Billy Ray Deiz (or Bill Deiz) has seen and done enough for several lifetimes. The making of music has been just one of Deiz’s many endeavors throughout the course of his colorful, action-filled years.
As a journalist, Deiz has been in the thick of disasters, both natural (volcanos) and manmade (methamphetamine epidemic). He’s met some memorable characters, such as Robert Kennedy, with whom he hung out just one week prior to the man’s assassination. Perhaps even more stimulating was Deiz’s coverage of the “25th anniversary reunion of Playmate Centerfold models at the Playboy Mansion West.”
Deiz has also worked as a professional actor and a feature writer for The Oregonian. Skope readers may be especially interested to know that Deiz was in a rising 1960s band, The Seven Souls, which included a young guitarist named Bob Welch, who went on to play for Fleetwood Mac.
But that was a long time ago. As for the here and now, Deiz has released a new track called “Daddy’s Comin’ Home.” This song is cut 1 on the Anthology of Blues, Vol. 2, released by Blue Pie Records and available on iTunes:
Skope recently tracked down Deiz to ask a few questions…
The words, “daddy’s comin’ home,” could be interpreted in various ways. Do you literally mean that a father is returning to his residence?
This idea behind this song is a play on the “who’s your Daddy?” Daddy. In this case, he is her lover who “left her in a lurch” but now he wants to “meet at the church”–in other words, he’s finally ready to settle down and get married. The image I had was sparked by the wars in the middle east–he suddenly went off to a war adventure with little warning, and now he’s coming home…back to his love…back to resume their lives together, ready for marriage. However, the humor at the end of the song is that she is having none of this–she is not even paying attention to him–she’s talking on that cell phone and showing him that she is miffed by his absence.
You say that “Daddy’s Comin’ Home” was recorded in both Nashville and Portland. Perhaps my own recording ignorance is showing here, but why were two far apart cities needed for one song?
Producer Clifford Goldmacher who produced this session has roots in Nashville and New York City. He spent many years in Nashville and he has a great philosophy: to make sure a songwriter’s song is to industry standard he assembles the best crew available to record these sessions so that the song is showcased at its very best. He has worked for years with some of the best musicians in Nashville and they are happy to work with him, at a reasonable cost. Thanks to Skype….a person like me can be in Portland and monitor the recording session via Skype, without having to fly to Nashville. Since I am also a singer…Cliff produced the tracks for me in Nashville and got the files to my recording engineer in Portland–electronically via the Internet– where I added my vocal. The result is one of the best recordings I have ever made.
I heard that you got George Marinelli, guitar player for Bonnie Raitt, to perform the guitar solo for your track. How’d you swing that?
We have to thank Cliff Goldmacher for that! George has worked with Cliff for years and he is one of the musicians who Cliff taps for these recordings.
It takes all of two seconds until we hear some guitar notes bending…Is that Marinelli on the six-string from the start?
That is George. Needless to say, I am a big fan of his and have told him so! He lay down several guitar tracks on this song in several takes, in the studio, giving me his very best effort, including his fantastic guitar lead in the middle.
Is that a church choir providing the background vocals?
We added the backing vocals later after I had added my lead vocal in Portland. Again Cliff got one of his Nashville talents, Britt Savage, to come in and add all of the backing vocal tracks. She does a fabulous job. Again I was able to monitor the recording session via Skype, sitting at my computer in Portland while they did the session in Nashville. In between takes I was able to give any direction I had.
You clearly have a diverse background. Do you view yourself as more of a reporter, a writer, or a musician?
I started off in college with one of the best bands in the world, as a founding member of The Seven Souls, the band Bob Welch was in just before he joined Fleetwood Mac. We were one of hottest bands in Los Angeles in the mid=60s, and after I left the group when I got drafted because of the Vietnam War the band went on to open for James Brown and the Righteous Brothers, among others. They also lost a Battle of the Bands contest to an upcoming band–Sly and the Family Stone. In my heart, when I was with the band, I thought we would be America’s answer to the Beatles. The Beatles started off by playing lots of black R and B…like Twist and Shout and Money….songs that we played, at the time, better than they did! We also were very popular with white and black crowds–part of the breakout of soul music led by Motown with the Temptations and the Supremes, and like Sly Stone–we were racially integrated. Crowds loved us. I helped form this band in my parent’s basement in Portland before we went to L-A and I thought I would be doing it “forever”. With the Vietnam war buildup, three of us from the band got drafted, including our drummer and me…and I ended up joining the Marine Corps Reserve. I didn’t go to Vietnam but it took me out of my dream band. I went on to finish college and then came my news career….and then professional acting in Los Angeles….but my first love has always been music.
The material I was given about your journalism career made for some engaging reading. Out of curiosity: Was your adrenaline pumping harder during your coverage of the Symbionese Liberation Army shootout, or during the Mt. Saint Helen’s volcanic eruption?
We were the only live camera on the scene at the SLA shootout and we got there just as the gun battle was getting underway and before police sealed off the area. My heart was in my throat as I made the tough decision that we needed to get closer to the battle to show what was happening and so we moved to a vantage point where we could see the back of the SLA house and we were exposed to gunfire. My Marine Corps training kicked in and we hugged the ground as best we could. At one point a round zipped by our ears and thwacked into the house behind us. So as far as adrenaline–it was the highest it has ever been and took me more than a day to come down. Since we had the only live picture our station, CBS 2 News in Los Angeles, ended up sharing it with the other stations so our report ended up being carried by most stations in southern California and then across the country–we went “viral” back in 1974! Rich Brito and Rey Hernandez were my crew. Eeporter Bob Simmons joined us later and we reported for two and one half hours from the scene.
For Mount St. Helens, we were on the ground deep in the Red Zone on May 18, 1980–the big one–Carol Thomas, Bruce Collins and I…heading into the zone as folks were heading out to safety We had been covering the volcano for weeks leading up to this and we were familiar with most of the roads. But adrenaline was high here too. We were reporting for KOIN TV, the CBS station in Portland, but CBS network used much of what we shot that day and the next day when our aerials of the devastation led the CBS evening news.
Which was a more exciting assignment: Robert Kennedy or the Playboy Mansion West?
Well, I spent most of a day with Robert Kennedy when he campaigned for the presidency in Portland in 1968. As the day progressed, I watched how the crowds adored him and he won me over. I am convinced he would have made a great President, someone who wanted to bring our divided country back together again. I had always been a John Kennedy democrat, but Bobby won me over that day. He lost in Oregon to Eugene McCarthy in the May primary but he won in California soon after and then came the awful assassination.
I had fun at the Playboy Mansion. We did a news story, a video news release, for Playboy for the 25th anniversary celebration and a celebration of Playmate centerfolds–and I wanted to mix business with pleasure but we realized we had to get the story shot and edited and to the TV stations, so there was no time for real fun. But we did get some great shots and the TV stations aired our footage, including a station in New York City, so Hugh Heffner was very pleased.
I see you’ve also written three novels. Are you actively seeking a publisher for any?
They are on the shelf right now. They need re-writing. Maybe someday I’ll get back to them. Meantime, it is my music that I am focusing on now. I love writing and recording and performing. I’m also writing a rock musical for the 21st century on the life and times of Jesus. One of the songs from the musical references the second coming of Christ, called Gimme Cracked Corn, and it is up on Radio Airplay right now and is our most popular song on that platform around the world–with a bunch of fans in Israel where I discovered there is a Christian community.
Anything else you care to share?
I’d like to thank my label, Blue Pie Records, for choosing “Daddy’s Comin’ Home” for the compilation, Anthology of Blues, Vol. 2. As you know, it is the lead song on the collection, available for sale on iTunes.
You can also sample my songs on our website: http://snowymountainboys.com/
…a mix of Country, Rock and Soul…and we’ve set it up so that you can purchase downloads directly from our website–only 99 cents each…we’d love to have a true hit and get back in the studio! Peace!
Ray Cavanaugh – firstname.lastname@example.org