Don Garvin’s musical life began at the tender age of three at his father’s knee. His dad first taught him to play four-string guitar and banjo. Don progressed to the electric bass, which he taught himself at 12. At 15, he decided to learn the piano on his own.
Through the years, Don has played guitar and bass for many groups. His debut was at the young age of 16 with Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania groups Larry and The Shadows and The Victorians. From the early 60’s, he backed many local artists live and on recordings.
Don’s many credits include membership in the group Ralph Natural and The Naturals, featuring Patty Malone. They traveled all over the Eastern U.S., as well as the Midwest. He played with various groups in Germany during his Army stint from 1964 to 1966.
From 1968 to 1970, Don was signed to the Buddha/Kamasutra label as a member of the group Bluebird. They recorded “I Hear Ya Knockin’” but, as luck and better marketing would have it, a version by Dave Edmonds became more popular.
In 1975-76, the group previously known as Suzanne & Company evolved into the group called “Q,” a name given them by Englishman Jonathan King. Don and friends were signed to U.K. Records with their record “Love Pollution.” In 1977 “Q” hit number 23 on The Billboard 100 with their hit “Dancin’ Man” on Epic Records. “Dancin’ Man” also featured Robert “Pecky” Peckman.
In 1970, Garvin began building Jeree Studio, which opened for business in 1975 and continues operation today. Jeree, which uses digital and analog techniques, has recorded Wild Cherry, Maureen McGovern, LaFlavor, Sonny Geraci, Donnie Iris, and Billy Price, to name only a few. Creep Show One and other movie soundtracks were also done at the studio. Don played on most of Billy Price’s recordings, as well as many others.
His genius doesn’t stop at playing music—Don also built the 48-track board that’s used at Jeree Recording Studio. He builds soundboards, custom recording consoles, and refurbishes vintage Magnatone amplifiers. He worked for Estey Magnatone in Harmony, PA, manufacturer of amps, guitars and organs. There he consulted and worked in quality control and engineering.
Donnie is a collector. His collections include guitars, amplifiers, and vintage cars. Through his love of building custom cars, Don has come to own a 1950 Chevrolet Bellaire, 1962 and 1963 Chevy 409s, 1964 and 1966 El Caminos, a 1979 L82 Corvette and a 1973 750 Honda motorcycle. His 1958 Chevy convertible was a major stage prop on PBS’s Doo Wop 50 and Doo Wop 51 productions.
Don’s most recent accomplishments include his work for the PBS “American Soundtrack” series. He can be seen on all of the shows, backing the majority of the acts on guitar, including Frankie Valli, Dionne Warwick and Lou Rawls. He has been called upon to play nearly every style, including pop, R & B, folk and gospel. In addition to performing, he engineers the post-production audio work for the series.
He says his early influences were R & B DJs John R and Big Hugh (also background singer with The Jordanaires) on Nashville radio station WLAC. They must have made quite an impression, because Don’s life has been dedicated to the creation and preservation of their music!