ON RECORD: Celebrating Tampa Guitarist Mike Pinera
Tampa-born guitarist Mike Pinera turns 69 this week. To celebrate, we're honoring some of the major music contributions Pinera made to pysch-rock and progressive rock through the years. He's played with Iron Butterfly, Blues Image, Cactus, Ramatam, and Alice Cooper (amongst many others).
Pinera's family first lived in Ybor City, then a small off-white house on Gray Street next to the Fort Hersterly Armory. It was there that Pinera was able to see musical greats disappear into the venue's stage entrance. There, he saw Ray Charles, James Brown, He saw Ray Charles, Roy Orbison, Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons and many others. When Elvis Presley played the Armory in 1956, an 8-year-old Pinera stood at the chainlink fence of the venue with his father.
"My dad was saying, "Son, we're going to invite Elvis over,' and I'm going, "Dad, you can't do that!"' he says. "But sure enough, after the first show, right at this gate, we see Elvis coming off stage and out of the building and he's wiping off the sweat. And my dad goes, "Elvis, me and my boy live across the street here. How about you come over to eat?' And Elvis, with the most genuine smile, says, "Thank you very much. But I have to get back inside for the next show. But I appreciate the invitation," Pinera once told the Floridian. The Impalas were Pinera first band at age 13, playing the North Boulevard rec center. Later, his band Blues Image, eventually co-founded and played at Thee Image, a Miami Beach concert venue that they opened and jammed at regularly on weekends. Soon, the band signed with Atlantic and released major hit "Ride Captain Ride," in 1970. Pinera co-wrote and sang lead on the track.
After joining Iron Butterfly, Pinera worked with the band on their renown 1970 release Metamorphosis. It was one of the top-charting albums for Iron Butterfly and a psych-rock classic to this day.
After a successful stint in Iron Butterfly, Pinera played briefly in Ramatam with Jimi Hendrix drummer Mitch Mitchell.
Pinera then joined Jeff Beck in 1973 with his latest venue, the New Cactus Band (we have this album in-store as well for $9).
Following Cactus, Pinera became the lead guitarist in Alice Cooper's backing band from 1979-82.