TCB Band | Jerry Scheff
Bass player Jerry Scheff grew up in the San Francisco Bay area, started playing tuba in grammar school and, by seventh grade, got into playing string bass. His musical bent was toward jazz and R&B. By age fifteen he was playing in clubs in his new hometown of Sacramento and back in San Francisco. As a high school senior Scheff joined the U.S. Navy and wound up in the Navy's school of music in Washington, D.C. taking a nine-month course studying theory and harmony and getting to play with some great musicians. After the course ended he stayed on to teach, moonlighting as a player in jazz clubs, then the Navy transferred him to San Diego. Some time after his service discharge Scheff moved to Los Angeles and played regularly at a club called The Sands in Watts, where a teen-aged Billy Preston often appeared doing James Brown covers. Oddly enough, bass player Scheff began his work in the L.A. recording session scene playing valve trombone.
The first hit record Scheff played bass on was an album by the group The Association, including the singles Along Comes Mary and Cherish. On Mary, Scheff made a bass mistake that got left in, so the thrill of hearing his work on a radio hit was counterbalanced by his cringing every time he heard the mistake. However, a couple of years later, it was gratifying to hear an 'elevator music' cover of it that had the bass player copying Scheff's part, bad note and all. A special career highlight was playing on The Doors' album LA Woman. Over the years Scheff recorded with Bobby Sherman, Tiny Tim, Johnny Mathis, Nancy Sinatra, Sammy Davis, Jr., Bobby Vinton, The Everly Brothers, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Dionne Warwick, Barbra Streisand, Linda Rondstat and many others.
By the late sixties he crossed paths with guitarist James Burton, who remembered Scheff's work and called him when putting together the band for Elvis in 1969. Scheff worked with Elvis from 1969 to 1973 and 1975 to 1977, on stage and on a number of recordings. He can be seen performing in the documentary films Elvis: That's The Way It Is (1970) and Elvis On Tour (1972) as well as the first ever show broadcast via satellite, Aloha From Hawaii (1973). Reflecting on those years, Scheff says 'Elvis had a big impact on my career. It was like going to school'. In the '80s and '90s, he toured with Elvis Costello, Sam Phillips and John Denver. Jerry also appeared with Roy Orbison and friends on the TV concert, A Black and White Night (1987). Today, he continues to work as a session musician with a wide array of artists. A passion in recent years has been song writing. Although much of his career has been working with rock and pop greats, he still enjoys sitting in to play a little jazz every once in a while, as he says 'to keep the cobwebs clear.' Both of Scheff's sons, Darin and Jason, are musicians. Jason Scheff took over Pete Cetera's spot in the band Chicago. He also travels the world with Elvis The Concert.