James Joseph McGuinn, his given name went to The Latin School of Chicago. He became bitten with the music bug after hearing Elvis Presley sing Heartbreak Hotel.
He begged his parents for a guitar.
Other childhood influences include Gene Vincent, Carl Perkins and the Everly Brothers.
|Old Town School of Folk Music|
In 1957 McGuinn enrolled in Chicago’s Old Town School of Folk Music. It was there that he learned to play the five string banjo and got serious about playing guitar. By his graduation he was playing solo at various Chicagocoffeehouses.
|The Chad Mitchell Trio|
His influences included several trio vocal groups including the Limeliters and the Chad Mitchell Trio, a group which he would later become a member.
McGuinn got a job playing guitar and singing background in Bobby Darin’s band. This job lead to him relocating to California and the Los Angeles music scene. It was in Los Angeles that he met future members of the Byrds.
|The Brill Building|
In 1962 Darin hired McGuinn with the thought in mind that Darin wanted to add some folk music to his career. These were the years that Folk Music had significantly gained in popularity. By mid 1963, Darin’s health began to fail and he retired from singing. He opened a songwriting and publishing office in New York City’s Brill Building and hired Jim McGuinn.
McGuinn also found work as a studio guitarist and that same year was backing up Judy Collins and Simon & Garfunkel on their recordings.
The rumblings of Beatlemania and the British Invasion were about to take place. Within less than a year the Beatles American tour would commence.
McGuinn traveled back to Los Angelesand took a job at Doug Weston’s The Troubadour. Jim McGuinns act included folks songs that were played in a rock style.
This caught the attention of Gene Clark. Clark befriended McGuinn and thus was formed the beginnings of the Byrds.
Eventually the duo found other like-mined folk/rock influenced member, Chris Hillman, David Crosby and Michael Clarke. The quintet began to perform at Los Angeles clubs. In January of 1965 they recorded the monster hit, Mr. Tambourine Man.
The Byrds' version was much different than what the songs writer, Bob Dylan, had put down on vinyl.
Members of the Byrds were dismayed by the fact that the only group member playing an instrument on the recording was McGuinn.
This was typical of most major recording sessions. Studio time was expensive and record companies wanted ‘product’ out as soon as possible. And this track was being done at Columbia Studios.
|'65 McGuinn and producer Terry Melcher|
The other members of the Byrds sang back up.
|Rickenbacker 360/12 string|
|Teletronix LA-2A Compressor|
"That is how I got my ‘jingle-jangle’ tone. I was able to sustain a note for three or four seconds.”
|The Byrds Eight Miles High|
This came in handy with the Byrds next hit, Eight Miles High. It was in this song that Jim McGuinn attempted to emulate John Coltrane’s disconnected jazz riffs. He didn’t think this could be accomplished without such sustain.
By combining a flat pick and metal finger picks…I discovered I could instantly switch from fast single-note runs to banjo rolls and get the best of both world."
|Roger McGuinn 2014|
Jim sent in a list of ten names that had to do with airplanes and science fiction
As Roger was the one actual name and the 18th letter of the alphabet that air pilots use when talking on the radio, that was the name McGuinn chose.
|Camilla and Roger McGuinn|
Since then Roger and his wife Camilla have become Christians.
McGuinn’s first Rickenbacker was a two pickup model 360-12 that had a beautiful blond finish. He was fascinated by the guitar George Harrison played in Hard Days Night. Harrison’s guitar was bound on the front and the back of the body. It was done in a yellow-to red sunburst finish that Rickenbacker calls Fireglo.
McGuinn could not find a Rickenbacker 12 string that had the pointier cutaways and top trim. He purchased the only available model and used it through his Byrds career.
This guitar was stolen and when he replaced it with a similar instrument. He states that in later years it showed up at an auction and sold for $100,000.
Paul Kanter of the Jefferson Airplane suggest using a Vox Treble Booster. This was one of the first generation sound enhancers. The unit was small and plugged into a guitars input.
McGuinn took the booster apart and installed in internally in his Rickenbacker. He states he tried other compression units, but could not get his sound until the Jangle-Box was invented.
|Roland JC 120 Jazz Chorus|
McGuinn currently uses the Jangle Box and a Roland JC120 amplifier to achieve his sound.
McGuinn does his own string changes and set up on his guitars. Changing strings on a Rickenbacker 12 can be an all day task. McGuinn has produced a video to show how he changes strings and also how he makes neck adjustments.
Martin also came out with a very unique model for McGuinn called the HD-7. This is a historic dreadnought style 45 Martin that has 7 strings. The unusual thing about this instrument is that an octave ‘G’ string is added to give the sound of a 12 string guitar, but the ease and convenience of a 6 string guitar.
Roger frequently utilized single string runs to get his sound and this guitar does the trick. It too is no longer in production, but is still available through some major music stores.
He was using a Fender Mastertone banjothat was given to him by Fender guitars when they were about to be acquired by CBS. He traded it to a friend for an old banjothat was made using Vega and Ode banjo parts.
During his days with Sweethearts of the Rodeo, he used a Gretsch Country Gentleman. He did not think the Rickenbacker 12 would fit into Country Music.
He states that he owns two Rickenbacker ‘Light Show’ guitars, but no longer takes them on the road. He owns a number of Rickenbacker guitars. He also owns a Martin 00-21.
Now in his 70’s, McGuinn only tours to theaters and performing arts centers stating they are well equipped facilities. He travels with his wife and enjoys getting in touch with fans all over the country.
|The Rock Bottom Remainders|
The band was established by writer, producer and literary agent Kathi Kamen Goldmark.
Over the years the Remainder has included among its members Dave Barry, Stephen King, Amy Tan, Cynthia Heimel, Sam Barry, Matt Groening, Greg Iles, Maya Angelou and Al Kooper.
Click on the links below the pictures for the sources. Click on the links in the text for more information.
In this post, I’m going to talk about various decisions I made which lead to amazing opportunities. I believe you can achieve this predictive capability as well by observing, reading and having the mindset to watch for trends. Of course, you should do things that you are interested in, not just follow trends!
After a few years of doing structural engineering in consulting firms, I realized I wanted to return to my childhood passion, which was computer programming (my first computer was a Timex Sinclair ZX81). So around 1999, I looked into the industry and felt that object-oriented programming was where things were headed (a way to organize code into objects rather than endless lines of code). There happened to be a fast-track program at the University called OOST (object-oriented software technology). We learned different things but I felt that Java was pretty amazing and “free” or open-source (headed by Sun Microsystems at the time) and where things were going. Also, web-based applications were getting pretty interesting (much more powerful than the usual ‘static’ HTML websites), so I decided to work at Servidium which was developing a web-application framework called Jaydoh. Frameworks make it easier to build web apps and allow you to separate the view (HTML – what you see in the browser) from the controller (Java – the logic) which are also usually different skill sets.
Jaydoh was basically competing with Struts (an Apache open source framework) so the challenge to get sales was large, ie. to sell a proprietary framework when an open source one was already available. So I decided that I should get into open source Java instead for the sake of my career. That lead me to work at Digital Oilfield (DO) who was using J2EE (Java Enterprise Edition) to run their apps.
As it happened DO was about to release a new version of their software so they asked me if I wanted to learn something called webMethods. I said sure even though I had no idea what it was (always good to learn new skills). They needed a way to exchange invoice files between companies and were originally thinking of using Java (servlets) unless I could figure out webMethods quickly (which I did). This lead me to learn about the new area of ‘Enterprise Application Integration’ or EAI and B2B (business to business) transactions (exchanging data like invoices and purchase orders between companies essentially). At that point, I realized that this was an important and growing area. I’ve been working in this area ever since (about 2003).
Somewhere along the line people started talking about web services. So instead of applications full of code that are hard to reuse, we started to think about creating web services (similar to functions by accessible on the internet). In the corporate world this became SOAP (simple object access protocol) and on the internet, it became REST (Representational State Transfer). SOAP is pretty complicated compared to REST which is another important fact to take note of.
During my work as an integration consultant, I noticed that new areas were getting some interest such as business process modeling (BPM). I was pretty interested in this as well as it made sense to set up a process (step by step tasks that need to be done in a common business process) and plug in either automated or human-performed tasks. This is a higher-level layer than the integration layer of course. The challenge for me was that none of the companies I was getting called by had these types of opportunities (it was fairly cutting edge at the time). Also as a contractor, you are paid for your expertise so whenever you have a major learning project it’s probably best to join a company as an employee so you can learn the new skills. Another way is to pay for your own training and try to be put on a project with other experienced people (in BPM, for example). This is a bit riskier as you have the knowledge but not the experience.
I decided to keep doing webMethods projects which were lucrative and allowed me to ‘retire’ in my early 40s. In 2010 I moved to a semi-rural area of Eastern Canada but was still taking various webMethods projects with large breaks (usually many months) in between. The last one was only 1 day a week from home which was great because I could work on other things of interest. But in general, this work was getting pretty boring (not much new learning).
A few years ago I finally decided to get my health in order. So after reading a lot of books, I felt that a plant-based diet made the most sense. I ended up losing over 35 pounds, lowered my blood pressure and lower my cholesterol to ‘heart attack proof’ levels. I’m on no medications at age 47. In fact, I recently had to buy 30″ jeans which is crazy to me (I’m 6′ tall). So I recommend working on your ability to search, read books and papers and try to decipher some of the studies (say on Google Scholar) as it can be tricky to depend on an ‘expert’ in the field (many of them disagree with each other). My success with this approach ended up turning into an online business (Potato Strong) with ebooks, a program, a course, and coaching along with various social media channels that I maintain.
During the past few years, webMethods integration opportunities have diminished somewhat for various reasons (licensing fees, software competition, the influx of cheaper and/or offshore labor, etc) so here we are at another decision point. I’ve been working on other things but my mathematical and programming interests seem to keep coming back. I feel like there’s so much more I can do that I didn’t get into. I received a Ford Motor Company scholarship in 1988 which paid all my engineering tuition plus some living expenses (value $18,000), and then won an NSERC scholarship which paid for my Master’s degree.
Lately, I’ve been looking into deep learning, which is a subset of machine learning which is a subset of artificial intelligence. Related to that area is data science. Last year I took a Computational Investing course on Coursera taught by Tucker Balch of Georgia Tech. Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and others are investing billions of dollars in the area of deep learning. Just to give you an idea of how much better computers are getting at this type of work, there are computers winning Jeopardy game shows, beating people at chess and Go, recommending what Netflix shows you might like to watch, tagging photos on Facebook automatically (facial recognition), translating languages (Google translate), not to mention self-driving cars.
If you’re thinking of career longevity, you might want to focus on things that require very high-level knowledge or one-on-one contact (nurse). Even things like taxi/truck drivers could be replaced with self-driving cars. At a minimum, these are fun things to read about and even play with. Keep your eye open for changing trends and technologies that could affect your job security.
My website (the one you are on now) has historically been about guitar playing and teaching. I still play or practice every day as it’s a long time passion. I try to focus on one topic at a time, so currently it is using minor pentatonic scales (more so sequences) over jazz progressions (if interested drop me a message – I was working on an ebook about this).
After I lost a bunch of weight eating a plant-based diet (I’m now in 30″ jeans at age 47 at 6′ tall) I created the www.potatostrong.com website along with a ‘Potato Strong’ profile for each of YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr. That’s been going pretty well and it feels good to help a lot of people lose weight, get off medications and help the animals and the environment.
For Potato Strong I developed a couple ebooks, program, course, and coaching and as I started to make sales I shared this information on a Facebook page called Share Your Passion Online. Every month I shared my total online income which grew from nothing to a modest monthly income that helps pay the bills. I then had it on auto-pilot to some extent (using MeetEdgar and BoardBooster) but I would still post what I ate most days (to help people see what to eat) and also do YouTube videos which are fun. But I needed a new challenge as I love to learn new things.
My background is engineering (I have a Master’s degree) and computer programming (diploma in object-oriented software technology). I went from being an engineer to switching over to software development where I ended up doing integration for large companies using webMethods software (now SoftwareAG).
webMethods contract opportunities have slowed substantially in the past few years. I used to get calls from a lot of recruiters and had a few close relationships with small consulting firms that specialize in this area.
In one of the many books I’ve read lately (can’t remember which one) they suggested thinking about what you liked doing as a child. While this might not work in every case I used to program computers in my basement. It was fun to make the computer do things. I started with a Timex Sinclair computer that used a regular TV and no data storage (I would eventually turn off the computer losing everything) before I added a regular tape recorder. Then I met a friend in high school and I loaned him my Atari game system for his Vic-20 (with a tape recorder). Then I eventually got a Commodore 64 and my high school had PET computers.
I’ve always loved to learn and am constantly reading books on various topics. It’s a blessing and a curse because it’s hard to do the same thing every day especially if there is no learning component. So last year I took a Python course online that involved stock market predictions using Pandas, Numpy, etc. I did very well and was helping others in the forums.
For some reason, I recently started thinking about artificial intelligence, machine learning, and deep learning. It’s a complex area covering algebra, calculus, probability, computer programming and more (which is pretty much in my study background). I’m going to start with data science projects for the most part using a site called dataquest.io. This area touches pretty much every area of work from health care to social media as it helps employers figure out best business practices.
I’ll be posting my discoveries along the way here. Hopefully, I can add some guitar learnings and other topics over time. The topics are categorized in the top menu if you want to focus on one particular area.
Forget focusing on fame and fortune. Or being a famous guitarist. Screw goals.
I always get excited when I hear an idea that sounds strange at first but then makes me think in a new way. I often I evaluate a project based on the possible opportunities/expectations ie. thinking of learning how to write mobile apps so I can possibly earn some income or help some group like the disabled. Another one is debating whether to write an ebook to help people with a particular problem and earn some income.
A possibly better way to think when evaluating what to do with your time is to focus on the skills you will acquire. These skills may provide some benefit in the future, especially if they are combined with other skills. Scott Adams mentions that he combined some average drawing ability with humor and his knowledge of the office environment.
Since some of you are likely guitarists you could focus on the skills you will acquire – songwriting, arranging, learning scales (that can be applied to many styles), being able to focus for long periods of time while practicing, and so on. Every day you can focus on whether you are developing skills instead of whether you will be famous or even earn a living at the craft. This is systems thinking versus goals.
Say you want to start a blog to share your knowledge but you are wondering if anyone will care, if you will make any money eventually and so on. You might benefit from thinking about what skills you will acquire instead such as clear and concise writing, learning how to install or update a blog (and related website tasks), doing ‘Deep Work‘ (less distracted), writing longer more well researched posts, etc. That way it’s always a win even if no one ever reads your blog. You’ve still developed very useful skills that can be re-used in the next venture.
Focusing on the day to day systems and skills you will develop instead of the end result is another way of saying to be in the present moment. A lot of our ‘future based’ thinking leads to stress and impatience as we are unhappy that we are not at our goal. I’ve seen a lot of guitarists, dieters, and entrepreneurs be constantly frustrated and even give up because they weren’t seeing results (their future goals) fast enough.
When I was doing IT contracts my skills with integration work, specifically using webMethods software, was in high demand. And the hourly rate reflected that (plus I always asked for a high rate). I specifically chose to learn skills rather than try to move up the ladder so to speak. I often made more money than the managers who were more generalist in nature (not to mention employees).
This change in thinking also changes the questions we ask ourselves. Instead of ‘Am I a famous guitarist?’, ‘Do I have a hit song?’, ‘Am I making lots of money?’, ‘Do I have abs?’, we can ask ourselves if we are doing the work each day – ‘Did I practice today?’, ‘Did I write today?’, ‘Did I improve a little today?’.
I hope this idea is interesting to you. What skills are you currently developing?