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The GREG TOPPER Story

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Greg Topper was born in Los Angeles and started playing the piano by ear when he was eight. He knows over 500 songs and has never had a single music lesson. His specialties are Fats Domino, Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard, Chuck Berry and Elvis Presley. His song list, however, spans from the 50’s right through the 70’s.

His first real gig was at The Tamasha Club in Anaheim in 1961 with his band called The Crescents. Ever since, he has played continuously (and primarily) in Orange County for 46 years!

He has played his rock ‘n’ roll show at The Red Onion (1 year), Isadore’s (1 year), Sheraton Newport (2 years), Sheraton Anaheim (6 years), Airporter Inn — now The Atrium (14 years), The Crazy Horse (28 times), The Village Inn (8 years) and currently at the Pierce Street Annex (3 years).

The long-extended engagements are testimony to his success at keeping a high volume of bar business.

He is most proud of all the charity events he has performed to help raise money. He has done galas for Alzheimer's, Cystic Fibrosis, Lupus and many more. He is also the Founder and President of The Orange County Musicians Foundation, Inc., which raises money for local OC musicians and their families who have no medical insurance and have catastrophic needs.

Greg has also played twice in Hawaii for extended periods as well as Las Vegas. He also performed in the Warner Bros. movie ‘HOOPER’ with Burt Reynolds and Sally Field.

Greg also recently produced a sold-out show featuring one of his all-time-favorites, Jackie DeShannon. He also played with The Associations in OC.

Topper has performed with such greats as Roy Orbison, The Righteous Brothers, The Turtles, Jose Feliciano, Charlie Daniels, Little Richard, Jackie DeShannon and Dick Dale.

Read this story on the Newport Beach early Daze of Yore.

Many of my friends from the good old days have been asking about my good buddy..........

He's been to at least 50 of my shows, we've body surfed 50 times and he has been my houseguest many times back in the 70's and 80's. We've been together at 5 Academy of Country Music Awards, three Grammy Shows and countless Rhythm & Blues Foundation shows http://www.rhythm-n-blues.org/ (of which he's a founding board member) ..........It was great to see that record conglomerate of no less than fifteen major labels and foundation grow under his tutelage.  Through all these years and shows I've had the pleasure of meeting, dining and jammin' with the likes of Tina Turner, Joe Cocker, Bonnie Raitt, Garth Brooks, Bob Seeger, Robert Palmer, Vince Gill, Clint Black, Delbert McClinton, Donnie Osmond, Brian Wilson, Jackson Browne, Glen Campbell, Jackie DeShannon, Little Richard, Fats Domino, Jerry Lee Lewis, The Association, Darlene Love, April Stevens and Nino Tempo, Paul Simon, and non-musicians like chef Emeril Lagasse, Jay Leno, Michael Douglas,  and many more. What great fun we've had.

What a treat this friendship of 40 years has been. Jim is alive and very well, living in Colorado. I talk to him all the time. Three beautiful daughters and grand kids.  

For those many of you who met and remember him, just thought you'd like to know he's doing great !

Life is not meant to be a journey to the grave in a pretty & well preserved body...But rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, & loudly proclaiming:

WOW! WHAT A RIDE


Early History

My Adolescent and Teenage Years Growing Up in Jamaica, West Indies 

I have been a huge life-long fan of Winston Churchill.  His daughter Lady Sara, (good friends with my mom) had her estate called "Content"  right next to our family estate, called "Drambuie" in Reading, Jamaica, just outside Montego Bay, whe, and my brother and I attended a strict boys English boarding school called Munro College. It was called "college" even though it was only junior high through secondary school, what we here know as 6th -12th grades). Many of Munro's alumni are now captains of industry in Jamaica, such as Billy McConnell, my bunk bed mate at age eleven !! http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20110810/business/business1.html ........Suffice it to say I have very fond memories of my life and times in Jamaica....I gotta write an autobiography !!!

Check out my Mom's house that we lived in while her Half Moon Resort was being built: http://www.jamaicavillas.com/villa/drambuie-estate

Not a bad little place to be a teenager and have parties!

My father, George Topper, Jr. was born in 1917 and spent his early days after the war working for Fox West Coast Theaters........run by my grandfather, also named George Topper. After that he went into commercial real estate management downtown Los Angeles-based R.A. Rowen & Co., later Wagenseller and Durst overseeing some of L.A.'s biggest buildings, including the Franklin Life/Wiltern Theater(at Wilshire and Western Aves) and B of A Cooper Building downtown, among many others.

My grandfather George purchased all the theaters from founder William Fox, and was Auditor-General and Treasurer of 600 Fox West Coast Theaters,  later sold to the Mann family in the early 1960's.. He worked for two very successful Greek brothers, Charlie and Spiros Skouras. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spyros_Skouras . Sprios' brother Charlie ran all the Fox Theaters, while brother Spiros was President of 20th Century Fox Motion Picture Company, produced all the movies of that era. Remember this was back before television or income taxes !!!  

My grandfather, Walter K. Tuller, was great friends with Herbert Hoover. If memory serves, my mom said there I was raised most of my life as my mother ( at only age 34 !) built the 400 acre beach front Half Moon Hotel: http://halfmoon.rockresorts.com/default.asp in 1950y first met as opponents in a Cal Berkeley vs. Stanford football game, and stayed friends and colleagues for life.  To fast forward, my grandpa became personal attache to Gen. "Blackjack" Pershing in WW I and fought Pancho Villa..... and then went on to be a partner in O'Melveny & Myers in Los Angeles; and Hoover had his sights on The White House. 

Upon becoming President, Hoover retained my grandpa. I still have one of grandpas cards titled, Counsel to the President. I have a rare two-volume work entitled "The History of O'Melveny & Myers" (not for sale to the public) given to me ages ago by Maynard Toll, who was president of the firm circa 1971.  It is scrumptious reading if you're a history buff like me. Further, about nine years ago, I bumped into Warren Christopher in a restaurant and even HE, to my amazement as a member of the firm, had heard legendary stories about my grampa.

My mother was raised in the house on the north west corner of 5th and Lorraine in Hancock Park. In 1935 my grandfather sold the house to Los Angeles Times publisher Norman (and Dorothy) Chandler.  

Among my ancestors were great-great-great grandfather Charles Carroll, one of the signors of The Declaration of Independence : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Carroll_of_Carrollton .

An infamous dark character in my ancestry was  great great uncle Leon Czolgosz, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Assassination_of_William_McKinley.

Allegorically, recently the movie "There Will Be Blood"?  Well, it was based on a book by Upton Sinclair called "Oil." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oil! . Daniel Day-Lewis was actually portraying real-life Edward Doheny, who was one of several indicted in the Elk Hills oil scandal....otherwise known as the "Teapot Dome" during the Harding era. Doheny was the only one who was acquitted, (even though I'm sure he was guilty like all the others).  His defense attorney? My granpa. Walter K. Tuller !!  http://www.ucpress.edu/books/pages/8124.php

In 1970 I was a partner in a conservative educational think tank and mass media program based in La Jolla, Ca., in a nutshell; to give college students the other side of the story they weren't getting. Injecting some rational sense into the madness. Remember it was a time when the left was taking over student governments and student newspapers, rioting and cutting off funds for athletics.

I traveled  all over the U.S. and raised more seed money from face-to-face meetings with, among others, people like:
JOHN FORD / Legendary Movie Director
DE WITT WALLACE / Founder, The Readers Digest
SOLOMON PRICE / Founder of Fed Mart and Price Club (Costco)
CHARLES THORNTON / Former Chairman, Litton Industries
FOREST SHUMWAY / Former Chairman, The Signal Companies
which included Signal Oil, Mack Trucks, Garrett Air Research, Mark C. Bloome Tires
CLAIRE GIANNINI HOFFMAN / Daughter of A.P. Giannini, Founder of Bank of America;
and Board Member of The World Bank and Bank of America
JUSTIN DART/ Former Chairman Rexall Drugs
ARNOLD O. BECKMAN / Founder, Beckman Instruments
MILTON SHEDD / Founder, Sea World
NEWTON MINNOW / Former Chairman, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) 

KATHERINE HEARST / University of California Board of Regents
RANDOLPH HEARST / The Hearst Newspapers
L.A. “PAT” HYLAND / Former President, Hughes Aircraft Corp.
PATRICK FRAWLEY / Founder of Paper Mate Pen, Technicolor, Schick
J.B. NETHERCUTT / Founder of Merle Norman Cosmetics and legendary Nethercutt Museum in Ca.
FRED HARTLEY / Former President, Union Oil Co.
PHILLIP JOHNSON / Former Chairman of Pennzoil Co.
ALF LANDON / U.S. Presidential Candidate who ran against Franklin D. Roosevelt
LORNA MILLS / Founder, Laguna Federal Savings
R.C. & C.H. HOILES / Founders of The Orange County Register
DAVID THRESHIE / Former Publisher, The Register
CARL KARCHER / Founder, Carl’s Jr.
DONN TATUM / Former Chairman, Walt Disney
LON V. SMITH / Industrialist /Philanthropist
JOHN MC CONE / Former Chairman, Mobil Oil; former Director, CIA
HERB LEO / Former President, MCP Foods
BILLY CASPER / Legendary PGA Golfer

After graduating from CSUF, and some graduate study at UCLA, (prior to college I was decorated Vietnam vet) I spent a year studying under the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE) based in New York at Irvington-on-Hudson.  Then we took the whole "crew" for two weeks of intense libertarian ideological and economic "alignment" to the-then-brand-new Silverado Inn and Country Club in Napa, Ca.

It evolved into mass media communication to college students at then-troubled U.S. colleges being "taken over" by leftist radical students and faculty, SDS, Weathermen et al.  The program consisted in part of millions of sinfully creative and colorful direct mass mailings to students nationwide by zip code.  We strictly focused on troubled areas like Berkeley, Columbia and campuses having riots like UCSB). Also, we bought near-campus Foster-Kleiser highway billboards, and paid radio spots that The Wrecking Crew was coming to town.

The mailings were not blatant-sledge-hammer-ultra-right-reactionary-preaching in nature. The students would have seen right through that.  Rather, the mailings were extremely subtle, in content and graphics, with a palatable 'between the lines' alternative message of the true meaning of the virtues of free market economics vs. socialism. After we had created a fever-pitch with all this mass communication, we'd appear to packed houses on campus, and man we felt like hemophiliacs in a razor blade factory. 

I put together a college lecture tour of scores of U.S. college campuses.......the lecture "crew" included luminaries  like William F. Buckley, Jr., Al Capp, Nobel Prize winner (Economics) Milton Friedman, Earnest Van De Haag, Jeffrey Hart.

On the road, if hotel rooms were scarce, I roomed with Al Capp.  You talk about priceless memories! The first night he took off his trousers to don his jammies, I saw he had a wooden leg, never even having been aware of it! I can imagine the look on my face! You might be too young to remember but he spent the lion share of his years penning the legendary "L'il Abner" cartoon strip, and had been a devout ultra-liberal Democrat most of his life. But in his last years, alas, 'he saw the light, and came over to the right'. Oddly enough, as there's nothing so refined as the reformed, he became the most ardent conservative vocalist from the podium!

He told me he was run over by a train as a kid, (his real name was Albert Caplan.)  He joked that it was fine living with the wooden leg as long as he oiled it every five hundred miles. It was the beginning of a beautiful friendship. With all of them actually. Buckley was with me the night my son was born and tried to persuade me to name him William F. Topper. We wrote each other often for years. Bill instantly became one of my all-time heroes; right up there with Dutch Reagan, T.R., Hop-a-long Cassidy, John Wayne, Ayn Rand and Elvis, to name just a few. (Boy it's not too often you'll see Ayn Rand and Elvis in the same sentence!)  

After working for near-slave-volunteer wages at this for three years, in 1974, I returned to politics. I was born into it. My mom was recruited by Ike to pick him a V.P. mate for the ticket in 1952. He didn't like Nixon but my mom convinced Ike that if he wanted to win, Nixon would push the ticket over to a win. Mom then went on to follow Bob Finch as Executive Director of Republican Associates in Los Angeles. After that, she went on, at just 34 years old, to build a 400 acre beachfront hotel in Montego Bay, Jamaica. What a gal.

I had previously worked a 1962 Republican U.S. Senate campaign for Lloyd Wright..... run by old shenanigan-prone Murray Chotiner; ......Chotiner even worked for President Hoover  in 1932 http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/JFKchotiner.htm. But I gotta tell you as a teenager working with these guys, I learned so much. So much. I was in the thick of it. Out-of-work actors like Ronald "Dutch" Reagan and Fred MacMurray would come in and hang out with Chotiner in the campaign office on Wilshire, then they'd go over and drink and listen to Red Nichols & His Five Pennies at The Zebra Room in the Sheraton Townhouse. Ah, the memories !!

Then I ran a successful second-term campaign from home in Newport Beach for California State Attorney General Evelle Younger. Then I closed my political advertising/public relations firm and went into, of all things, night club performing. To wit: www.gregtopper.com . Talk about a 180. Well, sorry for all my blathering.

"What this country needs is a re-privatization of idealism."


Topper's Charities

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Greg has been instrumental through his performances in raising the following:

$160K      Vince Ferragamo's Special Olympics

$65K        San Diego Thalidomide Children

$240K      Alzheimer's Assoc.

$80K        Orange County Musicians Foundation

$25K        Lupus International

$4K          Los Angeles Midnight Mission

$35K        Cystic Fibrosis

Tina Turner

 

The famous GREG TOPPER ring!

 

Jerry Lee Lewis (top) and Dennis Quaid (below)

 

Life-long friend Jim Fifield, President/CEO of EMI Music (left) and Bob Seger (right)

 

Garth Brooks (center) and life-long friend Jim Fifield, President/CEO of EMI Music (right)

 

Life-long friend Jim Fifield, President/CEO of EMI Music (center) and Joe Cocker 

 

Greg's Girlfriend, Deborah (left) and Bonnie Raitt (center)

 

Roy Orbison

 

Life-long friend Jim Fifield, President/CEO of EMI Music (left) and Greg's girlfriend, Deborah (center)

 

Miss Jamaica. Greg's first love while growing up in Jamaica, Carol Macfarlane, 1965

 

Bill Medley

 

Greg and Roy Orbison in concert in Nashville, TN, 1984

 

Greg, Carl Perkins (center), and dear friend piano legend, Bobby Craig (right)

 

Greg's good friend Jerry Lee Lewis at the Palamino Club, North Hollywood

 

In memoriam, the late Cliff Christie (left, on bass), and drummer of 20 years, Tommy Ellis

Jim Mahoney on guitar (far right)

 

With Albert Lee - 2016

 

 

Greg's daughter, Caitlyn, age 17 (2005)

Dane, October 2014

Dane, age 3 (2013), my granson by Caitlyn

Caitlyn Topper, now age 25 (2014)

 

 

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