Randy Cierley

b. date of birth / place of birth

Songwriter / Musician / Recording Engineer / Photographer / Artist 

Image courtesy of Randysterling.com.

After I left Bakersfield, California in 1962 I Moved to LA, changed my name to Randy Sterling, ‘cause nobody could pronounce Cierley, and seriously dived into the Hollywood music scene. Through One of the Mize Brothers, Buddy, I found myself in the studio after being there only about two months. I still had some contacts from when our high school band, “Rick Lee and The Barons,” backed "The Paradons" on "Diamonds And Pearls" in 1959 and, well, things just kind of took off for me from there. I soon became one of the "A" list studio rhythm guitar players for about three years. An opportunity opened up in 1965 and I moved to San Francisco to play, tour, write, and record with "The Kingston Trio" while learning recording engineering, record production, and the WHOLE music business in general. I arranged "You Were On My Mind" for "We Five" and had an altogether fantastic two and a half years. But by that time the "City By The Bay" was becoming just a bit too bizarre, even for me, so I decided to get back to Hollywood. 

Upon returning to L. A. I hooked up with three old folk music friends who wanted to do something different. We found this drummer working in a music shop in Pasadena just down the street from the old “Ice House” coffeehouse and knew we really had a group. We were signed by Warner Bros. under the name “MC Squared” and proceeded to try to make an album of all our own material. The only problem was that the producer who was assigned to us didn't have a clue as to what we were doing. He never came to one rehearsal and when we went into the studio he tried to make us sound like every other group he was producing. Since I had met and become friends with Mo Ostin, who was now president of “Reprise Records,” while working with the “Kingston Trio” I decided that we had nothing to lose and went to see him one day. I sat in his office and told him that even though we liked our producer, he didn’t understand what we were trying to do. So I asked if he would give me a chance to produce a demo so he could see what we were all about. To my delight and surprise Mo said, “OK, but if I don’t hear what your talking about, our guy produces or your deal is off.” We were given three hours in some little side street studio and the next day took what we had done back to him. He sat...listened...turned to me and said, “Randy, pick the studio you want and gimmie an  album.” Well, we made one hell of an album. The only problem was that their producer was so pissed off that we had made him look bad, he managed to get our product lost in the shuffle. And I guess it’s still sitting in the W. B. vaults somewhere gathering dust. My first and worst screwing in the music business. 

After that debacle the drummer, Jim Keltner, and I returned to the studios and played for just about everybody who was recording at the time. Then one day I received a call from the “Kingston Trio’s” ex road manager, who had also decided to leave San Francisco, and he told me that Neil Diamond had been hiding out in Los Angeles while clearing up some problems with his old record company (And I do mean hiding out! I was told that he had gotten unwittingly involved with an underworld owned record company in New York and ended up having to sign over some or all the rights to many of those first hits or else find himself floating in the Hudson.) and that Neil was ready to start recording and touring again and would I be interested in helping put together a band. Of course it took me about a millisecond to say, “Where do you want me and when!” So I spent the next three years recording and touring with one of the nicest guys in the business. What made it even better was that Neil hated long tours so we only toured on the weekends, leaving me free to continue my session work. 

Being with Neil Diamond gave me that little extra prestige so my session work increased about five fold. Suddenly everybody wanted me to play, record, write, and/or produce for them. Finally after about four years of that madness I found myself strung out on cocaine, speed, and tranquilizers. I woke up one morning, looked in the mirror and didn’t recognize the physical wreck staring back at me. I realized that if I continued that lifestyle I would be dead in a year. I had already lost three close friends, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and Brian Cole (Bass player for “The Association”) and, since I didn’t relish the idea of becoming a statistic, I gave everybody two weeks notice and got the hell out of the business. I felt that I had accomplished those dreams I used to have when "The Barons" played the “Bakersfield Woman’s Club” dances so many years before and that it was time to clean up and get on with my life. I moved to a cabin in the mountains and spent about nine months returning to a human state.

 Knowing that anything to do with the music business would be too much of a temptation, I decided to pursue one of my other passions and for the next seven years I was a professional photographer. After a time I joined a huge Audio/Visual production company as a photographer, producer, director and recording engineer. And I do mean HUGE. I’m talking about 50 slide projectors, 3 full motion projectors, 3 separate lasers with custom built light splitters, pyrotechnics, custom built animated neon logos, (all computer controlled) and topped off with original music and 25 dancers. Some of the clients included; Ford Motor Company, Harley-Davidson, Beechcraft and Piper Aircraft, Control Data Corporation, The Aladdin Hotel in Vegas, Ceasers Palace, and on and on. 

By this time I now had two young sons about to enter school. I checked around the Santa Ana area and looked at the schools that were available and made another large career and lifestyle choice. We picked up and moved to northern San Diego County, bought a piece of property, began building our dream home (Another passion of mine.) and was in the process of establishing my own A/V production company. Then fate stepped in and gave me a good ass kicking. The day we signed the final loan papers, to finance the construction, I hopped on my motorcycle to go return some videos and some poor kid, in a hurry to see his girlfriend, rolled a stop sign and nailed me. He never saw me and to this day I don’t remember seeing him. I was doing about 60 when the bike stopped dead and I was sent flying about a hundred feet and landed on my head. The way my spine was aligned when I hit, instead of breaking my neck, my third and fourth thoracic vertebrae literally exploded and took out about six inches of my spinal cord. The only thing that saved us from total financial destruction was Blue Cross but, since they only pay a percentage, we were just barely hanging on. So the situation at that point was....I was 45 years old, paralyzed from the chest down, no job, with a wife and two kids and just enough from the insurance settlement and sale of the property to get a house. Unfortunately my wife, a registered nurse, after about three years just couldn’t handle my condition so she packed up the kids and split. She managed to maneuver me into putting the house in her name so I ended up losing that too. (Ah yes, things just kept getting better and better.) 

If I have learned nothing else...I am a survivor. Went through the, to be expected, depression phase then looked around and decided to get on with my life. Tried for six months to land a job but the prospects for a man in my condition were pretty grim. (Don't ever believe that there isn't prejudice against age and someone in a wheelchair!) I finally swallowed my pride and applied for disability. Not much but enough to live on. I had decided that, because of my condition, I would never play music again and decided to sell all my instruments just to pay some outstanding bills and have some cash to get at least a few luxuries, such as food and shelter. I opened the yellow pages and picked the first music store that my finger pointed to. My plan was to have my instruments appraised then get the best price by selling them myself. As it turned out fate had guided me to a music store that was owned buy a guy I had played with back in ‘65 and who, like me, had become disillusioned with the LA scene and was a better business man than a musician. After a lot of reminiscing and all that, he said, “Why aren’t you playing, you’re one of the best musicians I have ever known?” Somehow the thought just hadn’t occurred to me before that. I still had my arms, hands, and brain so I picked up the bass and guitar, connected with two very talented musicians from the area (David Morgan and Stacey Slaughter), and formed, “Spare Change,” a group to play music for the reason I started in the first place, for the pure joy of it! With our pooled resources we built our own studio and since 1992 have recorded four albums and played just about every venue in the area. Our intention was not to “make it” but just to play the music we wanted, where we wanted, when we wanted. Sadly, on July 12, 2000 we lost Stacey. She was overcome by emotional and physical problems too great for her to endure and she took her own life. She will be missed by all who knew her and her music. 

I had wanted a computer for a few years but just couldn’t afford one. Finally last year I managed to get hooked up and on-line. Less than two weeks after I got on the “net” I started getting Emails from several of the session musicians I had known in LA who had moved to Nashville. The overriding messages were, “Where the hell have you been, get your ass out here, we got places for you to stay and work for you NOW!" After giving very hard thought to pulling stakes and heading for Tennessee, I realized that I have been through the music business madness once and that is quite enough for one lifetime. I am very happy to continue making music for myself and anybody who cares to listen. However, if someone wants to take one of my songs, record it, and give me a ton of money I will accept. I didn’t lose that many brain cells in the ‘60s and ‘70s. 

SOURCE: http://randysterling.com/ 


Songs Credited to
Randy Cierley
Song Title
1. Go Tell Roger (with John Stewart)
2. Parchment Farm Blues (Credited for special arrangement with Jack Splitard)
3. Red River Shore (Credited for special arrangement with Jack Splitard)
3. Verandah of Millium August (with John Stewart)

Randy Steirling's 'Kingston Trio' album Credits:

Somethin' Else (1965) Composer, Arranger, Musician (9-string guitar, 12-string guitar, percussion)
Once Upon A Time (1969) Assistant Engineer

CLICK HERE to go to theHOME page of the Kingston Trio LINER NOTES.
Last revised: March 30, 2006.