Trans-Siberian Orchestra guitarist Angus Clark vividly remembers the day the world shut down. He was playing guitar for Cher and took a side trip to an NBA game in Oklahoma City.
Clark knew something was wrong.
“This year I was slated to play 10 shows with Cher, and the second one was in Oklahoma City,” Clark says. “The whole band drove to Oklahoma City to see the Utah Jazz play.
“We sat there waiting for the game to start, and then the cheerleaders came out and did the halftime show before the game started. Then they said the game was canceled. Our shows were canceled. The basketball season was canceled, and I haven’t left home since.”
Instead of laying low, Clark has been creating music with friends. His latest project is a cover of Deep Purple’s “Burn” with singer Bobby Sisk (Drop Diezel) from Cave Creek; bassist Greg Smith (Dokken, Ted Nugent); drummer Jason Hartless (Ted Nugent); keyboardist Marine Lacoste (Uncle Kracker) and Phoenix guitarist Brian Buzard.
“I just recorded and there was Bobby, who has a lot of touring credits,” says Clark, photographed here with a Jackson guitar. “He’s a tremendous singer. I just recorded my parts and put the video and the audio in a Dropbox. It came out great. After I submitted my parts, that was pretty much it.
“I’ll do anything that helps people stay connected and to give people something to do and makes them feel better about the fact we all have to stay on lockdown right now. I want to keep people safe and healthy until we have a national strategy.”
“Burn” was a logical choice for Clark, who has played with a Deep Purple tribute band.
“Ritchie Blackmore is a huge influence for me,” he says about the original Deep Purple and Rainbow guitarist. “I had, in particular, been a fan of the early Rainbow (Ronnie James) Dio material.
“The Deep Purple material is much more popular than Rainbow material. When getting together with Greg Smith a few years ago, we had always done Deep Purple material; the stuff that has Glenn Hughes in it. I had learned all that material.”
To put this project together, he had to “dive deep” and make sure he was getting the guitar solo “YouTube ready.”
“You don’t want to mess it up on YouTube,” he says with a laugh. “It was a personal challenge. I feel I got a good result out of that.”
Clark grew up in New York City with an opera singer mother and a father who played the cello. Music filled his home.
“I took up the guitar in earnest when I was 13, the same year Pink Floyd’s ‘The Wall’ came out,” he says. “After that, I was just learning Pink Floyd and Black Sabbath and ‘London Calling’ by The Clash. Then I discovered Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow.
“I was a huge devotee of the giants of guitar, like Michael Schenker, Randy Rhoades, David Gilmore, Tony Iommi and Yngwie Malmsteen.”
Clark landed his first deal in 1992 with the band Naked Sun, a progressive metal act. But the musicians were dropped as “grunge took hold,” he says.
After that, he spent the rest of the ’90s touring the world with Japanese new age musician Kitaro, who was signed to Geffen Records.
“I was playing, essentially, instrumental Pink Floyd-style, orchestral rock music with no singers,” he says.
Around 1999, his friend and Kitaro fan Marty Friedman recommended him to Trans-Siberian Orchestra.
If there are concerts this fall, Clark will celebrate 20 years with the West Coast team of Trans-Siberian Orchestra. He’s especially fond of the Valley.
“We love that area,” he says. “I’ve previously worked with some guitar builders based out of Phoenix and (Peoria’s) Atomic Guitar Works. They’re great. We love that town. I can’t wait to get back there.
“I love playing with TSO, and the fans are the best. The band is really tight knit. Al Pitrelli, Jane Mangini and I have all been in the West Coast-touring band for about 20 years.”
For now, he’s spending a “fortune” on cameras and home recording gear through the pandemic and posting content on his socials @angusclarkGTR.
“Since the lockdown hit, we’ve becoming self-producing broadcasters,” he says with a laugh.
“Burn” featuring Angus Clark, Bobby Sisk, Greg Smith, Jason Hartless, Marine Lacoste and Brian Buzard. youtube.com/watch?v=CbjMdDVWTZ8.