I've been friends with David for a long time. He has helped me in many ways. Sadly, I have to say there were some near misses that I regret to this day…
In 1978, I received a call from Maurice White inviting me to write & arrange material for EWF's upcoming album "I Am". I met David the first day I came into Hollywood Sound (where the rhythm section sessions were being recorded).
It didn't take long for me to find out that he was an incredible talent. I liked him immediately. He was able to assess all
aspects of recording- his energy was contagious. He told me that he loved my demo tape & that Maurice & he were hopefully going to produce my first album…
My lawyer Richard Leher & manager Jerry Wolf were negotiating an all-encompassing contract with Maurice's newly formed ARC label. This included a solo recording contract, production contract, & publishing deal. The problem was that the lawyer representing ARC was Eric Eisner (who used to be at Mitchell, Silberberg, & Knupp along with Richard) & they were rivals. My side held out for more money across the board, & Cavallo & Ruffalo wanted me to be part of their management roster. Maurice tried to convince me, but I felt indebted to my manager (who had got me this far). After a month, they dropped all offers.
While this was going on, I managed to record/arrange both "Can't Let Go" & "Where Do We Go From Here" with EWF. One day (after I committed to recording another of my songs with Harvey Mason) David came to me excited about recording it with EWF. He said it could open the record... I asked Maurice if both artists could cover the song, but he said no. David tried to convince me that this would be great for my career.
While working on "I Am", I got a call from David to play on a rhythm section demo recording for Bill Champlain. He told me that he would like to get my energy on it, which would let him sit back & be a producer. I would be joined by Al McKay, Verdine, & Fred White... who I had just played with on "I Am". I had cut "Here Today & Gone Tomorrow" with Bill as the lead vocalist, & loved the experience. He remains a great guy & immense talent.
"David introduced me to Quincy Jones (which led to more songwriting success)."
The session was on a Saturday. I was all set to leave my hotel when I got a call from David canceling the session. Apparently, Maurice had a rule that band members could record with other people, but not the entire rhythm section... that was to be saved only for EWF. David told me that Al left a message first with the truth... Maurice told them that they couldn't record, so he was sorry for canceling. That was followed by Fred, who said he was double booked that day 🙂 , & Verdine who said he was dealing with accounting problems 🙂. He was pissed, & I was disappointed.
David helped me in many ways... I was invited to his house a few times & met a number of talented people. David recommended me in 1980 to tour with Boz Scaggs when he became too busy to do it. David started using me for string arranging- ie. Denise Williams, Ray Kennedy, & others. He also introduced me to Quincy Jones (which led to more songwriting success).
Finally, I started a band with a gifted singer/songwriter Guy Thomas in 1981. We added Neil Studbenhaus (bass), Vinnie Colaiuta (drums), & Carlos Rios (guitar), & called the group 213.
Our first 5 song demo was heard & liked by Michael Ostin at Warner Bros., who gave us a budget for more material. David heard it, called me & expressed interest in producing it. When I asked if we could co-produce together he graciously agreed.
We all met at his house, & it looked good. Unfortunately, Guy had a manager pushing him to go solo instead & he left the band.
Another missed opportunity to work with David!
Guy never got a solo deal & spent the next 15 years backing up Kenny Loggins…
"It didn't take long for me to find out that he was an incredible talent. I liked him immediately."
In 1985, I recorded a direct-to-disc album titled "Images".
One of the first people to contact me (through my friend Pasquale) was David. He congratulated me on the Grammy nomination and said "it kicked his ass". In 1990 David called me
to work on his solo LP "River of Love". I got to arrange & play synth overdubs on the song "This Must Be Love".
I didn't have a chance to see much of him in the following years. We caught up with each other in 2018.. (both of us doing final mixes on different projects at Village Recorders in Santa Monica). It was great to see him & talk. He told me that he was going to New York to work on 3 different plays... the Tony was the only award that still escaped him.
I know that there are differing opinions about David. I thought his documentary was honest- David doesn't suffer fools gladly.
A case in point was the segment about the group Chicago. There was grumbling that he changed their sound, but the REAL truth is the album they released before sold a few hundred thousand.
David's production brought them triple platinum in sales, & Grammy nominations. I have a deep appreciation for his help, & respect for his immense talent. He's going for a Tony Award now-
& I wouldn't bet against him.
David Foster's set of creating hits, writing indelible melodies, and building dramatic moments, has made him one of the most illustrious composers of our time.