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BC Tributes

Michael McDonald > www.michaelmcdonald.com
Bill Champlin Fans, Over the years I've had the occasional great pleasure of working with Bill both in the studio and on stage. Not only is he one of the all time great pop/R&B vocalists, but an accomplished instrumentalist, arranger and more specifically, killer B-3 player. In the US it seems that among musicians Bill Champlin has been considered one of the greats since his days with "Sons of Champlin" band. Although mainstream audiences are mostly familiar with his work with the group "Chicago"(another great group).Some of you may or may not be aware of the fact that Bill has written with David Foster some of the biggest R&B hits of all time on the American charts,("After The Love Is Gone" Earth wind & Fire). I know I'm probably not telling you anything you don't already know but speaking as an American musician, it's great to see this guy get at least some of the recognition he deserves. If you haven't already heard his solo and "Sons Of Champlin" albums, do yourself a favor and find them.

Jay Graydon > www.jaygraydon.com
Bill Champlin is a singer’s singer! His pitch is excellent, his "feel" is as good as it gets, and he can sing so many styles! Very few white cats can sing like black singers - Bill is the best white R&B singer I have every heard! Regarding background vocals, he is an outstanding arranger! Since he is such a talented musician, he knows how to deal with harmony and always comes up with incredible parts! Bill is an outstanding keyboard player as well. His organ playing is so soulful and he can "groove" big time! His guitar playing is outstanding as well! Regarding song writing, another gift as he has written so many great songs. Is there anything this cat can't do? His wife, Tamara, is also an incredible singer and songwriter! His son Willie is another talented member of the family. There is no doubt he will grow into a major talent.

Bruce Gaitsch > www.brucegaitsch.com
Bill Champlin is one of the most talented and driven musicians on this earth. I have been blessed in my life to get to work with him on many occasions and he just never fails to amaze me with his genius. As a vocalist no one comes close, the vocal agility of Luther Vandross meets the blues stylings of Howling Wolf meets the smooth perfectly in tune voice of Sam Cooke. His keyboard playing is another often overlooked talent, any keyboard is home to Bill especially the difficult Hammond B3. Then the guy continues by being an excellent guitarist,,, His writing talent is second to none... And he is a hell of a great friend and mentor... Now if he'd just move to Nashville we could get to work.

Bernie Chiaravalle > www.berniechiaravalle.com
I grew up in Marin County, CA where The Sons of Champlin were very popular. I was even in a band that opened for them on occasion. I've always loved his voice and songwriting. And of course he's a great Hammond player. He can also tear up the guitar pretty good. His R&B style was a major influence on my music education growing up. I wrote songs back then that were directly influenced by him. And seeing the band back then was an experience. Live performances by The Sons were always an adventure. A few years back while I was on the road with Michael McDonald, we ran into Bill at a TV show we were taping in Germany. Turned out he remembered my band from Marin County years back. That made my millennium!


Tris Imboden > www.trisimboden.com
Where do I begin when speaking about the enormous gift that Bill possesses? He is probably one of the greatest talents of our time, and certainly one of the finest musicians I've ever worked with. His talent runs so deep when you consider his vocal mastery, his great songwriting, and the fact that he plays so many instruments in addition to guitar and keyboards. The guy actually plays drums and saxophone too!! I remember hearing Bill's voice for the first time in the early seventies. It was a Sons track I heard on the radio and all I could think about was how soulful and hip the tune and that voice sounded. Later when I discovered that a white hippie from Mill Valley had written and sung it I couldn’t believe it! This man is funkier than a two-day-old Band-Aid!! Bill is also one of the greatest people you could ever meet, certainly one of the funniest. It was Bill actually who recommended me to Chicago. I will always be grateful that he brought my name up as a possible replacement for Danny. I'm so proud to have Bill as a friend not to mention the joy I experience playing music with him. The world is a better place because he's in it!

Marino > www.marinodesilva.com
After listening to Bill for years with Sons of Champlin, I always suspected he was a musical genius -- after working with him, I can now confirm that he is! Heart, soul and fire are the three most important elements in any musician, and Bill has them in abundance. It doesn't matter if it's vocals, Hammond or guitar - he just rocks! Bill's also got a great, dry sense of humour, which makes for a relaxed vibe in the studio and helps bring out the best in everyone. And then there's Tamara, Bill's wife. What a talent. I call them the Dynamic Duo. Love 'em both.


Tom Saviano > http://members.aol.com/teesav/
Bill Champlin and I have known each other since 1976. The first time I heard him sing was on "Captain Fingers" by Lee Ritenour. I was in the studio with my producer who also happened to be Lee's producer at the time, Skip Drinkwater. Bill was doing a version of "Isn't She Lovely" by Stevie Wonder. From my vantage point in the studio I couldn't see who the singer was, but I thought it was one of the best singers I had ever heard and definitely had to be an African American. Then out walks Champlin and Skip introduced him to me. I'm privileged to say that we have been friends and musical partners ever since then. We are currently performing live with "The Sons Of Champlin" as well as working on our new solo projects.

Dawayne Bailey > www.dawaynebailey.com
The CD I'm holding in this photo (with my pal Brian Cruz on the left) is Bill Champlin's "No Wasted Moments". Not only have I experienced playing with Bill for nearly a decade with the band CHICAGO, but I've always been a major fan. Be it solo, Sons, Chicago or any given sideman or producer gig he's ever done. I grew up in Kansas in the 60s and 70s. Manhattan and Wichita to be specific. Wichita in particular has always been a big Blues town and also holds the distinction of being hometown to another monster Hammond player/singer named Michael Finnigan. He was our hometown hero with his amazing bands The Serfs, Jerry Hahn Brotherhood, DFK, Finnigan & Wood and Dave Mason. Mike always talked about his love for this guy from San Francisco that also played Hammond and sang his Caucasian boo-tie off. Of course he was talking about Bill. Then Kerry Livgren (of the band Kansas) told me about Bill and the Sons and how they were a big influence on his writing. Kerry even talks about it in his book called Seeds Of Change. So the word started getting out back then and The Sons became our new heroes of soul, funk and groove. We listened to all the albums. I particularly fetished the Loving Is Why album and the song Time Will Bring You Love. I used to bug Bill constantly on those countless hours on the road that this was one of my all-time fave songs of his. Sure enough, he called me one day and told me he wanted me to play guitar on his re-recording of this song for The Usual Suspects CD. I was blown away. Getting to write with Bill on the bus, jam in hotel rooms, dressing rooms, onstage around the globe, at his home studio, etc were extreme highs of my life. Then there's that "special" Bill sense of humor. "Fuselage d'amour". Remember that one, bro? Two of my favorite things to do on those long bus rides was to make Bill gourmet deli sandwiches, and simply...laugh. At all costs with total disposal of human dignity and adult decorum. I think between Tris and Jason and me, we accomplished our mission more than a few times.... be it Jason and me Jazz dancing in the aisle or "swingin' back n forth like a Duncan Yo-Ya". I love Bill Champlin and after getting to blend in dead-on 3 part harmonies, dueling guitar solos or just simply hanging out waiting for Godot...or Cleveland (whichever came first)....I leave the Master from Marin with his favorite age old philosophy for bearing down through oceans of musical (and pedestrian) mediocrity...Satan says, "Floor it!".

James Vincent > www.jamesvincent.net
The first time I heard Bill Champlin was 33 years ago in a high school gymnasium in Santa Rosa, California. The Sons of Champlin were warming up a large audience for our group, the newly re-formed H.P. Lovecraft. Our band had just relocated from Chicago, IL to Sonoma County, CA. In Chicago I had grown up listening almost exclusively to the great r&b singers of the day, and the voice I was now hearing was right up there with the best of them; however, this fellow had blue eyes. If I remember correctly, Bill was playing a Gibson L-5, and he switched between guitar and Hammond organ as the songs dictated. He had absolute command of both instruments and the band that he fronted. Bill and I became acquainted that evening. Later that year I teamed up with an organist named Howard Wales, best known for his "Hooteroll" album with Jerry Garcia. We played many Bay Area venues with "The Sons", and Bill and I became friends. We finally got to work together on Howard's next solo album, called "Rendezvous with the Sun.” In 1974 I was moving to L.A. to further my solo career. Before I left, I caught Bill doing a solo at a little club in San Anselmo, singing and playing his heart out. I remember thinking to myself, "He also needs to get out of here and maybe head for L.A., so he doesn't get lost in the Marin county haze." We lost contact with one another after that night, and I did not see Bill again until 1985 at a Chicago concert in Phoenix, AZ. It was great to hear him with my old friends that evening, and his addition to the band was most positive. In my 40 plus years in the business, I can think of no multi-instrumentalist who can sing, play and craft a song any better than Bill Champlin.

Bobby Kimball > www.bobbykimball.com
I met Bill about 1977, and since that moment, we've been very good friends. I have a deep respect for his talent, both vocally and instrumental. Vocally, we relate totally, and on the Hammond B-3, he's right up there with the "very best of the best" players. I think he helped shape a lot of my music by my listening to The Sons of Champlin early on. We have very similar taste in music, and I learned a lot from Bill. In the beginning years with Toto,... Bill, Michael McDonald, and myself were a trio doing most of the background vocals for almost every high profile artist to come out of that era. It was one of the most fun times of my musical career. It was, at least, having fun with two of my favorite vocalists, and I had to pinch myself at times to make sure it wasn't a dream. I not only pride myself on working with Bill, but I love his family as well. Tamara, his wife, is a very well respected writer/vocalist herself. I've enjoyed working with her as well. Willie, their son, is a gifted keyboardist, and coming from those roots, there was little doubt he would be any less. I'm proud to know Bill and his family and look forward to the next venture we work on together. He is a shining example of "How To Do Everything Music" in my eyes. I love you Bill, and keep up the fantastic work................

Jerry Lopez > www.jerrylopez.com
Bill Champlin has been like a big brother to me from the day we met. Since then, my dream has come true in the fact that I played and sang with Bill in his band, and have been lucky enough to record several things with him. I can tell you honestly that all of the things that I have accomplished since he took me under his wing are a direct result of his influence and direction. He is the King, undisputed, and I would jump in front of a truck for him or any of his family.



Steve Lukather > www.stevelukather.net
I have known and respected Bill since I was 19, around 1977. We met thru David Foster and started to hang with Graydon and all the LA scene. It was a great time in life when music was played by musicians and not machines and thyere was a ton of work for all of us. i was very young and green and used to hang with Foster, Jay Graydon, mathieson, Carlton and eventually we all started doing alot of records together. This was pre-Toto. Bill was already a legend at that point with the Son's and Foster was his biggest fan. We did Lisa Dalbello's first record when she was 17 and dating Jeff Poracro. haha Those were the days. After a while writing started to come our way. Graydon was producing George Benson at the time and asked Bill and I to come over and write a tune. We had a few beers and I believe within a half an hour the tune was done. We won a Grammy in 1983. I have played on more than one Champlin solo record and they are all world class with some great tunes and great playing and especially Bills soulful vocals. There is only one Champlin. We gotta work together again soon!! PS Did I mention his wife and son are also amazing?

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