Bullet Backstory with Mark Radice


Howdy WDVX fans, and anyone who may have stumbled across this blog. You’re in for a real treat! We’ve got a great bullet backstory for you, this time with the backstory of musician Mark Radice. Mark will be joining us in the studio July 21st at 11 a.m. to talk to Grace about his new CD Audio Quicksand. Don’t forget to tune in online or on the radio!

Mark Radice is an American singer/musician and producer and he’s worked with a wide variety of artists in his career, including Michael Bolton, Eddie Money, Barbra Streisand, Barry Manilow, Johnny Mathis, Helix, and Cheap Trick. Mark toured with Aerosmith in the late 1970s, playing keyboards and performing backing vocals. He also worked with Jim Henson for The Muppets TV show in the mid-1980s, and Sesame Street. Mark is a real character and we think he had fun answering these questions for our blog. We hope you enjoy his story. It’s a good one.

  • Biggest musical influences – Beethoven, Dolly Parton.  I always put those two and leave it at that, because it’s a ridiculous question. But okay the real answer is…Beatles, Stones, Zeppelin, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Oscar Peterson, Dirty Loops, Thank You Scientist, Stan Kenton, Count Basie, Billy Joel, Elton John, Steely Dan, Yes, ELP, Mozart, Grieg, Beethoven, the guy that writes the music for the Fairly Odd Parents cartoons, and Emmit Rhodes.  And Dolly Parton. And definitely Lawrence Welk. Okay and Brian Wilson and Rufus Wainright. And Cole Porter. And the Gershwins.
  • What made you decide to pursue music as a career? – I didn’t. My Dad was a recording engineer (drum roll ladies and gentlemen, let the name dropping begin!!!) for Jimi Hendrix, Lovin Spoonful, Cowsills, Vanilla Fudge, Tokens, Mamas and Papas, Frank Zappa, Flip Wilson, oh just click here.  When the Beatles arrived in the US on February 7th 1964 I was 2,264 days old. Or 6. The radio had a nasty habit all year of saying they had the new Beatles record, and they were gonna play it real soon. Well I got tired of waiting and started making up my own fake Beatles songs. But that wasn’t enough, oh no. I had to learn how to play every instrument they played (bass, drums, guitars, keyboards) so I would play their LP’s at half speed so I could pick up the notes better. So I taught myself all that just to relieve myself of having to wait to hear the new record, you do whatcha want I’m starting without you. Having my Dad bring in fresh recordings, that quite often turned into hit records, was exciting to hear, and figure out. By the time the radio got them I already had them for a month or so and knew how they went on guitar, bass, piano and drums and vocals. Next thing I know there’s people coming over and my Dad showing them…me. I honestly didn’t think they’d be considered actual songs. A little over a year later I had about 30 originals (I was 7) and had a record contract with RCA for five singles. At age 7? I was like “ok I guess this must be what I do.” Then I’d go ride my bike and make up more fake Beatles songs.
  • What advice do you have for young musicians who are trying to hone their craft? Learn, learn, learn. Learn the names of the strings. Learn the names of all the notes on the piano, there’s only 12 of them but they are over and over. Look at the guitar and if I point out a fret tell me what note I’m pointing at. Take that freakin’ capo off and throw it out the nearest window, and learn the real chords, in their real positions, know what they are called for the love of Pete, it’s a G flat Augmented willya? And if you hear a “cool piano part” that doesn’t mean sample it, it means sit down for ten minutes and figure out what it is. There’s nothing like finding your own voice. Take the chance, don’t use those same dang capo chords over and over, write titles that you are sure nobody has ever heard before. “I Loved You” No. “I Loved My Truck” eh. Maybe. “The Truck That Ran Over My Skunk” a little more intriguing. “I Love My Truck Way More Than I Love You” now we’re getting somewhere. Lyricists: If I can guess what word you’re gonna rhyme with because I just heard the last word of your first line? Then you didn’t spend enough time looking for the way better rhyme.
  • What’s your favorite thing to do in Knoxville? I love to pay a dollar for parking. I use to have to be in New York City at least three times a week when I was signed to CBS songs for 9 years, and the tolls and parking cost me more than half of my salary every week. Now? I think it’s $18 to get in and $60 to park for the day? 5 times a week that’s….$390? Huh???? A week? What? The first time I parked in Knoxville I didn’t really look at the prices and was fully expecting, oh, I don’t know, fifteen dollars maybe. “How much?” I said. “A dollar” she said. “A what?” I said. I pulled out of that garage and said out loud “I’m home.”
  • If you could work with any musician (living or deceased) who would it be and why? Paul McCartney because he use to be way better. I mean his writing. Now it sounds to me, like Elton John, or Aerosmith, or any number of bands, they are now just watered down versions of when they were good. Billy Joel has the right idea…”Look, I gave you enough.” If you know you’re not as good as you use to be, then why embarrass yourself with a watered down version of yourself? I’m afraid that’s what “Audio Quicksand” may be (probably my last CD) but I’ll see how people rip it apart and/or um….like it. The artist can hardly ever tell. Since I have spent my life writing hundreds of “McCartney influenced” pop things and ballads and whatevers, I think Paul should hear, and even record some of mine. And once you stop laughing, here’s the principle: I write and record “The Long And Winding Road”? and???? Nobody cares. Paul writes and records “the Long And Winding Road”? Brilliant! Masterpiece!  Now stay with me…..I write and record “Bernadette” (my original) and? Nobody cares. I write and Paul records “Bernadette” (my original) and? Brilliant !! Masterpiece !!!! See?
  • Anything else you’d like to share? Favorite WDVX memory, etc? I liked writing this for Grace. I also love the way Doug Lauderdale thinks. He’s probably due for a Radice song next. Although I am considering just chaining a couple hundred “aaaannnyway”‘s from Freddy Smith that he says at least a hundred times a morning, and putting bluegrass music under it.