There are talented
musicians and there are successful
businessmen, and it's rare you find them in
the same package. But piano player Greg
Topper has managed to put together a 50-year
He joined his first
band, a surf group called The Crescents, in
1961. It played its first gig at the Tamasha
Club in Anaheim. The band lasted six months.
Since then, although he worked in politics
for awhile, he more or less has made it as a
working musician. Clubs he's played over the
years include the Red Onion, the Crazy
Horse, The Sheraton Newporter, The Village
Inn and, now, the Pierce Street Annex in
performing at the Red Onion in 1975.
Topper will celebrate 50 years in the
OC music business with a free concert
Now, to celebrate
his 50th anniversary, he's holding a free
concert at 5 p.m. Saturday at the Pierce
Street Annex, 330 E. 17th St. First-come,
first-served. I asked him some questions
about his career.
Q. Who is the
most-talented OC musician you've ever worked
with who never got his/her due?
A. A dear departed
friend from Washington State named Marc
Sorger; sax player and great singer. He
could have been a huge star. Conversely, one
dear friend from my band, Bob Carlisle, who
played guitar did actually make it really
big with a No. 1 Billboard hit called
Q. What's the
weirdest venue you ever worked in O. C.?
A. Duane's Pirate
Cavern in Anaheim. The joint had chicken
wire fencing around the bandstand so we
didn't get hit by the bikers throwing beer
Q. Strangest moment
at a gig?
A. During my
six-year run at The Sheraton Anaheim, I
would routinely throw a shot of 151 Tequila
on top of my grand piano and have them turn
off all the house and stage lights and go
into "Great Balls of Fire" by
Jerry Lee Lewis. It was really quite
dramatic. So tiring of that in and of
itself, I started drizzling a bit of it on
my crotch, then lighting that and the
tequila on the piano. Now the song was
really "Great Balls of Fire"! The
last time I ever did it was when I threw a
little too much tequila on my crotch and I
myself started to go up in flames. In trying
to pat the fire out, it only spread it to
the rest of my torso. My drummer jumped over
his drums and rolled me around the carpeted
stage and put me out. Oh well, it made the
front page of the Register the next day!
Q. The song you've
probably been asked to play more than any
Q. The song you
won't play, or you hate to have to play?
Sally." Loved the song back in '68, but
just overplayed it over the years and began
to dread it when it was requested. So I
completely did a radically different
arrangement than the Wilson Pickett hit.
Q. Song you never
get tired of playing?
Springfield's "I Only Want To Be With
You" or (my friend) Jackie DeShannon's
"Walk In The Room."
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