Friday, April 24, 2009

The Basics II : Reggie Bannister

There are only an elite few, unique, well crafted films that I would ever consider as being my "favorites". Of that small group, there is one title that holds a place in my heart above the others. A thoroughly enjoyable, genre-bending, scary, and downright charming film that I never tire of. That movie is Phantasm. A while ago, I e-mailed Reggie Bannister, kind of on a lark. I figured that between acting in films, playing and recording music, and helping to run an independent film production company, the guy would be a little short on spare time time. I was surprised when, instead of the standard form letter reply, Reggie himself got back to me and thanked me for my appreciation. So, when I was thinking of subjects for "The Basics", I always figured he would be a nice enough guy to take a moment out for his fans. He's a cool, down to earth person, and I'm extremely grateful that he took some time out of his busy schedule to talk to us here.

My Mom and Dad, who supported and encouraged my creative spirit from a very early age. Anytime I played music somewhere or appeared in a play my Mom and Dad were there. They even appeared with me in 'Phantasm.' If you recall the scene of Tommy's funeral, my Dad played the priest and my Mom was a mourner. My Mom was actually standing next to Don Coscarelli's Mom Shirley, who also played a mourner in the scene. Don's parents were obviously as supportive as mine.

Guitar. I was always a talented singer and performer but when I picked up guitar at the age of 15 it opened up a whole new world of entertainment for me. I was able to sing and accompany myself so, for the first time I was able to be a self sufficient entertainer. I took off on a musical career that led to concerts, TV and touring with icons of the time. From Bing Crosby, George Burns and Red Skelton to Chubby Checker, Sonny and Cher and Steve Wonder. I've had a remarkable musical career because I learned to play guitar.

The 60's and 70's were powerful times for people like me to mature in. There was so much creative camaraderie flying around it was like a giant circus and we were all ringmasters. It's when I met and was in a group with brothers Carson and Van Dyke Parks two of the greatest musicians I've ever been blessed to play with. It's when I met Steve Stills and had the opportunity to pick up a guitar with him. It's when you'd go to a party and you're having a drink with the Righteous Brothers and Jackie DeShannon joins in the conversation then you turn around and David Crosby walks in. Great time to be alive.

Right here where I am. My wife and I live in a beautiful village called Crestline. We work from our home and have enjoyed a level of professional success that's been gratifying. I've worked on two film projects this year with one ongoing as I write. I've got several pictures ready for distribution this year and two of them will feature my music. so, Here is good.


Because in a larger sense, I really had no choice, other than to be who I am today. If you had asked me pretty much as soon as I was old enough to talk, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" I would have replied that I want to be a singer an actor and a politician. I realized later that if you want to be a successful politician you need to drop music and acting and I wasn't willing to make that much for politics. I've also had more than my share of day jobs. Everything from hauling hay in Washington State to driving Taxies in Long Beach California. Now, this is my day job.

When I met Don Coscarelli in the early 70's I had returned to college classes at Long Beach City College. I had immersed myself in acting classes and was performing in one play after another. After a weekend performance of original vignettes called "Circle Games" which I also performed the music for, I received a call from Paul Pepperman who identified himself as the producer of a film that was shooting locally. He said that he and the director had seen my performance that weekend and had an important character role that needed to be filled and asked if I was interested. That picture was called "Jim the World's Greatest." It was Don's first picture my first picture and Angus Scrim's first picture with Don. The point of this story is, if you greatly desire something just keep your head down and keep working at it. Eventually you'll look up and find yourself exactly where you want to be.

[Thanks again to Reggie and Gigi Fast Elk Bannister. Please take some time and check out the hot links in the intro paragraph (click on the green text), there is a TON of cool stuff in the sites.]

1 comment:

Greg said...

Thanks! Reggie is one of the best aspects of the Phantasm series