interview with Chieli Minucci
classic guitarist with the right groove
year were you born? Where do you live today?
1958.....in NYC area.....still live here.
me about your earliest music career? Are you self learned
or have you gone to any school?
I studied classical piano as a child, ages 5-8, then switched
to guitar for a few years. Mostly self-taught during my teen
years. I also studied arranging, music theory, history, composition....all
later on in my early 20s.
the choice of Guitar a natural decision or did you play any
was always my dream, since I was a child. Piano is a good
foundation, and I still play it.
was the name of the first group that you played in?
did you do before BB & Q band?
played in many acts. Mostly local NYC groups. This was the
80s, and everyone had a group and was trying to get a deal.
I also performed as a duo, called Gumbo...around NYC mostly.
82 you appear for the first time on the cover of BB & Q band.
How did you come in contact with Petrus Little Macho stable?
memory here.... I think I met Steve Skinner (keyboardist),
who I still work with a lot, and he introduced me to the folks
at Northcott Studios, where the BB & Q/Change 'demos' were
recorded (Matt Noble....engineer)
I have learned most of Petrus projects were more or less studio
groups and that people could come and go and be used by Petrus
as he wished. Do you have any idea of what the most unclear
band situation of BB & Q band was like before you entered?
have no idea....I only recorded with them at the time. The
Little Macho scene was all confusion to me....Steve Bogan,
Mic Murphy.....all those guys... I didn't understand what
was going on. I merely wanted to perform! I was a 'hired gun',
you finally did enter the scene as one of the members of BB
in 82 did you feel that Petrus thoughts really was to let
this constellation continue, especially as he fired Peewee
Ford and the gang after just one play in 81-82?
didn't get to know Petrus till later, when we all traveled
to Italy (Modena) to record. He struck me as an entrepeur....sort
of....he didn't discuss his thoughts about the business at
the dinner table those 2 weeks we were all living together...we
were too busy eating the homemade pasta!
you describe Petrus' and Malavasi's procedures of creating
the music? How did the procedure go when they recorded a new
was very talented. He was the producer, in Italy. Petrus didn't
say much about the music production, at least not when I was
there. We tended to overdub the guitar parts, one by one.....
Petrus and Malavasi worked much with smaller musical parts,
later put together for the final result, how much did you
actually know about where your efforts were going to be heard?
As I understand it "Feelin' lucky lately" with High fashion
for example, could very much been a track on BB & Q band's
LP instead and a BB & Q bands song, likewise, on High fashion's
the music certainly could be interchangeable, since we were
all the same musicians, except for the singers, naturally.
When I recorded my original songs ("Don't Wait Another Night'
& "You Satisfy My Needs"), they ended up exactly where I expected....Change
& High Fashion. So there were no surprises. The tracks were
often finished when I wasn't present, but they were really
close to what I'd remembered as I recorded my parts....
all the records with BB & Q band it says that Petrus was both
producer and executive producer. Was Petrus actually the producer
and did he participate in the studio work?
financed the projects. He was executive producer. The day
by day grunt work was handled by others.....but he was very
much present at the sessions.....
did the recordings take place in 82 and 83? Where the recordings
of the musical and vocalist parts still separated to Italy
and US as on many albums before?
session I participated in were held in 2 studios.... In NYC
we worked at Sorcerer Sound, in Greenwich Village. In Italy,
we worked at a farmhouse studio (it was paradise!) in the
countryside of Modena. I don't recall its name....
the band perform any tours after the releases in 82 and 83?
If so, did you tour worldwide, or parts of the world? What
was the feedback of that experience?
touring for me......we never got to that stage by that time.
personal thoughts about BB & Q band's music in particular
and Petrus music in general, any favorite song?
loved their sound! It was during the reign of Chic, when it
was all still considered "soul" music. I loved "Paradise"
(Change)...."On the Beat" (BB & Q)....these songs were infectious,
and really memorable. The music was funky!
worked with great musicians like Malavasi, Romani, Gianolio,
Trevisi, Allen as well as vocalists like Tawatha, Thornton,
Grody and many more. How was it? It must have been an outstanding
and uplifting environment! How
was the working climate?
climate was excellent. We had fun, and the talent was everywhere.....Bernard
Davis, Jeff Bova, Steve Skinner, Mike Campbell...so many great
players! I was often used as the typical NY-Italian "lead"
and Romani, the two much to underrated actual producers of
most of Little macho's music must have been a heavy influence
on the musicians and on you. What are you thoughts about these
giants as persons and as musicians/producers?
only met Malavasi. He was like family.....since I'm a first
generation Italian-American....I felt at home with him. He
was organized, and precise in the studio. Otherwise I didn't
get to know him much.
did you left BB & Q band? Kevin (Robinson) left for an important
role in the super rare group of Network.
don't recall leaving.....there wasn't anything else going
on at a point, and my career shifted to other areas.... In
truth, Petrus made a bad business decision towards me at one
point, so I lost interest in that relationship. Anyway, there
were no gigs, so the only thing to do was record, and I wouldn't
do that any longer because of what happened....
have you musical life been since 85 and today?
I am always working!
are you doing today?
have 21 CDs out which I produced and composed..... Special
EFX, and Chieli Minucci solo CDs...I'm very fortuntate and
blessed! I have my own studio in Manhattan. I also am writing
for TV (CBS....Guiding Light), scoring for Nickolodeon/Clear
Channel (Dora the Explorer...Live), as well as a primary composer/producer
for a NYC-based music library company (Gotham Music)....very
busy......also have been working a session guitarist for Celine
Dion, Mark Anthony, Jewel, Jennifer Lopez, Lionel Richie,
do you look up on today's black r&b music?
general there is a great variety of styles nowadays....some
of it is very nice.....rooted in R & B, but dressed up as
HipHop....very cool! and....some of it is horrible as well,
with no sense of traditional melody, but instead based on
'riffs' as melodies.... regurgitated hooks and bytes...over
and over... many artists are too similar sounding to each
other....(but that's always been a problem)
the musical industry, way of working during production, salaries,
overall climate, now and then? What is your point of view
on music today on a whole? Are you open minded for new waves
and constellations? Can the music really find new and fresh
melodies in a time when everything seems to be taken and used?
question to answer. I'm positive about things. Today is a
golden opportunity to find ANY kind of music imaginable. A
great variety for all tastes.....There are so many styles
joined together as well, so that if you can imagine it, it
probably already exists. My experience in the 'business' has
been positive, although I've had my share of charlatans to
deal with. But this exists in any business, doesn't it? The
people are still genuine and want to be creative, and communicate.
So really, things are still good!
do you like to listen to yourself?
tastes vary greatly. Genesis, Pat Metheny, Miles Davis, Peter
Gabriel, Radiohead, Mushroomhead, Gustav Mahler, John Williams,
Return to Forever, Jaco Pastorius....
you sometime missing the old times with BB & Q band?
you know anything about Petrus background, his age, interests
outside the music, believes, wife or kids etc.?
was from the Caribbean...Guadeloupe, I think. I don't know
about his family. He was a bit strange and removed.....but
I was only 24 at the time, so what could I perceive? I didn't
pay much attention. He seemed like a big kid to me...harmless...
much have been told about Petrus, bad and good. He seemed
to have been a double nature. What was your personal experience
of Petrus character, as a person and as a music man?
I said, he didn't treat me right in the end. He was dishonest
with the money, so I bailed out...he almost stranded me in
Italy, tried to bribe me to stay longer...it was awful....
no picture of him is available after years of searching, do
you have any? If not can you tell me about his looks. Was
he short or tall and so on?
photos....sorry. He was medium complexion, probably Mulatto.
About 5' 10"...?.... I think? Chubby, not too buffed at all!
He looked like he ate a lot...typical success story! (haha)
It's been my pleasure!
BY PATRIK ANDERSSON, APRIL 2003
great thanks to Chieli for his open minded attitude and informative