SENIOR IN ACTION: Gary Meyers
Submitted by Marilee Marrero Stefenhagen
I tracked Gary Myers down at one of his music gigs in Monterey Park, where the dance floor was filled with smiling, twirling couples. During a break, he shared a slice of his personal history.
“I STILL WANT A HIT RECORD” “That’s the title of my memoir,” Gary told me. “I’m looking for an agent to publish it.” Gary was a “surprise” baby, the youngest of six siblings, born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1942. His oldest brother played music professionally and stored a set of drums in the basement. At age 9, Gary was constantly drumming, as he and his best friend tried to emulate Gene Krupa and Benny Goodman. His dad moved the family to Bradenton, Florida near Sarasota in late 1950. Gary practiced his craft at the Bay Shore Gardens Teen Club by drumming along with records.
Gary’s career as a musician took off after high school. He joined Dicky Betts’ band; Dicky became the guitarist best known for writing “Ramblin’ Man” for the Allman Brothers. They enjoyed steady weekend gigs, but even a jampacked weekend earned only $15. Gary took a day job at a Ford parts department. In the Fall of 1961, he was offered a job playing six nights a week with a Milwaukee band called the Cashmeres, later MoJo Men. From 1964 to 1975, he played with The Portraits.
Gary said, “At first, I didn’t sing at all. Later I studied vocals and began practicing the guitar and bass in addition to drums. The biggest thing in my career was the Schafer Beer jingle that the Portraits recorded in NYC in ’68. We performed a version of “Over the Rainbow,” which charted in a few areas and got us the beer commercial. We signed with record producer Mike Curb, who later became Lt Governor of California. Gigs included Las Vegas, Reno and Lake Tahoe, with headliners such as Jerry Van Dyke, Chuck Berry, and Jerry Lee Lewis.”
“In October 1990 our vocal group (Sounds of Swing) performed for the Bob Hope Recognition Dinner. Joey Bishop served as master of ceremonies for the dedication of the new USO facility in Long
Beach. I have the poster on my office wall.” Gary now plays “casuals” i.e. private parties in hotels and homes, and weekly senior dances in Monterey Park and Alhambra.
Gary is currently single, living a bachelor lifestyle. His son Dean, born in 1966 during his first marriage, teaches at Whittier High School. Gary authored two books about Wisconsin’s pop & rock ‘50s & ‘60s music scene: Do You Hear That Beat, and On That Wisconsin Beat. His two instructional books are Understanding and Using Chords and Chord Progressions and Understanding and Using Scales and Modes.
Born a Virgo, he studied Edgar Cayce’s teachings. http://edgarcayce.org/are/edgarcayce.aspx His morning begins with minitrampoline exercise, and his diet is mostly vegetarian. Gary concludes, “In 2012, I released a new album of original material and I’ve averaged 3-1/2 gigs a week since summer 2013. When I look around and see people dancing to my music and enjoying friendship and good times, I feel blessed to be doing what I love; to bring the joy of music to others, and continue to learn, grow and create.”
Would you like music for your next event? You can visit Gary Myers’ website to hear samples of his recorded music at http://gary-e.musicgem.com/ or call to book him at 562-927-7536.