Rich Casciato

2012 - Individual Artist

It's easy to remember my first guitar, a gift from my parents for my 10th birthday. Mom found a $19 gut string acoustic in a music store window. Surprised to say the least, as I was hoping for a drum set (!), I immediately started lessons with Philadelphia legend Dan "Danny Boy" Gallagher. With help from my close friend Rich Cappiello, I was the 2nd lead guitar player with a group of friends and we played our first gig for the 5th grade class! "The Expedition" (later The Jaguars) hit the stage at Samuel Everitt Elementary School in Levittown PA, and we were a HIT! Seeing those people out there smiling, and clapping their hands was incredible! (This is where stupid mistake #1 happened, I quit taking lessons, I thought I knew everything I ever needed!)

The first album I actually owned came from my Mom: "Ray Charles sings The Beatles." However, most of my early influences came from my older brother Tony, who brought home albums by The Ventures, The Beatles, Zeppelin, CCR, Cream, and Santana. My true guitar hero, though, was Nokie Edwards of the Ventures!

Combining my brother's musical tastes with music my parents had in the house, like Herb Albert and Bing Crosby--brought a wide range of influences, so an ability to play a variety of styles became second nature. I was lucky enough to see The Chicago Transit Authority perform live in our home town, being 13 years old and 25 feet away from Terry Kath made a huge impact on my life, and one I still remember as if it was yesterday. My specialty was having my guitar in my hands, and when a commercial or any musician came on, I would play along with it. It became quite the entertainment for my dad!

At age 14 our family moved from the musical influences of Philadelphia to the Midwest, Marshalltown, Iowa. I didn't know what it would be like, but found music that, in the east, I didn't even know existed, bands like Grand Funk, REO Speedwagon, Lynyrd Skynyrd and a host of other southern rock bands. I also found people that would turn me on to music I'd never heard before, including John Mayall, Fleetwood Mac, and The Allman Brothers.

Being in Iowa, you can't be too far from country music, so I departed from rock and roll for a short time in the 70's for experimentation with country and country rock. Marshall Tucker, Pure Prairie League, and Commander Cody were becoming major influences, as well as watching tv shows like Glen Campbell, or anyone on any variety show.

My first recording project was around 1976 with a band called The Matador, which taught me a lot about the "business side" of the music business. We worked closely with the producers and studio, with CW McCall and Chip Davis from Mannheim Steamroller. We were given a very short time to record our first album, and ushered in mistake #2 - not being prepared for a recording project can lead to a project you aren't proud of!

Later, I was becoming more enamored with session players like Larry Carlton, Robben Ford, and Steve Lukather. Guys that just kept showing up on everything I was listening to! I was also finding diamonds in the rough such as Phil Keaggy, and of course Chet Atkins and Jerry Reed, each one with a very distinct tone and feel. I decided that I wanted not just to play, but actually to try to be "good"! One of the most important lessons came from my best friend John Lukehart from Marshalltown, who instilled in me that it isn't just the notes, the speed, or the amount of the notes, it was the tone. If you don't have a pleasing sound, no one will want to hear what you have to "say". (Well, he didn't use those exact words, but you get the drift!)

Enter The Richard Paul Band in 1982 - 5 guys from Marshalltown (including Rock 'n Roll Hall of Famer Warren "Doc" Lawson from Skydancer). This band was putting out a sound that was unheard of at the time, with twin lead guitar players and a great groove. From Clapton to ZZ Top, an RP Band show was unique. The Richard Paul Band was without a doubt one of the best bands I have ever been a part of.

I never stopped trying to grow and reach in my ability. Opening a guitar store called Keepers Music in 1995, I finally managed to fulfill a dream of sharing my musical history, and trying to instill the same passion and love for music in new players.

It took 40 years, but one fateful night in Nashville I actually managed to shake the hand and meet face to face with my idol Nokie Edwards.

At present, I still play weekly as a worship leader at church, as well as keeping performance skills as a blues player. Voted 3 years in a row "The King of The Blues" for the Des Moines Guitar Center has been quite an honor, as well as playing acoustic and electric shows with my daughters Rebekah and Rachel on drums and keyboards, and my son Gabriel on guitar.

Playing the guitar has been one of the greatest joys in my life. Anyone who isn't making music somehow, is truly missing out on one of God's greatest creations, music!

The Iowa Rock 'n Roll Music Association welcomes Rich Casciato into its 2012 Hall of Fame.

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