Eric Keyes

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Eric Keyes Austin Texas

Eric Keyes (born April 8, 1969 in Houston, Texas) is a guitarist and singer based in Denton, TX. He is well known as a performer as well as for his proficiency on guitar.

Early life[edit]

Eric’s exposure to music started early in life as he was adopted into a Czech family where traditional Czech music was all around him. He didn’t particularly relate to the traditional songs and polkas. At the age of fourteen his grandmother died. It was a particularly emotional time for him and all of his family. Eric vividly, to this day, still remembers how moved he was by a traditional Czech Hymn- “Boze Cos ‘Racil” that was performed at her funeral. He knew one day he would record it and he did on his first solo release “Wake Up” in 2004.

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It was two years later after witnessing Swedish Guitarist Yngwie Malmsteen perform live in his hometown of Houston Texas that Eric knew he would dedicate his life to music. “My high school friend Peter Elsner and I waited in line for four hours to get into that show. It was sold out; people were completely packed in like sardines and what I witnessed that night changed my life forever. The band had to do five encores. The singer, Jeff Scott Soto, collapsed in a pool of sweat after the show as they ran out of material. It was one of those defining moments you never forget and I left there that day knowing what I would do the rest of my life. I met Yngwie years later as well as Jeff Scott Soto and let them know how much it affected me. What’s funny is they both lit up and remembered specifically, as vividly as I did, that night at Cardi’s live music club on Westheimer in Houston.”

Photograph of Eric Keyes and Yngwie Malmsteen

After witnessing that event Eric practiced guitar six hours a day for four years straight. It was during a performance at his high school talent show that he started to see his dream was attainable. Hard work brings a lot of luck and things fell into place after high school. In 1990 Eric was accepted to the prestigious music program at the University of North Texas. “I was very lucky to get to play at a young age with a phenomenal drummer named Russell DeLeon. Things were just different when playing with him. There was energy there. I can’t explain it; it’s just this vibe and snap that’s there with a drummer who gets it.” This went on to be a constant theme in Eric’s musical growth when he started recording in college.

Early career[edit]

“The first time I went into the studio I hired this drummer, Earl Harvin, I heard play with the band Ten Hands. I had written this song called “Together Again.” It had a real South American dance feel and Earl’s playing just popped. It was exactly what I was looking for. Once again I could just tell.”

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Two significant events happened from the release of his first single. Eric sent a copy to Brave Combo front man Carl Finch who called Eric to congratulate him. This began a relationship where Carl mentored Eric in the beginning stages of developing Riddle me This subsequently the track was included on the Denton Discoveries Compilation CD.

Eric’s uncanny ability to recognize up and coming talent that will go on to do great things was further solidified with the release of his second single “Lost” featuring then local guitarist Andy Timmons as well as drummer Keith Carlock. Tabla player Nikhil Pandya also appears on the track beginning Eric’s long association with a string of talented tabla players as well.

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In 1995, Keyes graduated from the University of North Texas with a degree in Music (Music Theory). Upon graduation he founded the electric rock band Riddle Me This.

Riddle Me This[edit]

Riddle Me This quickly gained the public's attention and were one of the bands featured on the Denton, Texas compilation album Denton Discoveries. The band then went on to record 3 albums starting with the humorously titled debut album "Merkin Wig" (a reference to pubic wigs) released in 1995. The band stayed the course when the media conglomerate "Time Warner" challenged the band's trademark application claiming a "likelihood of confusion" with their batman movies.[1] The case considered ridiculous by many, nevertheless cast the band into the national spotlight. They found support from Kurt Loder and MTV as well as the story was picked up by the Associated Press and the media throughout the US.

The band followed up "Merkin Wig" with the aptly titled album "Trademark" in 1998. In 2000 the band released what many consider to be their best album "Eden" which featured a song written by Eric titled "Im a Cow" originally penned as a vehicle to make an ex-girlfriend laugh. The song was marketed on the internet by using clever animation produced by Portland, Oregon based animator Aaron Pendland.[2] The album also featured stunning renditions of the song "Godzilla" by Blue Oyster Cult and "Eye in the Sky" by The Alan Parsons Project.

I'm a Cow Video

At one point the band's website[3] was one of the most popular sites on the internet due to the clever animation file and subsequently spearheaded the "indie movement" and guerrilla marketing on the web.[citation needed]

“North Texas was a great experience for me. I met everyone I could imagine there and was exposed to so much great music. I remember my friend Clint Strong telling me something profound once. Clint related to me ‘You should always try and be the worst guy in your band.’ To many folks that sound counter-intuitive but when you take a real good look at it, he’s brilliant. I dedicated my life to music and I work hard at it, but there is always somebody who can do what you can not do. I think too many artists are focused on themselves and lose sight of those wise words.”

Solo career[edit]

Eric has since released his first solo album "Wake Up" produced by versatile New York based musician and former "Steps Ahead" guitarist Jimi Tunnel.[4] The 2004 release featured a renewed emphasis on songwriting with a strong "tribal groove" and also featured guest artist "Aloke Dutta" on tabla [5]

From the year 2004 forward Eric realized a new confidence in his vocal abilities after working with Jimi Tunnel for several years. “It was one night after a jazz festival. I saw Jimi Tunnell perform and I was blown away by his vocals.” Eric collaborated with Jimi Tunnel on the jungle reggae track “Burn Up.”

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The track "Burn Up" captures Eric’s love of Joe Walsh, Prince, and the music of Depeche Mode. “So many of the guitarists I know are afraid and critical of electronic music. Not me, when I was a kid I loved ZZ Top and that album “Eliminator” always resonated with me.

It was a few years later that Eric met and became friends with Allan Holdsworth. “You know it’s funny, Carl Finch related to me how he got it in his mind one time that it would be good to meet David Byrne. It happened shortly thereafter. The same thing has happened to me over and over again. So many times in my life I will think about meeting somebody that I respect and then it just happens. Allan related to me how much he enjoyed performing with Chad Wackerman and Jimmy Johnson. It’s the same principal you know? Surround yourself with the best." Eric realized another stepping stone when Allan recorded a phenomenal guitar solo on Eric’s single “No One Knows my Thirst” in 2008.

Photograph of Eric Keyes with Allan Holdsworth2

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Sometimes challenging moments in our life can be some of the most defining victories when we look back. After a series of legal hassles and fighting with Warner Brothers, Eric was pulled over for speeding in 2008. The traffic stop was ridiculous and Eric put his foot down and refused to participate in the officers fishing expedition and was arrested and falsely charged with a DWI. He had his friend Racehorse Haynes defend him and another friend Robert Hirschorn was there to pick the jury. It never even made it to trial. “The way Racehorse handled that case was a defining moment in my life. It gave me the confidence to stand up for what I believe in and to believe in myself when no one else does. You are who you hang around and I have been very lucky in that respect.”

Another mile stone in Eric’s musical career was realized in 2012 when he recorded the track “Words of a Song” with legendary vocalist Pat Peterson (Ray Charles, Pink Floyd, Tom Petty, and John Mellencamp) Eric was introduced to her by renowned entertainment photographer James Bland backstage at a John Mellencamp show. “Just like everything else I fell in love with her vocals the minute I heard her sing and got it in my mind that I wanted to record with her and it just happened. All those years working with Jimi really helped me get to a place that I had envisioned.”

It was shortly thereafter that Eric collaborated with his college roommate Mickey Cevallos on a music video for words of a song. “Mick had moved out to L.A. and was doing all this great stuff. We always stayed in touch and got together when I was in Los Angeles. After Mick had his daughters he moved back to Austin Texas. I drove down there and we were discussing doing a video for another song I had written. Once Mick heard the track with Pat we scratched that and knew that was the one we had to do.”

Eric Keyes Words of a Song Music Video

Eric's versatile guitar style is influenced by Allan Holdsworth who he has recorded with as well as Clint Strong, Ted Greene, Al Di Meola, Neal Schon and Yngwie Malmsteen.


1993 Denton Discoveries

Eric Keyes single "Together Again" featured on Denton Discoveries CD

Eric Keyes- Guitar and Vocals

Earl Harvin- Drums

Jon Button-Bass

Steve McDonald-Steel Drums

Todd Schietroma-percussion

Ben Kono- Saxophone

1994 Eric Keyes 6 song EP

1. "Lost"

Eric Keyes- Guitar and Vocals

Keith Carlock-Drums

Eric Delegard- Bass

Andy Timmons- Lead guitar

Nikhil Pandya- Tabla

2. "Summertime"

Eric Keyes- Guitar and Vocals

Keith Carlock-Drums

Eric Delegard- Bass

3. "Candy" Eric Keyes- Guitar and Vocals

Keith Carlock- Drums

Eric Delegard- Bass

4. "I'll find You"

Eric Keyes- Guitar and Vocals and Sitar

Keith Carlock Drums

Eric Delegard- Bass

Jennifer Perryman- background vocals

5. "Etude #1" by Heitor Villa Lobos

Eric Keyes- Classical Guitar

6. "Yesterday" by The Beatles

Performed and arranged for jazz guitar by Eric Keyes

with Riddle Me This

1995- Merkin Wig

Eric Keyes- Guitar and Vocals

Marc Harris- Drums on "Together Again"

Paul Schmaus- Bass

Charlie Short- Steel Drums and percussion

Jeffrey Barnes- Saxophone on "Together Again"

Chalo Eduardo- Percussion on "Everything" and "Me Quema"

John Moss- percussion

Randy Erwin- yodeling on "In Heaven There is no Beer"

Eric Grajo- drums on "Me Quema" and "Everything"

Malcolm Miranda- Castanets Bob Schietroma- Tabla on "Area 51"

1998- Trademark

Eric Keyes- Guitar and Vocals

Paul Schmaus- Bass and Vocals

Dave Berkson- Drums and Vocals

Aloke Dutta- tabla on "Macbar Techno"

Adolfo Acosta- trumpet on "Surf Tune"

Carl Finch accordion on "No Beer Today"

2000- Eden

Eric Keyes- Guitar and Vocals

Paul Schmaus- Guitar, Bass and Vocals

Dave Berkson- Drums

Randy Erwin- yodeling on "I'm a Cow"

Bonnie and Nick Norris- fiddle and flat top guitar along with backing vocals on 'I'm a Cow"

Brian "Big Dog" Reddick vocals on Godzilla

Joe Cripps percussion

Eric Keyes as a solo artist

2004- Wakeup

Produced by Jimi Tunnell

Eric Keyes-Guitar and Vocals

Jimi Tunnell- guitar, drum programming, bass, keys and background vocals

Mikel Combs- bassAloke Dutta tabla on "Allure"

2008- Mind on Fire EP

2009- "No One Knows my Thirst" single w/ guest Allan Holdsworth

2012- "Words of a Song" single with Pat Peterson and video

2013- "Reign Falls" single

2013- "King Fly" single

2013- "Forget Me Not" single

2013- Back in Blue

Eric Keyes- Guitar and Vocals

John Carruth and Tex Bosely- Drums

Clark Erickson- Keys

Wade Campbell and Elliot Morgan- Bass


External links[edit]