Michael McDonald and more – west coast musician Bernie Chiaravalle is behind the guitars …
Bernie Chiaravalle (pronounced “shaira velley”) moved to San Rafael, CA from San Francisco at the age of six. Soon after he began taking an interest in music, singing along to his parents record collection. “The first song I learned was ‘Everybody Loves Somebody’ by Dean Martin”, remembers Chiaravalle. At age nine he started taking piano lessons from a neighborhood music teacher. His teacher was impressed by his quick ability to learn music by also frustrated when Bernie would memorize the songs and not read the sheet music. “This kid plays by ear. I can’t do anything more for him”, complained his teacher.
So it wasn’t long before Bernie was playing in bands, first starting out on drums. But after seeing The Beatles on Ed Sullivan he was infatuated with the guitar. “Besides, there was no way my parents were going to put up with a noisy drum kit in the house, and I can’t say I blame them”, says Bernie. Chiaravalle attended Terra Linda High School and continued his passion for playing in bands. He also loved singing in the school choir and enjoyed taking music theory classes.
It was during this period of his life when he began to take an interest in writing songs. With his band mate John Lovrien they wrote the majority of their own material. They formed the popular Marin County local band Logos and played together for more than eleven years.
In 1985 Bernie Chiaravalle moved from Marin County to Los Angeles as a guitarist with the Bay Area band Page One. Two years later the quartet broke up. As the group was disbanding, Chiaravalle met Ambrosia’s David Pack. “I sent him a tape,” Chiaravalle recalls, “and immediately we hit it off and began hanging out together and writing and playing songs.” In the meantime, Pack was telling Michael McDonald about the guitarist. “Michael didn’t know me from Adam. I was nobody basically, but he liked the way I played and he liked me because I liked dogs, which says a lot about his character” Bernie says with a laugh.
“It was a renewal of hope,” he says of that precarious time. “I thought those days of playing inspired music with vision that you admire and respect were gone. Michael really renewed that for me, as well as Chuck Sabatino (McDonald’s bandmember who recently passed away). Chuck was a really good friend of mine and a big inspiration to me, as he was to Michael. It made me have faith in music and that there are people out there who play music for the right reasons.” Needless to say, the McDonald gig, which Chiaravalle has had for almost eleven years, kept him from leaving Los Angeles.
“I’ve always felt the drive to write songs,” he explains of his need for self-expression. “I love playing live, too, but I think I’d be happy locked away in a studio writing and recording. I love that process.” At the same time, Chiaravalle is proud of four new songs he co-wrote on McDonald’s new release, “Blue Obsession”. “Michael and I have written together before, but this is the first time our songs have actually made it to the record. The first song we wrote together, ‘Obsession Blues’ sort of set the tone for the record and it’s very exciting.”
In early 1998 Chiaravalle relocated to Nashville, Tennessee. “I have two small children and I felt this would be a great place for them”, he says adding, ‘and I love the music scene here. There are so many great writers and I’m thrilled to be working with some of them”. June 1999 brought Bernie a No.1 hit song, “Speak”, on the CHR charts. Currently he has a song called “Til I Hurt You” on Larry Carlton’s latest CD, “Fingertips”. It’s been sitting on the top of the NAC charts for weeks now and was co-written with Carlton and McDonald. written by Robin Flans.
Words and photo from Bernie Chiaravalle´s website. Hear soundclips and get more information about Bernie Chiaravalle at his website.
All Or Nothing
Bernoit Music 2013
Tracks: Love Will Deliver, Bound To Fall, Love In Our World, In The Beginning, Forgive And Forget (reprise), Honesty, Always, Hands Of Time, Love Goes On And On, All Or Nothing, Lonely Flower & In Our Hands Now.
Musicians on the All Or Nothing album: Bernie Chiaravalle and others.
The World Around Me
Bernoit Music 2010
Tracks: No Way Out, Only Game In Town, You Got Nothin´, The World Has Let You Down, Long Haul, The World Around Me, What I Knew Before, For A Little While, No Longer In My Dreams, White Lies, Nothin´ Left To Believe In & Let The Night Unwind.
Musicians on the The World Around Me album: Bernie Chiaravalle, Pat Coil and others.
Mystery Of Love
Bernoit Music 2005
Tracks: Father And Child, Mystery Of Love, Tell Me What You Want, Lead Us Back To Love, I´ve Got My Reasons, Ready For Nothin´, Sad As It Seems, Standing In The Light, Next To You & Soulfire.
Musicians on the Mystery Of Love album: Bernie Chiaravalle, Charlez Frichtel, Lanice Morrison & Harry McCarthy.
Life As We Know It
Bernoit Music 2002
Tracks: The Love You Want, The Way To My Heart, Two Good-byes Away, You Alone, Life As We Know It, Where´You Runnin´, Someday You Will, The Way It Looks From Here, Then Again Maybe Not, Only So Much & My Only Chance.
Musicians on the Life As We Know It album: Bernie Chiaravalle, Michael McDonald, Amy Holland McDonald, Charlez Frichtel, Jon Goodwin, Harry McCarthy & Tim Lorsch.
Driven By Desire
Bernoit Music 1996
Tracks: Miss That Train, Writing A Romance, Man Who Would Be King, Down Down Down, It Was Only Love, All Things Considered, Without A Fight, Someone To Hold, Let Me Be The One & From Now On.
Musicians on the Driven By Desire album: Bernie Chiaravalle, Steve Leland, Vince Denham & Stefanie Fife.