Player Feeling It's Oates

Rollingstone Magazine April 6, 1978

  "Walking into a room that Player is in is an experience", Player's press release gushes. "They seem to vibrate the air with their presence." I don't know about the experience part, but the air is determinedly upbeat in this Santa Monica hotel room, where the five members of Player, in town as the warmup act for Eric Clapton, have gathered for an interview. There aren't even grimaces in fact, when Hall And Oates are mentioned. Player has been labeled a copycat because of its Hall-And-Oates-sounding Top ten single, "Baby Come Back". "If you're going to get compared to someone, it's nice to get compared to someone good", says a smiling Peter Beckett, guitarist/vocalist. Adds keyboard player/vocalist J.C. Crowley, "It's flattering  because so far no one's said we sound like the Kingsmen". They do sound alternately like the Eagles, Steely Dan, The Young Rascals, the Bee Gees and who knows who else on their debut album, Player. Perhaps that's why Player has come so far so fast. 

Beckett and Crowley met two years ago at a Hollywood party. Liverpool-born Beckett, who remembers catching some of the Beatles' lunchtime sets at the Cavern ("That's where I got the urge to do it"), had played his way to Los Angeles several years earlier, and Crowley had been lured from the Gulf Coast of Texas after getting an encouraging phone call from Jesse Ed Davis, who'd heard one of his tapes. Beckett and Crowley then met bassist/vocalist  Ronn Moss, son of   theater impresario John Moss. Moss brought in John Friesen, who he'd played with in high-school bands before Friesen had taken off for a six-year stint with the Ice Follies.("The ratio was sixty to one female, that's why I stayed.")

   Instead of sending tapes to land a record deal, Beckett, Crowley, and Moss made the rounds in person, lugging their acoustic guitars and electric bass and amp with them. "A tape can get shoved away", Moss explains. "Yeah", chortles Friesen, "and you need a big shelf for three guys". Producers Dennis Lambert and Brian Potter (who had worked with such acts as the Righteous Brothers and The Four Tops) didn't mind the intrusion and signed Player to their Haven Records. The label folded shortly after the group was signed, but Lambert and Potter subsequently helped Player land a deal with RSO and produced the group's first album last fall. Player went into the studio as a four-man unit, only to be so pleased with the keyboard work of L.A. session man Wayne Cook, that he was invited to join The cover art had already been shot however, hence, only four faces. Though "Baby Come Back" had been in the Top Ten charts for a few weeks, Crowley admits that the member's financial status is "lower-middle class at the moment", sparking Friesen to add " Just two nights ago I had the shit embarrassed out of me. Twelve relatives sitting around me and the bill comes. They all just look at me and smile. I had three dollars in my pocket."

   Then, perhaps thinking ahead to the royalty checks due to start streaming in, Crowley begins pointing around the room. "I'll be a wealthy man. He will be. He will be. He will be, and he will be. We'll all be rich... someday."

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