Meet John Payne (pictured above), an incredible musician and dear friend. While our friendship is relatively recent, going back now seven years or so, it feels like we’ve known each other for far longer. It was one of those associations where there was an instant connection.
I met John through producer David Kershenbaum while working on my first record, Cardo & Friends. I was extremely impressed with the way John just dove right in, totally embracing the project. Being a new, unknown artist, this was a huge compliment to me, and artistic validation for my work, as he went way beyond the call of duty, so to speak. I remember one night working at his studio on harmony vocals with some singers that were doing a great job, but John felt something was still missing. He was patient, David was also there, and we just kinda wrapped it up. After the singers left, John said hold on, asked David to take control of the board, and proceeded to go into the sound booth to record additional vocal parts himself. As he walked past me into the booth, he turned and looked at us and said: “I’ll make this perfect”. Which he did. Beautifully. The result was the chilling ending vocals on the song “Bridges ( Have Faith)”. John voluntarily did so much for that record including mix, engineer, record, sing and play. His contribution was invaluable.
About a year later, I had the opportunity to purchase an unreleased record by his band, ASIA Featuring John Payne, to be the second release for my record label, CardoTunes.
After having long discussions with John on this, particularly regarding distribution and promotion, he gave me his blessing and full support. That record was “Recollections; A Tribute To British Prog”. The record was very well received, so well in fact that Alan Parsons contributed his talents to the video of the single from that record, Alan’s classic song, “Eye In The Sky”. The foundation of our friendship became firmly rooted. And has continued to grow.
It has also endured rougher times as well. For me, it was being taken advantage of by some unscrupulous PR music people, to the point that I even had to file criminal complaints against some in order to resolve the issues. Of course, this was emotionally draining in addition to being quite expensive. During this same time, John was conspired against by even more unscrupulous music business types who used lies and coercion to force him out of a successful stage production that he created, directed, co-wrote, co-produced, and starred in, all in the name of the holy altar of ego and greed. And I know that because we were both working in David’s studio at the genesis of that stage production. I followed it, had some input into it, and kept close tabs on it all the way. We also have each been screwed over by other musicians, ones to whom we provided opportunities and helped. While suffering these difficult and trying events during the exact same time period, we supported and encouraged each other throughout, strengthening our bond. We both emerged with some battle scars, but have continued to push forward and put that painful past behind us. And we continue to learn more lessons that life’s experiences teach us.
Let me backtrack for a minute. John is one incredible veteran professional musician with quite a resumé, which includes a long stint as the vocalist, bass player, and frontman of ASIA, a band that has sold millions of records, with huge hits such as “Only Time Will Tell”, Heat of The Moment”, “Soul Survivor”, “Military Man”, and “Awake”, these last two written by John. He has one amazing voice, with both power and grace, capable of singing anything and singing it well. He is an accomplished guitarist, keyboard player, and bassist. He also plays the tuba, xylophone, and kazoo. Well, not really, but I’m sure if he wanted to, he could do so, perfectly. You get the point. Amazing musician. And I have learned a lot from him, growing as musician myself.
It’s also important to state that John is a rather rare breed. A musician with integrity and principles in a business that often has none. Although said too often, and certainly cliché, it’s true with John, he’d give you the shirt off his back if you needed it. More than once I’ve witnessed his kindness to others, providing shelter and food to someone down and out in a time of need. He’s an honest man in a very dishonest business.
Recently, John took control of, and lent his considerable talents to my latest release, “Take Back America”, by mixing, engineering, and performing on the record. His vision of the song was extraordinary, elevating it to something quite special and dear to both of us. As with our friendship, we also connect on a musical level and genuinely enjoy working with each other. In fact, I have written a song for John that he is planning on recording for the next ASIA Featuring John Payne studio release. Likewise, he is writing material for my next EP, which he will produce. We are in the process of planning and writing for that release which will be a very mood oriented acoustic record, very visual. I can’t tell you how excited I am to begin working with him on this recording project sometime after the first of the year.
In honour of our good friend and brother, I have put up a video of a great performance he gave on a song I wrote for my partner of almost 28 years, which made this song, “You’re All I See”, special to all of us. Now, that’s a gentleman for you.