I was born on December 27, 1948. I first became interested in playing music after hearing The Who's first album in late 1965. Pete Townsend and Keith Moon became my boyhood idols. My interest peaked when I saw Boston legends The Remains peform in August of 1966. Later a local band I met asked me if I would play drums for them. So in May of 1967, I bought my first set of drums, and started playing them. After five rehearsals, I left the band after they asked me to play a show. I just didn't feel ready. I was then offered a job as a road manager with a successful local rock band who played a show with The Doors in New Hampshire. I made friends with Jim Morrison before the show and spent the afternoon with him.
I continued drumming throughout the 60s, and in 1969 I met folk singer Loudon Wainwright III who became an important influence. Loudon was best man at my wedding, and after the wedding he helped us celebrate by singing songs to us the whole afternoon. Loudie even wrote a poem just for us. He went on to record the hit song Dead Skunk In The Middle Of The Road in the 70s and continues to release tons of albums.
In mid-1971 I quit playing drums. I went back to playing in late 1974. A few years later, I met an amazing guitar player named Henry Kaiser. My first public performance with him was at Harvard University in May of 1977. Later that year we recorded our first record as Monster Island. Henry went on to fame playing with musicians such as Jerry Garcia, Greg Allman, David Lindley, and many others.
In July of 1977, I joined local punk rockers, The Destroyed. Tony (the guitar player) still likes to tell the story of how he discovered me at the Cambridge Music Complex that year. He heard me rehearsing and said that he had to find out who was making this thunderous noise. He said that the walls were shaking from the sheer volume, so he opened the door and asked me to join The Destroyed. The Destroyed was one of Boston's wildest punk bands during the 70s.
The highlight of The Destroyed's existence came when we played with the J. Geils Band in front of 12,000 people. Peter Wolf saw us at The Rat and invited us to open for them. The highlight of that show for me came afterward when two pretty young women came to our dressing room and asked me for a pair of my drum sticks. The Destroyed broke up in August of 1979. I have never played with another actual band since.
During the 80s, I rehearsed alone and occasionally jammed with others. Included is one such jam, recorded on my old boom box in the basement of my Medford Street apartment in 1985. This jam features 13-year-old Somerville guitarist Bobby Powers, in a performance of Ozzy Osbourne's "Crazy Train."
I quit playing again in 1993, and recently picked up my drum sticks in December of 2001. I put my CD together in 2002 as part of my comeback. I wanted to include songs from the various bands I had played in over the years. In addition, I included two brand new songs which were recorded by Bill T Miller. He plays bass and guitar on one of the new songs (Outside Reality). The other new song (Out of the Straight Jacket) is just pure drums.
I don't consider myself only a drummer. In fact I consider myself to be mainly a musician. My influences are varied. In addition to the ones I have already mentioned, I have been influenced by following: Folk singers: Patty Griffin, Catie Curtis, Dar Williams, and Susan Vega. Country artists: Hank Williams and The Davis Sisters. Record Producers: Phil Spector, Shadow Morton, Shel Talmy and Chet Atkins. My favorite singers are Mary Weiss of The Shangri-Las, Del Shannon, Tracey Earle, Dionnne Warwick and her sister Dee Dee. I would also cite the songwriters Goffin and King, Mann and Weil, and Barry and Greenwich, as being favorites. The incredible guitar playing of my friend Henry Kaiser continues to inspire me.
My most exciting musical moment was when I was allowed into Joni Mitchell's dressing room at Club 47 in Harvard Square before she became famous in 1967. Most recently I met Susan Vega at a record store concert in October of 2001. I asked her to sing me a song from her new album, but she said she couldn't sing it then because she didn't know the words as she didn't write the song. She said, "if you come to my concert this evening, I will learn the words and play the song for you." Excited, I went to her concert and after two hours of watching the show, much to my disappointment, she left the stage without playing my request. As the crowd cheered for an encore, suddenly she returned to the stage. She then held up a piece of paper with the words to the song as she started singing. The song I requested was Jack Hardy's beautiful song, St. Clare. That is one moment I will never forget.
This CD is a compilation of my best musical performances with all the musicians and bands I have played with over the last 25 years. Please get in touch with me. I love making and listening to music. Thanks. - Bert Switzer
CONTACT BERT SWITZER via EMAIL at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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