Peter Malick

The first single Brookline native Peter Malick ever bought was “Great Balls of Fire” when he was around 8. His first instrument was clarinet. But when the Beatles and the Stones hit, he exchanged the clarinet for a guitar. He was 12. And when he first heard Lee Dorsey singing “Working in a Coal Mine” on WILD, his musical tastes switched from pop to soul and blues. Yet when he started performing in bands – the first one was PPMWW (members were, as the initials suggest, Peter Ivers, Peter Malick, Michael Tschudin, Walter Powers, and Willie Loco Alexander), the second was The Listening – the music fell under the category of psychedelic. The Listening had one album on Vanguard records, did lots of gigs at the Boston Tea Party, and got regular slots at Brandeis, where they opened for Cream, Jefferson Airplane, and Sly & the Family Stone. But Malick was under the spell of the blues, and ended up leaving the band to do a mix of tours and one-nighters with, among others, John Lee Hooker, Otis Spann, Big Mama Thornton, and Freddie King. By the early 1970s, he landed a gig playing in the Boston stage production of “Hair,” eventually becoming the musical director of the show’s national touring company. That was followed by a two-year stint with the James Montgomery Band and a couple of recordings on the Capricorn label, which led him to meeting producer Tom Dowd, which would later lead to his own career as a producer. Throughout the years there were moves back and forth from Boston to Los Angeles, along with a few years in Las Vegas, where he stopped playing music and instead worked in the casino business. Malick remembers a Vegas moment in 1990, after sitting in with some musicians, when he said to himself, “Dude, what the hell are you doing here?” A return to Boston a few years later had him forming the Peter Malick Band, playing a series of road house gigs, and starting to write songs. A self-produced record, “Wrong Side of My Life,” came out in 1998, followed by “Sons of the Jet Age,” with soul singer Amil Justin, then a move to New York, where he discovered and kick-started the career of Norah Jones. A move back to L.A. resulted in Malick and his wife Landry opening the production studio Pie & Tart Shop, and launching the label Luxury Wafers. He’s still writing his own music, producing and engineering other performers and, once in a while, strapping on a guitar and getting out to play with drummer Butch Norton and bassist Jon Ossman.

(Ed Symkus)

Published on November 21, 2013