It sounds like a clichéd movie plot: musician digs out his last few dollars to go to LA and waits outside record company big shot’s house, gets an audition, then gets signed to a major label.
But it really happened. The record exec was Herb Alpert, of A&M, and the musician was Gino Vannelli.
“People Gotta Move” hit the Billboard Hot 100 chart a short time later, reaching as high as #22. A string of hits and Juno Awards followed, as well as a Grammy.
The Montreal native was immersed in music from a young age; his father was a cabaret singer who used to sing to him in Italian. The young Vannelli started singing professionally at 14 and studied music formally at McGill University.
His 2009 CD, “The Best And Beyond,” features re-workings of several of his best-loved songs, including “I Just Wanna Stop,” “Black Cars” and that first hit, “People Gotta Move,” of which Vanelli says, “My band take the song to a whole new level.” (Visit ginov.com for more info.) For fans who want an even more personal experience, the CD also comes packaged up with a book of Vannelli’s memoirs, titled “Stardust in the Sand.”
After 40-plus years in the music business, Vannelli has had his ups and downs. His philosophy? “Let things good and bad into your life. Stay curious. Find the will to go on.”
Q: How would you describe your home in one word
Q: Tell us about your home.
A: It is an older home located in the mountains of Oregon, near the Columbia River. We get snow, wind and ice, but I don’t mind it. It’s a half-mile to our mailbox. We bought the home 15 years ago.
There is one big room with a wood-burning stove that warms the entire house. We are chopping wood all the time … that’s fine with me. We haven’t used the electric heating once this winter.
I have my music room downstairs with my computers and library. I keep my awards and honours in piles amongst all the stuff in the music room, not displayed on the walls. I love to read, and the couch, where I continue my discovery of civilizations and religions, is located there also.
I created a studio for myself. It holds various sets of keyboards and my original guitars. I have the guitar I used for my 1972 A&M audition.
Q: What attracted you to this space?
A: My wife Patricia is from this area. We liked the lofty and artsy design of this house.
Q: Who else shares your home?
A: Our son Anton. We are thinking about buying a Maine Coon cat.
Q: What is your favourite room and why?
A: I travel so much, home is a novelty for me. If I had to choose one room, I’d pick the attic. It reminds me of heaven. I keep wondering how to get into it.
Q: How would you describe your decorating style?
A: I leave the decorating to my wife. We have furniture that is red and gold. There is lots of wood in this house. I am not a shopper or a notions kind of buyer. I do love buying clothes! I find what I’m looking for in Milan and Montreal.
Q: What is your fondest memory in this house?
A: There are so many. Peacocks seem to be having conversations with each other at dawn.
Q: What’s the one item in this house, you can’t live without?
A: The roof [laughing].
Q: Weekends at home, what are we most likely to find you doing?
A: Trish and I take long hikes and do yoga together in the evenings. Writing in my head while chopping wood, or chopping wood in my head while writing.
Q: If your walls could talk, what would they say?
A: “Anything but Martha Stewart, please.”