“Bounce Back” is more than just the title of my new CD, it’s what’s happened with my life and my career. Sandwiched between my early success as a founding member of seminal 60s band The Grass Roots and my current job as a cast member on NBC’s The Office were years where I really found out what I was made of. It’s a great story if I do say so myself. It could have gone a-rye a million time but for some reason I always chose the fork in the road that kept me moving forward on my journey.
I was raised by my mom in Coarsegold, California a town near Yosemite National Park. My father had died in World War Two so there was lots of extended family in Coarsegold to help my mom raise me. Music was in the family and I have vivid early memories listening to my Grandparents’ band, “The Happy Timers”. They played all the old Western Music popular in the 40’s.
I started out playing trumpet in grammar school and was 1st chair by my freshman year in high school. My grandfather showed me some chords on his old archtop guitar. I started listening to an old crystal radio set with one earplug. I kept it under my pillow and could get the Los Angeles radio stations at night. Once I heard Chuck Berry, Fats Domino, Elvis, Duane Eddy and The Everly Brothers I was hooked on Rock and Roll.
Around that time I got a Silvertone Guitar from the Sears catalog. It arrived at the ranch and I was in love. It was made by DanElectro and had the old lipstick pickups on it, with a silver metal flaked top. It sounded dirty and was too cool. The amp was built into the case and I was good to go. Every day after school I went out to the barn and played until after dark. I learned by copying what I heard on the radio. Later when I was working in Lake Tahoe, I’d go to the weekly dances and stand right in front of the bandstand and memorize what the pro guitar players were doing.
Then after I college I toured Europe/The Middle East/North Africa/Red Curtain countries with a folk group called “The Young Californians.” Oddly enough I met a fellow American traveler on that trip named Warren Enter and we exchanged numbers.
Upon returning to Los Angeles I was cleaning out my duffel bag and a piece of paper with Warren’s phone number fell out. Had that small piece up paper not survived the transatlantic journey you most likely wouldn’t be reading this now. That’s how life is, call it luck, call it fate or call it destiny: or call it a mixture of all three. I was literally playing for my supper on the streets of Europe, stealing yogurt off of doorsteps and weighing in at an emaciated 145 pounds, and that’s way before the gaunt look was fashionable here in LA. Warren and I met up and formed The Grass Roots and were lucky enough to have hits like “Live For Today” & “Midnight Confessions” that are still played every day on the radio around the world.
After achieving this level of success I left the group and decided to try the one profession that has a casualty rate even higher than the music business: acting. Seemed like a logical move to me. It was either that or becoming a catcher for a knife thrower. Always up for a challenge I choose the tougher of the two.
Over the next few decades I honed my acting craft in regional theatre and landed bit parts in numerous films but hadn’t broken through. I kept at it though and although these were tough times I always kept a positive attitude and never stopped writing songs.
In the year 2000 many of the original Grass Roots reunited for the 35th Anniversary of The Whiskey A Go Go, a venue many groups like The Grass Roots, The Turtles and The Byrds played back in the heyday of The Sunset Strip. It was at this show that I met many incredible musicians who brought me into the fold of their network, which includes Dan Schwartz, Bob Thiele, Dillon O’Brien, Val McCallum and Brian MacLeod, who played on many amazing records including Sheryl Crow’s “Tuesday Night Music Club” and Rosanne Cash’s “Black Cadillac”.
We now had the core of the band and were looking for a studio and producer. Brian introduced me to producer Dave Way and his aptly named studio, The Way Station. It’s about 5 min from where I live and I loved the vibe of the place. I also trusted Dave to point me in the right direction. We then set down and he listened to my tunes and we picked the songs for the album.
On the 1st day of recording I was playing Dan’s Guild Bluesbird guitar instead of my own because his had flat wound strings which gave us the sound we wanted for that song.
I heard this wonderful dirty roar and went to where Dave had the amp set up in the bathroom. It was a Silvertone guitar Amp Case just like my first one. I knew at that moment I was right where I should be.
Creed Bratton, February 2010