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's 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.
My first real guitar lessons were in the 8th grade. I took a 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, 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 showed up at our rehearsal room. I remember that he had a great groove, but 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 a band called Maxx Warrior. Their singer, CJ Snare, and bass player, Perry Richardson, blew us away. Over time, Maxx Warrior broke-up. I sent CJ some songs that I had written and asked him to sing on our tape. He did and he crushed it. 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 us 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. After the show he told us, "You guys are ready for a record deal." I said, "Well it's about time!" I'm forever grateful to him for believing in us. We went right into the studio with David Prater as our producer. I learned quite a bit from Prater and I think he did a great job. 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 in the USA, 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.
In 1995, we hired a classic rock producer, Ron Nevison, who is famous for recording Led Zeppelin, Ozzy Osbourne, Damn Yankees, UFO, Michael Schenker, Vince Neil, and many others. We had Chris Lord-Alge mix the album. I learned quite a bit from Ron and Chris. 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. 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. Our label, 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. 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.
We followed in 2011 with our next release, FULL CIRCLE. For years we had been wanting to go back to re-record many of our favorite FireHouse songs to reflect how the songs had evolved over time.
In 2004, I released my first solo album WANDERLUST. The album received wonderful reviews from both critics and fans. 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.
In June of 2009 I released my first album of cover tunes. I named the album DEEP SOUTH after an amazing piece of artwork called Deep South that my Grandfather, William G. Leverty, had created. 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 clips off all the tracks in my SHOP page.
In 2013, I released DRIVE, an album of classic cover tunes that influenced and inspired me in my youth, before I started playing guitar seriously. After the release of DRIVE, I started writing songs and releasing them digitally, one at a time, on my website with the intention of pressing up CDs after I had an album's worth of material. In June of 2020, I finished my 10th song of this batch and released my fifth solo album, DIVIDED WE FALL. You can hear clips off all the tracks in my SHOP page.
I found my soul mate one hot 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 daughter, Dabney, in November of 2001. Every time I look at her, I see God. Kris and I are so proud of her and are truly blessed.