The 2013 Benefit for
and Parkinson's Disease
Michael's Start In Music.
If you ask Michael Gardner his earliest memories, he won't recall for
you birthday candles or Christmas stockings. He'll tell you about Chet
Atkins. And he'll tell you that while older cousins dashed for the open
field to choose sides when his uncles took a break from picking and
singing at family gatherings, he would sneak back inside to touch
their guitars. The guitars were calling him.
At around age twelve he took up a Silvertone acoustic forsaken by an
older brother. And at fourteen he was ready for electric music. He'd
been offered a bass man's spot in a local soul band. The departing
member made him a deal on a bass, (a Domino electric guitar, and
with the aid of a file had been converted into a bass). So all he
needed was an amp. He didn't know how to approach his father for
the money, but with Chet's "Yellow Bird" in accompaniment he
ventured the question. His father was digging Chet. "You learn to
play that and I'll buy you an amp, " he said. Four days later Michael
was rehearsing Otis Redding, Aretha Franklin, Sam and Dave, and
Sly and the Family Stone with that local band.
Michael's ease in adapting and embracing divergent musical styles
has always been a mark of his talent. But he's never been one for
quick fix fads. His soul roots evolved in the 70's with second
generation blues artists like Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Johnny Winter
and Duane Allman. Later he sharpened his technical skills in fusion
bands that played Chick Corea, George Duke, and Santana where
he learned about harmony and theory through self study and by
working with Kenny Hairston (Keyboardist for Cindi Lauper).
By the late 70's Michael had seen a bit of the country, and the world.
Upon arriving in London after an overseas tour for American kids in
Saudi Arabia, he me KK Black, a singer who was making a name for
himself on the English pop and new wave scene. The two teamed up
but soon decided that Los Angeles, not London, was the place to be.
While waiting in LA for immigration officials to clear Black, Michael
worked hard writing new material. But he had never been as
influenced by new wave as Black, and LA's new wave scene was
even less inspiring than London's. So not long after Black arrived the
two decided to make an amiable split.
But the songs Michael had written brought him in touch with his
rock-n-roll sensibilities, and together with Pee Wee Watson
and Kenny Soule, formed PKM in 1981.
On stage PKM packs a musical
punch of unparalled power, foot
stomping punch with sing-a
long melodies. You've never
seen three players rock like
these guys. But if you want to
see the group's true virtuosity,
look for them at one of Dean
Markley's clinics, where
Michael, Pee Wee and Kenny
play their unique brand of rock
and talk about their instruments and how they
Michael continues to write for the band, and most of the material on
PKM's debut album, Rock Erotica, was written by him. Rock Erotica
seems a long way from Chet Atkins, or Sam and Dave, or Duane
Allman, or Return to Forever. And it is. After all this is the 1980's. But
Michael has learned from each and made that learning his own.
Besides, Chet can tell you that it doesn't have to be pretentious; Sam
and Dave can tell you that music is feeling; Duane can tell you about
touch and Chick about technique.
Michael Gardner can tell you what it's like to have it in your bones.
Bands Michael has opened for in his 42 years as a professional
musician include the following:
BOB SEGER, STEPPENWOLF, EDGAR WINTER, CHEAP TRICK,
STEVIE RAY VAUGHN, BLUE OYSTER CULT, GREG KIHN BAND,
ROBIN THOMPSON BAND, LEON RUSSELL, OZZY OSBORNE,
JOAN JETT, REO SPEEDWAGON, FOREIGNER, MOTHER'S FINEST,
LITTLE FEAT, STRYPER, WET WILLIE, .38 SPECIAL, PLAYED ON
STAGE WITH CHARLEY DANIELS BAND AS A MEMBER ON THE
STEVE WALSH BAND (KANSAS) , GEORGE THOROGOOD,
MARSHALL TUCKER, SPIDER, MITCH EASTER, REM, B-52'S.
Michael is still very active in the music industry not only as a lead
guitar player in several local bands but mostly as a highly
regarded music producer in Raleigh, NC and Myrtle Beach SC.
My Baby's in Love with a Rock Star. Mike Gardner on guitar, Eddie
Blair on Sax, PeeWee Watson on Bass and Scott Thomas on Drums