Eric recorded his debut album as a solo artist in 1988 for Nova Records called “First Impressions” and 13 albums later he is still making music that moves; that captures the imagination…that touches the emotions. But it is his last three recordings that are particularly revealing and personal, giving the listener an up close look at the man behind the music and the place he calls home.
Home is Birmingham. Eric grew up there in the midst of the turbulent 1960’s and, after an initial introduction to the guitar by the Beatles, got his start as a performer in the church. Today gospel music still informs and influences everything he does, however, early exposure to Wes Montgomery, Miles Davis and Jimi Hendrix greatly contributed to Eric’s sound and style as a guitarist. His trademark “southerness” is evident on the new CD which highlights some of the people and experiences from the city of his birth.
Eric Essix began his career as a recording artist in 1988 with his debut recording, First Impressions followed by Second Thoughts in 1989 on the Los Angeles based contemporary jazz label, Nova Records. While pursuing a degree at the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston, Nova Records folded leaving Eric without a outlet for the amazing new band he had just assembled called Modern Man made up of longtime bassist, Sean Michael Ray and new classmates Matt Rohde on keyboards, Melvin Butler on sax and a young, up and coming phenom, Lil’ John Roberts on drums. So he financed and produced Eric Essix & Modern Man, Third Degree Burn, releasing it nationally on his own S6 Records label in 1993. Five years of nearly constant touring and three albums later (Eric Essix and Modern Man, LIVE! and two more on Ben Tankard’s , Spirit Jazz Label ; Just Like You and Beautiful Music: Guitar), Eric got the break that had eluded him for more than a decade. He was signed by legendary Warner Brothers Vice President Ricky Schultz who formed the careers of artists like Pat Metheny, Al Jarreau, David Sanborn, Larry Carlton, Fourplay, Boney James, Joshua Redman and the Yellowjackets. Ricky liked the guitarist’s latest self produced CD, Small Talk and released it on his new Warner distributed indie label, Zebra Records. Soon after, Eric had his his first taste of real success on a national playing field with the single, For Real which maintained a steady chart presence all the way up to the top five for more than 25 weeks establishing him as a solid artist in the heyday of the very popular “smooth jazz” genre. The second release on Zebra, Southbound, saw Eric making a shift towards the southern roots music he grew up playing and listening to living in his native Alabama. He also recorded 6 cover songs – something he had never done before – and the album’s instrumental interpretation of the classic, soul ballad, Rainy Night In Georgia became Eric’s next big hit also enjoying an extended run on the charts.
Eric left Zebra in 2002 to restart his own indie label with a new name; Essential Recordings, and in April 2004, he celebrated his first release on the label (distributed nationally by Selectohits), Somewhere In Alabama, which continued his exploration of southern themes. The single, Sweet Tea, spent some time on the charts and Eric continued to tour and maintain a presence in the industry. Everything came to a screeching halt, however, when in October of that same year, he lost his Mother, Imogene Essix, to heart failure.