The History of My Love for Rock and Roll

So, Christmas 1964 was upon us. Earlier that year, The Beatles appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show, and the world was still excited about this new music. The youngest of the Stadler family loved anything that had to do with music, and the Beatles, Dave Clark Five, Hollies, Gerry, and the Pacemakers were just a few artists that filled my ears.


The Gifts

So that Christmas, my father purchased two Norma electric guitars, an amplifier from Sears for my two older twin brothers, and a Magnus chord organ for my sister. Then they bought me a 10.00 drum set from Halles dept store in downtown Cleveland.

My brothers didn't know what or how to play the guitars, and my parents couldn't afford lessons. My drum set ended up outside in a rainstorm because I played them too much and drove everyone crazy.

The Guitar Lessons

In the summer of 1967, Mom decided I take guitar lessons to give me something to do. Bill Hoca, my teacher, never taught chords, and I couldn't comprehend the whole scale-theory thing, but I did learn how to play some notes and tune a guitar somewhat, so there was the foundation. This lasted about 6-8 months until my father said you're never going to be anything playing that fiddle, no more lessons.

The First Song

In fifth grade, we had times when the whole class would learn and sing songs. Sister Mary Judith Ann made me shut up because I was louder than anyone else in the class; sorry, lol, not my fault.

Then I started into the family business. I occasionally picked up the guitar but couldn't afford it when a string broke. Then in 1972, The Rock n Roll itch hit me for good. One Saturday late afternoon, I was throwing a football with a friend in a gravel parking lot below the two-story apartment when I heard the Echo that changed my life forever.

I heard a grinding guitar and a vocal with harmonies bouncing off the walls of the factory next door and was blown away. The Raspberries played Go All The Way at the WIXY-1260 appreciation day concert at Edgewater park. I was so hooked!

The Beginning

After several armed robberies at the business, my father decided to pull out of Cleveland and move to Rocky River in 1973. I had few friends here and was drawn back to the guitar. In 1975, I met a couple of friends and wanted to start a band.

We tried hard to put things together without money, a car, or a practice place. I used Jensen 6×9 speakers to try to make PA cabinets and got laughed at, but it was all I could afford and get at the time.

The Good Guitar

When you saw a guitar you wanted, it started an internal time bomb with an extremely long wick, so I started saving. One day, after my buddy Ed Share got a Gibson Les Paul, I asked my dad to drive me down to Difiore's because I wanted to buy a new guitar which he reluctantly did.

Thinking he might chip in a little, I looked at a Gibson gold top which I think was around the 400$ price, but I only had 200. Next was a burgundy Gibson Marauder. So while playing the Marauder, which was 300$, of course, dad says, is that it? Are you ready? So I said yea, but it's 300, and I only have 200$.

Mr. Di comes over and says you like that, I said, yea, and my dad said, can you do better on the price? Mr. Di says 250$, so dad lets me suffer a bit more, and then he says to Mr. Di, is that the best? Mr. Di replies, yes, I can save you the tax if you have a number, so dad pulls out his wallet for the tax number and, to my surprise and also pulls out a 50$ bill, so that's how I got my first real guitar, and I still have it.

The Amplifier

Next was the amplifier; the Norma 10-watt amp had to go, so I got a sears silver tone from a friend selling it for $60.00. As a local band named Jackal, we practiced twice a week; this was just as the new wave, punk, and even disco were all starting.

Stadler Rock

The Songs We Played

We were doing Bowie, Aerosmith, Nazareth, and stuff like that but did start learning Cars at this time as well. I was into making the band a success, but the other members were not. Kevin Reis, (RIP) our bass player, started talking about another band he used to be in that planned to play in Rocky River on an upcoming Saturday night. I truly disliked the arrogant lead singer but wanted to hear the band.

Stadler Rock

Inspiration Gig

So we went to the gig, and I was blown away by the lead guitarist Jim Orth. He flew up and down the neck of the guitar with Van Halen style, and I immediately wanted in that band. The lead singer was cocky and missed half the song's words, which was a plus for me.

I was soon the Lead singer of Wynn Jammer, with a little more success than Jackal, but still, a revolving door of musicians who always thought the grass was greener elsewhere or they were just too good for the band. I, too, left Wynn Jammer after 6 months due to stagnation.

Stadler Rock

The Obstacle

I was having problems with my voice, and I signed up for voice lessons at Koch School of Music in Rocky River. Norma Codispoti, a mezzo-soprano, became my teacher. I went to a couple of lessons before I decided to take a tape recorder with a concert we had played at Parmatown Mall for a muscular dystrophy benefit.

I stayed after class and asked Ms. Codispoti if she would listen to something, and she agreed. I started the tape, and she said, that's pretty good; who's that singing? I replied it's me. She looked me square in the eyes and said, you have nodes on your vocal cords. So depression, caffeine, and singing wrong had led to this.

My Medical Options

She immediately gave me the name of Dr. Raymond Votypka. He examined me, put that little mirror down my throat, and said, you have two options: surgery, which is not guaranteed, or vocal rest, vitamins with zinc, and Robitussin. I took the rest and went back to Koch school, after a year, and with the training from Ms. Codispoti, I was back.

The New Band

A few more years of ups and downs with various forms of Wynd Jammer. The most promising version had Sam and Dave Friedman, Mark Hall, and Mike Roland on keys', Finally thought we were on our way with gigs scheduled, well-rehearsed, and some steam when Mark had an accident at work and had the first digit of his left index finger cut off.

A few of us waited as Mark tried desperately to play lead guitar with three fingers, and he did!!! But again, others decided to leave, and I got married, and then everything went to shit. After about ten years, I got a call from Jim Orth asking about the whereabouts of a luthier we used to use. Shocked to hear from him, I said no, but what are you up to?

My Plan

This is important because some of the songs on the Stadler album start here; we're talking 1988. So Jim and his brother Gary stopped by my house one day, and I played some songs on my guitar, and he left me a tape with some songs, and I started writing.

The Cassettes

We had a cassette made with about 8-9 songs and had them duplicated. We entered the Denny Sanders theme song contest on 105.7 and lost. We weren't popular enough to get votes or friends to call in. This left a bad taste in the mouth, and we drifted apart after another three years of struggle.

Duplicating a cassette tape with 100 copies was rough again, money, and where the hell do you send them anyway, it was a problem. I sent them everywhere I could, got a phone book from Manhattan, NY, and started mailing to record companies, south by southwest, radio stations, but its 4-track quality and that hampered it.

The New Venture

Then we had the idea of playing out as a three-piece with a drum machine and a computer running a keyboard and the drum machine. We practiced, and I got us on the Cox Cable show Cleveland Rock Beat with Mike Matis as host. He would interview national acts and add a local act every show; hey, we were on TV for a whole month. We had also dabbed into some jingle writing, which was short-lived.

This volume was also turned down, and we all soon went our different ways, Hiatus, death in the family, divorce, life, and some other bands, because once rock n roll is in the blood, it never leaves.

A New Era

Gliding along, so now we have grunge coming in, rap is in full gear, disco is dead, but not sure about what replaced it, so back to the roots. Copy bands, 80s bands, another very poor attempt at originals, this time CD format but another terrible experience, wishy-washy at its best with guys changing their minds every day about what direction we should go.

I made it a point to finish the CD. The guitarist said one day, I'm not into it anymore; my reply was, well, you wrote it; how could you not be into something you wrote? Smh. Anyway, the drummer got a girlfriend, the bass player left town, and that was that.


The Newer Rock Band

Little Black Book was the next band, with a girl singer under Sam Friedman's ADC artists group. I called Sam one day and said I still had the itch but wanna be the only guitarist with a bass player and drums. He put us together, and we learned all the newer rock playing Pink, Foo fighters, Garbage, and a few old standards.

We did okay, except Bill Heeter and I shared all the expenses with no contribution from the singer or drummer. Her voice would fail on high parts, and I'd have to bail out the songs. She would also reject just about every song I brought to the table.

The Band Issues

There was also the huge problem of having to pay $25.00 each a month to practice at level 5 downtown….yikes so eventually, after a shuffle of drummers, which was not an upgrade, I left after a gig in Huron. Hear No Evil, What to say, two versions, both with Ego filled self-centered musicians, Vinny Cirigliano was the only one that was cool, good drummer, he appears on the song The Game of Rock n Roll, Vinnie was always ready to chip in, never an argument, go with the flow.

Some were money hungry. It's one thing to have a drink or two, but to drink away what you were making that night before you made it, says a lot; then complaining that the band has gone as far as it's going to the unwillingness to want to put the time in, to learn the songs. Some of them blamed me when they were the ones that begged me to start a band with them.

Stadler Rock

My Intentions

The idea was to play out a couple of times a month, and we did that up to the end. One night, the Bass player said after a gig in July of 2016, I'll be leaving at the end of the year. I looked at him and said, sorry, I'm leaving now, and I quit! It was the best move I ever made.

Starting Fresh

So in 2017, I started redoing the live practice space at my house, turning it into a recording studio by myself, the way I wanted. It's a huge thought process and takes an amazing amount of time, money, and equipment. I also wanted to use the Alesis HD24 track Hard drive units I already have to create an analog-digital setup.

Miles of cables just like every other studio, I cut rectangles into the French doors to create a view of the live room to the studio. No big deal, but I had to do it. I had two 24-track Behringer mx9000 mixers because the reviews were outstanding, plus tons of processors.

Working In My Studio

So in 2018, I started recording, but it needed something. I recruited Matt Kruger as my engineer, and we started messing around with some songs, the only problem was that the sound quality was better, but they didn't sound any different than the original versions.

The Hurdle

So, enter the first flood, leak from upstairs, leaked all over some old keyboards. I survived this one. So on I go, searching for musicians to play, I asked Jim Bonfanti of the Raspberries if he was interested, and without hesitation, he replied yes. So there's one; I had also asked Norm Isaac (Bluestone Evolution), who graciously also had an interest. I asked a lot of other musicians and got nothing. Willing to pay $100-200 for learning a song, I got nothing.

A Different Approach

Now we're rolling into 2019, I keep plugging away, and then a few of the mixer tracks fail me, nothing being recorded or playback, dead. So no, I'm on the hunt to replace the exact mixer, I finally found one for sale on Facebook, and the guy said he would deliver, so we're going to be back in business.

The Next Obstacle

So we start up again, and I keep asking musicians, sending messages making calls, and that leads us to flood number two. Same area, different problem, this time, all over my amplifier wall of the amps I started with and a few keyboards, nothing really important, thank heavens. So again, we start to move forward, Matt is coming over to run the board and recording, and I got Brian Baron (Cold Mountain Drums), the first real drummer I ever had, to record a few songs. Then shortly after this, I asked the drummer from my last band, Vinnie Cirigliano, to play on one, so we're starting progress.

Personal Crisis

Then in April of 2019, I had the weekend off; it was a lazy Saturday. I started playing with my dogs on the floor and brushing them at some point, and I dozed off. When I woke, everything on my right side was goofy, and I thought my arm had fallen asleep or was bitten by a spider. I got up to let the dogs out, running into walls and walking strange, got the dogs out, sat on the outside steps, and had a cigarette.

I kept a plastic gallon jug outside for the butts, but when it came time to put the cigarette into it, I couldn't. Still thinking nothing major was wrong, I took it easy until Tuesday morning when I tried to drive and went to work. As soon as I arrived, my brother said to the hospital you go, and they confirmed I had a stroke.

Every word out of my mouth was a stutter; this was depressing because everything goes through your head. Will I be able to play guitar? Will I be able to sing? How has this affected me? So basically, the recording is on hold for the rest of that year, and when we get into 2020, everyone gets affected by the coronavirus.


My Recovery

I can sing again, but the guitar playing isn't the same. Enter Frankie Vinci Fotomaker, who I had friended on Facebook somewhere around 2012, we had a few conversations, and I had helped him out with a situation he had, and we started becoming friends, one day, he said, why don't you start a Fotomaker page on Facebook. I did, and shortly after that, I also started the official Artful Dodger page.

A Long But Fun Ride

So one day, during the pandemic, we were talking on the phone, and Frankie said, send me one of your songs, and I'll cut the music for you. If you like it, we'll talk, if you don't, no worries. I have to say that without Matt Kruger running the board and doing tons of recording, Vocals, Drums, Bass guitar, guitars, and all the mixing, setups of mics on drums and amps, I'd be nowhere near this point.

Frankie is the total Producer package, and he brought new life to these songs. He's a multi-talented player, and I don't think there's anything he can't play. We're at twenty songs now, and the album will be released this summer with the first single.