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Ray Gomez

Ray Gomez Interview

 

Ray Gomez has made his mark on guitar. He has appeared on such landmark records as Stanley Clarke’s School Days to Aretha Franklin’s Who’s Zoomin’ Who? His only solo recording to date is the hard to find Volume. Easier to find will be his new release.

Ray Gomez

Ray Gomez

AL: You were supposed to release Honor about a year ago. What has happened?

RG: First of all, the way Columbia records handled my record was a disgrace. It left a very bitter taste in my mouth. We had radio stations LOVING the record. It even got to number one in St Louis {the song ‘Make your Move’}, ahead of Van Halen, Billy Joel, Pete Townsend, and even Paul McCartney. They wanted me on talk shows. I was a HIT down there. My artist development guy didn’t even offer to fly me to St Louis to do anything. St Louis is a reference for the Rock and Roll market. Chuck Berry and Albert King come from there. Not to mention that they could?ve used that success as a spark to propagate into other territories which were already hip to my stuff. A REAL TRAGEDY!!.. I had radios all over America and the rest of the world digging my stuff big time-all they had to do was cultivate it. At some point, I found out that my artist development who I won’t name, said to my product manager that he would not do anything for me as long as I had my manager, who he hated cause of a dispute in the past.. I found that out late. Even then, after firing my manager for that reason, which was a drag, they did not do much. I asked them to drop me, they said ‘no’. They eventually did. Just when I thought they wouldn’t and I was ready to make a new record. UNREAL!! I also found out {off the record} by one of the few honest guys there that my Spanish last name was not favorable for their idea of the rock market. The biz was in a weird place and it still is. I hate these people. They are a bunch of phony power trippers!! I was in bad shape from personal problems and substance abuse. I did not have the wisdom and focus to handle the problems, and I’m not sure it would have made that much difference with the biz people had I’d been straight. Sober people fail and many active drug addicts are successful. In the early eighties there was a recession and the budgets went low. It was not easy to get a good deal anymore. I crashed and was not able to get it together for years due to depression and complete lack of trust and confidence in the music business and myself, feeling like I could not go through that again. After three years in LA and one in Spain, I came back to NY in 88,cleaned up my act, to give it a new start and started a record which went through many reincarnations and I am finally in a good place stylistically and production wise. I had to learn engineering which took a couple of years and I redid tracks many times, kind of like Steely Dan, but without the budget. It is becoming a nice combination of live and produced material. It is better! (LAUGHS)

AL: What inspired you to compose? West Side Boogie?

RG: It must have been Billy Cobham’s Spectrum, which also influenced Jeff Beck and Van Halen and many others. I also wanted to make it funky by writing a half time shuffle part in it. It is a real arrangement oriented tune. I am very proud of that. It is as complete as anything you can think of. Also, towards the end of the tune, you can hear me play a melodic lick or two with harmonics and the wang bar. I did that way before Jeff {Beck}, and he should know it. He told me he had a copy of Volume before it even came out. He told me he loved it! I never ever saw him acknowledge that to the media or anybody else. I guess it would be pretty inconvenient. I can think of a few other things like that. Welcome to showbiz!

AL: How do you approach teaching?

RG: It depends on the student. Feel, tone and groove are really essential. Then comes vocabulary and technique.

AL: Do you reflect back on your fusion recordings such as with Stanley Clarkes? School Days?

RG: It was magical. We were playing very melodic back then and fusion wasn’t so technical and theoretical as it became later. Personality and style REALLY mattered. It was right after Cream and Hendrix, Miles’ Bitches Brew, early Return to Forever and Mahavishnu etc. Like Narada Michael Walden said, I brought creative blues – rock into fusion since that was my background and I always was a progressive dude with a deep love for the blues. School Days was a blast, I used to really look up to Stanley back then. Everybody changed when disco hit in the late 70’s. Some egos really got out of hand.

AL: Do you compose on guitar? How does a melody come to you?

RG: No. I sometimes hear it in my head first.

AL: Where do you go from here?

RG: Up and around.

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