Tommy Carroll Plays Final Show New Years Eve With The Smash Kings
Tommy Carroll performed with the variety band Smash Kings for 12 years and now has played his final show.
I have been playing guitar since I was six years old. I started off learning some basic chords and a blues pattern with my dad. Those simple chords my dad taught me have lasted a lifetime. Little did I know just how helpful learning that blues pattern would be for me when it came time later in life to improvise on stage in a live music setting.
My parents are originally from Kentucky and we would visit family a couple of times a year. My uncle Duber was a hell of a guitar player he would show me a lick or two each time I visited. I would take those licks back with me and turn them into as many licks as I could.
I also had a cousin Greg who was a few years older than me and he already had a band by the time we were teenagers. I would jam with his band. What was cool about this jam, whoever didn't show up for practice I would fill in for. I played guitar, drums, and even bass and really learned about playing with other guys in this setting. I learned about rehearsing.
When I was in junior high I formed a little band with my buddy Scott Hacket. We were just two guitar players with a revolving door of drummers but never had a bass player or singer. The band was called Radison and I still have a drawing of the original logo.
I later joined a band with more serious players and that band was called Criminal. There were two brothers Doug and Paul Pulverinti, Troy Gregory and Scott Miller. We played hard rock and school events but didn't do much after that.
I answered an ad to join a gospel band called the Crossroads Gospilaires. We did an album in Nashville where I learned the Nashville number system. We toured churches and auditoriums.
When I was in high school I had a band called Chalace that won a talent competition with an original song I wrote. The title was "Mistress of the Dark."
There were a few more attempts at bands with a variety of musicians but my first real gig where I was making money was when I graduated high school. I met a guy in a music store in Flint named Steve, then we formed a band called Eclipse.
This was a fun band and it is really where I learned how to rehearse at a professional level. Steve would pass out tapes, tell us what songs to learn. We would show up for practice and knock them out. After three weeks of rehearsing, we started landing house gigs playing 5 nights a week. This was a big-time education for me and is also where I met a drummer by the name of Winston Britain. This is the guy that pointed me in the direction of funk and boy did I learn a lot jamming with Winston.
I joined an original band called Ronnie Moss and DuVal. Ronnie was a singer-songwriter that was very gifted. The band was huge with a music director and was one of the most technical bands I had played with yet.
I would later join a band called Barry Moore and Power. This band took me all over the place and is where I learned about touring and hotel life. I did this for a few years until this project fizzled out.
I joined a dance band from Detroit called Silk. This is where I played with one of the greatest bass players I had ever met named Radar. Radar was an incredible musician. Silk played all over the state but Radar was just too big for the band. He wound up getting an opportunity to go national and he has been touring ever since.
After Silk parted ways I found my calling and that was playing rock in a band from Detroit called Sheer Heart. This was the band that was putting me on the biggest stages in Detroit with a top-notch lineup and we wrote our own songs. This is where I met drummer Mark Lewis. Mark was one of the best drummers and singers I had ever performed with. He was a great guitar player and songwriter. This is where I learned about writing, recording, and performing (entertaining) In the late 80s this band almost landed a major recording contract.
After Sheer Heart ran its course. That is when I met some guys in Flint, Michigan, in a band called Beggar's Alley. Little did I know that it would be with these guys that I would make albums with and tour all over with and get to go after my wildest dreams of becoming a rockstar.
Beggars Alley quickly became Skin and Bones but when that name was taken we called the band Lazy Bones. This is when I began writing with Scott Davidson, Tim Rickard, Jeff Bradshaw, and Scotty Whitcomb.
Lazy Bones made a couple of albums, played massive shows, and built a business. We owned our own motorhome, trailer, staging, and equipment and learned to make money playing our own music. Those couple albums we made are some of the greatest memories of my life. Those were the moments where time didn't exist, just the making of the music.
As a band, Lazy Bones accomplished more than any other band that I played original material within my career and still holds a sweet spot in my heart.
A couple of members of Lazy Bones decided to move on in life so we hired one person to replace two members and changed the name of the band to Dead To The World. This band picked up where Lazy Bones left off and then went to make a self-titled record on our very own label.
Dead to the World would go through a few member changes but I could see it was time to do something else in life and that is when I went to broadcasting school.
I landed a radio gig in South Bend, Indiana. I didn't play in a band for two years but Lazy Bones/Dead to the World singer Tim Rickard followed me to Indiana and we finally formed a band.
No one in the area would give Tim and me a chance so we got a couple of guys from Michigan to come down and for a band called Os-Lo. We played covers and were about to do some originals then the project was just too much of a drive for half of the band.
Tim and I had now met some musicians and formed another cover band called Sideshow. I think this band practiced more than we played out. Sideshow led us to meet some other musicians.
We brought back the name Os-Lo and began writing original material. This band took right off and performed with tones of national acts like Godsmack, Sevendust, Saliva, Collective Soul, and too many more to mention.
We recorded an album at my home studio called Nutshell. It was a true highlight of my career being able to engineer and mix an album at my house. After recording and performing for a few years, Os-Lo began working on music for another album. Then two members started playing in a cover band and the band lost its steam.
Then the other half of Os-Lo with Tim, me, and Greg Dewald formed a cover band called the Smash Kings. This lineup along with Shaun and Dutch would go on for about 5 or six years. Members overtime began to leave and I was the only original guy left.
I was able to connect with a long-time friend Lwan Easton who is an amazing singer and keyboard player. He knew a killer bassist Khalin Diggin's, then introduced me to one of the greatest singers I have ever worked with Corey Ronell. After making a drummer change Lwan's brother Brent Easton joined and the Smash Kings would change forever.
This lineup of the Smash Kings would be the best cover band I had ever been in. These top musicians performed at casinos and clubs all throughout the midwest and became real moneymakers.
This version of the Smash Kings would do very well but all good things have to come to an end. Everyone is doing very well in other projects and has other directions to go in. So we decided to do our final show on New Year's Eve and go out with a band.
It was a bummer that Brent was on tour and he missed the final show, but one of our fill-in drummers Cameron Diggins came in a saved the night. We sold out our final show at the Five Star Dive Bar in Elkhart, Indiana. It was perfect to end the band in the club where it initially started for the band. I was a bit emotional at the end because, for me, it really is the end.
It was a bittersweet night playing with these top-notch musicians. I will always play guitar but spending time with my son, my family, and focusing on my job is where I am at now. Will I miss the stage, you bet. I've had a great run and who knows, like all musicians say, never say never.