Ricky Nelson.
Eric Hilliard "Ricky" Nelson (May 8, 1940 – December 31, 1985) was an American musician, songwriter and actor. From age eight he starred alongside his family in the radio and television series The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet. In 1957, he began a long and successful career as a popular recording artist. The expression "teen idol" was first coined to describe Nelson, and his fame as both a recording artist and television star also led to a motion picture role co-starring alongside John WayneDean Martin and Angie Dickinson in Howard Hawks's western feature film Rio Bravo (1959). He placed 53 songs on the Billboard Hot 100, and its predecessors, between 1957 and 1973, including "Poor Little Fool" in 1958, which was the first number one song on Billboard magazine's then-newly created Hot 100 chart. He recorded 19 additional top ten hits and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on January 21, 1987. In 1996 Nelson was ranked No. 49 on TV Guide's 50 Greatest TV Stars of All Time.
For 14 years, from 1952 to 1966, ''The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet'' was a television staple, an American icon, which preceded ''Seinfeld'' as the first show that was really about nothing. 
End Wikipedia.

The show started as a radio show in the 40s with voice actors playing their children. When they moved over to television the kids were now portrayed by themselves. Little Ricky and David. The show was as wholesome as Mayberry and apple pie. In every show, the family faced some kind of crisis or moral dilemma until one of them found a solution.
Every show. 
Ricky was a beautiful kid and looked incredible on camera. He delivered his lines perfectly and was the best actor in the family. Ricky and David literally grew up on the show and as teen he became a major heartthrob. Major. He was now a singer with a great band. Recording Fats Domino and other black artist's songs. He was on every magazine cover and selling out shows. 
I grew up watching Ricky Nelson on The Adventure of Ozzie and Harriet Show. I always enjoyed the segments at the end of each show where Ricky sang a song with a band that included guitarist James Burton. One of the best. James had the distinction of playing with both Ricky Nelson and Elvis Presley. Not too shabby. 
Rick and his dad Ozzie invented the music video and house parties.

If ever a face deserved stardom it was Ricky's.

Stan bought me a ticket back to LA and off I went on a TWA flight out of The Greater Cincinnati Airport. CVG. TWA served your choice of a steak or chicken dinner on the 6-hour flight. And I was in first class. 

When I arrived in Los Angeles, at LAX. I was picked up by a limo driver holding sign that Read Tracy Deaton on a placard. I hopped in the limo and was driven to the Sunset Strip. I met Stan, Greg McDonald who was Rick's manager and had learned the ropes from Elvis’s manager, Colonel Tom Parker. 
And Bobbie Neal, the lead guitarist who I would be joining in the band and who would become one of my best friends was there too.
Bobby had grown up idolizing James Burton (we all did) and could play just like him. He was handsome and extremely charismatic. 
The next day I would have my formal audition.
That night however Stan, Bobbie, Greg McDonald, and I hopped into Greg’s Mercedes and hit the sunset strip. We went to a few Hollywood clubs, including the Troubadour, the Whiskey-a-Go-Go, and Johnny Depps' new club the Viper Room. We ended up drunk and stoned at Roscoes Chicken and Waffles, where the chicken and waffle craze began.
 We were drunk and high but Bobby Neal was the funniest person I’d ever met. Besides me of course. At one point on the way out of the Troubadour, he had us convinced that one of Greg’s tires was losing air. We got out the spare and started changing it. After we felt the tire Bobby revealed that he was making the sound of air with his mouth the whole time. 
Next, he said watch this. We didn’t hear or see anything at first but in a few minutes, dogs started coming out of nowhere. He claimed he was making a noise undetected by humans but dogs could. 

Around 3:00 am we drove up Mulholland Drive to Ricky Nelson’s house. Often referred to as the most famous house in Hollywood. It was built at the very top of Mulholland Drive on 11 acres in 1941 by Errol Flynn. Errol was the biggest movie star in the world at the time and he built the house to be a bachelor pad. Errol is probably best remembered for his swashbuckling roles and for playing an excellent Robin Hood. 
Errol Leslie Thomson Flynn (20 June 1909 – 14 October 1959) was an Australian-American actor who achieved worldwide fame during the Golden Age of Hollywood. He was known for his romantic swashbuckler roles, frequent partnerships with Olivia de Havilland, and reputation for his womanising and hedonistic personal life. His most notable roles include the eponymous hero in The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938), which was later named by the American Film Institute as the 18th greatest hero in American film history, the lead role in Captain Blood (1935), Major Geoffrey Vickers in The Charge of the Light Brigade (1936), and the hero in a number of Westerns such as Dodge City (1939), Santa Fe Trail(1940), and San Antonio (1945).

Flynn developed a reputation for womanising, hard drinking, chain smoking and, for a time in the 1940s, narcotics abuse.[85] He was linked romantically with Lupe Vélez,[86] Marlene Dietrich and Dolores del Río, among many others. Carole Lombard is said to have resisted his advances, but invited him to her extravagant parties.[87] He was a regular attendee of William Randolph Hearst's equally lavish affairs at Hearst Castle, though he was once asked to leave after becoming excessively intoxicated.[88]
The expression "in like Flynn" is said to have been coined to refer to the supreme ease with which he reputedly seduced women, but its origin is disputed.[89] Flynn was reportedly fond of the expression and later claimed that he wanted to call his memoir In Like Me. (The publisher insisted on a more tasteful title, My Wicked, Wicked Ways.[90][91])
Flynn had various mirrors and hiding places constructed inside his mansion, including an overhead trapdoor above a guest bedroom for surreptitious viewing. Rolling Stones guitarist Ronnie Wood toured the house as a prospective buyer in the 1970s, and reported, "Errol had two-way mirrors... speaker systems in the ladies' room. Not for security. Just that he was an A-1 voyeur."[92] In March 1955, the popular Hollywood gossip magazine Confidential ran a salacious article titled "The Greatest Show in Town... Errol Flynn and His Two-Way Mirror!"[93] In her 1966 biography, actress Hedy Lamarr wrote, "Many of the bathrooms have peepholes or ceilings with squares of opaque glass through which you can't see out but someone can see in."[94]
He had a Schnauzer dog named Arno, which was specially trained to protect him. They went together to premieres, parties, restaurants, and clubs until the dog died in 1941. On June 15, 1938, Arno bit Bette Davis on the ankle in a scene where she struck Flynn.

7711 Flynn Ranch Rd was constructed with a casino, secret passageways, two-way mirrors, and creepy peep-holes for spying on his house guest. The house was notorious and Flynn had an insatiable appetite for women even if they were underage. The New York Post relates the story of Flynn, on trial for the statutory rape of two underage girls, flirting with the teenage cigarette-stand girl while court was in recess, and eventually taking her home; she became his second, much-betrayed wife.

I was in awe of this house as we pulled up. It was at the very top of Beverly Hills, higher than the playboy mansion with fantastic panoramic views of Los Angeles. As we got out of Greg’s Mercedes, I looked around at the driveway and saw every car a man could dream of. Lamborghinis, Mercedes, a stretch limo a few Harley Davidsons. Life was good for little Ricky. 

Rick answered the door in a red robe with his perfect chest hair hanging out. He was the most magnificent creature, male or female, I had ever seen. 
Joke alert. 
I turned to Bobbie Neal and Stan and whispered.
I think I’m gay. We giggled and went into this extraordinary mansion that Rick claimed was still haunted by the ghost of Errol Flynn.

On the walls hung awards, gold records, and movie posters Rick had starred in. Pictures of Rick with presidents, Elvis, and the Beatles. There was a huge Andy Warhol on the wall above a fireplace, that I couldn't stop looking at. 
Rick poured us vodka and orange juice and we set up all night talking. We did some cocaine and took a tour of the house but we had to be quiet though his wife and kids were asleep upstairs in one of the five bedrooms.

 The kids? 
Tracy Nelson had a film credit before the age of five, The daughter of singer Ricky Nelson and Kristin Harmon, she appeared as one of Henry Fonda's daughters in the movie Yours, Mine and Ours (1968). In 1982, she became the popular Valley Girl "Jennifer DeNuccio" on the television series Square Pegs 
she played George Castansas girlfriend on Sinefield. 

Gunnar and Mathew later formed a band called Nelson and had several hits. They were the ultimate hair band with long blond locks and their dads good looks.

I was discussing with Rick how much I wanted to work with him but he thought I meant as a cocaine dealer. Since we brought cocaine to him...the whole time I was discussing a gig as his second guitar player, he thought I was trying to be his drug dealer. 

What we have here is a failure to communicate . 

The next day I'm at RCA Sound Studios in Hollywood auditioning for a gig with someone I admired and grew up watching on TV. I’m obviously nervous but not because of the other musicians in the room which included guys that were much more seasoned and accomplished than me (I was just 21) but because I didn’t have/take the time to learn the songs! Luckily for me, Rick's songs were pretty basic and the band was super helpful in feeding me the chord changes. We ran through a few of the hits including “Hello Mary Lou” “Traveling Man” “Garden Party” and a few others.

We played well together and found a couple of nice grooves. 
So...I got the job! Now what? 

Well, this period was certainly not the peak of Ricky Nelson’s career, who for several years had outsold even Elvis. No, we were playing in smaller theatres and supper clubs like Beef and Boards. Or “Beef and I’m Bored” as I sometimes called it. The audience was made up of mostly middle-aged couples seeking a bit of nostalgia. On the other hand, there were always a few beautiful “would-be groupies” in each town trying to get with Ricky Nelson. After all, he was the original teen idol. But Rick had divorced was traveling with his new girlfriend Helen Blair and was never interested in the groupies anyway. Well, I admired that.. but I was! 
Bobby was absolutely the most charismatic person I’d ever met. Good looking, super funny, and extremely talented. Once the girls who were trying to meet Rick met me and Bobby, they forgot all about Rick. Working with Rick and being Bobby Neal’s best friend certainly had its perks. They were great people and we always had fun. 

Even though I was disappointed at the time, it was fortunate for me that my stint in the band didn’t last very long. Soon after I joined the band, Rick wanted to go back to a more authentic “rockabilly” sound with a standup bass and one guitar. Unfortunately, Bobby Neal stayed on as that guitarist. 

Ricky Nelson dreaded flying but refused to travel by bus. In May 1985, he decided he needed a private plane and paid $118,000 for a fourteen-seat 1944 Douglas DC-3 (N711Y) that had once belonged to the DuPont family and later to Jerry Lee Lewis. After Nelson took ownership of the plane, it was plagued by a history of mechanical problems because agree McDonald had failed to maintain it properly. In one incident, Nelson's band was forced to push the plane off the runway after an engine failed, and in another incident, a malfunctioning magnet Broughtthe plane from flying and Nelson from participating in the first Farm Aid concert in ChampaignIllinois.

On December 26, 1985, Nelson and the band left for a three-stop tour of the southern U.S. Following shows in OrlandoFlorida, and GuntersvilleAlabama, Nelson and other band members took off from Guntersville for a New Year's Eve celebration in Dallas.[3] At approximately 5:14 p.m. CST on December 31, the plane crash-landed outside of De Kalb, Texas, northeast of Dallas, in a cow pasture less than 2 miles (3.2 km) from a landing strip, hitting trees on its way down. Seven of the nine occupants were killed. Including Bobby and Rick. 

There was a lot of speculation after the crash that the band was freebasing cocaine on board and that had caused the plane to catch on fire. It was later proven that it was a faulty heater in the cockpit that ultimately brought the plane crashing down.
Nelson's remains were misdirected in transit from Texas to California, delaying the funeral for several days. On January 6, 1986, 250 mourners entered the Church of the Hills in Los Angeles for funeral services while 700 fans gathered outside. Attendees included "Colonel" Tom ParkerConnie StevensAngie Dickinson, and dozens of actors, writers, and musicians. Nelson was privately buried days later at the Forest Lawn Memorial Park – Hollywood Hills cemetery.

I don't like the fact that Rick was taken at 40. He never got to mature and be appreciated for his success in music acting or being an early pioneer of rockabilly. 
I few years ago I realized that I have a lot of (maybe interesting) stories that I never tell anyone...I thought “I’ll just write a book!” Well, that’s way more work and time than I want to spend doing something that doesn’t involved creating art. So I just starting writing these little snippets of the things I think might be worth telling....here they are. 
I’ve got a fever! 

I was 10 years old and in the 5th grade in 1969. The Beatles gave their last performance on the roof top of Apple Records, Neil and Buzz walked on the moon, Charles Manson and his “family” terrorized Los Angeles, Woodstock drew a half million hippies to listen to some of the best rock n roll bands ever. 
One day in late October I was playing baseball in the little makeshift field behind the firehouse, two doors down from our house on Grand Avenue in Latonia, Ky. I hit the ball hard and I was rounding first and headed to 2nd when suddenly my body just completely shut down and I couldn’t run or even walk anymore. The other boys helped me home and I told my mother that something was wrong. She wasn’t that concerned at first and neither was I. I had just gotten over strep-throat and I was still kind of exhausted... but soon I was feeling much worse and my joints were swelling up pretty badly and my fever was running very high. We made an appointment to see Dr Smith, our family Doctor  in two days. 
The next day was Halloween and I really wanted some candy but I only made it to two houses before my body stopped working again and I had to lay down on the couch. You know something is wrong when a ten year old boy can’t go trick or treating! 
The following day at the Dr’s office I met the man who would be a constant in my life for the next few years. Dr Smith was a slightly overweight man who wore big black rimmed glasses and usually a kind smile. He tested my reflexes by tapping my knees. My reflexes at the time however, were way off. My joints were swollen and my throat was red and rough. I seemed to be feeling worse by the hour. After some bloodwork and several examinations over the next week or so the diagnosis was in...I had rheumatic fever. 
I soon found out what this actually meant. I overheard my parents crying in the kitchen (in our tiny house you could hear everything.) it turns out that my dads little brother whose nickname was Toby had died from rheumatic fever when he was around my age! Oh great, I thought, I haven’t even kissed a girl yet and I’m going to die! 
The treatment was to stay off my feet for several months (what?) and mass doses of penicillin. I couldn’t even fathom this thought...I had school, I had hopes and dreams. But my mom was adamant about following Dr Smith’s every order and I found myself either in bed or on the couch every day for the next six months. My brothers, Tim and Tom had to carry me around the house...lucky for them I resembled an Ethiopian poster child at the time and weighed next to nothing. My poor sister Vikki waited on me hand and foot. And my mom already had spoiled me...but this was some next level stuff. I had a tutor but he didn’t really care if I learned anything or not…I didn’t. After awhile I didn’t really feel that bad any more so it wasn’t all that bad...just lonely and boring. I still say “any day that you can watch The Price is Right is a good day” 
I got an aquarium and read lots of books and magazines. I practiced guitar, ate a lot of ice cream and started a lifelong love affair with my imagination because sometimes that’s all I had...I also became ok with being alone and started to realize that I enjoyed my own thoughts. I joke that I couldn’t even get my imaginary friend to play with me at the time. I actually had one. His name was Dino. 
I missed the rest of the 5th grade but the teacher had the kids in my class send me hand-made cards regularly. They lifted my spirits every single time...the kids made up their own little sayings and wrote them on the cards and drew cute little pictures and some of the girls would draw hearts ooooh maybe I’d get that kiss after all. 
So after months of not walking or not even the leaving house  (Dr Smith made house calls) I was declared “healthy!” “I didn’t or wouldn't have any further health issues because of having rheumatic fever,”  he proclaimed. I can still hear him saying this clearly in my head all these years later. 
I started sixth grade in September 1970 at Ryland Heights Grade School along with my other classmates. I had grown quite a bit and let my hair grow out...I felt very different from the other kids. But made some great friends. 
Here’s the amazing part of this story though and why I tell it. After not walking for the better part of a year, I was recruited by our gym teacher and coach Mr Pelrey to try something called the standing broad jump on the sidewalk in front of the school. It’s an Olympic event where you stand on a line, bend your knees and propel yourself forward as far as you can. Mr Pelfry was out practicing  with some other boys and asked me to give it a try....well, I went into full frog mode and jumped an amazing 2 feet longer than the other boys had been. I don’t know why but I was a natural at this and Mr Pelfry seemed to get very excited. So I found myself practicing my standing broad jump everyday for weeks and weeks. I just kept getting better and jumping even further over time...the next thing I know I’m competing in this event against all of the other boys from the schools of Kenton County, Kentucky. And you guessed it...I won first place! I also came in 2nd in the 100 yard dash and the 400mm relay. All of this from a kid who didn’t take a step for months and months! I was like Forest Gump and one day for no particular reason I just started jumpin’! 
My athletic career started, peaked and ended in the 6th grade. I became serious about getting better at playing the guitar in the 7th grade and never looked back on my short but glorious track and field prowess. I do still have the first and second place ribbons that I received that day and they serve as reminder that just because you are down doesn’t mean you are out...we all have amazing come backs in us. I’ve had several more over the years...
Tracy Harrison Deaton
Hollywood Dreams 
I graduated high school in 1977. I was a very average student who didn’t even bother to own or open a book all year. I still got B’s and the occasional C but I hadn’t used my locker all year and forgot the combination if that that gives you idea of how interested I was. I guess I could’ve worked harder and gotten all A’s but I had other things on my mind. I was obsessed with music (still am.) I played and practiced guitar 24/7. My guitar at the time was a 1959 Gibson Melody Maker double pickup/single cutaway. It was a rare guitar that my neighbor across the street sold to my parents because I loved to play it at his house (thank you Larry Penick where ever you are) and it was in my hands night and day. I often slept with it and woke with it in my arms only to continue playing. I put aluminum foil over the windows of my bedroom as to have perpetual nighttime to help me better concentrate. My friends still tease me about this. 

I was already playing in a band called Showdown (a name that I used in the next couple of bands that I was in even though it was an awful name) it was me and three of my friends who were older. Great guys all. We had been practicing at the drummer Jay Anderson’s  house in the basement for several months. It was great except for the smell of his German Shepard’s shit everywhere. We had 3 and four part harmonies and everyone could play their instruments very well. I was the lead guitar player and we had Rick Hamlin singing lead vocals and he had a great unique quality to his voice. My friend Doug Hils played  a Fender Rhodes electric piano and a B-3 organ as well as guitar. He was excellent on all and gave us a polished sound. In what I like to think of as my first ingenuous marketing idea (the others might disagree about whose idea it was but…it was mine!) We sent out a letter to dozens of high schools including my own, Dixie Heights in Northern Kentucky announcing our first gig was at the local VFW Hall that we rented out. We Invited all of the decision makers for the proms and dinner dances that year to a free “concert.” played our music and went out between sets and signed contracts!! It was a huge success and we ended up playing every single weekend at dozens of schools, including my own homecoming dance at Dixie. It was on May 28th 1977  my 17th birthday and held at Northern Kentucky University. It was also the night that the Beverly Hills Supper Club burned down, killing hundreds of locals and staying in the national headlines for months. We could see the fire from the all glass room we were in. When the news arrived that it was the Beverly Hills Supper Club we all were even more devastated because we had to choose between playing there that night for another high school or playing my Homecoming dance. It was a no brainer to play my own...I got to show off in front of my classmates and the prettiest girl in the school, Paula asked me to accompany her to the dance. Poor girl deserved so much better as I was only concerned about playing music that night. I’m afraid that she had a miserable night and it was all my fault. I still feel bad about it all these years later, sorry Paula! 

After graduating that band broke up, as they all do eventually and I started playing in another band (yes, it was named Showdown) with Doug and a new friend and fellow guitar player named Brian Miller. Brian and I were polar opposites in our playing styles... he had a cool country vibe and I was in your face rock and roll. Together we meshed into what would be considered the early days of country rock. We were actually a jam band way before the term was coined. Unlike the first rendition of showdown who practiced each song meticulously for hours, this lineup of showdown never practiced. We would pick songs that we wanted to do and we literally just started playing them. Each song was expanded on each night. One song could last as much as 15 to 20 minutes because we allowed ourselves to play extended solos. My friend Doug and I would play until we were done and then just look at each other and say it’s your turn. Such a freeing experience to be able to just play what you felt. We gain a really big following and heard lots of shouts of “get down Showdown” But like with everything else with me even though I was in a good band I wanted more. I wanted to write and record my own songs. 

I decided to move to Los Angeles and somehow convinced my friend Doug to move with me. We owned nothing but guitars, amps and keyboards but that didn’t stop us from loading up a u-haul and driving off one day. I had gone to LA a couple of times before and had signed with a manager named Stan King, he was pretty well connected but more as an engineer and tour manager. He was working with the bands Styx, The Dobbie Brothers and the former heart throb, Ricky Nelson (there is a story here on my site about my time with Rick) this was the height of Styx  popularity. I suppose at that time they were as big as anyone...the Grand Illusion  album was number one and they were selling out stadiums.  Stan asked us to meet him and the band in Las Vegas. Doug and I drove his Ford Fairlane with a u-haul full of musical equipment that would now be considered vintage and worth thousands of dollars and a Marshall amp, a couple of Les Pauls and Stratocasters. I wish I still had the Fender quad reverb amp that I purchased from then Steve (Adrian) Belew. Seymour Duncan had modified Adrians guitars and amps so he play in stereo...a brand new concept at the time. Adrian is now a world renown musician who has performed with Frank Zappa, David Bowie, Talking Heads just name a few and my friend Seymour Duncan heads a guitar accessory empire second to none. 

Doug and I traipsed across America from Kentucky. Our only stop was in Tucson Arizona to spend the night with my uncle Jack. Jack was my beautiful mother’s brother and was a Lieutenant Colonel in the Air Force. He fought in World War II when he was 16 years old and had risen in the ranks to Lieutenant Colonel. He was brilliant man and somewhat intimidating. In a twist of irony he had just purchased a Baldwin fun machine organ. Well....Doug had been demoing fun machines at the Baldwin store at the Florence mall as his day job. He knew everything about it and could make it sound like an entire band. We won Jack over with Doug’s amazing ability on the fun machine.
 I will never forget the look on my uncle Jack’s face when Doug played on that Baldwin for the first time in his living room. It’s a really fond memory.  

Next stop was Las Vegas to meet Stan on the Styx Grand Illusion tour. We checked in and went to the MGM where the band was staying. I immediately saw guitarist Tommy Shaw in the lobby who was surrounded by every beautiful girl who happened to be in Las Vegas that weekend…this made a huge impression on me, as you can imagine. We met up with Stan who handed me a bunch of front row tickets and told me that the band liked to have that section filled with beautiful girls. My job is to hand those tickets out to them!! What?! This is my job? That’s with the job I was born to do and I took it very seriously. I became not only a hero to the band but to every hot blooded girl in Las Vegas. And in the process I met and “dated” some amazing girls. This is what is commonly referred to as a win win win!

Once we reached Los Angeles, Doug was having second thoughts about staying in California. He had fathered a child back in Kentucky and felt it was only right to return. So now I was going to have to afford a place on my own and an even harder task…find that place. I sold Doug some of the equipment that I had brought so I could raise more money to sustain me for a short period. I decided to look in the San Fernando Valley for a place I could hopefully afford. How I could afford anything is beyond me now. I walked up and down Van Nuys Blvd. trying to find a place to rent. I finally came into a place that had a tiny studio apartment for rent. At first the lady told me she didn’t have anything, so I asked if I could just sit in her air-conditioned lobby for a few minutes to cool off. We struck up a conversation and in a few minutes she came back and said OK I’ve got a place you can have it but you better pay your rent on time! I said yes ma’am even though i was thinking to myself that i might even be able to pay it all....but she’s was a big woman in a pink muumuu so i wanted to keep her until i got the keys to my new place. Me and my guitars and amps moved in to a place smaller than the fleabag hotels I’d be staying in. But it was clean and somewhat comfortable. This apartment complex though changed my outlook on life. The only people who lived here were actors and actresses, models, musicians and writers. It was an amazing hotbed of creativity and beautiful people. It’s as close to paradise on earth as I’ll ever come. It was a party like no other every day...and very eye opening for a young naïve kid from Kentucky. 

My first encounter in Hollywood  with what the rock and roll lifestyle could lead to was when I walked into the RCA sound studios to a Doobie Brothers rehearsal. Inside the soundstage were cars that I had only seen pictures of....lime green Lamborghini’s, black Bentleys and yellow Mercedes. The Minute by Minute album had been very good to the Doobs and they were taking full advantage. Crafts services had laid out a spread of food worthy of rock and roll royalty. Being a poor renter from Kentucky I not only ate freely I probably stuffed some in my pockets for later. As I’m chowing down around the tables a bearded man walks up and introduces himself to me. “ hi, I’m Michael McDonald” “umm hello I’m Trace, nice to meet you” we made some small talk and I was amazed that this guy who had the number one album in the world right now was so down to earth and humble. I’ve always thought of him as the nicest man in the music business. 

More to follow! 

Sunshine and the Exorcist

When I was living in Los Angeles circa 1979. I was working briefly for the band Styx who were huge at the time and seeing a girl that also worked for them as their wardrobe roady...her name was Sunshine (yes her given name) She was living with the actress Linda Blair who had just finished Exorcist 2 and at the time was dating Rick James. It was chaos 24/7 at their house. Rick James was also huge at the time and spending more money on cocaine than most of us will spend in our lifetime...total. Linda and Rick were the oddest couple you can imagine in every way. She was mousy and reserved and looked 12... he of course was a wild man. I honestly couldn’t look at Linda Blair when I spoke to her at first without being totally freaked out because she looked exactly like she did in the original Exorcist movie...still the scariest movie I’ve ever seen. Her and Sunshine had a huge falling out because apparently Linda had stolen some things out of Sunshine’s room. More chaos followed and Sunshine came to live with me in my tiny studio apartment in Santa Monica. She was on the road with the band constantly so it wasn’t much of a relationship. 
Ricky Nelson 
In 1981 I moved back to the Cincinnati area after living in Los Angeles for a few years. I wasn’t home long before my friend and manager at the time, Stan King called and asked if I wanted to audition to play guitar with Ricky Nelson’s band. Umm, hell yeah I do! I grew up watching Ricky on the Ozzie and Harriet show. I always enjoyed the segments at the end of each show where Ricky sang a song...Rick and Ozzie virtually invited the music video. One of my favorite guitar players was James Burton who played with Elvis and Rick. 
So Stan bought me a ticket and off I went on a TWA flight which still served your choice of a steak or chicken dinner on the 4 hour flight. I’m old! 
Picked up at the airport by a limo and taken to the Sunset Strip, I met Stan, Greg McDonald who was Ricks manager (he had learned the ropes from Elvis’s manager, Colonel Tom Parker) and Bobbie Neal, the lead guitarist who I would be joining in the band and would become one of my best friends. 
We went to a few Hollywood clubs, including the Troubadour and the Whiskey a Go Go and ended up at Roscoes Chicken and Waffles (where the chicken and waffle craze began) I could write a much more just on this part of the night! Craziness ensued. 
Around 3:00am we drove to Ricks house which has often been called the most famous house in Hollywood. The house was built off Mulholland Drive on 11 acres in 1941 by Errol Flynn, who was the biggest movie star in the world at the time. The house was built to be a bachelors “playhouse.” Errol  Flynn was a notorious womanizer and the house hosted the wildest parties in town. The place was constructed with secret passage ways, two way mirrors and creepy peep-holes for spying on his house guest. 
I was in total awe as we pulled up to the house. It was at the very top of Beverly Hills with fantastic panoramic views of Los Angeles. In the long driveway was every car and motorcycle a person would ever dream about. Lamborghinis Mercedes and Harely Davidson’s...Rick answered the door in a red robe and he was the most magnificent creature...male or female I had ever seen. 
Once inside the house, Rick mixed us some drinks and gave me a little tour of the first floor (his wife and later to become famous kids were asleep upstairs) he showed me the original Warhol paintings on the walls and some of the incredible architectural touches and hidden doors that Mr Flynn had put in. He also told me very matter-a-factly that Errol Flynn still haunted the house. There have been several books written about the house and it’s occupants. 
We ended up staying up all night drinking, even though the next morning was my audition for the band at RCA studios. 
So, there I am at RCA sound stages in downtown Hollywood auditioning for a gig with someone I admired and grew up watching on TV. I’m obviously nervous but not because of the other musicians in the room which included guys that were much more seasoned and accomplished than me (I was just 21) but because I really didn’t have/take the time to learn the songs! Luckily for me Ricks songs were pretty basic and the band was super helpful in feeding me the chord changes. We ran through a few of the hits including “Hello Mary Lou” “Traveling Man” “Garden Party”  and a few others....So...I got the job! Now what? 
Well, this period of time was certainly not the peak of Ricky Nelson’s career, who for several years had outsold even Elvis. No, we were playing in smaller theatres and supper clubs like Beef and Boards. Or “Beef and I’m Bored” as I sometimes called it. The audience was made up of mostly middle aged couples seeking a bit of nostalgia. On the other hand there were always a few beautiful “would-be groupies” in each town trying to get with Ricky Nelson. After all he was the original teen idol. But Rick was traveling with his girlfriend Helen Blair and was never interested in the groupies anyway. Well...I admit that I was! And so was Bobby Neal. Bobby was absolutely the most charismatic person I’d ever met. Good looking, super funny and extremely talented. Once the girls who were trying to meet Rick met Bobby, they forgot all about Rick. Working with Rick and being Bobby Neal’s best friend certainly had its perks. They were great people and we always had fun. 
Even though I was disappointed at the time...it was fortunate for me that my stint in the band didn’t last very long. Soon after I joined the band, Rick wanted to go back to a more authentic “rockabilly” sound with standup bass and one guitar. Unfortunately, Bobby Neal stayed on as that guitarist. 
If you know the Rick Nelson story...you know that Rick, Helen and Bobby and other band members died when their DC-3 crashed on New Year’s Eve 1985 in De Kalab, Texas. They were going to perform that night in Dallas. The plane had belonged to one of the DuPont’s and then Jerry Lee Lewis and was in excellent shape when Rick bought it, but it wasn’t long until the plane was in constant need of repairs. Everyone had become scared of the plane and rightfully so! 
There was a lot of speculation after the crash that the band were freebasing cocaine on board and that had caused the plane to catch on fire. It was later proven that it was a faulty heater in the cockpit that ultimately brought the plane crashing down. 

My Burgundy Les Paul in Los Angeles the day of my audition.
Rick and Bobby Neal
“Rat, Roach and Me!” 
“Visiting a Common  Nuisance”
In the summer of 1976 I was 17. Inflation was high and It was one of the hottest summers ever to hit the US and Europe. 
Paul McCartney and Elton John were writing the worst music of their careers. 
I give you:
“Silly Loves Songs”
And raise you:
“Don’t go Breaking My Heart”
The billboard charts featured such clunkers as:
“Disco Lady” 
“Afternoon Delight” 
“Play that Funky Music White Boy”
“I Write the Songs” 
“Shake Your Booty”
And Dr Hook and the Medicine Show were begging to be put on the cover of Rolling Stone Magazine every 20 minutes or so on the radio.
I was going into my senior year at Dixie Heights High School in Erlanger, Ky and living in Villa Hills. Life wasn’t too bad...I was in a band, I had a few good friends, a couple of cute girl friends and my dad let me drive his new Cadillac... a lot. 
But If this was a VH1 behind the music episode the voice-over talent would say something like “little did Trace know that trouble was on the way”
My cousin Debbie and her friend Lori came to visit us at our house on Eastland Dr in Villa Hills from their homes in Indianapolis one muggy July night. We stayed up all night just talking and goofing around. I’m still not sure why but when they were leaving to go home the next day I decided to join them. 
(This was the trouble part that was mentioned earlier by the VH1 announcer)
I remember stopping for dinner at a little truck stop just as we crossed into Indiana.
“Order whatever you want”
“I have no money”
“It’s ok we’ve got you.” 
So we order freely and extravagantly, for a dinner anyway. 
I don’t know what we talked about but it was probably something like how stupid and at the same time inappropriately sexual that song “Afternoon Delight” was. Or “Paul seems to really be missing John right about now.” Or “I heard that Elton John might be gay.” “Yeah but Barry Manilow isn’t... right?!” Or Maybe even “have you heard this weird operatic song by Queen?  I’m not really sure what to think about it yet. It could be a hit I guess...it’s too long though!!” And what the hell? Galileo?! 
Well, we finished wolfing down our truck stop feast and the girls excused themselves to go to the rest room, while I stayed with the check. A few minutes go by and I look out the oversized window into the parking lot and there’s Debbie and Lori sitting in the car giggling and motioning for me to come on out. Umm, I hold up the check...they motion “forget about it” still giggling like teenage girls...which they were. Shit! Really girls?! I wasn’t prepared mentally or physically to start a life of crime just yet. But I didn’t have the money to pay the bill and obviously neither did they! It became pretty clear to me that that’s why “order whatever you want” came so easily to them. 
So like Clyde I slide out the door to my two awaiting Bonnie’s (get it?) and commit my first and last “dine and dash” 
Whew...we didn’t get caught! But our life of crime would catch up to us! 
We get to Lori’s house just before the summer sun went down and there’s already a party going on with a few people there. Nothing crazy just young guys and girls sitting around talking, eating pizza and some were drinking beer. 
Now, remember that this was 1976, I’d never been to a party where there wasn’t at least some pot to smoke. But I can honestly say that if there were any drugs there I didn’t see any or have any. 
Suddenly the front, side and back doors all bust open at the same time! 
What the...
All at once there were men with shotguns, rifles and handguns everywhere and pointing them at us and shouting “GET ON THE GROUND!” DON’T MOVE!” 
I really didn’t know what was going on, It took me awhile to realize that these were police officers and not criminals. They were dressed in jeans, tee-shirts and bulletproof vest. 
Then I thought, “this is really overkill for our dine and dash and did they just follows us for two hours?” 
Then it became very clear that this was not about that at all. They started searching the house. They found a few marijuana seeds in a guitar case, some prescription pills that were prescribed to another of my cousins (totally legal) and a large amount of wallpaper paste from a closet. They were excited because they thought that the paste was cocaine. Ok, if that WAS coke it would have a street value of $250,000 or more! 
We were all cuffed tightly behind our backs and put into the back of a squad car. 
I’m crammed in the backseat with three guys that I hadn’t even been introduced to, on my way to jail. 
Well, this took an ugly turn. 
When we got to the county jail my wrist were bleeding from the cuffs. I was strip searched, had my mug-shot taken, then was fingerprinted, booked and led down a long hallway to the cells. 
I like to imagine that someone was playing a sad harmonica and some bug-eyed and crazed prisoners were banging their metal cups against the bars. But that didn’t happen. 
What did happen was me and the three guys I came in with were scared, nervous and still in disbelief. We were in a common room with cells on all sides and tables in the middle. I noticed two of the cells had blankets around them as to provide privacy. About this time a cart was pushed in and it had some kind of crappy sandwiches on it. I notice two hard looking dudes walking out of the covered cells. 
“Hi I’m Rat and he’s Roach.” 
I don’t make eye contact. They take ALL of the food back to their little covered areas. Ok, I wasn’t hungry anyway. 
Ok, now cue Alanis Morissette and get ready for some real irony up in here....when Rat and Roach finish their (my) dinner they walk out and wait for it......light up a joint!! 
We got busted at a party for drugs when none existed and now we are in jail with Mr Rat and Mr Roach and low and behold there are drugs! They take turns passing the smoke around and then ask us if we want any acid??!  Umm, no thanks Mr Rat, sir, none for me thanks. Needless to say I didn’t sleep that night at all...I had heard what happens in those cells and I wasn’t about to let my guard down. 
So....the next morning I was dragged into court and charged with visiting a common nuisance....yeah, visiting a common nuisance. The common nuisance was apparently Lori and they hadn’t even booked her. So the nuisance ran free while I stood accused of visiting her. 
Are you as confused as I was? 
I refused to call my parents because I didn’t even know what to tell them. After another day in the slammer they threw out all the charges and cleared my good name. I bid a strange farewell to my good friends Rat and Roach and hightailed it back to my good life in Kentucky....
Thus concludes my first arrest...
Yep, there’s one more. 
16th Birthday.
Meeting David Bowie 
In 1990 three of my friends were in David Bowie’s band for the Sound And Vision tour. It’s pretty incredible to think that three musicians from northern Kentucky were backing one of the biggest stars on the planet. But if you know these three, Rick Fox, Adrian Belew and Michael Hodges it’s not a stretch at all.
Rick is a super talented musician, singer, songwriter, producer, author...on and on. And one of my favorite people on earth along with his beautiful wife Victoria Fox. 
Mike Hodges is an amazing drummer who has inspired me my entire life as well as been a good friend.
And of course Adrian Belew is a world renown guitarist extraordinaire, multi instrumentalist, songwriter and Oscar winner...collaborator with Frank Zappa, Talking Heads, Paul Simon, King Crimson, and of course David Bowie. His solo records are as good as anyone he’s worked with as well. I’m honored to collaborate with him 💯. 
The closest that they played to Cincinnati on the Sound and vision tour, where I was living at the time was Indianapolis, Indiana. It was a outdoor venue (I think it was called Deer Creek Music Center) I drove down that afternoon and was excited to see these guys I’d known most of my life play my favorite Bowie songs! 
When I got there I ran into Nancy Hodges and she swept me backstage into Mikes dressing room. A lot of Mikes family were there (including his mother) and of course we were all happy to see Mike as he’d been around the world and back by then. In a few minutes the tour manager opened the door to announce “David will be here in 5 minutes.” 
In about 10 mins Mr. David Bowie himself walks in, wearing what was probably an Armani suit with a simple white button down shirt. I’ve met a lot of famous rockstars before but this was next level sh^t...this was David Bowie! A musical and fashion icon straight out of rock n roll heaven. And man did he look like a rockstar. Glowing, pale, otherworldly. He extended his hand and a smile, I shook it and just said “nice to meet you!” He asked me about the wind outside because they had video scrims setup behind and on either side of the stage. He was concerned that they’d blow uncontrollably. I tried to assure him that although it was windy I didn’t think that they were in danger of damage...his question put me at ease but I was truly thrilled to meet him...(the second song that I ever played with a band was “Panic in Detroit” off the Aladdin Sane album...the first was “18” by Alice Cooper) 
David made his way around the room and shook hands and made small talk with everyone like a true English gentleman. But in a few minutes we realized that we were missing Michaels mother. We started wondering where she was as she was just here...suddenly she wheels herself out if the restroom and with a huge smile her face says…
 “oh, Mr. Bowie I wanted to be sure and put my teeth in to meet you!”
David turns to Mike and says “ah, just like me mum”
That one time I died. 
February 13th 2018

I had just that day started a job as a consultant to Tops Magazine in Lexington. I had felt bad all day but pushed on like I always do. Coming home, changing clothes and getting ready to relax, I went into full blown heart failure. I could not breathe! I knew that it was serious but instead of dialing 911...I called my daughter, Brittany to say goodbye. I told her between my gasp for air, “I’m so sorry but I’m going to die.” Thank God that she has a lot more sense than me and hung up and called the paramedics. Fortunately, they are located about two blocks from my house and were here in 3-4 minutes. They took me to Baptist Health under a “code blue” which means the patient needs resuscitation.
The excellent team there at Baptist Health brought me back to life somehow but I was still in terrible shape. It took them four days to get me stable enough to operate on me. After being optimistic at first, my cardiologist Dr Richmond, told Brittany that I had a 6% to 20% chance of pulling through. She wasn’t ready to give up yet! Again, thank God. My beautiful daughter took control and the doctors credit her with saving my life when they were ready to give up. 
During this period I had another death experience. I floated out of my body and into a darkish room where my deceased parents sat solemnly. I hovered over them. My mom was sitting on a beautiful camelback loveseat and my dad on an ornate, antique, wooden chair. Between them was a coffee table with an open bible. No words were exchanged... just sadness and a feeling of hopelessness. 
Finally, after 4 days I had improved enough that they could perform the open heart surgery I needed to fix me. They did an incredible job. But I wasn’t out of the woods just yet. They kept me “under” for 5 more days. 
On day 9 of this crazy ordeal I finally woke up. My joke is...I didn’t even know who I was when I woke up...boy, was I disappointed! 
The first thing I asked my doctor when I saw him was “did I die?” 
“Yes, twice!” 
Well, after being out for nine straight days, I now proceeded to stay awake and hallucinate for 7 straight days! Yes, the drugs they used to sedate me now made me as crazy as the mad hatter. At first I had erotic dreams so real and twisted I couldn’t begin to tell you here. I thought that the head nurse was renting my room out for sex parties and they were dark and scary. Not sexy! 
Next, I moved to a different room in ICU, there I believed that I could access the internet with my mind and project it through my eyes on to the walls and ceiling. So for two full days, I couldn’t stop myself from projecting images everywhere! Towards the end of this weirdness, I started projecting the logos of the largest companies in the world. Apple, Starbucks, Nike etc onto every surface of the hospital. Yes, I was crazy! 
Finally, I had recuperated enough to be moved out of ICU....oh not so fast Mr Deaton!! Let’s go crazy one more time. Suddenly, as they were getting ready to move me to a new room I went into a super fast heart rate. If my craziness was at a 10 up to this point it now jumped to 11! (Nigel Tufnel reference) 
Now, I thought that the nurses were moonlighting as a crime ring and that they had kidnapped me! Yeah, I know! They had kidnapped me and we were hiding out in my old house in Colorado Springs! I again had no clue who I was and had become so wild that they put what they called “friendship bracelets” on me. Soft restraints on my wrist tied to the bed. The funny thing is I remember thinking at the time “these are really cool” I was thinking I’d be a trend setter and wear them when I was released! Did I mentioned that I was crazy? Do not give a creative person a reason to suspend reality!  I actually broke out of the “friendship bracelets” and got up out of bed only to flop around naked on the floor until the “crime ring”…I mean, nurses found me. 🙂
I could actually write about this forever and not tell all of the craziness that I went through. But the point is I survived something that according to my doctors “99% of people do not survive. Yet, I’m here to tell this crazy tale. I still have a little bit of ptsd regarding my ordeal but 12 months to the day... here I am with a different outlook on life and at my creative peak.
So when you see me on a beach, photographing a beautiful model or creating my art in many different categories (or trying to be funny) just know, to me it’s actually a celebration of my life. 

My first guitar, my brother and the Beatles. 
I acquired  my first guitar in sort of an interesting way (but you'll be the judge of that!) In the days following the Beatles performance on the on Ed Sullivan show in 1964, every boy and their brother wanted to be a Beatle. This was literally the case with me and my big brother, Tom. Up until this point in my life (all 5 years of it) I wanted to be Tom when I grew up because he was the coolest guy on the planet. But now? Now, I wanted to be Paul McCartney (he was giving Tom a serious run for his money in the cool department)…except I didn’t want to play bass guitar. No, I wanted to play LEAD GUITAR so now I wanted to be a combination of Tom, Paul, George but not Ringo. See what I did there? 
I watched the Ed Sullivan show, which ran for 23 years (1948-1971) every single Sunday night....talk about a variety show! You never knew what you might see on his “really big show.” Each week you could be entertained by everything from plate spinners to ventriloquist to dancing bears or you know that fat lady you’ve always heard about? You know “it ain’t over til the fat lady sings?” Yeah, she would sing…OPERA! Yikes! That’s when I ran for the fridge! My favorite recurring character was Señior Wences. “s’al right? s’al right? If you’re old you remember. 
     But Sunday February, 9th 1964 was different...I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say that night changed the world. It changed mine. For weeks the radio was saturated with Beatle songs and their singles and albums were selling like hot cakes. We’d heard about these four guys from Liverpool, England (where ever that was.) And heard the media proclaiming  “the Beatles are coming” forever. And finally they landed at Kennedy National Airport in New York on February, 7th 1964. They were greeted at the airport like some kind of weird long haired royalty by mostly screaming girls. Girls! 
 Sullivan gave this famous introduction and was drowned out by screaming girls before he could finish! 
 "Now yesterday and today our theater's been jammed with newspapermen and hundreds of photographers from all over the nation, and these veterans agreed with me that the city never has the excitement stirred by these youngsters from Liverpool, who call themselves The Beatles. Now tonight, you're gonna twice be entertained by them. Right now, and again in the second half of our show. Ladies and gentlemen, The Beatles. Let's bring them on."
“All my Lovin’” begins 
Pandemonium ensued. Girls! 
I watched that show on a Zenith black and white console television set with some of my family. My mom was probably sitting on our very hip, very 1960’s green sofa. And me? I was laying on the floor as close to the TV as I could get! 
"I think they’re kinda cute" my mom said after they completed  "All My Lovin’” She would repeat this phrase just about every time someone mentioned the Beatles for the rest of her life. How cute was she?  
Watching this performance just like every other boy on planet earth (73 million Americans watched that night) and saw out-of-control teenage girls freaking out over these talented mop tops… I decided that I wanted to be a musician (btw I’m really glad that I didn’t want to be Ringo because I really suck at playing drums!) So my career path was set at the tender age of 5...I never really wanted to do or be anything else. 
 Next week at kindergarten, yes, kindergarten I informed the teacher that I was now a guitar player and that I had a rock-n-roll band! She, being the supportive type and all, advised me to bring my guitar in the next day and play my first gig for "show and tell"
UH OH! I went home pretty shaken' (not stirred) because I knew damn well, wait...darn well (I was just five after all) that I didn't have a guitar OR a band! I was very solemn at our family dinner that night, not saying a word....with a cross between terror and guilt on my cute, little, adorable face. As soon as my mom asked "what's wrong, Tracy" I broke down immediately under her extreme interrogation and cried "I lied!!! I lied!  with tears running down my cute, little, adorable face. "I lied and told everyone at kindergarten that I had a guitar and a band!" My cute, little, adorable face was now red and covered in "I got caught" tears and full of repentance. My mother being the coolest mom on the planet went into super hero mode and started calling around to our friends looking for a guitar. First up were the twins Danny and David Cox who I'm sure had a couple of guitars but probably didn’t want to part with them because well... girls!  And I think they were performing as a twin singing act already....shot down! The next call yielded much better results though! Ronnie and Linda Radar who were my parents best friends and the funniest couple this side of Lucy and Desi  Arnaz. Low and behold these wonderful humans showed up with a little red and black acoustic guitar that very night and just gave it to me! It wasn't exactly the Gretch that George was playing Sunday night but for me, a five year old compulsive liar, it was pretty awesome! The big problem was that no one knew how to tune it. I remember Ronnie tuning the first four strings to "all-dogs-have-fleas” but that left two strings unaccounted for! It was ok, I probably wasn’t going to use those two anyway!  
I did take the guitar into "show and tell" the next day and I was pretty much “all show and no tell” i pretended to play it...Hell…I mean heck, the other kids couldn’t tell if I was any good or not (I wasn't) and the teacher was just happy that I actually showed up with a guitar no matter how badly out of tune it was.
So in summary: I lied about having a guitar and received a guitar. I have been lying and playing guitar ever since!!
Our beloved Tom. 
So in February 13 2018 I died. I suffered heart failure and died. It took open heart surgery and nine days to revive me. But they did revive me. After I woke up though,  I hallucinated for 7 straight days and went those same 7 days without sleep. I was out of my mind. Not that I wasn’t before this happened. 
Lots of bizarre things happened..,almost all of them imagjned. 
During smu urgery I floated out of my body and hovered over my disceased parents. We had non-verbal communication which was sad and heartbreaking. They appeared to be in a funeral home sitting on beautiful vintage furniture with a bible on a wooden table between them. They were sad but I only stayed a minute. I’m assuming that this is when I floated back into my body. When I finally came to, some days later,  I believed that I had just seen them and that they were extremely worried about me. I begged to call them but everyone was afraid to tell me they weren’t with us anymore. I took the news well and it actually helped me start trying to figure out what else was real and what was not. 
While I was out my daughter told the staff “I can’t wait for him to wake up, he’s so sweet and funny” you guys will love him!” 
Well. Not. Just. Yet. 
When I first woke up everything was dark and demented, I thought men were having sex with each other in my bed and on the beds beside me. (There were no beds beside me) I was pissed that the head nurse was allowing this to happen and I though she was even encouraging it! I had a feeding tube in my neck and wasn’t suspossed to talk (good luck with that!) I threatened to pull it out...they told me if I did, I’d die...I just shrugged. I had already died. 
I felt bad later because this nurse was a sweet caring girl who only wanted the best for me. But I was literally not myself. 
My joke later was: I didn’t even know who I was when I first woke up...man, was I disappointed. :) 
Next, I imagined that I had a hidden area behind my bed where I’d sometimes go to get away from it all...but then in my sick mind it suddenly had been enclosed and now I was stuck in a small room and no one knew I was there. In my tormented state, they finally came and tore down the walls bug the debris fell on top of me, including glass. I actually reacted to all of this happening from the comfort of my bed. 
 Now, suddenly, I thought that I could project the contents of my mind onto the walls and ceilings. I thought that I could turn any device into WiFi. Images of beautiful things flew passed my eyes and onto the walls like a very fast slide show  Some were my pictures and art and some were similar to mine as if a reverse search had been performed. This went on for five days and then strangely turned into images of logos from the worlds most famous brands. Apple, Nike, Starbucks and two or three others. Now, they were all I saw and they moved swiftly through my head and onto the walls making me dizzy 24/7. 
Good times! 
Slowly but slowly I started to become myself again. Much to the chargin of those that know me well. But you don’t go through this and come out the other side unchanged. 
Given a second chance you love the people you love a lot more and you figure out who values you being here on planet earth. 
I have more and better relationships...ironically most of them I’ve developed since this all happened. 
Oh the irony! 
The strangest thing that’s happened is this...I believe the hallucinations and God actually opened my creativity back up to the level I had when I was a child...which was a LOT! I’ve created more and created much more meaningful art since all of this occurred. People ask me why I continue at the pace I’m on. I. Can’t. Stop. 
I currently have an ongoing documentary that I’m producing with/of Adrian Belew. 
A 3 month gallery exhibit that will allow me to present my work the way I’ve always wanted. And it’s in a supremely beautiful setting. 
I have a client who is flying me to Miami to do a sort of video/photography overview of him, his brand and music. He’s just spent the last two years recording at Abby Road Studios in London. 
He’s releasing 7 albums this year! 
I’m producing a music video for one of my favorite musical artist. A brilliant singer/songwriter/guitar virtuoso. 
I continue to make and sell my landscape photography and place them on my unique backings of reclaimed materials and hand painted canvas. 
I have my modeling portfolio business that I still love and will continue to do. 
I’ve created the Upbeat Cafe Podcast with my best friend Anton. I feel like we’re just now getting good at these. I listen to them myself and get something out of them every time. 
I just launched a tee-shirt business and have sold 32 shirts in 3 days. I’m really loving designing specifically for apparel. 
Phew!! Is that everything?! I’m probably leaving something out and you’re probably asleep with your phone laying beside you. 

Love ya. 

I’ve been really hesitant to share this but here it is. 
February of 2009, I returned home from a week in Florida. I had taken my mom to Ft Myers where her and my dad had vacationed every year for many years. We stayed in a condo that they used to rent every year, a beautiful place on the beach...It was sad without him there and the weather was very un-Ft-Myers-like. Raining, cold, blustery wind... the food was great but the weather sucked. We left and came home early as the forecast didn’t call for sunshine anytime soon. 
So we get home and my sister Vikki is at my moms house to greet us and tells me that someone was trying to get in touch with me. She has a rather concerned look on her face. A guy had called several times asking about me. 
“What does he want?”
“You just need to call him it’s really important” she looked serious and concerned for a minute. 
I took the number he had left her and tucked it away. Not really thinking that much about it. 
I went back to my home in the Mansion Hill District of Newport, Ky . My joke about my house there was that I didn’t consider my home to be a mansion but the butler, gardeners, and maids all seemed to think it was. And Monday I went back to my job as the Digital Sales Manager at The Cincinnati Enquirer which was almost in walking distance from my mansion....I mean house. 
A few days later I found the sheet of paper that Vikki had written the number on and dialed it. It went to voicemail.
I left a message:
“Hello Eric, I heard that you were trying to reach me...what’s up? Call me back.” 
It wasn’t long before my cell phone rings. 
“Is this Tracy Deaton?” 
Yes, who is this?” 
‘did you know a “Kim ______?” 
“Not that I recall, why, who is she?”
“Did you live in Villa Hills, Ky  when you were about 17?“
“Did you go to Dixie Heights High School?” 
“Yep.  Why?”
“Did you used to play in a band?”
I was kind of tired of playing this game but I was intrigued by now. Where is this going?
Wait for it.....
“I think that you are my dad!” 
“Pretty sure that you are my father”
I tried to process this but. my. mind. could. not.
“I’m NOT your dad but I’ll help you find him, you need to know who he is” was all I could muster to say. 
A long pause in the conversation. 
“What makes you think this?”
“My mom told me”
“I’m sorry, who is your mother?”
“I don’t know her!”
“I’ve been trying to find you for years, my mom told me that you were actually my dad after the man I had always thought was my father passed away”
Could this be true? Could my whole life up until this point have been wrong?
Eric continues to tell me his story:
The man that he thought was his father “John” had been in a motorcycle accident when he was young and had damage to his body in a way  that made him physically unable to produce children.
His last name had been Pancake.  Really? Pancake? That’s unfortunate. 
His family had treated Eric poorly his whole life because they knew that he couldn’t be “John’s” son.
His grandparents had left him an inheritance (even though they knew he wasn’t their biological grandson) that the family contested and fought him over. 
Apparently, I had met his mother when I was playing music in a club and had a one night stand with her. (I’m ashamed to admit that this was not uncommon for me at the time.) 
She was broken up with “John”at the time but had reconciled shorting after and somehow she convinced him that it was his child.
So I’m processing this:
Could this be true?
Am I in some kind of hidden camera video and I’m about to be punked?
Why am I just now finding this out? Eric was 30 years old at this time. 
Everything I thought I knew about my life was now wrong. 
My head was swirling and I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.
How am I going to tell my mom?
How am I going to tell my ex-wife? (Eric would have been born before I met her but still...)
How am I going to tell Brittany? That was what worried me most! 
I felt terrible, sick, guilt and happy at the same time.
“Well, let’s get an DNA  test and find out the truth.”
Eric wanted to meet to get the DNA test at the same time but I didn’t want to meet until I was 100% sure one way or the other. I didn’t want to form a relationship and then found out that Eric wasn’t my son. 
2 days later. 
Cue Murray Povich…..Trace Deaton.....you are…the father. 
So my life and perspective of the world had changed in a flash...everything I thought I knew was wrong! I had two children, my perfect Brittany was no longer an only child. I Had missed an opportunity to have/raise a son...something I’d always wanted. What else about my life did I not know?  I had serious guilt that I wasn’t there for this kid that certainly could have used a my influence. But I didn’t know! I’d never heard so much as a rumor about this, although one of my musician buddies confessed to me when I told him about the situation that he had heard that Eric was mine. He knew Kim from high school. Thanks buddy. 
On top of all of this Eric is a father of a beautiful boy who is the cutest, smartest kid ever! I’m a dad and a grandfather…AGAIN! 
Eric, despite it all, is a super cool man and has been really successful. Him, his son and his wife are happy, intelligent and fun. 
I wish that I had a happier ending for you all. But unfortunately, I don’t.
Eric and I had met as two grown-ass men. It wasn’t a father-son relationship in any traditional way. And I certainly am not a traditional man. I’m sure Eric had in his mind who his real father was all those years...and I can almost assure you that it was not me. I’m a bachelor, an artist, a musician. I’m a gypsy. I’ll pack up and move across the country at a moments notice. I never intend to get married again. My daughter summed it up best when she told Eric early on that “if you were expecting Beaver Cleaver’s dad…he ain’t it!” However, he is a great father in so many ways.” My relationship with Brittany, who is my closest friend, confidant, teacher and sometimes caretaker is what has always given my life meaning. I wished that Eric and I could have that. But it can’t be forced and I fear that it will never happen. Britt and Eric have formed a nice relationship and that makes me really happy.
From Eric’s perspective, it was hard for him to be open and trusting. He had been lied to by everyone about everything for so long. We tried for a while to build a relationship but for whatever reason it didn’t take. We never had a falling out, we just never have had a falling in. 
I look at it like this…Eric is alive because of a one night stand that I had with his mother. His mother would have never had a child with her husband and Eric wouldn’t be here to have this wonderful wife and child that he so dearly loves. I certainly don’t regret that. 
How could I? 
Sit down kids and I’ll tell you a little story, a story about chickens and a rooster named Brewster. Brewster the Rooster. It’s a sad but interesting “tail.” Brewster the rooster was a masterful leader over his brood. He ran a tight coup but his hens loved him for it. The day I took these photos he and the hens were in the yard per usual. I decided to draw them closer by feeding them so I could get better pictures. As I threw out each handful of feed, Brewster would rush to the area the food had landed and then decide which hen would be the next to eat. He didn’t eat right away...he made sure his girls were fed. You’ve heard the term “pecking order” I couldn’t help but compare him to an inner-city pimp. 
Here comes the sad part. One day Brewster became aggressive and attcked my ex-wife in that same yard. Not cool Brewster, not cool. Although, I was never charged, there seemed to be some suspicion that I had conspired with the Rooster on the attack but again no charges were ever filed. 
This would not stand and the Brewmaster had to be put down. Sad, sad day on my daughters farm. We loved that rooster but with small kids around they could never trust him again.
Now, comes the interesting part. With Brewster out of the picture and coup, the hens were left leaderless. However, it didn’t take long until one of the hens stepped up and started commanding the troups. She became the boss and soon started developing the characteristics of a rooster. Yes, this is a phenomenon in the world of chickens that if a broad is roosterless the most dominant female can take over and become leader...it is very rare. When I say characteristics, I mean, they start to develop the pointed tail feathers and take on the gait of a rooster and even start crowing. However, they biologically remain hens...they don’t develop “boy parts.” They do become the top of the peaking order and the undisputed leader. 
This went on for a couple of years and the girls were doing great until one day the kind, gentlemanly neighbor who I dubbed “Ricketypoo” brought a new rooster up the driveway. 
Oh boy, this started Chickageddon in the backyard. First off, this new fella was scrawny and had mangled little chicken legs. He was definitely no Brewster the Rooster. Secondly, The girls already had a leader and she had become fierce and mighty. The broad did not accept this new guy and let it be known in no uncertain terms. They at first ostracized him but as time drew on they started displaying cruelty to animals and attacking the poor boy. They would circle him and then move in to pluck out his feathers...what the pluck? One day, they plucked out all of his tail feathers and most of his body was battered and torn. He was clearly defeated and lost all hope of becoming the commander in chief. 
The next morning he was found dead in the coup. The girls never mentioned him again and life went on as though everything was normal on the farm. 

Creativity has been a part of Trace Deaton’s life since he can remember. At five years old Trace wanted to be his big brother, mentor and best friend, Tom, and then the Beatles changed the course of their lives forever when they saw them on a black and white console tv as they appeared on the Ed Sullivan show. At that very moment, Trace knew he wanted to be a musician. “So my career path was set at the tender age of five… I never really wanted to do or be anything else,” he said. 
Very soon after that, Trace landed his first gig! His kindergarten teacher invited him to play his guitar at show-and-tell! There was only one small problem. He didn’t have a guitar and he surely didn’t have a band like he had gloated to his teacher about. Panic ensued, as well as many tears. But, mom jumped into action and immediately went looking. “My mother being the coolest mom on the planet went into super hero mode and started calling around to our friends looking for a guitar,” Trace said. 
After a few phone calls, a red and black acoustic guitar showed up. “I lied about having a guitar and received a guitar. I have been lying and playing guitar ever since!!” said Trace. 
And so begun a long, successful musical career that truly blossomed at age 10, while Trace was recovering from a serious illness that literally stopped him in his tracks. One afternoon Trace was playing baseball with his buds when he just collapsed while rounding the bases. “Suddenly my body just completely shut down and I couldn’t run or even walk anymore,” Trace said. 
After a week of examinations, swollen joints, high fever, and tests, results came back pretty gloomy. Trace was diagnosed with rheumatic fever, something his uncle has died of around the same age Trace had been. HIs treatment: stay off his feet for several months as well as a massive dose of penicillin. “I practiced guitar, ate a lot of ice cream and started a lifelong love affair with my imagination because sometimes that’s all I had,” he said. 
After missing the fifth grade, being spoiled by his family, and entertaining his imaginary friend Dino, Trace was given a clean bill of health and returned school. In the seventh grade, Trae’s love for the guitar flourished. “I was obsessed with music (still am.) I played and practiced guitar 24/7,” Trace said. 
In high school, Trace and friends started a band called Showdown. After playing at their own homecoming dance, they broke up after graduation, as many bands do. Trace’s next move was starting another band called Showdown. “We were actually a jam band way before the term was coined,” he said. But even with a good band, Trace was looking for more. “I wanted to write and record my own songs,” he said.
Trace moved to California to follow his dream, hooking up with his manager Stan King and working production jobs with bands such as Styx and The Doobie Brothers as well as performing with former teen idol Ricky Nelson. “There are many stories you wouldn’t believe happened to a kid from Kentucky,” Trace said. Not only did Trace have a long, successful career playing guitar, but he also sang and played keyboards. “How did I do that?” He asked himself. “Who gets to play music until they are 40 years old?”
Then there was that one time he died. “I actually died twice,” he said, “But twelve months to the day, here I am with a different outlook on life and at my creative peak,” he said. 
And quite a bit has happened between his brush with death and now. Not only is Trace doing art full time after retiring after 20 years of online advertising, but he has created something unique to his brand. He calls it Artography, a combo of photography and art. “It gives me a license to do whatever I want. It is creating new worlds that don’t exist,” Trace said. “They are somewhere between reality and fiction. Which is what I am doing right now,” he said. 

Trace is proud that he does a lot of different things. “I do the photography and writing. I have photographed hundreds of models, I have video and animations, and my artography. And under the umbrella of artography, there are a lot of different mediums,” he said.
Trace has also been working with many top line musicians, including long time friend and now collaborator, Adrian Belew (David Bowie, Frank Zappa, Talking Heads) doing animated music videos, as well as tour promotion videos and album covers. “This is just different aspects of what I do,” he said. “I enjoy being free to explore artist expression in all different directions, it’s very freeing and working with musicians is a really natural fit, being one myself helps me interpret their ideas into visuals” he said.
Gathering a nice online following, Trace has decided he wants to write a book about his life and experiences.

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