Bill Deiz

  • MuzicNotez: First off, it’s an honor to be doing this interview with you Bill, thanks for taking the time to sit down with us.
     
    What motivated you to start creating music? What age did you begin?

    • Bill Deiz: I must say it goes back to Buddy Holly and Richie Valens and my uncles in New York City. That magical summer of 1959 I went back to New York for a visit and my uncles began to teach me how to play guitar. They taught me songs in Spanish like La Bamba and Besame Mucho. My cousins and I also caught a show at the Apollo theatre with Dion and the Belmonts singing Teenager in Love, the Champs playing Tequilla and Frankie Lyman singing Goodie Goodie. Then when I got back to Portland and really started learning guitar chords, I jumped right into La Bamba by Richie Valens and all those great Buddy Holly songs like Oh Boy, That’ll be the Day, and of course Peggy Sue. It was probably Buddy Holly that got me singing the most and I liked the fact that he wore glasses which I also wore as a high schooler. I must have been around 16 or so when I first began to write songs of my own and I haven’t stopped.
  • MuzicNotez: Who were your musical influences, idols, or bands growing up that have helped mold you into the musician you are today? Or helped mold the music that you create?
    • Bill Deiz: Well after that Buddy Holly period I mentioned, I really started to get into folk music, especially Bob Dylan and Peter Paul and Mary and the Kingston Trio. In my first couple of years of college I was really into folk music and sang with a partner, her name was Robin Brown, all around the campus of the University of Oregon.
       
      Soon after, I started to get into Soul music thanks to Curtis Mayfield and the Impressions out of Chicago and the whole scene with Martha and the Vandellas and the Temptations, Four Tops, Supremes, James Brown, Ike and Tina Turner, etc. This music really spoke to me and I formed a band in college that became The Seven Souls and took L-A by storm in 1965 – 1966.

      In fact when Bobby Hatfield of the Righteous Brothers had his wedding reception at the Beverly Hills Hotel in 1965 we were the band chosen to play and I was right there playing bass and singing.

  • MuzicNotez: What’s the ultimate goal you want your music to achieve, or for you to achieve in your career as a musician? Any particular message you wish to send?
    • Bill Deiz: I would like to get some mainstream acceptance for some of my songs. I had the privilege of meeting Livingston and Evans who wrote great Doris Day tunes, songs like Tammy’s in Love and Que Sera Sera; and I’ve always wanted to write a hit song. Been trying for years.
  • MuzicNotez: What’s the greatest concert you’ve ever been to or performed?
    • Bill Deiz: Wow. I’d have to say James Brown in the 1960s who I caught both in Portland and in Sacramento is among my all time favorite concerts; it was pure showmanship and genius; I’ve also caught Ray Charles and Aretha Franklin live and it was fantastic. More recently, Santana who I also really dig.

      At our peak The Seven Souls had overflow crowds, especially when Mary Lee Whitney was one of our lead singers; but my favorite venue was in Sacramento where we jammed the Tropicana Club for a whole month-he extended our run because of the crowd response and even gave us a house while we were there.

  • MuzicNotez: You opened for some amazing acts in your day, what was your favorite, and did you meet any of the famous artists you opened for?
    • Bill Deiz: Ironically, the best opening happened right after I left the band when they opened for the Righteous Brothers at a sold out concert in San Diego. I attended with a back stage pass in my Marine Corps uniform because I was forced to leave the band during the Vietnam buildup ordered by President Johnson. I didn’t go to Vietnam but I had to leave my dream band thanks to the war.
  • MuzicNotez: You wrote a memoir entitled “Color Me Free”. This book is really starting to catch on, and is a huge inspiration to young African American’s like yourself, whom worked hard overcoming obstacles such as racism to achieve the American Dream. ‘Color Me Free’ can be described as a 21st century answer to ’12 Years a Slave’ and everybody needs to grab a copy. What motivated the writing of this book?
    • Bill Deiz: It is just starting to circulate in Hollywood as a potential book to movie deal. It is my true story of growing up as a Black American during the tumultuous 1960s where, despite barriers and racial prejudice, I was guided to a life of achievement, first in music and then in my radio and television news career where I won many awards for my reporting and became one of the first television news anchors of color in Los Angeles. Recently I was elected Chair of the Oregon Commission on Voluntary Action and service which administers Americorps and CASA program in Oregon and I have led my life as a free man, despite obstacles I have encountered. Along the way I have discovered that there are many, many more good Americans than bad ones, and that with determination and will and a plan you can realize your dreams.
  • MuzicNotez: Your track ‘Rather Have Sooner’ received a ton of success including reaching Broadjam’s top 10 list. How does it feel to see the song be so well received?
    • Bill Deiz: Truly I love this song and the arrangement with Jim Hoke in Nashville leading the great horn section. It comes closest to the feel of my old band, The Seven Souls, and is a modern take on classic R&B. Every time I performed this with my old band, Dreamland Café, we got a great crowd response.

  • MuzicNotez: Your next big hit is about to be released and is entitled ROLLIN’, what’s the song about? Who did you all work with to create it?
    • Bill Deiz: Cliff Goldmacher produced it with me. He rounded up some super players in Nashville to do the band track, including the drummer who once worked with Chuck Berry. These are all A-list musicians on the record who have played on many hit records: Catherine Marx, on B-3 and Piano, Dave Harrison, drums, Pat Buchanan, electric guitar and Dave Francis, bass – all were magnificent.
       
      I recorded the vocals in Portland. It is Country pop flavored, not Soul, but has a great hook sing along chorus, and I can see it being used in a movie some day. It is biographical and references a relationship that hasn’t been working and he’s had it, he’s ready to move on, he’s rollin!

  • MuzicNotez: You’ve produced a lot of your latest tracks with Cliff Goldmacher at his Nashville studio, how has that experience been?
    • Bill Deiz: Cliff is great to work with and the musicians he brings to the session are superb. They have played on many hit records, themselves, and they bring to each project a passion to get it right, to support the song with whatever it needs and to be professional. If any of these songs ever hit, I plan to reward them with a bonus for their great work.
  • MuzicNotez: You’re a BMI songwriter, any tips for aspiring song writers out there?
    • Bill Deiz: Well, I’ve been writing for a long time. One song I co-wrote with my Seven Souls Bandmate Henry Moore, I Still Love You has somehow become a northern soul classic in the UK. You can google it. But I’ve never had a true breakout hit song, where I make zillions of dollars. That would be nice, of course, but I write songs because I love to write songs and I love working with musicians and producers and engineers who love what they are doing and bring their A game to my fairly low budget projects.
       
      I tell people: if it is in you to write, then write. You don’t need anyone’s permission. Just do it, as Nike says.
  • MuzicNotez: What else are you working on? What can we expect to see and hear from you in the future?
    • Bill Deiz: I’d like to get a movie deal for my book, then get it published; I’d like to generate revenue so that I can actually go to Nashville and record, but meantime I’ll keep scraping together money to do the sessions I can. I have about ten to fifteen more songs I’d really like to record and release.
       
      I’m also developing a musical about the life and times of Jesus Christ as told by two teen agers, a brother and a sister, who become early disciples. It has some cool songs I’ve written just for this and my big dream is to incorporate songs by some other artists into this project-such as Stevie Winwood who has a couple of songs that would work perfectly in this production. Right now it is many steps from reality but I keep working on it.
  • MuzicNotez: Anything else you wish to say about yourself or your music? Any message for your fans?
    • Bill Deiz: Just that the older I get the more I love writing songs, and the more I love working with real pros who care about what they do and give it their very best. On one of my songs, Daddy’s Comin’ Home, which, incidentally, Michael Friedman of SKOPE magazine loves, Bonnie Raitt’s guitar player, George Marinelli, lays down one of the best guitar solos I’ve ever heard, not because I could pay him a lot of money, but because this is what he felt the song needed. And he was right!

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