Scott Sechman has displayed an amazing knack for meeting some of rock's most beloved cult heroes. It all started around 1967 when his big brother's band, the Norfolk Aliens, opened for The Box Tops at the Virginia Beach Dome.
Sechman tagged along and what transpired put his life on a new track.
"I think the Box Tops had just released 'Neon Rainbow,'" Sechman recalled in a phone conversation from his home in Southern California. "I went back stage and saw they weren't much older than The Aliens. Hearing [Box Tops singer] Alex Chilton talk, I though, 'Damn! They're real Southern boys. These guys are just like us!'
"That's pretty much what inspired me to play music."
Sechman, 59, has stayed true to rock even as the music led him from Hampton Roads to Maryland, Arizona and, finally, California. He hasn't struck it rich, but he's rubbed elbows with some legendary musicians. One of them even helped him create his new solo disc.
As a youngster, Sechman attended Lee Hall, Riverside and Sedgefield elementary schools in Newport News. His family relocated to South Hampton Roads and he attended Norview High.
He left Norfolk in 1971, relocating to Maryland where his brother was playing in a band. At first he worked as a roadie. "Once they found out I could sing and play harmonica, they started working me into the show." The band was called Fatt City, which Sechman describes as a country-rock band.
Sechman said it was around this time that he met legendary songwriter Gram Parsons at a festival outside Annapolis, Md. Backstage, he told Parson's Flying Burrito Brothers bandmate Chris Ethridge that his band covered some of Parson's tunes.
"He said, 'You're going to want to meet Gram,'" Sechman recalled. "Emmylou Harris was standing right behind him. When I told him that we covered his songs, Gram was incredulous. He told me to send him a tape. I never sent the tape, but I still have his autograph with his address in Studio City."
From Maryland, Sechman moved to Tucson, Ariz., which had a thriving country-rock scene at the time. There he played in a band called Loose Boots that was almost signed to Epic Records, Sechman said.
Finding himself between bands, he decided to follow his girlfriend -- and later wife -- to Southern California where he's lived ever since. He now lives in Anaheim and has been involved in music there to varying degrees over the decades. He worked as an electronics technician from 1980 to 1995, then around 1997 he got a gig subbing for the regular guitar player in The Grass Roots. Eventually, he even played with the Grass Roots at the Peanut Festival in Suffolk.
Last year, Sechman finally released his first solo record. His self-titled disc includes 10 originals and a cover of Sonny Bono's "Bang Bang." The disc includes sharp playing and solid songwriting along with Sechman's rich, soulful vocals. The album was recorded with help from yet another rock cult figure, Emitt Rhodes.
Sechman had become a fan back in the 1960s when Rhodes was with a group called The Merry-Go-Round. Meeting him in California through a friend, he was able to hire him to engineer some of the tracks for his solo album.
"I went to Emitt’s studio, in back of his house ... I was like in pop music heaven," Sechman said. "He’s this like genius dude. You wouldn’t believe it. He's got the best ears of anybody I can think of in the music business. But he's become more reclusive ... I still talk to him on occasion. My son and I went up and spent the day with him awhile back."
Why release a first solo album after more than 40 years playing rock music?
"I've been doing solo gigs since 2000," Sechman said. "I wanted to have something to sell at gigs. But mostly, I wanted to leave something behind, you know?"
For more on Sechman and his music, visit his website.
Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times