I was born a long, long time ago in a far away place... Lewiston, Idaho. Both my parents played keyboards and my father was a hi-fi buff so there was always good music around. I started guitar lessons at age nine and by the time I turned eleven, my brothers and I had a band that featured Gary on vocals and rhythm guitar and Neal on the drums.
I'll never forget our first paid gig. I was twelve years old and we performed at a "Swim 'n' Dance" party at the city pool sponsored by the local radio station. I impressed my friends, had fun, and made twenty dollars in the process. Pretty big dough for a little kid! After that experience, I was hooked on music forever.
By the time high school rolled around, we had expanded the group and were called Stone Garden. We traveled all over the Pacific Northwest playing teen dances, frat parties, and proms. We also started recording and released a single called "Oceans Inside Me." Ironically, that record ended up in the hands of Rockadelic Records a few years ago and they released a limited vinyl pressing of a whole album's worth of material from Stone Garden.
Graduations forced the demise of the band and I went on to music school at the University of Idaho. Leading a weekend funk/horn band of other music students, the legacy of teen dances, frat parties, and proms continued. Upon leaving school, I moved to Seattle and began many years of touring North America with several groups, mostly playing in nightclubs.
I eventually ended up in Los Angeles where I immersed myself in the recording scene. I love to perform but recording became my foremost passion and to make records my goal. I started hanging around LA studios, playing on sessions, and learning production and engineering.
After leaving LA to take a touring gig, I found myself back in Seattle and decided to stay there for the long haul. In 1980, David Lanz and I met at a local studio and quickly became close friends, sharing much in our musical philosophies and tastes in music.
Soon after our first meeting, I purchased some professional recording equipment and David and I went to work exploring musical ideas. It was during this period that the tone was set for our directions as solo artists and David's first album, "Heartsounds" came into being as well as my first solo outing, "Collection 983: Spectral Voyages."
In 1983, I met Jan Nickman, who was putting together a music video series called "REV" for the local NBC affiliate, KING-TV. I joined his team as audio producer and my work on the show garnered an Emmy award. Jan is a real visionary and when the series ended, he, David, and I began work on what was later to become "Natural States."
The success of Natural States spawned Miramar Productions and, as partners in the company, we embarked on more projects together, most notably "Desert Vision" and "Third Stone from the Sun." We all started moving in different directions by the mid 1990's and eventually sold Miramar to Unapix Entertainment. All in all, it was a good ride and we did work to be proud of.
Shortly before David and I recorded "Bridge of Dreams" in 1993, a friend introduced me to Scott Rockenfield, drummer for the metal band, Queensryche. It turned out we were fans of each other's music and a friendship soon developed. After Scott's guest appearance on "Bridge of Dreams," we began hanging out a lot and kicking around ideas about doing something together.
Lanz & Speer in a 1985 publicity photo. Credit: Lynn DeBon
Grammy nominees Scott Rockenfield & Paul Speer.
Those discussions turned into reality when we teamed up with director Mike Boydstun for "TeleVoid." Creating the soundtrack for this computer animation thrill ride was the perfect thing for us to sink our teeth into. We worked very hard on it and were delighted when it received a Grammy nomination for Long Form Music Video in the 1998 eligibility year.
Scott and I returned to the studio in 1999 to create what became "Hells Canyon." The canyon is near where I grew up in Idaho and, with its rich history and intriguing places, was very inspirational to compose music about.
In the fall of 2006, I sold my studio operation in Seattle and relocated to Memphis, Tennessee. The reasons for the move are unrelated to the music business and it was very interesting living in the “Birthplace of Rock 'n' Roll” and the “Home of the Blues.” I intentionally stopped producing other artists but continued mixing and mastering work in my private studio and was able to spend more time on my music.
2008 marked the release of the CD/DVD set entitled Oculus. The visuals were shot entirely in Italy during three visits and the music represents my musical impressions of the locations.
I met Paul Lawler, a terrific composer and multi-instrumentalist from Manchester UK, on myspace.com in early 2008. He invited me to collaborate on an album and I gladly accepted. It took a little more than a year to create what eventually became my 11th album, "Wonders." Along the way, I also connected with, on myspace.com, Satine Orient, a wonderful singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist who lives in France. She was inspired to write lyrics to two tracks and sing them in French.
In 2013, Ax Inferno was released, a solo album of instrumental rock infused with elements of electronica. The great drummer Ron Krasinski, a longtime friend from my Los Angeles days, came over to Memphis from his home in Nashville to add his touch to four cuts. We tracked his parts at the legendary Ardent Studios in the same room Stevie Ray Vaugh, ZZ Top, Joe Cocker, and many other greats recorded. Mucho mojo in that space!
Update 2018. I am now a Sonoran Desert resident in Southern Arizona. Some life changing experiences have happened that have affected my lack of music output lately. My Father Raymond Speer passed away in 2016 at the age of 89. We were very close and he was my best friend. One year later, my bro Neal passed after a long illness. Neal played drums on the hit albums with David Lanz along with dozens more that I produced for other artists.
The hole in my heart will always remain but death is a part of life and we must accept that. I am inspired by the new surroundings and I am not done making music...not by a long shot. Thanks for reading.