When Jere Mendelsohn saw the Beatles perform on the "Ed Sullivan Show" as a 6-year-old, it sparked his interest in becoming a musician.
He began experimenting with instruments before settling on the electric guitar. Throughout high school, he played during school dances and for social clubs on the East Coast before moving to Los Angeles to pursue music professionally after earning a bachelor's degree.
Plans to be a full-time musician fell through when he and his college sweetheart were expecting their first child, but the Glendale resident and English teacher at Verdugo Hills High School continued working on music independently, and he regularly performs in bands.
After two years of work in a recording studio, Mendelsohn will celebrate the release of his second album "Old Sins, Long Shadows" on Sunday at the Rose in Pasadena, where he will open for Micky Dolenz of the Monkees, a popular 1960s pop-rock band.
Mendelsohn balanced his life as a teacher and musician for two years until the album was completed. During the day, he'd help students write their personal statements on their college applications and then he'd head to the recording studio in the evenings. Occasionally, he'd play in bands three or four nights a week, too.
"It's a passion, and it's never left, and I've tried to influence it in students over the years," he said, adding that he strives to incorporate music in his teaching. "Once it's in your blood, it's what you do."
The new batch of songs he released is a tribute to music he used to listen to as a teenager and love is a theme in all of them.
His concert on Sunday won't be the first time he's opened for a member of the Monkees. When he was 21 years old, his band was invited to tour with Peter Tork, keyboardist and bass guitarist for the Monkees.
Touring with Tork was his first "eye-opening experience" of being a professional musician, he said, and the idea of being a rock star seemed attainable.
"When you're young, and you're 21, and someone puts you on the road, it's a huge romantic thing," he said.
But now, when Mendelsohn opens for Dolenz, it'll be an "exciting experience" with a different perspective.
He knows people will understand his music but he also hopes a younger generation interested in electronic dance music will appreciate his sound.
"I'd love nothing more to get the music out there and have people hear it. I don't have illusions of grandeur anymore," he said.
For tickets to Mendelsohn's performance, visit: https://tikly.co/events/2072