About

11/16/14 Pete Sears photo by Bob Minkin

Pete is a full time member of the band Moonalice.

Biography.

He’s played with many artists including, Early Rod Stewart, Ron Wood, Long John Baldry, original Jefferson Starship, Hot Tuna, John Lee Hooker, Dr. John, Government Mule, David Nelson Band, Louisiana Love Act, California Kind, Moonalice, Harvey Mandel, Nick Gravenites, John Cipollina, Los Lobos, Jerry Garcia, Sam Gopal Dream, Sons of Fred, Fleur DeLys.

Since 1963, when Pete Sears began his career as a professional musician, he has played keyboards or bass guitar with a large variety of artists on many records. His credits include the classic early Rod Stewart albums, Gasoline Alley, Every Picture Tells a Story, Never a Dull Moment, and Smiler, featuring Ron Wood and Martin Quittington on guitars, Micky Waller on drums, Pete on piano and some bass, and Ian Mclagan on organ.

Pete was bassist and keyboardist with Jefferson Starship from 1974 to 1978 (which featured Grace Slick on vocals, and Papa John Creach on violin), and from 1979 to 1987, he was with Starship, playing on over ten albums with the two bands. He contributed several songs to each album, including Sandalphon, an instrumental tune on their biggest selling record, Red Octopus in 1975. Pete collaborated on many songs with Grace Slick as lyricist, including Hyperdrive and Play On Love. In 1978, after Grace left the band for one album, Freedom at Point Zero, he began working with wife and lyricist, Jeannette Sears, and over the years they wrote many of Jefferson Starship’s songs, including Stranger, Awakening, Save Your Love, and Winds of Change. Several of these songs were made into music videos and were put into heavy rotation on MTV. Jefferson Starship were guests on the television comedy show, “Friday’s”, where he met comedian Don Novello, famous for his “Saturday Night Live” character, “Father Guido Sarducci”, they became long time friends.

They also played on Dick Clark’s “American Bandstand” in 1983, and performed one of Pete and Jeannette’s songs “Winds of Change”.

From 1992 to 2001, Pete played keyboards with Jorma Kaukonen, Jack Casady, Michael Falzarano and Harvey Sorgen in the Jefferson Airplane off-shoot, Hot Tuna. He also played in the Jorma Kaukonen Trio with Jorma and Michael, often touring Italy. Pete has taught piano at Jorma’s “Fur Peace Ranch Guitar Camp” in S.E. Ohio, and performed as a solo artist on the Live From Fur Peace Station radio show. He also played keyboards with Zero on several tours and albums during this period.

In 1998, Pete performed at the ‘Rock n Roll Hall of Fame Tribute’ to John Lee Hooker at Stanford University as one of John’s guests, along with Charlie Musselwhite, Rich Kirch, Johnny Johnson, and Elvin Bishop. Footage, including an interview with Pete, was shot at the show for an acclaimed documentary film about John Lee’s life titled, That’s My Story. Pete also played keyboards for John Lee in Oroville, California on May 25th 2001, the third to last show before John’s death. John Lee was also a guest on Pete’s album, The Long Haul. Pete’s other release, Watchfire, in 1988, included Jerry Garcia, Mickey Hart, David Grisman, and Mimi Farina.

Over the years, Pete has worked on many benefits with Bob Weir of the Grateful Dead including an early version of Ratdog, and in 2001 he formed his own band Dawn Patrol.

In 1999, Pete and Jorma Kaukonen performed with Phil Lesh in several Phil and Friends show along with Steve Kimock at the Warfield Theater in San Francisco. The weekend of shows were eventually released on a CD called, “And Love Will See You Through”.

He is currently a full-time member of Moonalice, also featuring Roger & Ann McNamee, Barry Sless, and John Molo. He also a member of The David Nelson Band, and flies around the country playing one-off gigs with artists like, Steve Kimock, Los Cenzontles with Dave Hidalgo and Flaco Jimenez, Max Baco, Dave Alvin, Peter Rowan, Vince Herman, Harvey Mandel, Nick Gravenitas, Eric McFadden, and Rich Kirch, and is collaborating on an audio/visual project with renowned visual artist, Andreas Nottebohm.

Career overview

In 1964 and 1965, Pete toured Britain with the Sons of Fred, recording five singles at E.M.I.’s Abbey Road Studios in London. Next, after a brief stint on keyboards playing Motown songs with Fleur De Lys, he formed the underground psychedelic band Sam Gopal Dream along with renowned guitarist, Mick Hutchinson and Tabla player Sam Gopal. In 1967, Jimi Hendrix joined the band onstage for a night of very intense jamming. Pete then recorded keyboards with bluesman Freddy King’s European backing band, Steamhammer. In 1969, Pete worked as a session musician in London, including playing bass on Marion Segals, classic folk rock Jade album with Terry Cox from Pentangle. He then flew to the USA to form Silver Meter with Leigh Stevens and Micky Waller, and later the original Stoneground, who toured Europe and the US. Both bands were managed by Tom Donahue, pioneer of the FM music radio format.
Pete recorded piano and bass on Rod Stewart’s Gasoline Alley in 1970.

In 1971, he played bass on the first Papa John Creach solo album in San Francisco. After recording on Rod’s Every Picture Tells a Story in 1971, Pete joined The Long John Baldry Blues Band for their first tour of the United States. He was later a founding member of the San Francisco based band, Copperhead, which featured guitarist and close friend, John Cipollina. He left the band just before their first album to fly back to England and record with Rod Stewart again, returning to the U.S. immediately to play bass with renowned keyboardist, Nicky Hopkins. Pete played piano with bluesman Nick Gravenitas on the notorious Mill Valley Bunch album during this period, as well as co-producing and arranging the music for the Kathi McDonald album Insane Asylum. He also formed a band, Sears, Schon, Errico with Greg Errico, and Neil Schon. Pete did quite a bit of session work as well, including working on the album, Betty Davis (Miles Davis’s wife) which many consider to be one of the seminal funk albums of all time.

In 1975, Pete (on piano) and Jerry Garcia played on Robert Hunter’s album, Tiger Rose.

In 1988, Jerry Garcia was a guest on Pete’s album, Watchfire, along with David Grisman, Mickey Hart, and several other friends. The album dealt with environmental and human rights issues, with the lyrics written by writer, Jeannette Sears. He released an avant garde solo piano album, Millennium, in 2000, and introduced the work with an improvisational solo piano concert in Tokyo, Japan.

Pete released his third solo CD, The Long Haul, in 2001, featuring many guests including Charlie Musselwhite, John Lee Hooker and Steve Kimock.

Pete and Jeannette worked in environmental and human rights issues for many years, mostly concentrating their efforts in Central America.

Pete has written and recorded the original scores for many documentary films, including
the award winning Fight in the Fields on Cesar Chavez and the Farm Workers Union.

List of artists Pete has played with:

For many years Pete has traveled back and forth between the US and England…touring, recording, and doing session work on over one hundred albums. He has played with many artists, including John Lee Hooker, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Warren Haynes, Steve Kimock, Ron Wood, Jerry Garcia, Steamhammer, Long John Baldry, Rod Stewart, Silver Metre, Peter Rowan, Los Lobos, Steve Earl, Government Mule, Levon Helm, Tracy Nelson, Rich Kirch, Dave Sharp, Zakiya Hooker, G.E. Smith, Taylor Barton, Harvey Mandel, Nick Gravenites, Taj Mahal, Mickey Hart, Hans Olsen, Mark Naftalin, Bob Weir, Nicky Hopkins, Leftover Salmon, Bobby Vega, Don Johnson, Mark Unobsky, Eric McFadden, Wally Ingram, Smokey Smothers, Lester (Mad Dog) Davenport, Mark Benno, John Popper, Amos Garrett, Craig Horton & The Scratchin Dogs, Rusted Root, Norton Buffalo, Zero, Sons of Fred, the original Stoneground, the original Sam Gopals Dream with Mick Hutchinson, Fleur de Lys, British beat poet Mike Hart with fellow poet and Cream lyricist Pete Brown, Leigh Stephens, Jackie McCauley and Judy Dyble, Betty Davis, Copperhead with John Cipollina, Chris Jagger, Roy Harper, Steve Gillete, Robert Hunter (“Tiger Rose” album produced by Jerry Garcia), Ike and Tina Turner (recorded at Bolic Sound for two weeks), Papa John Creach, Steve Cropper, Neil Schon, Derek Trucks, David Lindley, Buddy Cage and Zen Tricksters, Tim Rose, Brewer & Shipley, Merrell Fankhauser, Maria Muldaur, Alex Harvey, Wavy Gravy, Kim Fowley, Freddy Roulette, Kathi McDonald, Sly Stone, Chet Nichols, The Pointer Sisters, Madeline Bell, Nils Lofgren, Big Brother, Shana Morrison, Floyd “Red Crow” Westerman, Dennis Banks, Charlie Hill, Mick Gillette, Larry Graham, Wayne Jackson & the Memphis Horns, Mal Sharpe, Terry Haggerty, Zydeco Flames, Lorin & Chris Rowan, Julie Larson, Ultra Violet, Mark Karen, Michael Diamond, David Hayes, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Flying Other Brothers, Freddie Hughes, Henry Kaiser, Billy Kruetzam, Donna Jean Godchaux, and David Nelson.

He has also sat in or jammed with such people as, Jimi Hendrix, Carlos Santana, Yehudi Menuhin, Little Feat, The Allman Brothers, Graham Bond, Sam Bush, T-Bone Burnett, Country Joe McDonald, Jesse McReynold’s, Hubert Sumlin, Zigaboo Modeliste, Sugar Blue, Vasser Clements, Elvis Costello, James Burton, David Crosby, Johnny Johnson, Paul Butterfield, Mike Bloomfield, Boz Scaggs, Merl Saunders, Chris Whitley, Shannon McNally, Frank Marino, Trey Anastasio, Holy Modal Rounders, John Sebastian, Higher Ground, Pinetop Perkins, Ken Kesey, Blues Traveler, Hot Buttered Rum, Gandalf Murphy and the Slambovian Circus of Dreams, Ron Thompson & the Resistors, Grateful Dead, Eric Burdon and the Animals, Laurie Lewis, Hawaiian Slack Key master George Kahumoku Jr and many more.