Do we find our callings, or do they find us? Ask drummer Walter Garces and he will most likely go with the latter. Otherwise, I guess my life would have been determined by a 13-year-old named George, he says with a smile. This kid had been given a guitar, decided to start a band, and informed me that he would need a drummer. That was all the invitation he would need. But, it would not be an easy path to follow. My parents were devoutly unenthused about having a musician in the family, explains Garces, but, in the long run, I must have been more determined to play than they were to stop me.
As strange as it is to find steely determination in a 12-year-old, it has been known to happen at least once. Young Garces obtained his first snare drum though the only means available: a comic book offer. The bass drum would come from a Harlem pawn shop.
Enter Fate again. In 1971, the hit band Vanilla Fudge appeared on Ed Sullivan. The drummer was a man known by most everyone whos even thought about playing drums: Carmine Appice
?( Rod Stewart, Jeff Beck, Pink Floyd, etc) . Garces recalls the moment with wonder, I had seen Ringo play, as well as some of the others, but I had never seen anyone play like this. The sheer power blew me away. The next step seemed obvious. Even as a kid, I realized that, in order to be the best, I was going to have to learn from the best, says Garces. So, he proceeded to track down the man who was to be his first mentor. Carmine was teaching in Long Island, which would require Garces to travel 2 1/2 hours each way to a lesson. There was also the small matter of paying for the lessons, something he would have to do himself.
?based in LA
Member of The Electric Prunes (2006-)
The Collective School of Music (NYC) Visiting Artist
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Walter was listed as the finest drummers and drum instructors in the world,
by Dom Famularo.
(Modern Drummer Magazine 2015)
So, at the age of 13, Garces became an entrepreneur, holding a variety of jobs which would produce the lesson money and car fare. Not allowed to keep his drums at home, he arranged to keep them at school, where additional hours of practice were available. It was always more than something I did because my parents didnt want me to, explains Garces. When I was playing, I was happy. As a kid growing up in Harlem, happiness was pretty hard to come by. Even getting home from school could be a challenge of the most dangerous kind. By the time he was 17, Garces was a full-time musician, starting with casuals, R