Kerry Chater Interview

Kerry_ChaterA few months ago, during my research I contacted Kerry Chater. I was searching for his first album Part Time Love Jeff Porcaro, David Hungate, Lee Sklar and Dean Parks to name a few. More info can be found here. A few weeks later I received a signed copy of that album. I loved it!

Kerry Chater was born on August 7, 1945 in Vancouver, British Columbia. A bass player, in 1966 he joined a band called “The Outcasts” with his friend Gary Puckett and others; this eventually became The Union Gap, which was signed by Columbia Records in 1967. Over the next two years the band had 4 songs in the top 10. Chater did much of the arranging for the live shows and co-wrote some of the album cuts and b-sides. Chater and Gary “Mutha” Withem, the original keyboardist, left the band in 1970 as its popularity was declining.

I was doing some researching through your musical career  and I was listening to the song Young Girl and you played the bass in the band of Gary Puckett as member of the Union Gap. You met him in a band called the Outcasts. Why was the band called Gary Puckett and the Union Gap?  Why not just the Union Gap?

As I’m sure you can understand, the history and origins of the Union Gap can be very complex so I will try to keep my answers brief and to the point.

Gary Puckett was working in a band called the Outcasts in a nightclub in San Diego. I was working with a band called the Nomads at a nightclub across town. His band broke up and he went looking to put another band together. He came into my club one night and heard me play. He asked me if I had time to talk on my break. Over coffee, he said he was looking to put a new band together. He had a friend who played sax. I told him that my gig would be over in two weeks and that I would be glad to partner with him in the creation of a new band. I also had a friend who played sax and keyboards, so all we needed was a drummer. Two weeks later, we were rehearsing in Puckett’s garage with a “drummer” and we had a manager who was willing and able to get us club work. Our first “tour” was working a club in Seattle for a month as a group called, “Gary and the Remarkables.” The next part of the tour was Portland for a month and the final stage was Vallejo, CA “San Francisco.” By that time we had decided that we needed more image and through a group effort, we came up with the idea of Union Soldiers and called ourselves, The Union Gap (after a town in Washington state of the same name.)

Your first solo album was called Part Time Love. It was recorded with sessionplayers like David Hungate, Lee Sklar, Dean Parks, Michael Omartian (to name a few). How do you get these (session) guys together?

Our manager got us an interview with Columbia Records and producer Jerry Fuller, and we signed to that label in 1967. In the beginning, Columbia wanted to release us as, The Union Gap, but as the project progressed, it went to the Union Gap featuring Gary Puckett, and after the first few releases, Columbia Records chose to re-name us, Gary Puckett and The Union Gap.

My solo albums were produced by Steve Barri, a world-famous producer, who had just moved from ABC Records to Warner Bros. Records. Steve always used the best players available and I knew a lot of them personally. It was an easy conversation, between Steve and I, to come up with the right combination of studio musicians for our project. Michael O’Martian was also the co-producer and arranger for the first album.

There are more great grooves on the album, Dance To The Rhythm of Love  but one of my favourite is Misty Mary. What is the story behind that song?

The lyrics for Misty Mary were written by my friend (and former Vice-President of Capitol Records) Roger Karshner. They were written for his wife Mary after they had separated for a few days and then gotten back together.

Maybe a hard question to answer, but on what song plays Leland Sklar and David Hungate?

Sorry, I don’t remember which songs Lee and David played on.

Robbie Patton is a name that caught my attention, because there is another hard to find album I am searching for: Do You Wanna Tonight. Can you tell more about working with Robbie Patton? (Note: Steve Lukather played on Robbie Pattons first solo album)

Robbie Patton was (and is) a red-haired, soccer-playing musician/songwriter/artist from England. I first met him when he came to the U.S. to finish an album he was working on. He needed a co-writer to write some songs and Broadcast Music Inc. (BMI) suggested he contact me. We met and became instant friends and he went on one tour with me as a drummer, after my first album was released.

You also did a lot of writing for other artists, surprisely I got some albums in my collection with your songs on it. Maybe you put some comments to these songs?

Randy Edelman – If This Is Love from the album You’re The One (with Robbie Patton)

“If This Is Love” is one of the songs that Robbie and I wrote as we were writing songs for both of our projects.

George Benson – What’s On Your Mind from the album Give Me The Night (with Glen Ballard)

“What’s On Your Mind” was produced by Quincy Jones. He was looking for a song that two male singers could sing about a girl they both wanted to friend. It was originally recorded with George Benson (featuring Michael McDonald) but it was later decided to only release the version with George singing solo.

Joe Cocker – Even A Fool Would Let Go from the album Civilized Man (with Tom Snow)

“Even A Fool Would Let Go” (written with my friend Tom Snow) has been recorded more than eighteen times by artists such as: Joe Cocker, Kenny Rogers, Dolly Parton, Levon Helm, and many others. It was released as a single in the U.K. by Country artist, Charlie Rich. I haven’t checked, but I think that more artists have recorded that song then any of my other songs.

Leo Sayer – Leave Well Enough Alone from the album Thunder In My Heart (with Tom Snow)

Leo Sayer was looking for a few more songs to finish an album. I got an appointment with his producer and played him a song that Tom Snow and I had just finished. He and Leo both loved the song (“Leave Well Enough Alone”) and Leo and Tom went on to write more songs for Leo’s album.

Please check Kerry’s website and the drop down menus across the top to see what we’ve been up to: In addition to writing our songs, my wife and I have written two thriller novels in the last two years. The first in the trilogy, “Kill Point,” is out on Kindle and in paperback on Amazon. The second in the series, “Blood Debt,” made it to #34 on the Amazon Bestsellers List: Crime/Thriller (Action/Adventure). Check it out!

Kerry Chater Interview