Music Man

Cherry Hill East grad has worked with Cher, Poison



Courier Post Staff

July 1 2006


Cherry Hill Jim McGorman doesn’t need a reality show to establish his rock star credentials.


McGorman, a 31-year old Cherry Hill High School East  alum (class of ’92) returned as the “house-band” guitarist on the second season of  Rock Star, which premiers Wednesday at 8 p.m. on CBS TV (CBS 3 locally)


This time out, 15 Mick Jagger wannabes will  compete for the teste of rock’n’roll life (and lifestyle) by auditioning to become the lead singer of Supernova,  a new group comprised by Tommy Lee of Motley Crue, Jason Newsted of Metallica and Gilby Clarke of Guns’n’Roses.


But such an existence is old hat for McGorman, whose glittering resume has include playing guitar and/or keyboards for the likes of Cher (with whom he toured), ’80’s “hair band” Poison, The New radicals and alt-rock singer song writer Michelle Branch.


According to Paul Mirkovich, musical director of Rock Star, McGorman’s versatility and talent have made  him a key cog in the show’s production.


“He does anything I ask him to do exceptionally well,” says Mirkovich. “He’s an amazing singer, he’s great guitar player, a great keyboard player.”


“He’s someone I rely upon heavily to help me do what I do running the band and working the arrangements.”


A singer-composer in his own right, McGorman has had songs on soundtracks of such TV series as One Tree Hill and Smallville. The first CD by McGorman’s own band Jamestown, (tentatively titled  The World Is Falling Down) will be available online next week.


Q: How did you get into music?


A: I have been paying guitar since I was a kid. I started playing piano when I was 6 or 7. But when I was 12 or 13, I remember going to a couple of parties, and there was a kid playing guitar and he got all the attention. So I said, “I gotta learn to play guitar so I can show that kid up.

But I never took guitar lessons. I developed my own style. I approach it as I approach piano, with sounds and voicings, and a little more tension.


Q: What influenced you as a musician?


A: I went to Berklee College of Music (in Boston) I majored in (audio) engineering and producing. Being there exposed me to different types of music. The place showed me that there is a whole different type of thing out there than just Bon Jovi and Bruce Springsteen.


Q: Earning a living as a musician is one of the most difficult things in the world. How did you get into it?


A: I went right out to Los Angels after graduation and started networking and playing gig in bars.


One day, two of my high school buddies who were out there, Jamie Feldman and Tracy Slobotkin, saw my name on an ad in the L.A. Weekly. They showed up at a gig. Jamie worked for the company that managed  (singer-songwriter) Rebekah. He said, “I got you an audition.”


He got me into the door. I got the gig. I think the reason I got it was they were looking for someone who played keyboards and guitar.


Q: Probably the most prestigious live gig that you have had  was touring as Cher’s keyboardist for 15 months starting in the fall of 2004 – and taking the male vocal in the duet “After All”. What was that experience like?


A: It was musically challenging. Hers is a career of 40 years worth of stuff. You’re doing “Dark Lady”, which  is like lounge-piano thing, then you are doing “Do You Believe in Love?” which is a techno-keyboard thing.


I replaced the guy who had been her musical director for 15 years. The first gig was in Mexico City. We did three sound check rehearsals and then played the show.


It was a very difficult and nerve-wrecking playing with her, because I wasn’t used to the strictness of the show – every note was exact.


Plus, I hadn’t really met her or talked to her. I hadn’t even sung with her until we did that first show. But it was the cushiest touring gig I ever had. It was all four star hotels and first-class air travel.


Q: Can we assume it was a little different being on the road with Poison?


A: Poison took a lot out of me. It was one of the hardest tours in my life.


I don’t drink alcohol and I never did drugs. Being around that scene was tough. I share the tour bus with (lead guitarist) C.C. (DeVille) and (bassist) Bobby (Dall). It wasn’t easy to be on that bus.


And those guys wouldn’t have hotels in the towns they played, They’d sleep on the bus and shower at the venue. That’s how they would save money.


They epitomize rock’n’roll debauchery. There was strong element of party from, basically, 6 p.m. to 2 o’clock in the morning. And it was always 1988, from music to fashion to the people at the show.


But it was awesome to play the songs I listend to in high school and to be in the same room with them and have their respect.


Q: How did a ‘road dog” like yourself wind up on Rock Star?


A: I got a call from a friend of mine who was working in casting of the show. He said, “they are gonna need a guitar player.”


I met with the musical producer and they asked me to put a band together to audition.


Paul Mirkovich, the guy I replaced (in Cher’s band) was asked to put a band together as well. They liked us both but instead of competing for the musical director job, I said to Paul, “You be the MD and play the keys and I’ll play guitar.”


Q: What did you think of the show’s concept when you first heard about it?


A: I was intrigued by it. And it’s (produced by Survivor’s chief) Mark Burnett. The guy’s one of the biggest names in reality television. And it was CBS, Besides, I always liked INXS and it was a chance for me to stay in town and earn (regular paycheck)


Q: You have been away from Cherry Hill for a long time, except the occasional trips back. Do you ever get homesick?


A: I decided that instead of missing home and not being able to experience the feeling of South jersey and Philadelphia, I’d try to do things that remind me of home.


I found a good Italian sub-sandwich shop that makes me feel like home.  And there’s another restaurant called Carney’s Studio with boards out front. It smells like the boardwalk. It feels like home.

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