My musical career started in 1968 with my buddies in our neighborhood. We were all just learning, but eventually turned out to be our town's number one party band. We had many names, but I'll always think of us as the Fairview Gang, Chuck and Mike Caudill, Paul D'Angelo, Pat Markham, Harvey Cantrell, and Jim Miner. We all still remain friends and will be for life.
My first professional gig was a band called Dean Blevins and the County Gold. I only remember Dean and Charlie Mankin. Next, I backed up a country singer, Gary Miller. We were the Southern Revue. I backed Gary up for four or five years, made several singles (45s), which were recorded in Beckley, W.Va. It was a great experience. I learned a lot and the good and bad times helped me grow as a player. It was also the first band that fired me (Gary Miller, Charlie Mankin, Mike Demmick, and Bobby Martin).
In the early 70s, I floated around. I played in a band, Passin Lane, with Mike Ault and Darell Bacon. Then I took another job as sideman with a 40s back-up guy named Kim Soy. The band's name was Saucer. Soy was a big Korean who knew how to play and sing every song ever written. I don't think he ever really cared for me much, but the band liked me, so he put up with me. We rehearsed a show for about a month and were booked for our "big" gig. He didn't play one song we had rehearsed - and we were unable to follow our leader. So I was part of another first - firing Kim Soy.
We continued as Saucer, Gary Carroll, Keith John, Jerry Piper, Steve Spencer, Eddie Davis, and Mike Demmick. Saucer had a house gig from the mid-70s on. We learned a lot about our craft over those years. We played six nights a week and rehearsed four days a week. We were just about living in the club. We were one of the first bands looked at by Virgin Records in England, but we could not wait for an answer. So, we signed with White Horse Records in Nashville, Tenn., and released a single," I'm Flying", "Thank You". It was a bad record deal, but we learned a lot about what not to do when you sign a record deal. I still stay in touch with Gary Carroll, a great songwriter and friend.
In the late 70s came The North Star Band. They were ready to go on the road and needed a bass player and I was their man. We went all over the country for a few years and played with every famous country act you could think of. We recorded a live album while I was in the band and we have a studio album that never got released. We had a great management team, which included my father, Oliver Watt Besley Jr. But even with the great people backing us, we could not survive as a band. We broke up in the early 80s. I learned a lot with those guys. I still miss you all, Al Johnson, Lou Hager, Jay Jesup, and Paul Goldstein.
I was a little lost after North Star. I did an open mike night at the Pickett Inn in Fairfax, Va. It was a hell of a party and included notables, Bob Margolin, Heavy Country and Kill Devil.
I played in a couple of groups: Ludwell Newton with Ricky Meyer, Billy Mahoney, Danny Menzie, Kevin Ball, and Kevin Kirkman; and Bob Margolin and a host of drummers. I learned a lot from that man. That was also the only time I got a chance to play with my ex-brother-in-law Matt Abts, drummer for Government Mule. Dewhite, Jim Staford, Bob White, Deny Desloge, and Bill Mahoney. They were from my favorite band, Kill Devil. It was a dream come true to get a chance to play with those guys. I think about them a lot.
In 1986, it was time to leave Virginia. I headed to Jekyll Island, GA. I started playing with my brother, Ed Pickett. We had a duo and recorded a cassette that a lot of people talk about and some of the songs are kept alive on Those Guys 1 release. I have since moved to Florida, but Ed remains on the island. When I met Walt Kulwicki and Chris McVey, Ed and I were playing in St. Augustine, FL. They sat in and it wasn't long before Those Guys was a trio. Those Guys released 7 CDs. Two recorded on Last Resort Records and 5 on Eclipse Records.
After struggling with the decision for many years, I decided to leave the band "Those Guys" in September 2010 after 18 years. Wishing them all the luck in the world, I just couldn't continue on the way things were going. My brother Eddie Pickett and I have started playing together again. We have a duo "NorthStar". The name I took from the group I hold with the most respect. Our CD "Keepin' It Real" was released in 2013. Currently, however, I do most of my playing solo. "Believe These Eyes" released in 2011, "Hopeless Romantic" released in 2013. "Mr. Song To Evil People"was recorded at Cave Canem Studio in St. Augustine, produced by Barry Dunaway of .38 Special, my latest release. Count on a lot of new original music from myself and "NorthStar"!!!!