In Pete Sears thirty-four years as a musician, he has played Keyboards or Bass Guitar with a large variety of artists, including the classic Rod Stewart albums, "Gasoline Ally", Every Picture Tells a Story", "Never a Dull Moment" and "Smiler".
Pete was with the Jefferson Starship from 1974 to 1987 and currently plays in the "Jorma Kaukonen Trio" with Jorma and Michael Falzarano, recently releasing the C.D, "Too Many Years". He also plays with Jorma and Michael along with Jack Casady and Harvey Sorgen in "Hot Tuna". Recently, he performed at the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame tribute to "John Lee Hooker" at Stanford University as one of John's guests. Footage was shot at the show to be included in a documentary film about John Lee's life. In 1999, Pete and Jorma Kaukonen performed with Phil Lesh in a "Phil and Friends" show with Steve Kimock at the Warfield Theater in San Francisco. A live C.D. of the show called, "And Love Will See You Through" is available on Grateful Dead Records.
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, Peter Rowen, Los Lobos, Government Mule, Rich Kirch, Dave Sharp, Zakiya Hooker, Harvey Mandel, Nick Gravenites, Taj Mahal, Mickey Hart, Mark Naftalin, Bob Weir, Leftover Salmon, Smokey Smothers, Lester ( Mad Dog) Davenport, Rusted Root, Eric Burdon, Zero, Sons of Fred, Steamhammer, Long John Baldry, Rod Stewart, Silver Meter, the original Stoneground, the original Sam Gopals Dream with Mick Hutchinson, Fluer de Lyse, British beat poet Mike Hart with fellow poet and Cream lyricist Pete Brown, Leigh Stevens, Jackie McCauley and Judy Dyble, Betty Davis, Copperhead with John Cipollina, Chris Jagger, Mike Bloomfield, Roy Harper, Steve Gillete, Robert Hunter, Ike and Tina Turner, Papa John Creach, Steve Cropper, Neil Schon, Derek Trucks, David Lindley, Dave Sharp, Buddy Cage and Stir Fried, Maria Muldar, Alex Harvey, Wavy Gravy, Kim Fowley, Freddy Roulette, Kathy McDonald, Sly Stone, The Pointer Sisters, Nils Lofgrin, Big Brother, Shana Morrison, and Quicksilver Messenger Service.
He has also sat in or jammed with such people as Graham Bond, Jimi Hendrix, Carlos Santana, The Allman Brothers, Sam Bush, Warren Haynes, Hubert Sumlin, Vasser Clements, Elvis Costello, David Crosby, Johnny Johnson, Paul Butterfield, Pinetop Perkins, Blues Traveler, Grateful Dead, and many more.
Pete has just finished a new Piano blues C.D. called "The Long Haul" with special guests including Charlie Musselwhite, Levon Helm, Shanna Morrison, Davy Pattison, Wavy Gravy, and John Lee Hooker who co-wrote and performed a song on the album with Pete.
Pete wrote the original score for a documentary film on Cesar Chavez of the Farm Worker's Union. ''The Fight in the Fields'', was aired on National PBS on April 16, 1997, and was the recipient of the "Cine Golden Eagle" award, 1st place "National Education Film Festival", 1st place "San Antonio Film Festival", "Chicago Film Festival Award", amongst others. He wrote and recorded the music for a documentary on religious oppression in Tibet called, "Tibet's Stolen Child" with Star Trek's Patrick Stewart narrating, and has just finished work on the original score for "A Test Of Courage", a National P.B.S. special on the Oakland Fire Department. Pete also wrote and recorded the music for a Discovery International piece called "Eye On The Universe" that just won a Gold Medal Award at the New York Film Festival. His latest documentary "Troubled Girls" about girls in prison is being produced for MSNBC. Pete was recently featured in "Film and Tape World" and has been interviewed for Keyboard, and Guitar Player magazines. He was given a "Bay Area Music" Award in the Bassist category, and was also nominated in the Keyboard category. He was also a recipient of the "Golden Reel Award", and was nominated for a "Grammy" with the Starship. Pete has just released a solo improvisational piano CD in Japan called "Millennium", and introduced the work with a solo piano concert in Tokyo.
Pete began his musical career in London in the mid-sixties. Born in Bromley, Kent, England. He grew up playing piano and listening, through his older brother John, to blues, Jazz and R&B artists like Champion Jack Dupree, Memphis Slim, Dave Brubeck, Oscar Peterson, Jimmy Reed, Big Bill Broonzy and Robert Johnson. At age thirteen, he started playing guitar and at sixteen began playing in clubs, recording at EMI studios on Abbey road, and touring Britain and Europe playing bass guitar with the "Sons of Fred." The Sons of Fred recorded four singles and performed on several popular television shows, including "Thank Your Lucky Stars" and "Ready Steady Goes Live". He later joined "Fleur de Lys" on piano and recorded several songs with them including the Gospel tune "Amen," with Jimi Hendrix sitting in on Guitar. After finishing with "Fleur de Lys," Pete teamed up with Mick Hutchinson and Sam Gopal in the underground band called "Sam Gopal's Dream." The band played classic 60's venues like "The Electric Garden" in Covent Garden, London, later to become "Middle Earth," "Alexander Palace," "The Roundhouse", "Happening 44" and the "Christmas on Earth Show" at Olympia in London on the same bill with Traffic, Jimi Hendrix and Pink Floyd. While playing with Sam and Mick at the Middle Earth Club in London, he became friends with Graham Bond. Graham, who taught Pete valuable information about playing the Hammond B3, later asked Mick and Pete to join his band. Jimi Hendrix sat in with Sam Gopals Dream at a London club called the Speakeasy. Pete later started touring and doing sessions for Folk and Blues artists such as Marion Segal, "Steamhammer," and the "Long John Baldry" blues band.
Pete formed his own band called "Giant", playing lead guitar and performing several shows including one at the "Roundhouse" in Chalk Farm, London. The following day, their show was given a favorable mention by the Rock and Roll D.J. John Peel on his radio show. Pete spent some time with his friend beat Poet, "Pete Brown," who introduced him to people like sax player, "Dick Heckstal Smith" and "Auther Brown". Pete Brown once asked Pete to play guitar with a band Brown was throwing together for a one-off gig. It turned out to be a bizarre event in the middle of an old Victorian foot tunnel that stretched under the river Thames in London. It turned out they had been hired by an Italian film director, and they were joined by a bunch of naked hippies dancing around. Pete who often tours Italy with "Hot Tuna," has tried unsuccessfully to track down the name of the film and director. Around 1969, Mitch Mitchell talked to Pete about playing bass in a band he was thinking of starting, but the group never materialized. He hung out with John Mark from the John Mayal band for a while and rehearsed with "John Hisemans Coliseum". But decided to come to the United States in 1969 to form the band, "Silver Meter" with Leigh Stevens and Micky Waller. Tom Donahue, the founder of alternative FM radio format, became the group's manager, and later managed another band Pete was in called "Stoneground," who traveled with "Wavy Gravy and the Hog Farm." For many years Pete traveled back and forth between the US and England...touring, recording and doing session work with many bands, including "Rod Stewart," "Long John Baldry," "Copperhead," and a power trio band he formed with Neil Schon and Greg Errico called,"Sears-Schon-Errico." In the United States, Pete arranged, co-produced, and played on Kathi MacDonald's critically acclaimed album, Insane Asylum, using artists like the Pointer Sisters, Sly Stone, John Cipollina, Aynsley Dunbar, Nils Lofgrin and Neil Schon. During those sessions, Pete met Grace Slick of the "Jefferson Airplane," and ended up playing bass and piano on her solo album, Manhole, collaborating with her on the song, Better Lying Down.
In 1974, Grace Slick and Paul Kantner phoned Pete, who was back in England, urging him to return to the States and join a band they were forming called the "Jefferson Starship." Pete played bass and keyboards with the "Jefferson Starship" for thirteen years, contributing several songs on each album. He collaborated on many songs with Grace Slick as his lyricist. In 1978, he began working with lyricist Jeannette Sears, and over the years they have written many of "Jefferson Starship's" songs, including Stranger, Be My Lady, 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. During this time, Pete recorded with various other people including, Maria Muldar, Robert Hunter, Norton Buffalo, and Nick Gravenites. Pete was nominated for a Grammy with "Starship," and is a recipient of the Golden Reel award. Jefferson Starship played many benefits, including shows for the "Vietnam Veterans", "Cambodia" during which he jammed with the "Grateful Dead", and the "Save the San Francisco Cable Cars" fund raisers.
Long an environmentalist and peace activist, Pete couldn't stand the mid eighties version of the "Starship" any longer and left the band in 1987 to record a concept album. This album, Watchfire, originally released by Redwood Records in 1988, and re-released in 1993 at Jerry Garcia's urging on Grateful Dead Records, featured Pete on vocals, keyboards, and slide guitar. He was joined by Jerry Garcia, Mimi Farina, David Grisman, Micky Hart, Babatunde Olatunji, Holly Near, and many others. Jeannette Sears wrote the majority of the lyrics while Pete composed and arranged the music.
Pete has performed at, and organized and assembled the musicians for numerous benefits, including the 1988 "Soviet American Peace Walk" concert in San Francisco, which attracted twenty thousand people and featured Jerry Garcia, Grace Slick, Mickey Hart, John Cipollina, and many other notable musicians. He organized a benefit for the Native American "Inter Tribal Bison Co-op," featuring Bob Weir, Jorma Kaukonen, and Chris Whitley. Pete regularly plays piano for Wavy Gravy's SEVA benefits, including a 1994 concert in which "Hot Tuna" performed with Bob Weir and David Crosby. For several years Pete and Jeannette organized a successful radio drive in San Francisco to raise food and clothing for refugees of El Salvador and Guatemala residing in the Bay Area. In 1988, he and Jeannette received awards from the California Institute of Integral Studies for ongoing humanitarian contributions to the Bay Area community. Pete has also received awards from the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Very Special Arts for the Handicapped, and from Bread and Roses. In 1989, he and Jeannette formed a non-profit video production company with director-producer Ray Telles, along with several other prominent Bay Area film people. The production company, called "Watchfire Productions", produced a music video on human rights abuses in Guatemala, a country he and Jeannette have visited several times since their first visit there in 1979. Watchfire Productions sends out free copies of the video to organizations and individuals working for human rights in Central America and around the world. Jerry Garcia and the Rex Foundation, Tides, and several other prominent foundations funded the video. Thousands of free copies have been sent to organizations working for human rights in Guatemala.
Pete serves on the Board of N.A.S.A.F.O.N.A., a joint Hopi Indian and University of Arizona based organization, working to restore ancient garden terracing on the Hopi reservation in Arizona. He is also on the board of "The Endangered Peoples Project," an organization headed by ethnobotonist, Dr. Wade Davis, author of Serpent and the Rainbow, Penan, One River, Shadows in the Sun, and many other books.
Some of the Benefits Pete has organized or been a part of.
- Benefit for the Mental Health Association of Marin
- Benefit for Marine World.
- Benefit for United Way's "Runaway Program."
- Benefit for Brian Wilson, who lost his legs protesting at Concord Weapons Station. Benefit at Concord Weapons Station.
- Benefit for "Bread and Roses" Worked with Mimi Farina for Bread and Roses at Fairfax, Ca. Mental Hospital.
- Performed for AIDS patients at Mother Teresa's in San Francisco, Ca.
- Benefit for El Salvadoran victims of war, Santa Rosa, Ca.
- Organized a radio drive on six major San Francisco Bay Area stations to collect food and clothing for refugees of Guatemala and El Salvador living in the Bay Area.
- Benefit for Cambodia.
- Benefit for Vietnam Veterans.
- Benefit for "Indian Treaty Council," San Francisco, Ca.
- Benefit for Volunteer Fireman's Fund, Cassedero, Ca.
- Benefit for the "Soviet American Peace Walk," Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, Ca., 1988. Attracted 20,000 people. Organized the music and musicians.
- Benefits for "Watchfire Productions" and Guatemala during the 1980's.
- Benefits for the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, "Very Special Arts Program." 1980's. Handicapped Special Olympics.
- Benefit for joint University of Arizona and Hopi Indian Project, Flagstaff, AZ. N.A.S.A.F.O.N.A. (Pete is on the board of directors).
- Benefit for Earth Train 1992. Organized two benefits splitting $15,000 between the "Intertribal Bison Cooperative"and Arvol Lookinghorse of the Lakota Sioux.
- Many S.E.V.A. benefits for Wavy Gravy.