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Ozzie Ahlers

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During high school, Ozzie Ahlers had his mind on music rather than on books. He went on to Cornell University, yet the music bug never left him. Instead, he left Cornell. The future producer, songwriter, and keyboardist preferred to follow the path that his dreams had led him to, and he established a band that he named Glory River. Encouragement came in the form of a contract from Jimi Hendrix's record company, but when the legendary rock guitarist passed away, Ahlers shifted gears again. Instead of leading and recording with his own band, he signed up for a series of gigs that had him playing in the bands, and on the albums, of others. Initially he was a pianist for Van Morrison. A period followed where he wrote and played piano for Jesse Colin Young. Ahlers moved on, spending three years with Jerry Garcia. In 1980, he took home a Cannes Film Festival Award for the score to Northern Lights. Raised in Summit, New Jersey, he put down roots in California's Marin County and continued to tour with such artists as Clarence Clemons and Greg Kihn, among others. During this period, Ahlers also led the Edge, a group that played reggae-edged rock. With the Edge, he put out several albums that made a splash in California. Ahlers wrote for more films after winning the Cannes Film Festival Award. Art Clokey, the man behind the success of the Gumby character, and who was working on Gumby, the Movie, chose him to craft three tunes for the film. In need of a guitar virtuoso, Ahlers drafted Jefferson Starship's Craig Chaquico. The two men had a longstanding friendship and worked well together, and following their work on the movie, Chaquico enlisted Ahlers to help produce and write his debut solo release, Acoustic Highway, which would be released by Higher Octave Music. Billboard Magazine dubbed the album the year's top Independent New Age release, and Acoustic Highway spent 24 months on the charts. It also took home a Bay Area Music Award (Bammie). Ahlers next helped put Chaquico's Acoustic Planet on the charts, where it deposed Yanni from the top spot in 1994. This album, too, earned a Bammie, as well as a Grammy nomination. The following year, Ahlers and Chaquico embarked on a national tour with jazz musicians Warren Hill, Peter White, and Richard Elliot. San Francisco's Hearing Education and Awareness (H.E.A.R.) Foundation took notice and dubbed Ahlers Artist of the Year. He put out a solo project, Fingerpainting, while also continuing to work on Chaquico's following albums. Ahlers also has written or produced for a number of other artists, among them James Michael Joseph, Ray Silkman, and Jimmy Dillon. ~ Linda Seida

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