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A Story of Majesty

  • A Story of Majesty
    December 3, 2011 - 2:00pm

    Back in the 80s, Long Island had a great music scene. It seemed that everyone played an instrument and wanted to be in a band. Music stores were cool hangouts for young, aspiring guitarists and Focus II Guitars Center in Commack was easily the best store around. It was the only place where one could try out all of the guitars and amps of legend: Marshall stacks, Fender Stratocasters, Gibson Les Pauls, and even the double next SG made popular by Jimmy Page. Such sights were unbelievable to kids whose lives basically revolved around music.

    I first met John Petrucci back around 1987. He was working at Focus II as a guitar teacher. I would go into the store about once per week just to check out the new guitars. Whenever John would see me, he would pull a guitar off of the rack and join me for a little jam. I thought he was cool and it was fun to just sit and trade off licks. At one point, he showed me how to play one of his songs “March of the Tyrant,” a riff that I still remember. I was there the day he fell in love with what would be his main guitar at the time, a purple BC Rich. I got to play it a few times and it was a great instrument.

    One day, I told John that I was taking vocal lessons. He said that his band was looking for a singer and asked me if I would come down to try out. It was then that he handed me the famous purple cassette with the Majesty logo on the cover (a cassette that I still have). I loved the music, though, at that time, I was playing in another band so I declined the offer to audition. Looking back, I really don’t think of it as a missed opportunity; while I can carry a tune, I am no vocal artist extraordinaire like James LaBrie.

    After a long spell, Majesty finally found a singer in the person of Charlie Dominici. The first time I saw Charlie was at the infamous club Sundance during their premier gig with him in the group. They sounded great, though Charlie had a somewhat Carmine Ragusa-like image that wasn’t quite the right fit for the band. He was a nice person though.

    At that time, the band was rehearsing in the basement of a hair salon called Giordano’s. I came down to that location for a few epic jam sessions. One night, Charlie got on the keyboards and did a vocal/piano version of “New York State of Mind” that was incredible. Another time, there was a great free-for-all jam going on with everyone soloing at once. I was knelt on the floor, playing guitar through Charlie’s Mesa/Boogie combo amp. Suddenly, the sound of my guitar just fizzled out and the power went dead. I think I blew up the man’s amplifier. I felt really horrible about it.

    Soon, the band was signed to their first recording contract, however the name “Majesty” was already taken by a Christian group and a name change was in order. Several names were put on the table, if I recall correctly M-1 was an option. Then, one day, John said to me, “We finally found a name, Dream Theater!” But I had misheard what John was saying and I replied, “Dream Eater? That’s a terrible name.” LOL.

    “When Dream and Day Unite” is a very good album. I bumped into Charlie at the mall on the day of its release and I remember how pumped he was to see his album in the record store. “They have one CD and one cassette in stock,” he said excitedly. But, soon after, the band was looking for an upgrade in the vocals department (as I was kind of expecting). I felt very bad for Charlie. I knew what the Dream Theater gig meant to him and I can only imagine how crushed he must have been. I ran into him again after he was out of the group. He said that he wanted to do a musical project with me, but nothing ever came out of those plans.

    When “Images and Words” came out, I knew immediately that the band was bound for stardom. That is an amazing album and remains my favorite to this day. I ran into Mike Portnoy once more at a music event in Manhattan. He was happy to see me and I congratulated him heartily on a great album. After that, I would only see the guys of Dream Theater again on a stage.

    After all of these years, it still amazes me that these guys that I knew for around town are famous and playing in venues all around the world. They’re great musicians and I’m happy to have had the chance to see it from the beginning…

    Well, that’s my story of Majesty. Thank you for reading! Cheers!!!

    7
Phrygian Sunshine's picture
on December 3, 2011 - 2:00pm

Back in the 80s, Long Island had a great music scene. It seemed that everyone played an instrument and wanted to be in a band. Music stores were cool hangouts for young, aspiring guitarists and Focus II Guitars Center in Commack was easily the best store around. It was the only place where one could try out all of the guitars and amps of legend: Marshall stacks, Fender Stratocasters, Gibson Les Pauls, and even the double next SG made popular by Jimmy Page. Such sights were unbelievable to kids whose lives basically revolved around music.

I first met John Petrucci back around 1987. He was working at Focus II as a guitar teacher. I would go into the store about once per week just to check out the new guitars. Whenever John would see me, he would pull a guitar off of the rack and join me for a little jam. I thought he was cool and it was fun to just sit and trade off licks. At one point, he showed me how to play one of his songs “March of the Tyrant,” a riff that I still remember. I was there the day he fell in love with what would be his main guitar at the time, a purple BC Rich. I got to play it a few times and it was a great instrument.

One day, I told John that I was taking vocal lessons. He said that his band was looking for a singer and asked me if I would come down to try out. It was then that he handed me the famous purple cassette with the Majesty logo on the cover (a cassette that I still have). I loved the music, though, at that time, I was playing in another band so I declined the offer to audition. Looking back, I really don’t think of it as a missed opportunity; while I can carry a tune, I am no vocal artist extraordinaire like James LaBrie.

After a long spell, Majesty finally found a singer in the person of Charlie Dominici. The first time I saw Charlie was at the infamous club Sundance during their premier gig with him in the group. They sounded great, though Charlie had a somewhat Carmine Ragusa-like image that wasn’t quite the right fit for the band. He was a nice person though.

At that time, the band was rehearsing in the basement of a hair salon called Giordano’s. I came down to that location for a few epic jam sessions. One night, Charlie got on the keyboards and did a vocal/piano version of “New York State of Mind” that was incredible. Another time, there was a great free-for-all jam going on with everyone soloing at once. I was knelt on the floor, playing guitar through Charlie’s Mesa/Boogie combo amp. Suddenly, the sound of my guitar just fizzled out and the power went dead. I think I blew up the man’s amplifier. I felt really horrible about it.

Soon, the band was signed to their first recording contract, however the name “Majesty” was already taken by a Christian group and a name change was in order. Several names were put on the table, if I recall correctly M-1 was an option. Then, one day, John said to me, “We finally found a name, Dream Theater!” But I had misheard what John was saying and I replied, “Dream Eater? That’s a terrible name.” LOL.

“When Dream and Day Unite” is a very good album. I bumped into Charlie at the mall on the day of its release and I remember how pumped he was to see his album in the record store. “They have one CD and one cassette in stock,” he said excitedly. But, soon after, the band was looking for an upgrade in the vocals department (as I was kind of expecting). I felt very bad for Charlie. I knew what the Dream Theater gig meant to him and I can only imagine how crushed he must have been. I ran into him again after he was out of the group. He said that he wanted to do a musical project with me, but nothing ever came out of those plans.

When “Images and Words” came out, I knew immediately that the band was bound for stardom. That is an amazing album and remains my favorite to this day. I ran into Mike Portnoy once more at a music event in Manhattan. He was happy to see me and I congratulated him heartily on a great album. After that, I would only see the guys of Dream Theater again on a stage.

After all of these years, it still amazes me that these guys that I knew for around town are famous and playing in venues all around the world. They’re great musicians and I’m happy to have had the chance to see it from the beginning…

Well, that’s my story of Majesty. Thank you for reading! Cheers!!!

Forum category: 
Phrygian Sunshine's picture

Thank you for reading this story, my friend! It was a very cool time on Long Island. Focus II really was a great hangout for musicians; if it weren't for that place, I probably never would have known John. Thanks for bringing this post back up. I enjoyed re-reading it today!

Jorge Armando's picture

I'd never read this one before and it's a really amazing story. Dude, you got to actually know these guys!!! Wow. I've always wanted the chance to pay some money and get in one of those "meet and greets" they have at some venues. Sadly, I think they've never had one of those here in Mexico.
Well, I'm happy you had this experience of hanging out with them. To me, that continues to be a dream :b

Phrygian Sunshine's picture

Thank you, my friend. I'm glad you like this story. If I can think of any more details, I'll definitely add on. :)

Alber's picture

Wonderful story

Soulfire's picture

:o

Your life just got more epic Lydian Dawn :P. That would really have been awesome to have known them in their founding days. Or really just to know them at all lol. You can rest assured we are all very jealous right about now :)

Can you remember any other names that they were thinking about using? That was something I was always very curious about. I always thought the name "Dream Theater" was pretty badass before I knew the band's music (despite it's horrible misspelling :P), so I wonder what I would have thought of them at first if their name was "The Purple Cigar of Elephants". Can you imagine? lol.

Phrygian Sunshine's picture

@Philba1966:

Thank you! I'm glad that you enjoyed my story.

I noticed that I did make one typo. Jimmy Page popularized a "double neck SG," not a "double next SG." Ooops. LOL.

Philba1966's picture

Wonderful story! I find that most of the guys in local rock/metal bands that make it still keep to their roots and are genuinely nice people too. Godsmack is still one of my favorite bands to this day (though not nearly as talented as DT obviously) just because of being able to hang with Sully Erna and Robbie Merril after a gig outside of Boston just as they were getting heavy play on the local rock station.