James Crouch BIOS

written by Rick ReYampert

 

SHORT BIO

James Crouch grew up in Sodus, a small farm town near Rochester, N.Y., saw the Beatles on “The Ed Sullivan Show” in 1964 and knew he wanted to play guitar.

After playing in rock bands during his teens, Crouch moved to Los Angeles, where he delivered film scripts to movie studios and stars’ homes. He returned to New York, played the upstate rock bar circuit and the oldies circuit around Manhattan, the East Coast and Canada, and was the guitarist for The Dovells, then The Tokens (of “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” fame). In November 1996 he landed in Daytona Beach, Florida, where he has spent the bulk of his musical career.

Crouch’s guitar prowess has produced over 10 CDs of fierce rock, blues rock and blues originals, blistering covers of his classic rock idols (Hendrix, Page, Beck, Stones, Bowie, Neil Young and others), passionate takes on Adele’s “Lovesong” and Peggy Lee’s immortal “Fever,” and his own original, exquisite flamenco. Crouch’s recordings have made radio playlists from Australia, to the U.S. to Europe, right alongside the music of  Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Black Sabbath, the Rolling Stones, and other legends. His main website, jamescrouchguitar.com, features 161 complete tracks of his music available for free streaming or downloads. On https://www.facebook.com/jamescrouchmusic/, his Facebook artist page, there are fans from 45 countries. He also has pages on Reverbnation and Soundcloud.

Crouch has gigged throughout Central Florida, and these days he works as an on-call, hired-gun performer, recording artist, and producer for Full Sail University in Winter Park, Florida. Working in the school’s music and recording division, Crouch and his professional musicians play on a cutting-edge sound stage or recording studio in order to provide real-world performances for students to record in pursuit of their degrees. Former and/or current  members of Molly Hatchet, Johnny Winter, Roy Buchanan, Les Dudek, Brian Auger, and even a guy who recorded with Jimi Hendrix have recorded and performed with James.

Over the decades, James Crouch has opened for Blue Oyster Cult, Bachman-Turner Overdrive, Eddie Money, Molly Hatchet, Marshall Tucker, Rick Derringer (four times), Jimmy Thackery, the Nighthawks, Fran Cosmo (Boston), Brian Howe (Bad Company), and Tommy Tutone.   

In December of 2015, James had a phone interview published on  guitarradioshow.com,  out of Austin, Texas, between his mentors, Leslie West (Mountain) and Frank Marino (Mahogany Rush).

A cancer battle in late 2016 cost Crouch his right eye, but later he returned to the stage to perform at Biketoberfest, a biker rally in Daytona, and resumed his duties at Full Sail.

Crouch also is a guitar teacher and is available for lessons.

 

LONG BIO

Guitarist James Crouch says he’s “gotta do a death metal band called Cyclops.”

Anyone who’s heard “Beck in Blue” -- Crouch’s furious, atomic tribute to Jeff Beck – or the growling Rottweiler-from-hell guitar of “Bite Me” will know that Crouch could hitchhike from his home in Daytona Beach, Florida, to Norway, the death metal capital of the universe, and find a gig instantly.

It’s such chops that have landed Crouch’s recordings on radio playlists in Germany, Australia and Austin, Texas, right alongside such big guns as Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Black Sabbath and other legends. His “Beck in Blue” appears on the CD “The Loner 2 – A Tribute to Jeff Beck.”

But Crouch isn’t just a hard rocker/metal head. Visitors to his website, jamescrouchguitar.com, can hear his recordings, with various vocalists and bandmates, of Adele’s delicate cover of the Cure’s “Lovesong,” Peggy Lee’s torchy “Fever” and Crouch’s elegant flamenco originals.

But, alas, there’s no death metal on Crouch’s website. His idea for a band called Cyclops has other origins.

“Do you like my latest publicity shot?” Crouch says with a hearty laugh. He’s referring to a photo he shared on Facebook – a pic of a monster movie cyclops, that hulking, one-eyed beast from Greek mythology.

Crouch is joking, of course. But the joke stems from a very serious matter: Crouch lost his right eye in December 2016 during surgery to combat a cancerous tumor that had destroyed his eye socket and surrounding bone, and even wrapped around his spinal cord.

“I can’t even imagine where it came from,” Crouch says with a sardonic laugh as he gestures exaggeratedly with the cigarette in his right hand.

A month after his surgery at Shands Hospital in Gainesville, the retina detached in Crouch’s remaining eye, leaving him blind.

“I was in a wheelchair,” he says. “I couldn’t walk. I thought I was going to die.”

Phyllis Barnett, Crouch’s girlfriend, says doctors “weren’t really sure how much vision he was going to get back. I had to lead him around everywhere. It was scary.”

“I couldn’t even find a razor blade if I was looking for one,” Crouch says.

His left eye healed and his vision returned – and so did his sense of humor.

“Except for that couple of weeks, his sense of humor never left him,” Barnett says. “He had all the nurses and everybody at the hospital cracking up all the time. People loved him.”

Part of his post-op treatment included grafting skin over his now-barren right eye socket.

“They wanted to use skin from part of my arm,” Crouch says. “I said, ‘I am a professional guitar player. I’d rather you did it from my leg.’ So they did.”

Crouch underwent 56 radiation treatments -- twice a day for six weeks -- and in  2017 he was back on stage performing during Biketoberfest, the annual fall biker rally in the Daytona area. In January, February and July 2017, he performed at  benefits that friends and fellow musicians held for him.

“I came back very strong,” Crouch says. “I play about as well as I did.”

When Crouch was growing up in Sodus, N.Y., about 30 miles east of Rochester, his musical path didn’t begin with guitar. His mother -- who wasn’t a musician, Crouch says -- began teaching him piano and how to read music at age 6.

“Then I saw the Beatles on ‘The Ed Sullivan Show,’ Feb. 9, 1964,” he says. “I knew I wanted to play guitar.”

It was four years later, after stints playing trumpet and tuba in school, that Crouch “discovered Terry Kath (guitarist with the band Chicago), one of my first idols, and then Hendrix, and I said ‘I gotta do this.’ ”

He got his first guitar at age 11 in 1968. As a teen he played Grand Funk, Guess Who and Black Sabbath songs in a band called Wizard, a name they copped from a song on Sabbath’s first album.

“My main influences -- number one would be Jimmy Page,” Crouch says. “Plus Roy Buchanan, Johnny Winter, Alvin Lee. These were my heroes, my gods. I grew up in the era of guitar gods.”

At age 20, Crouch moved to Los Angeles “with the idea of somehow making it as a guitar player.” A school friend who lived in LA helped him get a job with a company that “manufactured and delivered TV and movie scripts to all the studios every day, and sometimes stars’ homes,” Crouch says. “I went to Charlton Heston’s house, Joan Rivers, Robert Culp.” (By coincidence, his future girlfriend Phyllis was living just a few blocks away from Crouch in Los Angeles at the same time. They never met back then.)

Crouch moved back to Sodus in 1981, where he worked day jobs and played in bands. Then came a stint in Manhattan playing the oldies circuit for two years with the doo-wop group the Tokens (of “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” fame). Crouch worked as a technician at Xerox from 1989 to ’96, then moved to Daytona because his mom moved there after his dad died.

Crouch hit the beach “determined to make my first CD, and it almost killed me,” he says. He worked as a property manager, hung sprinkler systems and taught guitar lessons while also “going through a divorce and a bankruptcy. I had moved to a town where I didn’t know anybody, trying to make my first CD being the producer and everything, not knowing what I’m doing, with no money. And I made it happen.”

“So Far,” released in 1997, features such bluesy Crouch originals as “You’re Why I Play the Blues” and “Between the Sheets Again (Revolving Door),” and “Matador/The Bull,” which amazingly puts a Vulcan mind-meld on flamenco and a Van Halen-ish rave-up.

Crouch continued to gig and record in Central Florida, then in 2007 he ventured overseas for a one-shot performance.

“I had a friend who was an opera star and lived part-time in Europe” Crouch says. “She got me a gig playing for the Italian government in an 800-year-old castle. I hired guys (bandmates) from Italy over the internet. It was cool -- most money I ever made for a gig.”

Two years later he ventured to Europe again, ready to put down roots and be an American expatriate guitarist.

“Some fans said ‘Come over here to Bulgaria -- we have a place for you to stay, we’ll get you booked all over Europe,’ ” Crouch recalls. “So I moved to Bulgaria. I realized within a few days that she was a wanna-be. They couldn’t do what I needed them to do, after I moved all that way – 9000 miles.”

Crouched returned to Daytona. Though it was at the height of the housing bust and the economic recession, he had grown tired of playing the bar scene and moved back to NY for a year..

Upon his return to Daytona, however, his guitar prowess led to many more sessions  as an on-call, hired-gun performer and producer for Full Sail University in Winter Park, Florida. Working in the school’s music and recording division, Crouch and other professional musicians play on a cutting-edge sound stage in order to provide real-world performances for students to record in pursuit of their degrees.

A number of those recordings are available to stream free on Crouch’s website, and likewise are featured on some of Crouch’s numerous CDs, which also are available on the site.

Over the decades, James Crouch has opened for Blue Oyster Cult, Bachman-Turner Overdrive, Eddie Money, Molly Hatchet, Marshall Tucker, Rick Derringer (four times), Jimmy Thackery, the Nighthawks, Fran Cosmo (Boston), Brian Howe (Bad Company), and Tommy Tutone.

Whether he’s working with various vocalists and fellow musicians, or as a solo instrumentalist, those recordings and albums include such fare as “Med Zeppelin” (Crouch’s flaming medley of Led Zep classics), Pink Floyd’s “Young Lust,” Hendrix’s “Little Wing,” Bowie’s “Ziggy Stardust” and other classic rock milestones, as well as such blues favorites as “Tobacco Road,” “Spoonful” and “Good Morning Little Schoolgirl.”

But, as mentioned, Crouch is more than an amp-turned-up-to-11 kind of guy.

“I’ve been recording everything from Peggy Lee to Adele to Black Sabbath and Frank Zappa, and so much in between,” he says. “I’ve become very versatile. I record things I never thought I would do. I did ‘Lovesong’ by Adele. It’s one of my proudest pieces. My version of ‘Fever,’ with Viviana Clary on vocals, I would put up against the Peggy Lee version. Dina Medeiros (vocalist) and I did a version of ‘Put a Spell on You’ that also got radio airplay in Europe.

On https://www.facebook.com/jamescrouchmusic/, his Facebook artist page, there are fans from 45 countries.

In December of 2015, James had a phone interview published on  guitarradioshow.com,  out of Austin, Texas, between his mentors Leslie West (Mountain) and Frank Marino (Mahogany Rush).

“I’ve been trying to think more as a producer and less as a guitar player,” he says. “Now I’m trying to make the song as good as I can on a limited budget and time – to make something that will compete with the best in the world.”

Often the summons from Full Sail requires him to show up within 24-hours notice, or less if someone else has bugged out on a recording session at the university. At such times Crouch has even found his songwriting muse visiting him in the studio.

“Barcelona,” one of his flamenco instrumentals, “is one of my proudest works because it came out of my ass, on the spot,” he says. “Sometimes I don’t have anything in mind. I don’t have a cover song in mind. So I’ll just come up with something as the reels are rolling, and I’ll write it as it’s being recorded. No idea where it’s going. It really worked great that time. I did two leads and they edited them together to make one.”

“Conquistador,” another flamenco, likewise came quickly, as did the sultry, sax-fueled “Dark” (all can be heard on his website).

Crouch is both humbled and pleased to see his recordings, such as “Dark” and “Bite Me,” nestled in those European radio playlists beside the likes of Eric Clapton, Pink Floyd, the Rolling Stones, Joe Satriani, Guns N’ Roses and other heavyweights. Former and/or current  members of Molly Hatchet, Johnny Winter, Roy Buchanan, Les Dudek, Brian Auger, and even a guy who recorded with Jimi Hendrix have recorded and performed with James.

James adds, his recognitian overseas and in the US “is a great honor for me – seeing my name with my heroes. my mentors, my teachers, the best in the world ever and I’ve seen my name with almost all of them.”

James Crouch's name/ music has been among the following;   Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, BB King, The Rolling Stones, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Joe Satriani, Santana, Pink Floyd, Jethro Tull, Steve Vai, Eddie Van Halen, The Allman Brothers, Randy Rhoads, Guns N' Roses, Johnny Winter, Roy Buchanan, Iron Maiden, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan, Frank Marino, Leslie West, Joe Bonamassa, Bruce Springsteen, Joe Cocker, Thin Lizzy, Buddy Guy, Slash, Robin Trower, AC/DC, Yngwie Malmsteen, Neil Schon, ZZ Top, Mark Knopfler, Gary Moore, Kenny Wayne Shepard, John Lee Hooker, 38 Special, Ana Popovic, Judas Priest, Motley Crue, Whitesnake, Dio, Ozzy, Foreigner, Muddy Waters, Keb Mo, Albert King, Gov't Mule, Buddy Miles, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Rory Gallagher, George Thorogood, Jeff Healey, Freddie King, Mike Bloomfield, Robert Cray, John Mayall, Janis Joplin, Son House, Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks, Ray Charles, Rod Stewart, Walter Trout, and many more.