By Todd Houston
Special to TRRT
Rockford Rocked Interview: I was told that you were 11 years old when you played your first professional gig. What made you stand up and take notice of music at such a young age?
Chip Messiner: I know that it sounds cliché, but it’s true. The night that the Beatles were on the Ed Sullivan Show, well, that night changed my life. I knew exactly what I wanted to do with my life. Perform! When I was 19 years old, because I was living at home and it was tax time, my father asked me for my W2 form from my job so our family accountant could do all of our taxes. I gave him 11 W2 forms. Dad said to me, “You had 11 jobs last year? So, what do you want to do with your life?” I told him that I just wanted to play music!
RRI: You’re definitely keeping yourself busy with Chip Messiner’s “One Man Country Band”, the John Denver Tribute act and Q98.5 Legends of Country, all Request Show! How do you find the time?
CM: I didn’t realize that I was so busy until you pointed it out! This thing called the Music Business, well, I guess that it’s in my blood. I find that yes, I need a break sometimes, but then I can’t wait to get right back into it. It really is a passion for me. Oh, and I perform approximately 150 to 175 senior shows per year! It’s a lot of fun!
RRI: When and where was your first gig as a disc jockey?
CM: As a mobile DJ, I would have to say 1977 was my first DJ job. I found a restaurant in Barrington, Illinois that had a vacant banquet room. That’s when I founded the Pot of Gold Disco. It was for high school students only. It was a big hit! Fog machines, all the crazy lights, etc. As for the radio DJ thing, I was the emcee for a country show in Rockton, Illinois. A brand new country station in town called Rockford’s Hot new Country was there to cover the event. They asked me if I were interested in working at the station. Well, that was in 1992.
RRI: How many famous people would you say you have met over the years being in this line of work?
CM: I have to say that I have been very blessed in that department. I’ve met quite a few. The one thing that I have learned from this experience is; they are all people. They get hungry like we do, they get tired. They are just regular folks like us.
RRI: Were you ever disappointed in meeting some of these folks? In other words, how many were jerks and put on the “star” persona? Any stories?
CM: I have to say that in country music, 98.5 percent are great people. There are always a few that do put on the “star” persona however. One of my favorite stories would be, David Clayton Thomas, the lead singer of Blood, Sweat & Tears, a pop/rock band from the ’60s and ’70s, had to have red M&Ms in his dressing room. No red M&Ms, no show. So now, in the industry, whenever I book an act I always ask the act’s manager, “Any red M&Ms in the artists rider?” In other words, are they a pain to work with? It’s an industry slogan because of Mr. Thomas.
RRI: You’ve also been involved in some charity events lately. Tell us what’s going on September 12?
CM: The Rockford Rescue Mission and St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital are my favorite charities. On September 12, I will be performing my John Denver Tribute Show. All of my John Denver Show’s are fundraisers for St. Jude’s.
RRI: Who would say is your favorite Country artist of all time?
CM: I love Kenny Rogers, Ronnie Milsap, and of course, John Denver.
RRI: Who has the better voice, Kris Kristofferson or Willie Nelson? Be honest.
CM: Hands down, Willie!
RRI: Here’s a scenario: you get arrested for Jay walking and the punishment is that you have to listen to either Donna Fargo’s “Funny Face” or C.W. McCall’s “Convoy” for 12 hours straight. Which one do you choose?
CM: Now, I would get in a lot of trouble if I said C.W. McCall’s “Convoy”. Why? Because Donna Fargo is a friend of mine, and I know that I’d be getting phone calls from her at 3 o’clock in the morning!
RRI: What’s next for Chip Messiner?
CM: Besides all of the things already mentioned earlier, I will be performing my John Denver Tribute Show at the White Pines Dinner Theater on October 21 and 22. Folks can go to whitepinesinn.com for more info. The show there is called “Sunshine on My Shoulders.” And, performing as much as I can. Folks can visit my web page at chipmessiner.com.