By Todd Houston
Exclusive to TRRT
Rockford Rocked Interview: You’ve been at this music thing for a long time. Not only fronting your own bands but also touring and working with big name artists as well. Take us back to when you first got involved.
Pat Fenelon: I had an uncle that worked for WRRR here in Rockford that sold advertising and he would come and drop off these 45 rpm demos when I was about five years old. The Platters and Ritchie Valens were the best. I wore “La Bomba” down to a frazzle! That one really got me going. I sang in choirs for about eight years and discovered my Dad’s Gibson guitar very early on. He loved that guitar and used to play for the neighbors and stuff but was really too busy to show me much. I started taking guitar lessons around 1965 from Guzzardo’s on Albert Ave.
RRI: I understand you worked with Rockford’s Cheap Trick for awhile. How did you land that gig?
PF: My buddy Muzzy sort of landed me that job around 1981 at the end of the All Shook Up tour. He was with them for a long time and hooked me up with Bun E. Carlos. I tuned guitars, sang backup vocals and whatever it took. After that I hooked up with the band Kiss as a guitar tech for Bruce Kulick on the Asylum tour .
RRI: You also went out on the road with Amy Grant, Survivor and Billy Ocean. That must have been amazing. Any cool stories about touring Europe?
PF: No but when I was with Survivor we played the famous Budakon in Japan which was cool. Of course Japan is pretty small so it only takes you about a week to finish an entire tour (laughs). It’s weird because you could buy beer out of the pop machine there. It’s also very expensive.
RRI: Tell us about your band Bare Bones.
PF: Around 1990 I formed the band Bare Bones with Rick Pemperton, John Ross and Pat O’Brien. We worked a lot, playing at least three nights a week forever. Bare Bones has been loads of fun throughout the years, we worked our asses off and are still playing to this day.
RRI: Do you guys have any upcoming shows booked?
PF: Oh yeah, we’re doing some shows with The Sensations coming up and loads of other stuff as well.
RRI: I understand that you used to collect guitars and other musical instruments.
PF: Yeah, I love guitars and consider them a work of art. I used to have them hanging up on the walls at my home. About 15 years ago I had a bunch of them stolen which broke my heart. I ended up recovering a few of them but sadly some of them are gone for good.
RRI: What’s your favorite songs to perform live?
PF: I always liked to play “Open My Eyes” by Nazz and “Tough it Out” by Webb Wilder.
RRI: Gibson or Fender guitars?
RRI: Ginger or Mary Ann?
PF: Neither. The professor.
RRI: What’s next for Pat Fenelon?
PF: Well, Bare Bones is getting together to do a gig at Big Al’s on April 22 and a few other things in the works. I’m working on possibly doing some early 7 o’clock to 9 o’clock shows so I can still make my old guy bedtime. Stay tuned!