I first started playing with Bob Webber around 1979. One of his guitar students, Dave Kintzele, who I had played with in a band called Offspring told me Bob was looking for a bass player, and I got the job. The band he was forming was called Windfall and was originally a three piece group; Bob on guitar, Dick Whetstone on drums and myself on bass. We all had day jobs. I was a Real Estate Broker and Bob was an Aerospace Engineer. The purpose of the band was to make extra money and have fun playing so it was strictly a cover band playing one night gigs; special occasions, weddings, corporate events, but no club gigs. Bob was a smart guy, and although he aspired to be a musician, early on he knew someday he may need a day job so he obtained a degree in Engineering prior to his Sugarloaf days.
(click to enlarge)
(click to enlarge)
After Sugarloaf he did a stint for a few years as a duo with Gene Chalk at Sweetwater in SE Denver. After landing a sweet job with a major Aerospace corporation designing rockets or spaceships he continued to play one nighters in large bands/small orchestras backing up big name acts such as Nancy Wilson at the Fairmont Hotel and other venues. He would get these jobs through the Denver Musicians Union as he was an excellent reader and all around talented guitar player. Most people donít know that about him. His guitar work on the Sugarloaf recordings is well documented on the Top 40 songs such as Green Eyed Lady and also on the extended jams featuring solo battles between him and Corbetta, but his talent went far beyond Rock. His Country & Western twang was as good as any player back then or now, and he typically played at least two solos a night using a slide. If he was feeling particularly frisky he would use his mike stand as a slide to play a solo. Then he would break into a surfin' medley ala Beach Boys/Astronauts or La Bamba. This would segue into 70's funk such as Kool and the Gangís Celebration. We would also do Jazz or 1940s music including In the Mood, Satin Doll or Moonlight in Vermont. He also wrote out a great arrangement of Misty for us. Keep in mind we did this all three piece. We never played Green Eyed Lady as a 3 piece, but after we added Lonnie Sailas on Drums and Ernie DeHerrera on keyboards we started doing it.
(Bob Webber, Marc Gonzales, Lonnie Sailas, Ernie DeHerrera)
Lonnie was added after Dick Whetstone quit. I had known Lonnie since he was in Junior High School when he played in a band with my cousin Nick, who later joined the Brass Monkey. He started as a drummer and was afraid to sing back then, but later he blossomed into a fine vocalist. One note about Lonnie, he really added a vocal dimension to the band that was lacking before. I have never played with or even heard a better vocalist than him. Just listen to his rendition of the Stylistics You Make Me Feel Brand New, it will make your hair stand on end. And his version of Frankie Valliís Sherry is just as good as if Frankie was there singing it.
Speaking of Frankie Valli, Jerry Corbetta joined the Four Seasons after Sugarloaf. Out of all the members of Sugarloaf I think Bob might have been closest to Jerry as he seemed to keep up with him over the years. He would often tell us when he had just talked to Jerry and caught up on the latest news. He seemed particularly proud when Jerry was named best Rock Organist by some magazine. Although he didnít talk a lot about his years with Sugarloaf, he did mention he was living on Sugarloaf mountain when they got their recording contract, and suggested they use that name because they were told they couldnít use the name Chocolate Hair. Ernie and Lonnie were old friends of mine and we had played together in a number of groups before and since. The band I currently play with includes Ernie on keyboards, my cousin Nick Carranco on guitar, Phil Tamez on drums and Eddie Lewis on congas.
The Windfall band typically played 50 nights a year over the next decade, and were busiest during wedding season and the holiday season in December. I remember one December we played 18 different gigs. One of our early gigs was for Leslie Fishbeinís company Kacey Fine Furniture. They were perhaps one of the wildest groups we ever played for. Half the company was rolling around on their backs and flopping around like fish, not sure what that dance was called. We also played for Jake Jabs in the parking lot of his first store on furniture row. I believe he wanted to be a guitar player if he hadnít made it as a furniture mogul as he used to have a Telecaster and amp in his private office that he liked to play.
One of the most memorable gigs we had was when our agents booked us to play for Bobís aerospace companyís Christmas party. Now Bob had a dual persona, by day he was a quiet nerdy engineer with glasses and a pocket pen protector, no kidding I have seen it. In order to get this job he had to have an FBI background check and a security clearance. By night he turned into a creative rock musician/monster guitar player! But he was able to keep these dual personas separate. Now he was faced with a dilemma as he did NOT want his coworkers to know that he not only played guitar, but was in fact a ROCK STAR! This did not fit in with his quiet conservative mundane day job. Most of the time we played in hotel ballrooms with temporary stages set up, so we would be quite exposed to the party goers. Fortunately for him, this gig actually had a theatre type stage with curtains. So Ernie, Lonnie and I set up on the stage, and Bob set up BEHIND THE CURTAINS! He played behind the curtains the whole night never showing his face. Here was a guy who played in stadiums under the spotlight for thousands of people, playing behind a curtain sittin' on his amp pickin' his guitar. The funniest part for all of us was to watch the audience every time he played a solo. Those engineers kept peering at us scratching their heads wondering where the heck the guitar sound was coming from!
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