Words For a Fallen Friend
By Randal "RW" Walker
taken from http://www.james-taylor.com
I can't seem to remember a day without hearing the incredible groove performed by Carlos. His playing for me has always been an inspiration and a source which all is based upon.
II was born and raised in Los Angeles -- primarily Glendale -- and Carlos was raised in Eagle Rock. We met while I was attending the Musicians Institute in Hollywood. I would go to all the local clubs at the
time like the Ice House in Pasadena, The Potato, Golden Bear, At My Place and Madame Wong's. These were the clubs where I first got the chance to experience Carlos as a drummer. My next full-fledged power Carlos performance
would be attending a Larry Carlton show at the Wiltern.
We found out that we were living only miles apart from each other and bonded as both drummers and friends. He would eventually move to La Canada, which is just up the hill from Glendale. This would be his
final home, which he shared with his wife of fifteen years and their two daughters.
We have hung out a many times watching and learning -- he with either James Taylor or Burning Water or even Karizma -- sitting on a tour bus in Carolina listening to Latin CDs practicing our stick technique
while Jimmy Johnson would try and read a book. It's still funny to this day. As I sit here clouds seem to appear out of nowhere and I still get chills when listening to his playing. I learn so much more everyday about his
playing and his phrasing on the instrument --things I did not catch after the one hundreth listen.
I still see his face as he told about a true find out of hisneighbor's attic, an old timbale from the sixties. He really dug this drum so much that it accompanied him on the Monque Bon tour 94-95,where he'd
fit it into the show off to the right.
Carlos Vega was born in Cuba on December 7, 1956 and brought to theU.S. at an early age. He grew up in L.A. with most of the major session cats of this era and went to high school with Mike Landau,Jeff
Porcaro, and Steve Lukather. In 1975 he co-formed a band called Karizma with a close friend of his by the name of David Garfield. They recorded their first CD in 1983.1975 would find Carlos on the road with a rising teen idol
by the name of Shaun Cassidy. The keyboard player in this band was Jimmy Greenspoon of Three Dog Night fame. Carlos' star would begin to shine at this point, being called upon for various sessions and live performing.
It would be a short time when Larry Carlton would be calling upon the silky groove of Mr. Vega. I might point out at this time another very infamous session drummer of the seventies and eighties and very
early nineties would find Carlos to be his idol, his name was Jeff Porcaro.Jeffrey really dug the way Carlos played, not too many people know of this.
The eighties would have Carlos performing live with many artists such as Larry Carlton, Karizma and a budding talent named Vince Gill. The friendship of these two goes back many years. When Vince left Pure
Prairie league, Carlos was called upon to lay the foundation for Mr.Gill's new sound. It would not be until the early nineties that the two would reunite in recorded performance.
In the middle 80s James Taylor asked Carlos to join his touring lineup, but this would not stop his relentless pursuit at studying and performing in the studio. In 1985 Carlos was asked to be a part of a
memorable live performance, taped live in front of an audience featuring such performers as Dave Grusin, Diane Schuur, Lee Ritenour, and Abe Laboriel. This show would be the groundbreaker for many to come.
The late 80s and early 90s found Karizma recording four CDs for Japanese release (they have been re-released by David Garfield´s own label Creatchy Records over the last 18 months). In 1992 Carlos formed yet
another band called Burning Water with fellow JT alumnus Michael Landau. Jumping back a few years, Carlos performed some fine grooves on Linda Ronstadt's album entitled "Cry Like a Rainstorm, Howl Like the Wind."
1992 was a trying year for many. When Jeff Porcaro left us in a very tainted accident, it changed everything for the L.A. studio scene. Carlos and I sat on a bus reflecting about where we were how and why it
all happened. By then Carlos had two daughters whom he doted on fondly and was constantly talking about. He was a very loving fatherand we were involved in the Indian Princess organization. Sponsored by the YMCA, these are
groups of fathers and daughters much like what cub scouts are to boys. It involved things like hiking trips, boating excursions to Catalina Island and the making of beaded necklaces. He loved this time with his girls and the
other fathers. It was still another side of Carlos know one would ever see -- just the smiling face behind the tubs we would grow to love.
He also loved to stay up late and listen to all types of music like Primus, Hendrix, Zeppelin, and Latin discarga to name a few. In the recent years he had gone back to studying drums, relearning his grip and
playing more hand percussion.
April 1998 is a time I will never forget, nor will any of his close friends like Lenny, Abe, Lee, Creatchy, Luke, Mike, JT, and all he touched. I truly thought August of 1992 was the hardest time of my life
when Jeff Porcaro died and I found myself flying home to bury a close friend and inspiration. Not true. 1998 was out and out the most trying time of our lives. Getting up at 4 A.M. to catch the flight arriving in Burbank. The
shuttle ride from the airport to the rental agency in North Hollywood. A rental car taking me to the Sky Rose Chapel in Whittier, CA. This would be the hardest of all to swallow
How and why I cannot go into here with you. I understand it. I might not agree whole-heartedly with it, but this is the way he wanted it.
A picture of the man hangs above the stage he once played in North Hollywood at The Baked Potato. It's a shrine from fellow musicians to a fallen brother. He loved this little club and spent many a night
either jamming here or just hanging enjoying the vibe. Words just cannot convey how much he is missed in the music circle. We move on with the memory in our hearts and the thought of someday being together again gigging in the
big club above.
A small discography of some favorite performances:
Live and lit
Dream come true
Forever in the arms of love
[Karizma in disguise] for a Japanese cartoon
GRP Live in session
Reba Mcentire / Read My Mind / Starting Over
Vince Gill / IStill Believe in You / When Love Finds You
High Lonesome Sound
James Taylor / Live / Hourglass / Never Die Young
George Benson / In Your Eyes / Give Me The Night
Al Jarreau / This Time / Heart´s Horizon
Olivia Newton-John / Physical
Manhatten Transfer / Bodies And Soul
Sadao Watanabe / Sweet Deal
Lee Ritenour / Banded Together / Earth Run / Color Rit
Bonnie Raitt / Nine Lives
Randy Newman / Land Of Dreams
Linda Ronstadt / Cry Like A Rainstorm-Howl Like The Wind
Bette Midler / Some People´s Lives
Hiroshima / Providence
Brandon Fields / Other Places
Joni Mitchell / Turbulent Indigo
Tina Arena / Don´t Ask
There is a fund set up for Carlos Vega's family
Vega's Childrens Fund 466 Foothill Blvd. Box 307
La Canada,Ca. 91011
Thank you very much !
more details can be found at