than 60 albums, including Aerosmith’s Classics Live, where he actually plays keyboards. Mitch has toured with superstars such as Cher and Yazawa and played monumental venues including the Montreux Jazz Festival, Wembley and Buddakan. His prolific career has taken him to iconic recording studios, concert venues and television studios around the world. “All of these experiences and relationships with such extraordinary musicians has brought me to where I am today and you can find its DNA in every track on this new record.”
Mitch wrote, produced and played on MPG’s debut album titled “Music Box”. “I have a collection of truly world class players and singers on this album. It’s been in my head in some form or another for a long time, but I always knew it would take a very particular mix of talent to bring this to the level I needed it to be. Once I found that team, everything seemed to come together. Although I initially planned on finishing the album sooner, it’s actually worked out better giving the process time to evolve to do justice to the music.”
Keith England, Shelly Bonet and Kara Turner front the band. Shelly’s musical journey spans the swampy southlands of Muscle Shoals, working alongside Jimmy Johnson, to touring internationally with artists like Martin Barre and Michael Bolton. Her smoky, powerhouse vocals meld perfectly with Keith’s classic razor-edged bite. Keith also has a notable resume singing with icons such as The Allman Brothers and Montrose. Currently he performs with Derek Smalls of Spinal Tap fame when he’s not busy with MPG. Kara Turner melds her Southern roots sound with a velvety west coast ease for a captivating concoction that completes the vocals. World renowned drummer Tal Bergman of Billy Idol and Joe Bonamassa, bass player Dan McNay who also played in Montrose and currently tours with Great White and keyboardist Ed Roth whose resume includes Annie Lenox, The Brothers Johnson and Montrose (yet again!), make this an
All-star offering of musicians’ musicians.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better lineup,” Perry relates. “Everyone in this group is a pure artist who plays for the love of music. Ultimately that’s the recipe for great writing and performing. People want to see your heart and soul. If your motivation isn’t genuine its glaringly obvious. I never underestimate my audience. Someone who is not a musician might not be able to verbalize what’s bothering him about a piece, but he will feel it. He will instinctively know.”
When asked to describe the album Mitch says, “It’s a cohesive mix of songs that I feel has substance from top to bottom. It’s rock and roll. It’s old, its new and everything in between. It has its’ roots in what made me fall in love with music in the first place. The best way to discover this music is to just listen to it. I can’t explain it any better than that.”