GROWING UP IN THE PORT TOWN OF RIGA
Born in the city of Riga, a fairly cosmopolitan capital of a former Soviet Union Republic of Latvia. Located on the Baltic Sea, Riga is home to a large International port and one of the closest places to the West where music could easily be heard from Scandinavia and Europe.
INTRODUCTION TO AMERICAN MUSIC
Valery's first fascination with American Rock and Roll started by listening to short wave radio at the age of six. He learn to play guitar at 10, by watching 16 year old gypsy guy Kolia "The Gold Tooth", playing' and later joining him and playing together in the parks and parties.
American Rock and Roll becomes an underground sensation in all Eastern Europe, including USSR and Riga was a Mecca for trading illegal LP's, reel-to-reel tapes and Bone Records (recordings made on x-ray film).
Valery found a few guys, who also loved to hear and play American Rock and Roll on acoustic guitars. They would spend nights playing and singing. In 1961, he got a hold of "Fender" guitar catalog, from a sailor and for the first time saw detailed pictures of electric guitars. He made the body, copying the shape of a "Stratocaster" with an old acoustic guitar neck, the boys rigged up some electronics and it worked!
In 1962, he persuaded his friends to start a band and play only American Rock and Roll. They called the band "Revengers". The group's repertoire was based on all great rock innovators of that time like: Little Richard, Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley, Ray Charles, Fats Domino, Carl Perkins, etc. The band started to play at high schools, institutes and universities and became the city’s underground sensation for the kids who wanted to dance rock 'n roll and go wild.
But for Valery, it all ended in November of 1965, when he was drafted into Red Army. After three years, he returned back home and with his old buddy Pete Anderson started a new band "Natural Product" in the spring of 1968. The group’s success and influence among young people is so big, that "authorities" order to disband the group and prohibit any performances, with a threat of exile. In the fall of 1970, the band ended its existence.
Without any prospects to play American music again, Valery made a decision to get out of the USSR and emigrate to the US. Before leaving, he joined three musician friends and they played several special shows for their fans around town, under the name "Three And A Half".
Free at last, he spent half a year in Rome, enjoying life with his newfound Italian friends and famous groups "Banco" and "PFM", with whom he traveled around Italy from Venezia to Napoli. He also managed to make one concert with the help of his musician friends, who all wanted him to stay in Rome.
AMERICABut America has always been Valery's dream and with the help of a friend Fred Feller, he finally made it to JFK on a Flight # 19 in the summer of 1975. He enjoyed an amazing cross county trip in a car from Washington DC to Berkley, CA that opened his eyes to the beauty of America and it's people.
By chance, he ran into his home town buddy - drummer Jakov, and with two Russian musician friends from Moscow, Sasha and Yuri, they formed the first Russian rock band in San Francisco. The news spread fast and in 1976 they were the media darlings featured on the Evening News with Walter Kronkite, Good Morning America, the September issue of a Rolling Stone magazine. They also appeared on the Midnight Special TV Show with Wolfman Jack. Their band started touring and playing on the same bill with Bob Sieger, BOC, The Band, Eddie Money, Pablo Cruze, Elvin Bishop and Tom Fogerty.
In 1977 Valery opened his first recording studio which became a home to some of the emigrated Russian rock stars. There, he recorded early San Francisco punk and reggae bands.
In 1981, Valery became an American Citizen!
From 1982 to 1983 he traveled and spent time in Canada, Paris, London, Brussels, Barcelona and Corsica.
His old friend, Nick Binkley, suggested to open a studio in San Diego, so in 1986 Valery relocated to Southern California and opened "Flight 19 Studio". This studio became a place for many ‘hair bands to polish their act and look pretty.
Among numerous studio clients, there was a young local band, Bad Radio, that held auditions for a singer. After a few candidates, the band decided on Eddie Vedder because his music was fresh and his singing was honest. They practiced and recorded at Valery's studio for over two years and became close friends. Later Eddie moved to Seattle and joined Pearl Jam.
In 1988, Valery joined together with some talented local musicians and started his first American rock band, Flight 19.
His hometown old friend and bandmate, Grisha DiMant, moved from Riga to Los Angeles. Valery often visted him and his son, Leor, who was born while Grisha and Valery were performing the last gig Valery played in Riga. All grown up, Leor, aka DJ Lethal, had just started the band, House of Pain. Later, DJ Lethal became a member of the Everlast and Limp Bizkit bands.
In 1993, Valery moved his Flight 19 Studio to Escondido, where he records, produces and works with local and international acts to this day.