Interviews

Q&A With Mal Gray

How did you meet Chico?

When I first guested with Sha Na Na in the USA.

What band or bands did you play in with Chico?

Sha Na Na
Mal Gray Band
Bill Haley’s Comets

When Chico auditioned for the band, what was it that made him a perfect fit?

I didn’t audition Chico – there was no need.

When Chico played live performances, what was it like to be on stage with him and what did he bring to the table performance wise?

Fun.  Whatever he thought was necessary.  It was always positive.

In the recording studio, what his favorite part of recording music and what did he bring to the table?  What was it like to work with him on a record?  What gear did he use in the studio and did he only record bass lines or did he record on other instruments?

His favourite part of recording music was working with good players.  He used whatever equipment was available and his own guitars which were both Fender. He recorded guitar as well as bass, and vocals.

What was it that made Chico special in the band and what did he bring to the table?

Charisma and enthusiasm.

What was it about Chico that made him a good friend?

He was always encouraging, generous and positive.

What is your fondest memory of Chico?

There are very many. He was very kind when my father died. I had the pleasure of staying with Chico’s family in Boston on may occasions. When we worked together with Bill Haley in the studio. Chico was always good to have around.

What do you feel was Chico most talented at?

Enthusiasm and likeability.

What type of gear did he use amp wise as well as bass and/or guitar wise?

Usually Fender, sometimes Peavy.

Chico was a multi-instrumentalist.  What other instruments did he play well?

Drums and guitar.

What made Chico a special part of your life?

Being a very good and genuine friend. He encouraged me to write (songs).

Any other thoughts or comments?

Through Chico’s encouragement, I’ve now had songs recorded by Bill Haley, Jo Sun, Ben Wild, Albert West, and many on my own albums.

Q&A With Screamin’ Scott Simon

How did you meet Chico and when Chico auditioned for the band, what was it that made him a perfect fit?

He auditioned with about 40 or 50 other guys. What made him stand out was that he could not only play, sing, move well, look good, but that as a Bostonian he was a known quantity (along with Lennie and Jocko who were from Boston) and his having already played in several “big time” bands meant that we was an experienced professional.

When Chico played live performances, what was it like to be on stage with him and what did he bring to the table performance wise?

He had a very sunny personality onstage.

In the recording studio, what his favorite part of recording music and what did he bring to the table? What was it like to work with him on a record? What gear did he use in the studio and did he only record bass lines or did he record on other instruments?

I think on Sha Na Na albums he only played bass, on his stage bass and whatever amplifier was in the recording studio.

What was it about Chico that made him a good friend?

For me personally, Chico was always goading me to do more songwriting, do more honing of my craft. He was extremely unselfish in encouraging me and wanted to help out any way he could. His wife Sue and his daughter Kim also became part of the Sha Na Na extended family, and we are still in touch with them.

Chico was a practical joker. What was the funniest prank that he played on someone?

Probably the most outrageous “stunt” he ever pulled was convincing us (and it didn’t take that much convincing, it was such a funny idea) that when the DOORS movie came out in the late 80′s or early 90′s that when we played at the SANDS HOTEL in Las Vegas we would do a special encore starring him in a Jim Morrison wig (which looked hilarious) and we did a DOORS song (not Light My Fire…I can’t remember which one offhand)…and he was all over the stage “being” Jim Morrison. It just about stopped the show. Literally.

What type of gear did he use amp wise as well as bass and/or guitar wise?

He used a Fender bass, not sure if memory serves whether it was a Precision or a Jazzmaster. He also hooked up endorsement deals with MUSIC MAN for guitars and amps during the TV show days.

Chico was a multi-instrumentalist. What other instruments did he play well?

On my personal album recorded in the late ’70′s, Chico played rhythm guitar on every cut. He also toured with Bill Haley as a guitar player. He was actually more of a guitar who also played bass than a pure bass player. I think he also played a little keys.

Q&A With John Paiva

How did you meet Chico?

We were both playing on the Boston scene at the same time.

What band or bands did you play in with Chico?

We played in hit group, “The Happenings,” together for a while.

When Chico auditioned for the band, what was it that made him a perfect fit?

Easy to get along with and enthusiasm to no end.

When Chico played live performances, what was it like to be on stage with him and what did he bring to the table performance wise?

Good playing and positive high energy.

What was it that made Chico special in the band and what did he bring to the table?

He was just a lot of fun and always up beat.

What was it about Chico that made him a good friend?

He was very honest.

What is your fondest memory of Chico?

His smile.

What do you feel was Chico most talented at?

Communication.

Chico was a practical joker. What was the funniest prank that he played on someone?

Too many to recall just one. He was kind of nuts. He was very good on the receiving end as well.

What type of gear did he use amp wise as well as bass and/or guitar wise?

He had the same old precision bass for umpteen years. I once gave him a strap for his bass which was adorned with a snake. I never saw him play after that without that strap.

Chico was a multi-instrumentalist. What other instruments did he play well?

He played some guitar and piano and of course sang and wrote.

What made Chico a special part of your life?

He was simply a very good friend. Called me in New York from Japan when he saw me on TV show on his hotel room TV.

Any other thoughts or comments?

I miss him.

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