Blaise Tosti

For quite some time I got in touch with Blaise Tosti who re-released his album American Lovers in 2016. Apparently it was requested many times by the Toto fans at the address of Fred Mollin, who produced this album. Shortly before that Fred Mollin also released his Fast Company soundtrack. Who knows what else is unreleased.
This album is one of those classics like Dwayne Ford’s Needless Freakin’.

After the release and putting it here on the website I came in contact with Blaise and we chatted on Facebook and questions rised. Before we know, it turned out into an interview.

SD: Hi Blaise, first we met was after the re-release of your album America Lovers featuring a list op top notch studio musicians. Can you tell more about yourself?
BT: Sure, here is my resume: Leoni Opera Co. at 4 years old. Palanski singing academy, a scholarship to Juliard and then we left N.Y. before I could attend.
I sang opera at Carnegie Hall, Town Hall, Metropolitan Opera house. I sang the lead role in the Road production of Oliver. I took dancing lessons with June Taylor dancers. She was a legend.

My Great, Great uncle was friends with Enrico Caruso.He wrote songs that were on the 3 tenors album, those were some of the songs I sang in Carnegie Hall. His title is,Sir Paolo Tosti, he was knighted by the Queen of England

I was headed for a career in opera. Then my mom married and we moved to Florida cause my step father was a legendary makeup artist and pioneer of the formula that was used in Planet of the Apes. His best friend was Jackie Gleason and Gleason moved his show to Florida.
I sang at the Fountainbleau (Miami Beach), on the same program as Sinatra. I fronted Sammy Davis at the Sake hotel
I grew up on the Flipper set and Gentle Ben. I was in Faye Dunaway first movie with Anthony Quinn, called the Happening.
After the death of my stepfather my mom knew someone who told us about a children’s TV-show. It was a talent contest that was about child prodigies being done in Nashville.  So we moved their and my mom became the makeup artist for the Porter Wagoner show.
I also performed at the Fontainebleau Hotel  when they were shooting the James Bond movie Goldfinger.

"I went from the Opera to the Opry"

SD: That is the connection to Dolly Parton, who worked with Porter Wagoner, right?
BT: Yes, that is how we met Dolly. When she found out I sang at such an early age she said it reminded her of her very young start on the Luisiana Hayride show. She came to out house for Dinner. She said I looked like Tom Jones. After that first home encounter, I wrote “It Must Be You “on her “I Will Always Love You” album. She recorded it as a surprise.

SD: Did you write more for Dolly Parton?
BT: I wrote “Sweet Summer Lovin’ at 15. It was the B-side of her single from the same album titled “Great Balls of Fire”. I was on the B-side, the dead side. Some disc jockey started playing the B-side, and that became her first country pop cross over hit, it was completely by accident. Michael Omartian produced that song.
Dolly was criticized for going pop, now all country artists hope to cross over, that’s where the money is.

BT: Michael Omartian, a very well-known studio musician He produced Arthurs theme, from the movie. Quite a resume
SD: yes, I follow Michael Omartian quite some time on my website. Check his list, amazing resume

SD: It is not bad to on a B-side. I always check it and mostly there are rarities on it.
BT:Well, In fact, she got a lot of critizism that she left her country roots.

“I went from the Opera to the Opry”

BT: In 1998 I wrote one of my best songs Everyday Hero. Shortly after that CNN had Everday Hero Awards. To this day, every year. Listen to it, it’s an anthem. Bruce Hornsby was on the adjoining studio, he heard the playback and said: “Wow, Dolly Rocks”

Another song I wrote for Dolly is We’re Through Forever (‘Til Tomorrow)

American Lovers

The title track American Lovers was a Steely Dan song that never made the record.  Fred Mollin picked the song for Blaise to record it for his album. We will discuss the rest of the album later in this interview. 
In 2011 Steely Dan played this song live in the Beacon NY at the rarities night. 

SD:  Was Jeffrey (Porcaro) aware about American Lovers was a Steely Dan song?
BT: Oh yea. He told me that Steely Dan had hundreds of songs like that and better. But they weren’t in the same league as the things they recorded for them selves. I’m not sure how Fred Mollin got his hands on it or who gave permission for to sing it. Was I the first to record that song?

SD: No, Thomas Jefferson Kaye recorded it first in 1974
BT: Did it chart?

SD: It was released as a single but it did not chart. He recorded it with Walter Becker (on bass) and Donald Fagen played on Northern California on the same album
BT: Wow. He recorded it with them

(I sent him the youtube link of that song)

BT: I just heard it and sounds great to me. Fred was a spark of genius on our version. In the background vocals, you are playing with time, he did a Beach Boy melody line.
One thing I wanted to tell you,that the Toto guys are utility men, i.e they play a lot of instruments well. Steve Lukather got on the piano now and then, he’s just about as good on keyboards as he is on the guitar.

SD: What do you think about Steely Dan?
BT: Steely Dan basically took up where the Beatles left off, and then some….
I’m sure some fans are going to hate me for comparing them to the Beatles at all.

SD: I agree to that. They sure created a legacy. A lot of bands listened to Steely Dan, just as they did at the Beatles.
What about your album and the recording. That had to be a blast, seeing the sessionplayers who played on it.
BT:
I just saw a post that reminded me of Jeff telling how he saw Michael McDonald playing “Proud Mary” at the Universal hotel piano lounge when he introduced Michael to Steely Dan

SD: That is cool, because Toto asked Michael to join the band, but he already signed the Doobies
BT: Toto asked Michael McDonald to join them?

SD: Yes, but they were a few weeks too late.
BT: You know, my life was a kind of like Forest Gump, and then came Jeff and Toto. I know how hard all of this is to believe. I was there and I still don’t believe it.

SD: It is not all Toto members who are playing on your album. Back in the day these guy were top notch. Mike Landau played on your album and his resumé is even bigger than Luke’s.
BT: What are the odds that a dead and buried album gets released, 40 years later? Some Dutch guy (according to Fred Mollin, and it wasn’t me) mailed about this album, and maybe there were more requests. Fred decided to release it, after those years. 

SD:  Half of Mr Mister was also present: Richard Page and Steve George
BT: When I heard how good Richard Page  sang, it shook me to my core. He’s way better than I was.

SD: I saw Richard Pag) live Ringo All Star Band) and he blew me away. I am a fan and have some solo stuff of thim that is really amazing and worth digging.
BT: He’s great

SD: I forgot Bobby Kimball who also sang some background vocals.
BT: Oh yeah. I really wish that Fred would participate in this interview. There’s so much I still don’t know
He could give you background on what those guys thought of me.

SD: How long did it take to finish the recording of the album?
BT: Two months for basic tracks and my vocals another month without me for overdubs and mixing.

Jeff was tighter than a click track

“Pieces on the Road” was written about me being on tour with one of my first groups. I was trying to track a crazy, drunk relative. I finally found my relative in New Yorks Bellvue hospital, for the criminally insane. I begged an orderly to get my relative on the phone. They wanted to get my permission to give her electric shock treatments. I begged them not to and they finally let me talk to my relative and begged me not to let them do that, but they did it anyway. I felt helpless not being able to help. My relative survived. Back then there was no rehab, they just locked people up.

“Speed of love” was written about me driving back from L.A. to Nashville, with some other group I was in, to get back to my girfriend that I hadn’t seen in months. I got pulled over in Tyler Texas for going 98 miles an hour, at 100 miles an hour they put you in jail. The cop asked if I knew how fast I was going, I said I was on my way home to my girlfriend that I missed. So I said, I was going at the Speed of Love. He said “very clever” and laughed. He still gave me a ticket.

“I Really Found Someone In You”. I hated that title but it stuck. It was written about the first dog I had, a white Akita. He was dying of cancer that was too late to treat. I always turned to him when I was down, when people let me down. He was always there for me, who stood by me, when I was all alone, who supplied me when all my love was gone. He died in my arms at 16 years old.

In two months of recording, they gave me the best years of my life and Jeff was tighter than a click track.




Note from Toshi

I contacted Toshi Nakada, who released Blaise’s album on the Coolsound label:

I released the album that Fred Mollin had produced years ago, so I was connected with Fred since 2010 or around, not directly though. (the album I released was Dave McCluskey’s “A Long Time Coming”) Then, a few years ago, I received an e-mail from Fred and he asked if I would be interested in the release of Blaise Tosti’s unreleased one. First I saw the musicians credit, I had a big interest, and after I heard a few songs of the album, I thought I should negotiate with Fred, as the first 2 songs ‘American Lovers’ & ‘Win Back Your Heart’ are my favorites especially. Also I had an interest with the artist himself, as he composed impressive songs for Dolly Parton and Rick Springfield. And his mild voice made me comfortable so much. I couldn’t help offering the term to Fred. That’s the process

Blaise and Fred

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Affair Of The Heart

SD: You also (co) wrote Affair Of The Heart for Ricky Springfield
BT: Yes, it was the only song he has ever co-written, nominated for a Grammy for best rock vocal against Michael Jackson’s Beat it

(Info: “Affair of the Heart” is a hit song performed by rock musician Rick Springfield. It was released as the lead single from his Platinum-certified Living in Oz album.
The song peaked at #9 on the Billboard Hot 100 and at #10 on the Cash Box Top 100 during the summer of 1983. It was the fourth of Springfield’s five Top 10 hits to date)

SD: How did you get in contact with Rick?
BT: Rick has a documentary called Affair Of The Heart. Long story short, I tried to pitch the song to Ricky thru regular channels. All of his people said that he never co-writes or does outside material. A friend of mine said that Rick was having a birthday party at the Hollywood Palace, that’s how I met him. I finally tracked him down at the Hollywood Palace and put the tape in his hands. The rest is history

Casey Kasem did the story on me on how I got Ricky the song on American Top 40

SD: I am reading the biography of Beeb Birtles right now, who played in Zoot with Rick. Beeb later started the Little River Band. The book is a great read.
BT: I got to sit next to George Martin when he produced the Little River Band.

SD: Wow, that must be great hang. It is a small world after all.
BT:  Somewhere in the mid-80s, I was living with a woman who was a Capitol/EMI executive, she helped me a lot in my career just by her Rolodex connections. She was very kind and patient with me. At one point, George Martin was the LRBs producer. I got to watch George “the 5th Beatle” producing LRB at the same studio at Capitol Records that recorded Sinatra and The Beatles, hallowed ground, I got to work at 2 legendary studios, I auditioned for Sam Philip’s at a Sun Records and got to record my Disney cut at Capitol Records. George was producing the LRB and I got to observe him. He told the guys, there’s no pressure, only Sinatra and the Beatles using the Neauman microphones that your spitting on, right now. No pressure. A lot of nervous laughter ensued. But the history was there, with every breath of tentative air. This was Goerge Martin, he didn’t say much, but you could tell that LRB was hanging off every silent word spoken. Then we all went to the Hollywood Palace, where LRB was showcasing their new album.
I accidentally seated right next to him. I was so overwhelmed I could not come up with an original coherent question to ask George. He’s been asked and has answered all of the obvious questions a million times. I was frozen with a level of respect I had never and would ever experience again. Where does one start when talking to George Martin. He’s answered questions I couldn’t even comprehend to ask so I stared at him the whole time the LRB showcase lasted. Then we all went to Dan Tanas and had a late night meal. To this day, I haven’t thought of a question I would have been comfortable asking him.

Between Two Worlds

SD: Talking about “It’s A Small World…” You wrote a song for Disney’s Pocahontas II. What is the story behind the Pocahontas II song “Between Two Worlds”? 
BT: I was writing with a guy called Stacey Widelitz,he co-wroteShe’s like The Wind with Patrick Swayze. He was managed by William Morris and his agent gave him the chance for an audition the song. He knew I was good at ballads, so he brought the project to me. A lot of established writers submitted songs to them. Disney wanted to show us a trailer for the movie, I said “I got this”. I know what they wanted; love, dreams, hope. Disney is notorious for re-writes and we nailed it the first time they didn’t ask us to change one word.
When we saw the movie you would have sworn we saw the movie. It fit perfectly as we saw a preview of the movie.

John Stewart

BT: I sang backup on John Stewart’s song “Dream Babies Go Hollywood” along with Nicolette Larson, Stevie Nicks and Linda Ronstadt.

People out there turning music into gold. Stewart was in the adjoining studio. Rosemary Butler was singing on both albums. We traded background vocals. I was in the same microphone doing backups with Linda Rondstadt, Nicollet Larson, Stevie Nicks. I was on the same microphone doing backups with Linda Rondstadt, Nicolette Larson, Stevie Nicks. You have to understand, I was a huge fan and here I am singing with them cheek to cheek.

SD: You did background vocals with Linda Ronstadt? One of my favorite singers.
BT: Well, an honor to put it mildly. I think Linda has one of the greatest voices ever. On a funny note, Linda was so hungover she tried to sing laying down on the floor. John went over and massaged her and she finally stood up to sing. Linda has this disease where she can’t coordinate her singing ability any more. She can’t sing anymore, that’s tragic, I am a big fan. It’s killing her. Can you imagine a voice like hers being silenced? Terrible. It’s like a great race car driver going blind.

Imagination

SD: What about Lisa Hartman? You co-wrote the song Imagination on her album (Til My Heart Stops) in 1988.
BT: Oh yeah, I forgot about that.

SD: With Mike Landau and Timothy B Schmitt on your track.
BT: I didn’t realize that. Wow.

SD: Nice guitar solo.
BT: Yeah, and she sang her ass off. Heavy synth bass too.

SD: I like the heavy synth sound in the 80s. Brings back great memories.
BT: It was the age of the programmers. I just can’t believe I forgot the Lisa Hartman cut.

SD: Would you like to record another album?
BT: Of course. I’m so much better now. I always thought the first album was too soon. But history is an ongoing process. History is the future of the past.

SD: Life is strange, the album that almost killed me, saved my life. Do you have any idea how surreal it is that Jeff played on my album? I’m overwhelmed. Ive had a strange,’wonderful, crazy, life, sometimes, a lot actuality, it’s hard to wrap my mind around it. I’m not saying I’ve done it all, but I’ve done what most people dream of.