He is a composer, arranger, guitarist, multi-instrumentalist and teacher born in Ponce, Puerto Rico and growing up in New York in a family where his father was a minister of a Pentecostal church.
Teaching himself to play the guitar when he was 10 years old, he started his career as a professional musician when he was 16. Becoming a member of the Apollo Theater’s house band in the 1960s after he had appeared in its Amateur Hour he was soon backing successful artists of the day such as Chuck Berry and in 1968 toured with James Brown for nearly a year, but resigned after money was taken from his wages when he missed a cue. This spurred him into forming his own band Listen My Brother where his vocalists were Fonzi Thornton, Robin Clark, who he would later marry, and Luther Vandross .
His success was found as a session musician though when he performed with artists such as Ben E. King, Roy Ayers and the group Main Ingredient, who he would tour with. When he was working in the studio in 1974 with Lulu he met David Bowie who had wanted him to be part of his Diamond Dogs tour but due to obligations with Main Ingredient this had to be shelved. Before long though he was recording with David Bowie, as well as Luther Vandross and Robin Clark and those sessions made up much of his album Young Americans. He then began touring with him once he was free to do so and in 1975 was present at the session when John Lennon and David Bowie recorded “Across the Universe” and then, using one of his guitar riff’s, the song “Fame” came to be as an impromptu sideline and his name appeared beside these two legends on the credits. For the next five years he worked on every album David Bowie released as well as working with Iggy Pop and also took on the position of musical director. In 1980 he became a part of Iggy Pop’s band and re-joined Bowie to tour and record in 1987.
In 1988 he released his solo recording Dream Generator and has gone on to work with many more artists such as Arcadia, Bee Gees, Jimmy Destri, Duran Duran, Whitney Houston, Mick Jagger, Sir Paul McCartney, Bette Midler, Cyndi Lauper, The O’Jays, Yoko Ono, Peter, Paul & Mary, Prefab Sprout, The Pretenders, Carly Simon, Simple Minds, The Scissor Sisters, Belouis Some , Bruce Springsteen and Tina Turner. Albums his work can be heard on include Station to Station, Low and Stage by David Bowie, Lust for Life by Iggy Pop, Heart on a Wall by Jimmy Destri , Onobox by Yoko Ono, So Red the Rose by Arcadia, Milk and Honey by John Lennon & Yoko Ono, Get Close by The Pretenders, BBC Live in Concert 1977-1991 by Graham Parker, Letters Never Sent by Carly Simon , Hat Full of Stars by Cyndi Lauper, Once Upon a Time by Simple Minds, She’s the Boss by Mick Jagger , Ta-Dah by The Scissor Sisters and Press to Play by Paul McCartney .
His successful musical career has seen him performing on 32 gold and platinum albums, working as a bandleader on TV’s The Caroline Rhea Show and even making an appearance on Sesame Street. He is the president of The Recording Academy’s New York chapter and the director of Boombacker Records. As a teacher he is an Adjunct Professor of Music Technology at the Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, New Jersey.
Here he is in a jam session…