||A major contributor to this article appears to have a close connection with its subject. (December 2011)|
|Haras Fyre pka Patrick Grant|
January 5, 1953|
Newark, New Jersey, United States
|Genres||pop, R&B, disco, dance-pop|
Haras Fyre (born January 5, 1953), also professionally known as Patrick Grant, was born and raised in Newark, New Jersey. He is a BMI affiliated songwriter as well as a singer and multi-instrumentalist.
Haras' upbringing included music ranging from Victor Herbert to Frankie Valli (Valli also from Newark). Haras credits radio personality "Cousin Brucie" Morrow's extraordinary range of music presentation as having played a major role in encouraging Haras' musical diversity.
As a teenager, Haras 'permanently borrowed' his brother's trombone and learned to play the instrument by playing along with recordings made famous by the band Chicago. Later, admirers who associated Haras' trombone playing with the style of Chicago’s trombonist "James Pankow," nicknamed Haras "Chicago." During Haras' stint with a popular East Orange, New Jersey band known as Parkway North, Haras' passion for the bass nearly overtook his interest in the trombone. Parkway North's bassist - Romeo Williams (who later would play bass on Elton John's "Sacrifice", on recordings for Brian Eno, Patrice Rushen and others) lent his prized Baldwin Bass to Haras and patiently taught Haras a few rudiments on the instrument.
|Origin||New York City, USA|
|Genres||pop, R&B, disco, dance-pop|
|Associated acts||Gwen Guthrie
|Past members||Gwen Guthrie
In 1971, Haras joined a local band called the Matchmakers, where he met vocalist and pianist Gwen Guthrie. The two became romantically involved, moved in together and, with The Matchmakers' saxophonist James Wheeler and trumpeter Jerome McCoggle, they joined the New York City based band "East Coast," which was the brainchild of future Cameo founder Larry Blackmon.
Transition into songwriting
The freelance producer for East Coast's second album told Haras and Gwen that their songs were of no commercial value; that the songs were 'unsellable.' Gwen and Haras were convinced of the opposite. The Commodores late manager Benny "The Ash" Ashburn, who had been 'keeping a protective eye' on Gwen and Haras, agreed with the songwriters. "The Ash" supported Haras and Gwen in taking their songs elsewhere.
When producer Bert DeCouteaux heard the song demos (on which Haras played all the instruments and both Haras and Gwen sang), he said, "You two simply must get out of my office now - - because I want to immediately start writing charts for these songs. Come back tomorrow and don't forget to bring your bass!" With that request, Haras' life as a trombonist ended, and his life as a bass player in New York City's music scene began. The following day, Haras was sitting in the recording studio playing bass with Carlos Alomar (guitarist for "The Main Ingredient," and for David Bowie) together with Bowie's drummer Dennis Davis while Bert DeCoteaux played piano. Gwen sang.
Within one month after their having left the "East Coast" band, Haras and Gwen started harvesting the rewards of promoting their music outside of the band: the very first of their 'unsellable' songs sold internationally. "Love Don't You Go Through No Changes On Me" brought newcomers "Sister Sledge" into the national spotlight, placing them on:
- Billboard Magazine's national chart position #5 measured by audience response for the year 1974 in the Disco category
- Billboard Magazine's national chart position #7 measured by FM radio audience response
- Billboard Magazine's national "Hot 100"
Of the nine songs on that Sister Sledge "Circle Of Love" album, seven were those same 'unsellable' songs composed by Haras and Gwen. Two more of those songs entered the US Dance Chart's top 10, with one of those songs, "Pain Reliever" taking the Silver Award at the 1975 Tokyo Music Festival. Subsequently Haras and Gwen penned Ben E. King's comeback single, "Supernatural Thing," which was immediately followed by "This Time I'll Be Sweeter" (which has been covered by Martha Reeves, Angela Bofill, Roberta Flack, Deniece Williams, Linda Lewis, Sharon Cuneta, Isaac Hayes, Rachel Ann Go and more than 100 additional artists between 1974 and 2011).
On that very first album, Patrick Grant is credited as a bass player amongst New York City's top studio musicians - alongside the name of Bob Babbitt, who was Haras' ultimate bassist role model of Motown's "Funk Brothers" notoriety.
Haras explains: "I was highly influenced by Dee Murray, James Jamerson and Bob Babbitt. Before I learned how to musically express my own personality on the bass, I mostly used Bob Babbitt's musical 'vocabulary.' After all, Babbitt seemingly played on every fourth song on the radio - not exactly a bad role model! Therefore I didn't care about other bassists ridiculing me: I was always hired and they were not! Before playing, I would ritually mumble 'I now Babbittize you in the name of the Fender, the Song and the Holy Groove.' Surprisingly, on my very first Sister Sledge recordings, there was an additional bassist playing on the sessions who could actually 'Babbittize' considerably better than I could. I cannot describe my shock upon having discovered that 'the big guy wearing the apple hat' was none other than Mr. Bob Babbitt in person! I said nothing but watched everything, then played bass as sensitively as I knew how, struggling not to feel intimidated in the presence of a Musical Giant such as Bob Babbitt. Sometimes I unjustly got accolades for having played on some songs where actually Babbitt played, especially the big hits. There's good, there's better, and then there's Babbitt, who, after more than half of a century of making hits, practically still defines the way a bass feels on the radio. Babbitt was making several hit records daily when I was only 8 years old and, even in 2011, it's impossible to hear the radio longer than 15 minutes before hearing 'Funk Brother' Bob Babbitt's Fender Flair.'"
Haras and Gwen penned the "It's Happening at the Phone Company" jingle for AT&T, which they also played live at a few international trade fairs with top studio drummer Jimmie Young (Frank Sinatra's "Trilogy" version of the Theme from New York New York, Barry Manilow's "Mandy", Engelbert Humperdink's "After the Lovin'"), Rudy Stevenson (guitarist, songwriter for Nina Simone, "5th [Aquarius] Dimension") and Bert DeCoteaux on piano. Playing bass with this power quartet helped morph Haras into "Dr. Bass" as he played regularly in a band with Weather Report studio drummer Herschel Dwelllingham, pianist Nat Adderley, Jr., and singer Bobby Hill (Your Arm's Too Short to Box With God).
The partnership didn't last long. Within two months of having made their songwriting debut, Haras' and Gwen's Music Machine had delivered several songs to the Billboard charts and the machine was still accelerating - but then sand was thrown into the gears, causing the machine to stop running. Gwen and Haras enjoyed a warm familial relationship with publisher Bert DeCoteaux, but one of the company associates was a total distraction for both Gwen and Haras, killing their creativity and rendering them jointly and individually useless in that constellation.
Artists and producers who came to Haras and Gwen seeking songs often turned away, lamenting, "Gwen, Haras, we love your music and we love Bert but, sorry; please contact us the minute your situation changes..." Gwen and Haras were so frustrated at being 'bound & gagged' that Gwen quit writing within the organization, going on her individual way as a session singer. One week later, Haras, without Gwen, penned a final parting song for the company, "Satan's Daughter" which actually was Haras' expression of anger about the company associate Haras and Gwen felt had killed the partnership (albeit written about the associate in the 'she' form and recorded by British artist Garry Glitter). Any further works Haras had in development with Fleming Williams (who sang the 1974 hit, "Rock the Boat"), with Police Academy actress Marion Ramsey, and the works in progress with film composer and friend Michael R. Colicchio had to be abandoned.
"Under the Boardwalk"
Haras' composition "Supernatural Thing" did more than provide songwriting success relative to Ben E. King. As Ben E. King had been a vocalist with the perennially popular group known as "The Drifters," Haras had inroads to Ben E. King's past associates. Yes, Haras' songwriting efforts had been internally sabotaged - - but Haras found shelter "Under The Boardwalk"; he packed up his bass and headed for London to join the backup band of The Drifters, who had a singing lineup of Johnny Moore, Billy Lewis, Joe Blunt and Clyde Brown, managed by the late Faye Treadwell.
After two years of touring, Haras returned to the USA, residing four years in Connecticut until permanently leaving for Europe where he suffered a stroke in 2001.
Haras, having recovered 75% from his stroke, composes and presents music for televised sporting events, corporate events and private affairs, speaking fluent German. He is frequently seen as a musical proponent for Germany's Allianz Insurance Group and for Formula 1 automobile races, where he often appears in televised segments with Mercedes-Benz Motorsport-boss Nobert Haug during the motorsport season. The non-athletic but "sportfriendly" Haras appeared on European television as the first "Werbeträger" (media spokesman) for the internationally German-based auto/technical giant DEKRA (Deutscher Kraftfahrzeug-Überwachungsverein) despite his not ever having been a race driver during his twenty-year association with DEKRA. He was regularly featured together with 9-time Olympic Gold Medalist Magdalena Brzeska for whom he composed a song.
Haras Fyre is active in fundraising and organization of events benefitting disadvantaged children, physically and mentally challenged people, and the homeless. He says, "I was once in that position not long ago..."