Anthony L. Drake
Anthony L. Drake
Died in 19th April 2015, Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S.A.
Session guitarist who started playing professionally at the age of 14, at clubs and parties in the Los Angeles area along with a “permission slip” from his mother. At the age of 16, he was accepted into the Dawkins Conservatory of Music where he studied classical guitar for two years, and later studied privately with guitarist John Blaylock in the South Bay area. After studying with Mr. Blaylock, Tony traveled with Little Johnny Taylor, Johnny Taylor, Ronnie Dyson, T-Bone Walker and other artists in the 60's, even alongside then upcoming guitarist, Jimi Hendrix on the same bill. During this period he also was accompanied by his mentors, Guitarist David T. Walker and Drummer Paul Humphrey.
In the 70's, Tony became a staff musician for 20th Century Fox Studios, doing T.V. shows such as “Julia” starring Diahann Carroll, “The Lucille Ball Show” and the “Leslie Nielsen Show”. In the later part of the 70's, he was signed with A&M Records as a staff musician where he recorded and toured with a number of artists on the label including Herb Alpert, Merry Clayton, Cheech & Chong and others. He was also a member of the Count Basie Orchestra, H.B. Barnum’s Big Band, and performed on various television specials and award shows such as the Jerry Lewis Muscular Dystrophy Telethons, Lou Rawls Parade of Stars, American Music Awards, and The Grammy’s. It was also during this time that he became the lead guitarist for the The Checkmates LTD. and traveled extensively with them for four years. When the Checkmates disbanded, he began to tour with such groups as The Fifth Dimension, Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis Jr. (when they left the group to do their own act), Gloria Lynne, Little Esther Phillips, Aretha Franklin, Marla Gibbs, Crusaders, Jimmy Witherspoon, Cher, Tina Turner, Marvin Gaye, Barry White, Sylvers and others.
Tony was also one of the The Funk Brothers (when Motown moved their studio from Detroit) and recorded a string of tracks with David T. Walker, Ray Parker Jr., Wah Wah Watson, Bill Upchurch, Ron Brown, James Gadson, Nate Neblett, Paul Humphrey and more artists at the time. He also co-produced the song, “Choo-Choo” with Paul Humphrey that became popular on the then upcoming radio station, KJLH-FM (originally founded by Barrington (Barry) Tate Sr., and John Lamar Hill of Angelus Funeral Home) that gained attention by placing upcoming vocalists, singing groups and musicians in the public eye. This experience benefited Tony and gained him even more recognition going forward.
Later in the early 90's Tony toured with groups such as En Vogue. Through the mid 80's, he became the personal guitarist of the singer and actress Della Reese for many years and joined back up touring with Barry White on his European and African tours throughout the 90's, until he started touring with the late Lou Rawls, along with David. T. Walker up to Mr. Rawls passing in 2006.
Tony continues his musical creativity as an arranger, writer, musical director and producer alongside his wife, Lisa Gay, and their musical Classic Soul/Jazz Group, “Lisa Gay and The Gentlemen of Thrill”. His latest work called “The Tony Drake Project” was released in Fall 2007 that features a single version of “God Bless The Child” with Tony, Greg Cook (Keyboards), Jervonny Collier (Bass), Raymond Pounds (Drums) and Leon Haywood on B-3 Organ. Produced by Tony and Leanard Jackson. Engineered by Leanard Jackson (Lakeside’s "Fantastic Voyage”, Rose Royce's ”Car Wash”, etc...).