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Wayne Merdinger is a singer/songwriter, focused on insightful lyrics and diverse musical compositions that will resonate with those who enjoy heartfelt, classic rock-style ballads with emotional messages. Inspired by legendary artists of the 1960's and 1970's, Wayne is a consummate storyteller and an inspired composer, with a musical sound and vocal delivery that complement his repertoire.
After writing songs for more than 25 years, it was Wayne’s children that urged him to start recording professionally. His first album, "The Music Lives On," released in 2016, included a number of songs that were written in the 1990's. His next album, "Behold the Invisible Man," featured all new material written in 2017. His 2018 album, aptly titled, "Messages," featured 14 brand new, original tunes depicting an evolved maturity in songwriting, orchestration and vocal performance. His latest single releases have continued that legacy, and his 2022 EP, "Troubadour" features six brand new, original compositions with a classic rock vibe.
Behind the Music...
As an amateur musician and aspiring singer/songwriter for most of my adult life, self-taught on both the piano and guitar, words cannot begin to describe the immense personal satisfaction in seeing an original song come to life in the studio, and develop into something that people enjoy listening to. I didn't get to really experience that until my children talked me into recording a whole album in a professional studio in 2016, at the tender age of 59. Now, having released three albums in as many years, I am focused on single releases while continuing to hone my abilities as a songwriter, musician and vocalist.
My own musical roots sprouted in the Lower Hudson Valley of New York, when I was in grade school. I sang in the school chorus from the 4th thru the 8th grade and took drum lessons in the 4th grade. My parents didn’t have the money to buy me a set of drums though so, after playing the bass drum for two years in the school band, I lost interest. When I was around eight years-old, I was at a friend’s house and, while waiting for him to finish his dinner, I sat down at the grand piano in their living room. There was a music book lying open to a tune I recognized and, though I couldn’t read a stitch of music, I began playing the song. My friend’s mother came running in and said, “Wayne, I didn’t know you played the piano.” I said, “Neither did I.” I guess that’s what “playing by ear” means. I wouldn’t play piano again until I was given a hand-me-down upright in 1980. From there, I set out to master as much Elton John and Billy Joel material as I could.
Meanwhile, in 1977, I was living alone, having moved to the San Francisco Bay Area for a job. To pass the time during off-hours, I bought myself an acoustic guitar and taught myself enough chords to get by, playing songs by The Beatles, James Taylor, Gordon Lightfoot, Jackson Browne, The Eagles and many more. What I really wanted to do was sing, so the guitar served as my accompaniment until I got that hand-me-down piano. I didn’t pick up a guitar again until I started work in the studio in 2016. All my initial songwriting was done on the piano. I wrote my first song in 1988. Today, I use both instruments to craft my songs.
The soundtrack of my life began in February 1964. I was seven years-old and The Beatles' appearance on the Ed Sullivan show left an indelible mark that would never abate. The music of the 60's and 70's remains a strong influence for many of today's artists and represents the foundation for my work. Of course, trying to sound more contemporary while being true to my roots is always a challenge but I'm hopeful that my music appeals, not only to those of my generation, but to others who appreciate the history and quality of classic rock 'n roll. The legendary songwriters and artists of my era remain the primary inspiration for all my musical endeavors, and I suspect that is evident in much of my material.
Growing up in New York in the 1960's, my radio was always tuned to WABC (or as they called it back then, "W-A-Beatle-C"), the only rock music station on the AM dial at the time. I remember listening to DJ's like Bruce Morrow (Cousin Brucie), Chuck Leonard, Dan Ingram, Harry Harrison, Herb Oscar Anderson and others as they brought the British Invasion, Motown, Folk Rock, Soul and other new and distinctive sounds onto the scene. Whenever I was at home, my radio was on. It stayed on all night every night while I slept, and likely formed its permanent imprint on my soul during those formative years.
I can't talk about inspiration without mentioning the profound influence that a group of very talented musicians had on me back around 1970. While skipping school and taking a shortcut through the woods one day, my friends and I came upon this long-haired band chilling out on an old motel property that we had thought was abandoned. It was not. The band, called Nebraska Bay, was living in the staff quarters behind the burned-out motel. I soon befriended their leader, Carl Wilkenfeld, and his bandmates, Scott, Ritchie and Jack, and thus began a year-long adventure, where I would get to sit in and listen to them rehearsing the amazing classic rock music they were producing in the basement. At the time, they were frequently going to auditions with major record labels, but to no avail. Carl gave me a few guitar lessons in return for me mowing the grass around the cottage. I eventually lost contact with them and, though, in my humble opinion, they seemed to have been on a track to stardom, they were never to be discovered. One of their songs stuck in my head for over 50 years though. It was called "The Train Song (I Saw You)" which Carl had written. I've been able to recall the 1st verse, half the 2nd verse, and the chorus, but nothing more. In 2022, I decided to record the song myself and so I finished the now co-written version by completing the lyrics for the 2nd verse, composing two additional verses, and adding a bridge. That song, as well as "Nebraska Bay," the song I wrote about them, are on my "Troubadour" EP, released in 2022. Remarkably, I was able to reconnect with Carl during the 2022 "Troubadour" sessions (after I had written "Nebraska Bay"), and we have renewed our 50 year-old friendship. As Carl told me when he first heard from me after all these years, "I feel like I've known you all my life." Music really does bring people together!
As an avid Beatles' aficionado, one of the highlights of my adult life was in 2014 when I had an opportunity, through the connections of a dear friend, to take a private tour of the iconic Abbey Road Studios in London. Colette Barber, who served as Studio Manager there for 36 years, graciously hosted my visit and provided a comprehensive, behind-the-scenes look at this iconic landmark that remains an active recording studio to this day. Standing with her in Studio 2, where most of the Beatle songs were recorded, was both surreal and enlightening. Not much has changed since history was made and much of the equipment and decor is still there. In my song, Abbey Road, which was inspired by that visit, I make reference to Mrs. Mills and the "fabled four-tracks." Mrs. Mills was a British pianist, active in the 60's and 70's for whom a vintage 1905 Steinway piano, used on several of the Beatles' tracks, including Sgt Pepper and Lady Madonna, was named. That piano still sits against the wall in Studio 2. The famous four-track tape recorders, used to record the early Beatles' tracks up until eight track recorders became available in 1968, still sit in the hall outside Studio 2 (see photos I took below). If you listen closely to my song (or cheat by checking the lyrics on this site), you should be able to pick out eight Lennon/McCartney titles within the lyrics.