Keyboard Keith's Bio
I began playing keyboards at the age of eight,
when my father brought home a chord organ. I quickly discovered that by using
only three of the chord buttons to the left of the keyboard, I could play "Louie
Louie". Those three chords were apparently the basic secret to rock and roll! It wasn't long before I discovered how the notes on the keyboard could
be used to play a melody over the chord pattern. I then began
experimenting on the piano.
At the age of thirteen, I got my
first portable keyboard: a Farfisa Compact Duo combo organ. Once I had
that, I was jamming with friends in my basement on songs by bands such as The Beatles, Stones, Steppenwolf and Iron Butterfly.
In 1975 I acquired a Fender Rhodes
electric piano. Finding bands was easy (was it because of the quality of
my playing; or because there was always a shortage of keyboard players?
In college, I purchased a Micromoog synthesizer and Hohner Clavinet D6 to add to the Rhodes piano. I
soon began playing in funk and fusion bands. It was around this time that
people started calling me "Keyboard" Keith. Up until then, I had been
called a lot of things.
In my junior year at Kent State
University, the rhythm section of my funk band, "Night Train Express" merged
with three horn players from the Kent State University Jazz Lab Band. We
became "Northstar" and began playing regular gigs on Kent's famed Water Street
as well as around Cleveland and Akron. We soon gained a reputation for our
punchy horn section, funky rhythm section, as well as for our charismatic lead
singer, the late great Darrell Campbell. The band was popular for its covers of songs by
Tower of Power, Weather Report, Frank Zappa, Billy Cobham, as well as for its originals.
Northstar twice opened for renowned jazz guitarist,
Larry Coryell in 1978 and 1979 and jammed
with him live on stage on both occasions.
After graduating from Kent State in
1980, I played in a series of top 40/lounge bands in the Cleveland area as well
as on the road.
By the mid-80's, I quit playing full time and took on day jobs, first at a
specialty keyboard and pro audio shop, Pi Keyboards & Audio, and in the early
90's at Lentine's Music. Co-workers at Pi included former Dazz Band
Steve Cox (who went on to play for Wynona Judd, Trisha Yearwood and
Garth Brooks); and
Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails.
While at Lentine's Music, I
twice played with Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee,
Cars guitarist, Elliott Easton,
for Gibson Guitar clinics. In various bands, I have been
the support act for
former Commander Cody guitarist,
and the late great
I now have a career unrelated to music but still play about
40 to 50 gigs a year with
Jump the Gun and Neil Young
Harvest. I hope to see you in the clubs!