Meet George Adrian
Born and raised in Chicago, George Andrianopoulos, known professionally as George Adrian, traces his Greek roots to Tripolis. He and his family attended Holy Trinity Hellenic Orthodox Church. Like many Greek-Americans, he describes his youth as full of church on Sundays, family get-togethers, and celebrating traditions. And then it changes. George explained.
“You go to school, and then you learn to speak Chicago English, and you don’t speak as much Greek as you used to. You find that much of the world lacks the warmness of the Greeks.”
Part of his musical makeup comes from his Greek roots. His dad had many musician friends, who played Greek music all the time. George listened intently, studying the odd meter and scales, helping to lay the foundation for his sound.
George moved to Los Angeles in the early 1990s, but Chicago is still home. His parents remain here, and though he’s an only child, all of his 20+ first cousins, “basically my siblings”, are all in Chicago as well. He still visits frequently, now with his wife Marisa, and they’re 3 year-old daughter, Gia.
‘Road Trip’ is the new album by Greek-American singer-guitarist-composer George Adrian.
Becoming a musician
George began taking piano lessons at age 5, and his father dreamed that George would become a classical pianist. Musical ability ran in the family — in his youth, George’s dad was an aspiring opera singer. He sang in choirs, but his career never took off. George’s talent was evident immediately. He liked playing piano, but a gift from his cousin literally rocked his world.
“He gave me a copy of Black Sabbath’s ‘Heaven and Hell’. When I heard the guitar solo on the title track, something shifted. I knew I had to play the guitar, and that would be my life. My dad wasn’t into that, but said OK if I learned to play jazz.”
George began strumming, and never looked back. By age 13, he joined his first band, playing a mix of rock covers, including Montrose, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and The Police.
“We were actually pretty good. It was the 80s. Then the big hair and spandex permeated my existence.”
He’s referring of course to the era of late 80s/early 90s era rock music, punctuated by big hair and spandex outfits. This is where I met George, as lead guitarist for a band called Cherri Rokkett, in the late 1980s. Even then, his talent was unmistakable. But George’s musical prowess was not only in his guitar playing — he’d make his mark as a singer/songwriter.
“After having may great musical experiences with others, I got into poetry and the idea of making my own songs. I knew I’d become a composer as well as musician. Honestly, I prefer composing.”
George Adrian has performed with many musicians over the years. Here he is playing a gig with rocker Marilyn Manson. IMAGE: georgeadrian.com
In 1991, George was discovered by Gene Simmons of KISS.
“I was in NY for like a minute, and I met him just by luck. He said I was a ‘future star’ and recruited me for a band called House of Lords, and flew me out to California. We didn’t jive, so I didn’t join. Gene still believed in me, and wanted to explore the possibilities. A good friend from Chicago, K.C., a drummer, flew out to New Jersey and we recorded some demos. Through Gene and the House of Lords experience, KC and I ended up in a very high profile gig, and that began our California Dream.”
George then joined the band Aragon. The group recorded their debut album for Arista Records, but it was never released. (A version of it was later released on Warner Brothers, called ‘Shake the Faith’.) Things fizzled and George moved on.
About this time, another Chicago friend, fellow guitarist Tyler Bates, came to California and garnered work scoring films.
“We toured together, doing clinics for Washburn Guitars. I remember we opened for Dweezil, one night, and met Tori Amos backstage. That turned into a record deal for Tyler, with a band called Pet.”
Things didn’t work out with Pet, so Tyler and George began working together again, and wrote music for several films.
“We had our own projects, but we put out an instrumental record toegther, made videos. We had issues with the record label, and instead of releasing it, the songs ended up on the soundtrack of the film Psycho Cop 2.”
Making a mark in film
The duo was hired for another film, The Blue Flame. They would go on to do many projects together, however, George said that poetry gets him fired up.
“I read a lot of poetry and great lyricists like Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan, and others. That’s what makes me happy.”
Tyler has gone on to compose music for films like Dawn of the Dead, 300, Sucker Punch, and others. He and George still enjoy a musical partnership, as Tyler brings him in on many projects, most recently music for a show called ‘Kingdom’, which aired on DIRECTV. George and Tyler co-wrote several songs, for the show, with George recording the vocals. More recently, they traveled to Spain to perform at a film festival, alongside the philharmonic orchestra and a 60-person choir.
Back to the stage
In 2000, George snagged a residency at The Cat Club, which he called the “last bastion of real rock n’ roll on the Sunset Strip.” Back in the “big hair” area, the Sunset Strip was the center of the rock world, home to a string of legendary clubs that have since shut down. When he started, George opened for DeeDee Ramone on Sundays. Ultimately, he played at The Cat Club twice a week for 11 years.
During that time, he met his “musical brother”, Chad Von Haden, and formed a band called JAY. For 15 years, they recorded and played around LA, at many high profile gigs like the American Music Awards parties. Chad became ill, and moved out of state to focus on his health and healing. JAY went on hiatus, but the creative juices continued to flow. George started to write something new and different.
Planning the ‘Road Trip’
An avid reader of poetry, Robert Frost’s ‘The Road Not Taken’, stuck with him. Over the years, he referred to this poem, and pondered its meaning.
“You know, when you think about the ‘what ifs’ as you age. I think everyone thinks about it, feels it. That was the impetus for this record.”
George began to write and make demos. When he and Tyler took a road trip to Las Vegas, George played the songs for him.
“We sat in silence — just listened. Then Tyler said, ‘You have to do this — and I want to play on it’. I loved his response and encouragement. Tyler played bass on this record. Then we recruited other musicians and made it whole.”
The result is ‘Road Trip’, released on October 10.
“It’s my story of the cast and characters of my life, though they universally apply. You know, in your 40s, you’re in a good place. You have gas in the tank but you also have history, You’re in a different place in your life. That’s reflected on this album.”
George Adrian & friends, performing at the record release party for ‘Road Trip’. IMAGE: georgeadrian.com
On October 10, George and friends celebrated the release of ‘Road Trip’ at The Hotel Cafe in LA. Among the musicians was another Greek — Jason Achilles Mezilis. The reception was strong. George said many important people are shopping it, and the songs could pop up on TV or film. Next year, he’ll do some select shows around the country.
‘Road Trip’ not only boasts incredibly talented musicians, but two videos were produced and directed by award-winning editor/writer/director Robert Saitzik. He and George have worked together over the years.
“I’d given him a lot of music for his film The Last Beat. This is what he did to repay me. I’m so pleased with how they turned out.”
The first single, “The Grass is Dying”, is a soulful work. It’s the mature voice of a man looking back at his life. It’s John Mayer-esque style is at once bluesy, then folk-tinged, with reflections of all of George’s musical influences. The song will inspire the listener to look inside. George said it was his goal to make people introspective and think about their lives and decisions, and how it all comes together.
All the songs on this album have a similar feel. You’ll find yourself tapping your toes, and following the heartfelt words. You’ll get goosebumps, as you listen to the stirring vocals. George has many stories to tell. This isn’t the music I heard from him 25+ years ago. It’s the music of a man who’s lived, loved, lost, and loved again, and continues to grow — who now looks back with wisdom. You’ll have this on repeat for sure.
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