A Sedona resident, Boston drummer Curly Smith cherishes shows in his home state.
He calls the crowds “wonderful.” He loves the Comerica Theatre, in which Boston will perform on Thursday, June 8. Smith also embraces his friends and family who will attend the concert. He is especially thrilled about one family member who will attend: His 14-year-old son, Zachary.
“He didn’t quite understand what I do,” says Smith, a Montana native who previously lived in Phoenix and Scottsdale. “But now that he’s playing guitar and piano, he’s very anxious to see how it all works. It’s nice for me. I didn’t expect him to go into music. I didn’t push it at all. He just picked up the guitar and decided he was going to learn a song. In a matter of weeks, the guy was playing. It’s pretty miraculous, actually. It took me a lot longer.”
Smith, who adds that his son excels academically as well, began pursuing music at age 11; a little younger than Zachary. He started touring and making records at age 18.
“I don’t know if he’s going to do that,” he says about his son. “Hopefully, he goes to college first. That will be his decision.
“I had an opportunity to go to the University of Texas or go into music. I had an audition in L.A. for Jo Jo Gunne. I decided to take that and it worked out. I ended up staying out there for 22 years.”
After Jo Jo Gunne, Smith worked with a variety of artists in Los Angeles, London and Miami, including Jeff Beck, Rod Stewart, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Branford Marsalis, The Monkees, Joe Walsh, Warren Zevon, Brian Auger, Sam Kinison, Billy Idol, Willie Nelson, Ron Wood, Dickie Betts, Bonnie Raitt, Jackson Browne and Ian Hunter.
Smith also played side by side with The Who’s Keith Moon. He laid down tracks for many No. 1 hits like “Missing You” with John Waite, “Heaven is a Place on Earth,” “I Get Weak” and “Circle in the Sand” with Belinda Carlisle and “Heartbeat” with Don Johnson.
“Session work is interesting but it can be that—work,” he says. “It could be a Motown single, a country single, or every now and then you get to record with someone you really love. I was playing with or even listening to people like Jeff Beck. With Keith Moon, that was pretty wonderful. I feel fortunate to have experienced that.”
He joined Boston in the ’90s when Tom Scholz invited him on tour. Smith also played the harmonica solo on Boston’s hit “Higher Power,” and co-wrote with Scholz on the Corporate America CD.
“It was nice to be in a band again and touring—especially in this band with all of the wonderful players,” he says. “Everybody sings and plays a lot of parts. It’s an incredible show. When it comes together with lights and sound, it works in conjunction with each other. It is a treat for the senses, I would say.”
Fans enjoy Boston’s concerts because it evokes fond memories, Smith explains.
“They associate the songs with a certain memory—high school, college, last week,” he says. “We’re similar to the bands like the Eagles and other bands of that era. It just generates that emotion with people and it sticks with you.”
Playing classic rock for his son has paid off for Smith. A onetime fan of contemporary music, the younger Smith is now a fan of acts like The Beatles and Green Day.
“He’s listening to classic rock and bands where there’s actual guitar,” Smith says with a laugh. “The new stuff is all computerized.”
Smith adds it’s “karma” that Zachary listened to that music.
“I’m sure my mother didn’t appreciate Jimi Hendrix and Cream,” he explains. “She dealt with it very well. I would tell (Zachary), ‘That’s a good song, but I don’t quite get it. Maybe you can explain it to me?’”
During Smith’s last break from Boston, his son played a song by The Beatles and Green Day, as well as “Layla” by Derek and the Dominos.
“I have stories to go with all of the songs,” he says. “I can talk about how they were created and who played on them. All of a sudden we’re bonding on a musical level and a sports level. We’re big basketball fans. It feels very good to me.”
Boston, Comerica Theatre, 400 W. Washington Street, Phoenix, 602.379.2800, comericatheatre.com, 7:30 p.m. Thursday, June 8, tickets start at $39.
Photo by Ron Elkman