Douglas R. Docker

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Douglas R. Docker
Douglas R. Docker performing in Saluzzo.jpg
Douglas R. Docker performing in Saluzzo, Italy, May 2012
Background information
Birth name Douglas R. Docker
Born (1967-06-16) 16 June 1967 (age 47)
Auxerre, France
Genres Rock, progressive rock, progressive metal, AOR, hard rock, heavy metal, electronic, European classical, Music of Thailand
Occupation(s) Musician, songwriter, singer, composer, producer, musicologist, ethnomusicologist
Instruments Piano, keyboards, vocals
Years active 1974–present
Labels Ash America, Zero Corp., DNA Records, Avenue of Allies, Lion Music, Massacre Records, Black Swan Records
Associated acts Area 51, Biloxi, Docker's Guild, Frantic Amber, Rustfield, Shining Line, Tony Mills
Website Docker's Guild Official Website

Douglas R. Docker (born 16 June 1967 in Auxerre, France) is an American-French pianist, keyboardist, singer, songwriter, producer, musicologist and teacher/trainer best known for his work in the progressive rock/metal, AOR and classical genres. He has worked with a wide range of artists, including Therion,[1] Biloxi, Frantic Amber, Shining Line, Rustfield, and Area 51.[2]

In 2012 he released the album The Mystic Technocracy - Season 1: The Age of Ignorance on Lion Music under the artist name Docker's Guild with Tony Franklin, Guthrie Govan, Jeff Watson, Greg Bissonette, Göran Edman, John Payne, Tony Mills and Amanda Somerville. It is described as a progressive rock space opera.[3]

Biography[edit]

Early Years (1967–1973)[edit]

Douglas R. Docker was born in Auxerre, France, on 16 June 1967, but was raised near Turin in Northwestern Italy where he lived and studied until the age of 24. He was born into a musical family: his French mother is an amateur pianist and his American father has a BA in music and in the ‘50s he had his own big band (which included Jim Nesbitt, a professional drummer who would later work and write a book with Buddy Rich), recorded some 78 records and toured Germany as a musician with the US Army 9th Division Band. Although Docker could not play yet, he already seemed to have an interest in music as can be seen on several photographs from that period which portray him with a variety of toy music instruments, such as an accordion, an electric guitar, a drum set and two Bontempi keyboards.[4][5]

Classical Music Success (1973–1989)[edit]

Docker began to study classical piano at the age of seven (1973) and violin two years later. In 1976 his French grandparents bought him a Blüthner Aliquot grand piano, now over 100 years old, on which he recorded all piano parts for his 2012 Docker's Guild space opera. From 1978 to 1981 Docker performed regularly as a second violinist in the orchestra of the Istituto Musicale Corelli of Pinerolo. In September 1978 he competed as a pianist in the Concorso Internazionale di Senigallia, the first of about a dozen international classical piano competitions (Stresa, Bardolino, Torre Pellice, Capri), always reaching the top positions, including two absolute first prizes.[2][4]

At the age of thirteen (1981), he participated in a classical piano master class with Jean Micault (former assistant to Alfred Cortot), the only child in a class full of adults. In 1989 he participated in a jazz improvisation master class with Raf Cristiano. The same year he obtained his BA in Classical Piano at the Conservatory of Cuneo, under the supervision of Aurora Verso. Docker retired from classical music competitions and performances in 1989 to focus entirely on rock music.[2][4]

Up to 1978 Docker had not even heard of rock music. The turning point came when he saw the movie Grease, which turned him into an avid 1950s rock'n'roll fan. Soon after, he was exposed to contemporary rock, particularly Kiss, The Police, obscure French space rock band Rockets, Queen, Eagles, Cheap Trick and Deep Purple. Soon he discovered keyboards and synthesizers and between 1983 and 1992 he played in a variety of local Italian rock bands, such as High Voltage (rock), Anatema (Italian rock and '80s pop metal), Spleen ('80s new wave) and Dirty Secrets (ELP, Yes and original prog rock).[2][4]

Los Angeles and Biloxi (1990–1995)[edit]

In the '90s Docker's attention turned entirely to rock: in 1990-1991 he wrote and recorded two industrial video soundtracks for Beloit Corporation. In 1991 he won a scholarship and obtained the diploma of sound engineer at the Scuola di Alto Perfezionamento Musicale (APM) in Saluzzo (Italy), then he relocated to Los Angeles to attend the Keyboard Institute of Technology at the Musicians Institute, graduating with honors in 1993. While there, Docker had the chance to study with some of the best musicians in the world, including Cat Grey (Prince), Carl Schroeder (Sarah Vaughan), Tim Bogert (Vanilla Fudge), Craig Goldy (Dio, Giuffria), Al Pitrelli (Alice Cooper, Asia), Philip Wolfe (W.A.S.P., Keel, Angel), Derek Sherinian (Alice Cooper, Kiss, Dream Theater) and many more.[2][4]

Soon after graduation, Docker joined Biloxi, a melodic rock band whose debut CD Let the Games Begin obtained worldwide success, reaching n. 10 in the Japanese charts (Burrn! Magazine) and n. 1 in England as the best import CD of 1993 (Kerrang! Magazine), as well as collecting an impressive amount of rave reviews worldwide. Biloxi toured the Los Angeles club scene extensively in 1993-1994, regularly headlining and selling out all the legendary Sunset Strip clubs, such as the Roxy, the Wiskey à Gogo and the Troubadour, among others. Biloxi then went on a promotional tour in Mississippi which culminated by headlining a show at the Mississippi Coast Coliseum in Biloxi (MS) in January 1994. Biloxi was about to record a second album and tour Scandinavia and Europe as well as perform at the 1994 European summer festivals, but the band broke up following the tragic deaths of Bob Simis (Biloxi's manager) and of Rich Symons (Biloxi's guitarist).[2][4]

While in Los Angeles, Docker also had the opportunity to work and play with many acclaimed musicians such as Tony Franklin (Blue Murder, The Firm, Whitesnake), Tom Hooker (Den Harrow) and Elias Arts (Duran Duran, Yes).[2][4]

Return to Italy, Space Pop and Disco Music (1995–1998)[edit]

In 1995 Docker returned to Italy where he founded the electronic space-pop/rock project Area 51. The duo released its debut album In the Desert in August 1996. Featuring Mio Jāger (who would later cowrite two songs from Docker's Guild debut album with Docker) on vocals and guitar, the project was a unique blend of progressive rock songwriting, AOR vocals, synth-pop sounds and arrangements with a futuristic image.[2][4]

In 1997 Docker created and developed Night Fever, which was designed to be a theatrical disco music band with a rock attitude and a futuristic sci-fi look inspired by Kiss, Star Wars and Japanese 1970s anime. The idea was to play disco music, organized in 20-minute long medleys, so that it could be performed in discos. The project had actually already been developed and tested in Los Angeles in 1992 under the moniker Video Killers, but was put on hold due to Docker's other projects and commitments. Success was massive and immediate. The band got bigger and bigger and quickly moved from pubs to discos to outdoor venues, and started an entire scene of disco bands and projects in the country that lasts to this day. Today known as Disco Inferno, the band is considered as the best theatrical disco music show in Italy. Unfortunately, Docker was not able to enjoy the fruits of this success: too many years of hard work and stress caused his health to deteriorate rapidly. He was stricken with a panic disorder which effectively put an end to his music career for a number of years. In September 1998, the tour was canceled and Night Fever was disbanded, while Disco Inferno continued with new members.[2][4][6]

Hiatus and World Travels (1998–2007)[edit]

After Night Fever, Docker took a lengthy break from all performing activities. He first moved to Stockholm, Sweden, where he worked, mostly for Ericsson, as a Business English language trainer, also preparing students for the University of Cambridge ESOL Examinations. Docker tried to resume playing by giving two classical concerts in November 1999, but soon discovered that his health had not improved.[2][4]

In 2001 Docker relocated to Ban Phe (Rayong Province), a small fishermen's village in Thailand, where he started training English teachers for TEFL International. The radical cultural change, the isolation from music and the commodities of the Western world had a huge impact on Docker who quickly recovered from his panic disorder. His appetite for music returned, but still not wanting to depend on live playing, in 2003 he resumed his academic studies by taking a distance BA in Musicology from Paris-Sorbonne University.[2][4]

Docker moved to Paris, France, in 2004 to finish his musicology studies and in 2005 he obtained his BA in Musicology. In 2005 he finally resumed his performing activities with American Piano Music, a solo piano program with a historical perspective that focused on African-American piano music. In July 2006 he returned to Thailand to shoot a 2-hour DVD documentary in four parts on pi phat ensembles and wrote two books on traditional Thai music, especially Phra Phírâp et sa musique - Le shivaïsme tantric au cœur de la musique traditionnelle thaïlandaise. In 2007 he obtained an MA in Ethnomusicology, specializing in traditional Thai music, with an emphasis on the ritual repertoire, pi phat ensembles, the wai khru ritual and the Tantric and esoteric worship of Brahmanic deities and demons by Thai musicians, particularly the supreme demon/god known as Phra Phirap (Bhairava).[2][4]

Docker's Guild and Black Swan - Rock School of Music (2008-present)[edit]

Docker returned once more to Italy in January 2008, where he worked for two years as a researcher for the Istituto per i Beni Musicali in Piemonte, carrying out the census of the entire musical heritage of the Waldensian Evangelical Church in Val Pellice.[2][4][7]

In 2010 Docker became the Coordinator of the Rock Department at the Scuola di Alto Perfezionamento Musicale of Saluzzo, where he set up the entire Department, handled curriculum development, taught rock keyboards, rock theory and history and RockLabs. He was later involved with teaching Synthesis, Sampling and Music Awareness to sound engineers as well as training classical musicians and singers for the Aural Tests of the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music (ABRSM).[2][4]

In December 2012, Docker founded his own music school called Black Swan - Rock School of Music, with related services Black Swan - Language Services and Black Swan Records.[2][4]

In 2008, Docker started working on his own original project named Docker's Guild, a prog rock space opera whose debut album The Mystic Technocracy - Season 1: The Age of Ignorance was released in 2012 on Lion Music. The album included the participation of guests such as Tony Franklin, Guthrie Govan, Jeff Watson, Greg Bissonette, Goran Edman, John Payne, Tony Mills and Amanda Somerville. Docker is currently working on a sequel entitled The Heisenberg Diaries - Book A: Sounds of Future Past. The new lineup comprises an all-female cast, including Amanda Somerville, Elize Ryd, Roxy Petrucci and more.[2][3][4]

Since his return to Italy, Docker has also collaborated with several international hard rock and heavy metal bands. In 2010 he was featured as a guest on melodic rock project Shining Line. In 2011 he translated and recorded voice-overs for Therion's 011 board game and short film. He is featured on four songs on Rustfield's debut album Kingdom of Rust and on three songs on Frantic Amber's upcoming album.[2][4]

Discography[edit]

Spleen[edit]

  • GentiEmergenti 2 - compilation cassette (1986), keyboards on "Autolesionismo"

Anatema[edit]

  • Suonomodo - compilation LP (1988), keyboards on "Love You Sometime"

Antonio Caffaro[edit]

  • Ave Maria (1989), classical piano and pipe organ

Douglas R. Docker[edit]

  • Beloit Corporation / Leykam Murztaler - industrial video soundtrack (1990), keyboards and programming, composer, arranger, engineer and producer
  • Beloit Corporation / PWA IP - industrial video soundtrack (1991), keyboards and programming, composer, arranger, engineer and producer

Biloxi[edit]

  • Let the Games Begin (1993), did not play on album, but was featured in all album credits and photos, and supplied keyboards on US promotional tour

Area 51[edit]

  • In the Desert (1996), keyboards and programming, lead and backing vocals, composer, arranger, engineer and producer

Rustfield[edit]

  • Demo 2009 (2009) guest keyboard solos on "Compromising", "Waxhopes" and "High Waters"
  • Kingdom of Rust (2013), guest keyboard solos on "Compromising", "Waxhopes" and "High Waters", piano on "Love Moan"

Shining Line[edit]

  • Shining Line (2010), guest keyboards on "Strong Enough"

Docker's Guild[edit]

  • The Mystic Technocracy Demo (2009), keyboards and programming, lead and backing vocals, composer, arranger, engineer and producer
  • The Mystic Technocracy - Season 1: The Age of Ignorance (2012), keyboards, lead and backing vocals, composer, arranger, engineer and producer
  • The Heisenberg Diaries - Book A: Sounds of Future Past (upcoming)

Frantic Amber[edit]

  • Burning Insight (2014), guest keyboards on "Entwined" and "Soar"

Tony Mills[edit]

  • Over My Dead Body (upcoming, 2014), songwriter, arranger, keyboards and backing vocals on "Bitter Suite", "Free Spirits", "My Death" and "We Should Be on Right Now"
  • Upcoming Album 2 (upcoming), songwriter

Vivaldi Metal Project[edit]

  • Upcoming Album (upcoming), arranger and keyboards on "Concerto No. 1 in E major, Op. 8, RV 269, "La primavera", 1st movement: Allegro

Videography[edit]

Anatema[edit]

  • "Love You Sometime" - videoclip (1988)

Douglas R. Docker[edit]

  • Beloit Corporation / Leykam Murztaler - industrial video (1990)
  • Beloit Corporation / PWA IP - industrial video (1991)
  • Les Ensembles pi phat dans le village de Nang Rong en Thaïlande - "Épisode 1: Nang Rong et le Club de musique classique thaïlandaise Khok Makharon" - documentary (2006)
  • Les Ensembles pi phat dans le village de Nang Rong en Thaïlande - "Épisode 2: Le Festival de Khao Phansa et le Club de musique classique thaïlandaise Khok Makharon" - documentary (2006)
  • Les Ensembles pi phat dans le village de Nang Rong en Thaïlande - "Épisode 3: L’École de Nang Rong et les élèves de la classe de musique classique thaïlandaise" - documentary (2006)
  • Les Ensembles pi phat dans le village de Nang Rong en Thaïlande - "Épisode 4: L'Ensemble pi phat Maeo Thai et la risiculture à Nang Rong" - documentary (2006)

Biloxi[edit]

  • "Run for Your Life" - videoclip (1994)
  • "Mississippi Queen" - unreleased videoclip (1994)

Area 51[edit]

  • "No More Dreamers (In the '90s)" - videoclip (1996)

Docker's Guild[edit]

  • "A Matter of Energy" - trailer (2012)
  • "Darwin's Tears" - short film (2013)

Therion[edit]

  • Adulruna Rediviva - limited edition DVD (2012), translator and voice-over for the 5 "Making Of" documentaries

Other Collaborations[edit]

Therion[edit]

  • 011 - An Adventure with Therion - board game (2011), translator for the game brochure

Last40Days[edit]

  • Lost and Found - album (2013), lyrics proofreading, editing and pronunciation coaching

Writings[edit]

  • "Les ensembles pi phat dans le village de Nang Rong en Thaïlande", Paris Sorbonne (Paris IV), 2006
  • "Phrá Phírâp et sa musique – Le shivaïsme tantrique au cœur de la musique traditionnelle thaïlandaise", Paris Sorbonne (Paris IV), 2007
  • "La catalogazione dei beni musicali del patrimonio valdese", La Beidana, year 27°, n° 70 (February 2011), p. 48-52.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "011 - An Adventure with Therion (Official Website): Crew". Retrieved 22 December 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q "Biografia di Douglas R. Docker". Black Swan - Rock School of Music. Retrieved 8 July 2013. 
  3. ^ a b "Docker's Guild - The Mystic Technocracy". Lion Music. Retrieved 8 July 2013. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q "Official Douglas R. Docker Facebook Page Biography". Douglas R. Docker. Retrieved 25 April 2013. 
  5. ^ "Early Years (1967-1973) Photo Album". Douglas R. Docker Official MySpace Page. Retrieved 24 April 2013. 
  6. ^ "Old Members". Disco Inferno Official Website. Retrieved 8 July 2013. 
  7. ^ "La catalogazione dei beni musicali del patrimonio veldese". La Beidana n. 70. Retrieved 8 July 2013. 

External links[edit]