Unfortunately, Bruce Stephens passed away in Hawaii on May 16, 2012 after an extended illness. His talent, wit, intellect, and friendship will be sorely missed.
From humble beginnings that included growing up traveling around the horse racing track circuits and carnivals in Mexico and California, to working in the hot summer fields picking cotton at age seven in order to help his struggling family, to riding in chauffeur driven limos with rock star royalty, Bruce was given a unique opportunity to gain the kind of perspective that brings to his singing and playing a sense of committed authenticity.
At sixteen Bruce was the youngest member in the history of the Musicians Union in Sacramento CA. He was the drummer/bandleader of a six-piece ensemble of teen musicians called THE EMERALDS who because of their music reading skills became the backup band of choice in Northern California for
major R&B acts. Bruce, along with the Emeralds, toured with The Coasters, The Olympics, The Larks, Bob & Earl, Chuck Berry, Junior Walker, Ray Peterson, and also opened shows for The Kinks, The Beach Boys, The Animals, Chad & Jeremy, Paul Revere & the Raiders and other “British Invasion” groups.
Rejecting an offer for a scholarship for a pre-med career, he could not resist the lure of the emerging music scene in San Francisco in the pre Haight Ashbury days. Forming a writing team with Ralph Burns Kellogg (aka Ethan James) from The Emeralds, they soon created MINT TATTOO. While touring and opening shows for Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, Ten Years After, James Cotton and Janis Joplin they recorded with the legendary producer James William Guercio (Chicago/Blood Sweat and Tears). “Mint Tattoo” was engineered by Phil Ramone at his A&R Studios in New York; shortly thereafter, Bruce and Ralph were asked to join and write for BLUE CHEER who were enjoying international fame and commercial success.
After several Blue Cheer albums Bruce was asked to travel to London and work on an album with Producer Ken Scott for RCA records. The classic “Fillmore Shuffle” ensued on the PILOT album and was recorded by Sammy Hagar on his debut “Red Album”.
In 1982 Bruce recorded a solo album “Watch That First Step” produced and engineered by Jack Leahy and Bob Simmons, accompanied by a very talented crew of players including Greg Douglass & Lonnie Turner (Steve Miller) BJ Wilson (Joe Cocker /Procol Harum), Norton Buffalo and a host of other exceptional musicians.
This Anthology of Bruce's personally selected tunes from three decades of recording was produced by John Rewind and is available exclusively through Rear Window Music.