Former member of Nantucket ...
Local musician Jeff Gates has seen the power one song can have in a long career working on studio sessions with artists such as 1980s pop fashion icon Cyndi Lauper and two stints as a member of Nantucket.
Gates contributed keyboards to Lauper's smash hit "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" and the song "She Bop" from her 1984 release "She's So Unusual." Nantucket had its share of success in the late 1970s, performing with the likes of AC/DC, Kiss, Cheap Trick, Styx and Journey.
Nantucket was a hard rock band from Jacksonville, N.C., which had already released three albums by the time Gates joined the group. Their self-titled album in 1977 sold 200,000 copies and featured the hit single "Heartbreaker."
The band was the opening act for AC/DC on their summer tour in support of "Back in Black," one of the biggest selling hard rock albums in history.
Gates was asked to join Nantucket in 1982 when the band's management heard a few songs by the Gaffney resident.
"Nantucket had a couple of Top 10 hits. Their biggest success was before I joined the band," Gates recalled. "I did enjoy playing with Nantucket all across the East Coast and Midwest. I lived out of the suitcase for two years while on tour."
Nantucket is among many band photos and memorabilia hanging on the walls at Gates' home in Gaffney. He organizes acoustic music jam sessions every Thursday at Daddy Joe's restaurant and plays several nights a week in clubs like the Whiskey Barn in Charlotte, which is owned by NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr.
"I always knew I was going to be a professional musician," Gates said. "I learned how to play music at an early age. It's something I was born to do."
Gates took time from the road in 1991 so he could spend more time with his family. He works as a music teacher and gives private lessons in piano, guitar, bass and drums.
His last release was the "Say it Right" CD with his band "Foul Jefe" in 1995. The group's tour was highlighted by a couple appearances at Verizon Wireless, including a concert with the hard rock group Tesla.
"The music business is tough. I poured my heart and soul into the album with Foul Jefe," Gates said. "I really thought this was going to be the album where I would make it big. When it didn't take off, I was very disappointed."
Gates said he finds contentment these days in his family and the great friendships he has formed in Gaffney with Daddy Joe's owner Shag Stepp, local drummer Scottie Thomas and songwriting partner Bernadette Swayngim.
"I have grown to love Gaffney in the 5 1/2 years I have lived here. I have made lifelong friends in my time here," Gates said. "I think I have one more rodeo left in me. Bernadette, my writing partner, has helped inspire me to work on a new CD."
Until the new CD is released, Gaffney residents can see him jamming on the acoustic guitar on Thursday nights at one of his musical homes at Daddy Joe's.