My First Big Recording Session In LA
by on January 31, 2018 in Miscellaneous

I was talking to a buddy I met when I was either 14 or 15 years old back in San Diego. As some of you may know, I was in my mother’s band “The Roberts Connection”. I joined the band when I was 14 years old, she took me on the road up to Idaho and that’s when I knew what I was going to do for the rest of my life. When I hear about kids being confused about what they want to do with their lives my heart truly goes out to them but I can’t relate. I knew, right then, what I would be doing for the rest of my life and I’ll ALWAYS have my mother to thank for that. That and POUNDING on me to become a singer!

But this story is about another HUGE turning point for me. My buddy Kevin Kent, who we were talking to about joining “The Roberts Connection”, had stayed in touch with me even though he didn’t join the band. We would jam… we basically just stayed in touch so one day he called me and told me he was going to LA to record some songs he’d written and wanted me to come play bass. WOW!!!!! I’d NEVER been in a real studio before. Not like that.

So I jumped at the chance. We drove to LA and went into Total Experience Studios in Hollywood with the great Gerry Brown as our engineer… I didn’t know what a producer did back then so I’m sure Gerry was co-producing the project as well. To my recollection Gerry was VERY hands on to the process.

Gerry informed us that the studio we were in was owned by a guy named Lonnie Simmons who was involved with The Gap Band and they had recorded several of their hits there! WOW!!!! I couldn’t believe it. But even more than that I couldn’t believe something else… THE SOUND!!!!! When we plugged my bass in and Gerry dialed in this AMAZING bass sound, put it up on the big speakers… I had died and gone to heaven. ANOTHER one of those moments where you just know what you’re going to do for the rest of your life. I wasn’t scared… I was PUMPED!

The sound of the bass… unreal… it was SO inspiring! Just like hearing my voice in the headphones of Humberto Gatica’s headphone mix for the vocal sessions of Chicago 18… HUGELY INSPIRED!

We ended up cutting 2, maybe 3 songs? And it was magical! I’ve always remembered this day as a monumental moment in my life, as I’ve just explained.

But as started this post out with, Kevin and I were just talking lately and he told me he had just seen the photos he had shot of that day. I almost jumped through the phone! KEVIN! PLEASE let me see those photos! He told me he’d locate them, scan them and send them to me. And he told me about one of the most important aspects of them that when I saw them again my heart just sung.

You see, I called my father, the great Jerry Scheff, and told him I was coming up to LA to record my first session! And truth be told, when I did the calculations of how old I was, what bass I owned I realized I was 15 years old, I didn’t really have a great recording bass yet so my dad brought over his then current go to recording bass, a mid 60’s Fender Jazz bass with EMG pickups and a P-Bass set of pickups in it.

Kevin, thank you so much for these photos… the irony is the timing of this coincided with my father’s birthday, which is today. January 31st is my Dad’s birthday so with that in mind, I write this post, share these photos and again, thank those who are responsible for me having the life I have.

Dad, happy birthday, I love you and Kevin… thank you for bringing back these great memories!

And I’d love to hear from any of you who have stories of any of your parents, mentors, encouragers doing something for you at the beginning of your story… I’d love to hear!

Leave A Comment!

34 Responses to My First Big Recording Session In LA

  1. Michael Moats says:

    Your son looks a lot like you

  2. Paula Lively says:

    What great memories Jason!!

  3. Carol says:

    What a great story in sharing your beginning into the business. Your excitement in those steps forward I’m sure you look back and think “look at all I have done musically” and man you have been places. So grateful that I had the chance to be part of those pages you have turned. Thanks you for your blogs and keep rocking.

  4. Darin Scheff says:

    Remember those sessions.
    I have that bass and it’s literally plug n play.
    Sounds good live or studio.

  5. Shirley Delao says:

    Jason, that is so touching. Thank you for sharing parts of you with us.

  6. Julie K Jones says:

    Love picture of Dad & You

  7. Kathie says:

    HAPPY, HAPPY BIRTHDAY JERRY SCHEFF!!!

  8. judy graves says:

    I just love him!!!!

  9. Chris DeMott says:

    Amazing!! You are a baby in these. But, bringing it like a boss!! Love these.

  10. Mel Gonzalez says:

    How awesome Jason!! I’m sure you had a “wow” moment seeing fotos of yourself back in the day. One day you’re gonna have to write a book about your life and career. All the makings of a cool story. And oh by the way, A very Happy Birthday to your Dad. I’m sure he’s very proud of what you’ve accomplished.
    Keep it real Jason!!

  11. Emi Akutsu says:

    Thank you for sharing, Jason. Happy birthday to your sweetest father. Love the story and pictures…

  12. ANTHONY DALUZ says:

    Thank you for sharing those cool stories and memories!

  13. Emma Rivera says:

    Awesome story! Thank you for sharing..always interesting to know how one of our favorite musicians started his career!Nice to share on your dad’s birthday!As always all the best!

  14. Patricia Kucik says:

    Thanks Jason for sharing so much with us. You are a true inspiration to every person you touch with your caring ways. Your talent, attitude and emotional touch are very special.

  15. Rosario Di Marco says:

    Nice photos Jason from a time I miss growing uo in NYC. Jason I know this is a long shot but would you happen to have a copy of the
    Symphony Hall CD from 2014 I would buy it from you if you do have it. I know your busy in your world. But I would like a response Thank You

  16. Pat Tartack says:

    Love this and happy Birthday to your Dad

  17. Rob Sidders says:

    WOW!!! What else can you say!! Great time in the world!!

  18. Pete Mitchell says:

    Jason I gave you your first big break when I was involved in ASB and had you and Brad Kaiser and one more perform at Dana Junior High for some dance. You took off after that…if I had any brains i wpuld have become your agent.lol.

  19. Timothy Neal says:

    Jason, Wow what great memories and pictures of you and your dad! Happy birthday to the great Jerry Scheff. I have to admit that I still can’t come to grips with you not playing with Chicago anymore. You and Bill were truly “The Heart of Chicago” and things are not the same. I saw them in December in San Diego, and there were so many of the regular substitutes, and the new guy playing bass that I thought I was listening to the Chicago tribute band. Very sad indeed. The good news however it that you are now enjoying the fruits of being a parent, and catching up on all the things that make fatherhood so rewarding. For that, I am truly happy for you! Please keep up with all your posts and emails as I am really happy to hear from you, and to find out what you are up to. Sincerely, Tim Neal of Ramona CA.

  20. Jay Jones says:

    Interesting bass. Was that a Fender Jazz with the Jazz pickups removed and a Precision pickup in there? (Yeah. I’m a gear nut).

  21. Allison says:

    Hi Jason!

    When I was a kid, I took dance lessons. From the time I was six years old, until about the time I was eleven, I would get to a point during the year that I wanted to quit dance class. My mom used to remind me that her and my dad paid for my costume already (it was always March by the time I was allegedly disinterested), and that if I didn’t want to go back, then I had to wait until after the recital in June. She kept reminding me every summer (after those recitals) that she quit when she was 10 years old, and she regretted it. So, obviously I never truly felt this way (or I was guilted? Perhaps both?), and something clicked in 6th grade – I loved dance! I loved it so much, I kept right on going, up to my senior year. 14 years of childhood dance under my belt – not bad for a kid who tried to quit (unsuccessfully) for six years.

    I took a six-year hiatus from dance so I could go to college, graduate, and start working. I never expected to go back as an adult, but at almost 25 years old, I signed up for Ballet and Jazz classes. The following year, I swapped those out for something new – Hip Hop! Turns out I had a gift for it. I actually spent 7 1/2 additional years doing something I tried to quit six times! Unfortunately, I broke/sprained my ankle badly, danced on it for two months in late 2014 (the sprain came first, the break came three months after I sprained it), and since then, it has never been the same. I wound up “retiring” from dance.

    I’m still grateful my mom, in her own way, didn’t allow me to quit. I’m also glad that I realized I didn’t really have anything else to do and made a 14-year life out of it!

  22. Mark R. says:

    Cool pics and story. Happy birthday, Jerry. Hope it was a good one. Today happens to be my birthday as well!

  23. Jax Calle says:

    What a baby! Yet what an old soul! So happy you got these cool pics of a special moment bro! And thanks for sharing them with us. Please (like I’ve asked a million times) put all these blogs into a book, so you can leave it as a hard-cover for your kids one day. Actually — Katie (Drifty Lew) once gave me the coolest gift… of some of your blogs and myspace comments. We had a Scheffy Secret Santa Exchange that year and she was my Secret Santa! — I was hers and I gave her a cool bracelet with pics of you in little tiny frames. Fun times! Great memories… πŸ™‚

  24. Dana Robinson says:

    Hi Jason!

    I come from a musical family. My parents play guitar. I play guitar, bass and piano. I dabble with other instruments. I have enough instruments in my house for, say, Chicago to perform.

    My brother, who’s played the drums longer than I’ve been alive, unknowingly introduced me to Zeppelin when I was three years old. He played the heck outta D’yer Ma’ker on his drums – all the time. And it seemed like every house I entered had Houses of the Holy. Even my babysitter had it.

    My parents never forced any kind of music down our throats. Growing up, I watched every music show I could, and my family was right there with me. American Bandstand, Soul Train, Hee Haw. Okay, I couldn’t get into Lawrence Welk. I tried. But the show didn’t have as much pep as watching any other musical show. But I digress.

    I remember being 4 years old, watching my father play his guitar and singing songs I thought he’d made up, like, Yesterday, and Tighten Up.

    Because my family was so musical and open to listening to different genres of music, I ended up with an eclectic taste in music. For instance, BJ Thomas is my Neil Diamond – only, I’m not so obsessive with him.

    Nonetheless, if it weren’t for my family, I wouldn’t be as musically well-rounded as I am today. I listen to Largo Al Factotum almost daily.

    Thank you for this forum.

    Dana

  25. Philippe says:

    Great story Jason but who were the artists you played for ? The girl looks like Kim Carnes a bit and I think I know the guy next to her but who is it ?

  26. Ellen says:

    Another GREAT story Jason!! Thank you and thanks for sharing those pics,bet when you saw them it took you right back to the moment. I really like the way you write, I know I need to make a cup of coffee cause it’s gonna be a longggg story Love it and enjoy them. I believe you’re a humble person,you always let us know how hard you worked to get where you are and how blessed you are to have your family and friends! I know music runs in your veins. My mom sent me to Cosmetology school when I was 16. She knew I liked hair and makeup and she was super excited for me to try it. I did,loved it,was a natural, and quite successful throughout my life. I also know now…she thought that would keep me busy and safe from the bored teenage yrs. she was right there too. I started working in a Salon before I started my senior yr.in high school. Thanks to my mom she was there to guide me in the direction that she thought suited me. She was right on! Your kids need to be guided! They need to be pushed by their parents to at least try things in life that you as a parent can see. I am now looking to enjoy life without appointments,free to do the fun things I dint always have time for. But as music flows through your veins….hair flows through mine. Passion for something you love will never leave,the memories will be there forever. I will miss the hair world, I will still pick and choose some of my clients/family …….but now I have time for my kids and I LOVE that!! Now….here’s the selfish side of me………………..
    Chicago will never be the same without you!!!

  27. Mark says:

    Solid…great memories and appreciation

  28. Sister Kay Kay says:

    Exciting story Jason. Mine is: A Sister-friend knew I played bass, and she was organizing a pickup ensemble for Bob Dufford of the St. Louis Jesuits who was coming to town to give a workshop. I ended up playing bass with him, Marty Haugen, Roc O’Connor and David Haas–big names in Church music then & now. All because of a Sister who didn’t know any Catholic bassists at the time, but me. How very blessed I was!

  29. Annette Heinzenberg says:

    Hi Jason,
    yesterday I enjoyed to listen to your music (the memory servives, love lives on etc.)once again.
    I love it. And the beginning of all is what you just tell us. Nice 70es photos…
    Thank you for sharing.
    Greetings from Germany

  30. Kevin Kent says:

    Great seeing how life weaves in an out. You were incredible. I’m going to get those mixtapes baked and transferred. So we can see what it really sounded like. Man, that was a long time ago. BTW – photo credits go to my girlfriend of the time Mary Sterner. She’s in the picture with you and Steve Nichols, guitarist. Hey, you still need to post the goofy picture of the two of us that Mary shot. Thanks for putting this up, can’t wait to hear the tapes. How can that be 40 years ago?

  31. Joe says:

    Great Story Man- Like you, my Dad was a constant source of inspiration and got me in the business that I own today because of his motivation, love and support. Just lost my Dad 6 months ago- so its really awesome to read you wishing your pops a Happy Birthday.

    One of mentors of mine is actually a good friend of an ex girlfriend from 15 years ago! As fate would have it, I stayed in touch with her. She was and executive of the biggest elevator company in the world (I won’t name it- but just look at the engraved name on the plates when you go on one). One of the earliest pieces of advice (when I became the owner of a company at 24) was- “its a marathon, and its a lifestyle Joe”! “You aren’t like other kids your age- don’t compare yourself, and most importantly realize few take on roles in leadership so act like one” (I paraphrase). To this day she’s a successful business woman in NY and my go to for business advice.

    Like you, I had an opportunity and had some pretty special people in my corner (all these years I appreciate and reflect on it).

    Thank you for sharing the photos and Happy Belated Birthday Jerry!

  32. Michael says:

    What a fantastic experience…and how valuable is it to have that ‘a-ha’ that tells you you’re on the path you want to be on for the rest of your days. My folks were both classical pianists, but the first time I heard a guitar…that was it.

    And while I grew up inspired by all sorts of prog-rock, jazz and classical music (huge Rush nerd)…I had a chance encounter with Boston’s ‘More Than A Feeling’ and, I ended up having to walk around outside my house after hearing Brad Delp sing the way he did. Totally changed my life. I didn’t realize I’d be a singer someday, I just wanted to play guitar.

    Years and years later, I ended up having to sing in bands, but just didn’t take it seriously. Then I ended up doing contract work for Boston in the 90s, and got to see the late, great Brad Delp close up during live shows, blowing the doors off the joint. I realized what I was going to do. And while I sound nothing like Brad (does anyone?), I feel lucky to have been in the right place at the right time to be inspired enough to keep making my living this way. πŸ™‚

    Thanks also to you, Mr. Scheff, for the online course you provided, which took my singing and recording even further! Huge inspiration for me…

  33. Randall Herron says:

    Jason, I met your mom at Oscars Taco Shop in Nolensville,TN and she is so proud of you. What a musical career you are having. Love the music. I also lived in San Diego from 1986-1995. Please come to Nashville(maybe Bluebird cafe) and perform again. Just let me know when, and we will be there.

  34. I was there and it was fun !

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