Robert Parker, The Man Behind The Strings and Horns for Silver Laughter’s “Sailing on Fantasies”

Robert Parker Today

Robert Parker Today

Today I shot an e-mail to Robert “Bob” Parker to ask for some background to put up on this site. After all, it was his work that got the strings and horn parts on some of the Silver Laughter cuts from the “Sailing on Fantasies” album. Here is what he sent back. Thanks, Robert!

I was born and grew up in Des Moines, Iowa in a family of 7. It was a musical family (everybody played at least one, but mostly 2 instruments or more, except Dad..he played the black keys on the piano! lol)

Here are some facts:

  • First Instrument: Violin.
  • Early Hobby: Electronics (built my first radio around 11)
  • Instruments played: Double Bass (St. bass), Tuba, Flute, Piano
  • Interesting note: My last year in Jr. High, I won the City wide oratorical contest (put on by the Optimists Club) and placed 3rd in the regionals (beating out some really pissed off high school contestants). The subject was: “The Golden Opportunities of Youth”. (yeah, I wouldn’t say that, but it’s funny, weird and true!)
  • Went to North Des Moines High

Around 1967 (approx.) I joined the band Sunday Social. (Note: Silver Laughter’s manager, Art Stenstrom was in this band) I ran track in high school and would occasionally follow the track team bus in my van to head to a gig after the meets (no idea how I pulled that off, but it’s a true story). We put out “Vancouver City”, and “Too Heavy to Carry” (both singles with different line ups). We played a lot of ballrooms; I’m told we played over 500 gigs– I’d tend to believe it.

Then I started doing music Lead Sheets (off of cassette tapes) for a little extra cash. Eventually I got involved with Kajac Studios out in Carlisle and arranged, strings, horns, produced and engineered. In 1975 I Graduated Drake University with a Bachelor of Music Education.

Around 1976 (approx) I joined Midwest Express band (Jazz, funk, soul and fusion). Then in 1978 (approx) the band was renamed Dartanyan (after name of the Bass Player we added – former member of the band Chase). By 1979 I arranged and engineered a Billboard Country charting hot 100 single, “Don’t say no to me tonight” with artist Mark Sexton. (Note: this is around the time Robert wrote and produced the strings and horns for “Sailing on Fantasies” selections)

Sometime around 1980 (approx) I moved to the Ozarks to work as engineer at Recording Studio owned by Lee Mace of “Ozark Opry” fame and eventually performed a season on the TV show, which was highly rated in that market. In 1982 I moved to California.

I worked in music with the PURL band playing Jazz Fusion. (two members went on to perform with internationally famous acts; Jennifer Batten (Guitar), Michael Jackson, Jeff Beck, Bret Helm (Bass) and with Johnny Rotten (Sex Pistols). I moved to LA and went to work in the Movie Industry, eventually landing a gig as Telecommunications Manager of an Independent Movie Studio, performing music part time.

In 1987 I formed the band Jackson Blue with my good friend Stan Jackson. We wrote and performed as a duo before adding the missing element, Stan Strachan. The music was compelling and we ALMOST got signed to MOJAZZ, Motown’s jazz division, but it fell apart. So we released our own product   “Life’s Beat” on View Park records and engaged some promotion talent. But Radio Play in 13 states and weak distribution and underfunded, spotty promotion was not enough to sustain the group.

So in 1997 I moved to San Diego to continue my Technology Career and marry my wife of 15 years. These days I perform primarily for private events with repeat clients and continue to work both in technology and music.

– Robert Parker


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