Singer John Waite will play a concert Jan. 25 at the Andiamo Celebrity Showroom at 7096 E. 14 Mile Road in Warren.

Singer John Waite will play a concert Jan. 25 at the Andiamo Celebrity Showroom at 7096 E. 14 Mile Road in Warren.

Photo provided

The ‘Waite’ is over

Singer John Waite set to perform Jan. 25

By: Maria Allard | Warren Weekly | Published January 17, 2020


WARREN — John Waite’s career has encountered a lot of “Change.”

He’s been a rock ’n’ roller, lead singer, bass player, singer, songwriter and Grammy nominee. He’s gone country, acoustic and bluegrass over the years.

Waite — who first connected musically with fans more than 40 years ago — will have a “Midnight Rendevous” with his followers Jan. 25 when he plays the Andiamo Celebrity Showroom at 7096 E. 14 Mile Road. Showtime is at 8 p.m.

Waite — backed by drummer Roger Carter, bassist Tim Hogan and guitarist Mark Ricciardi — will take the audience through some of his treasured acoustic songs. He’ll also bust out gems from his hard rock career. Highlights will include solo work and hits from two bands he fronted: the Babys, from 1975 to 1981, and Bad English, from 1987 to 1991.

“It’s a full-on show. It makes for an interesting evening,” said Waite, a native of Lancaster, England. “There’s so many songs to play. There’s so many songs people want to hear.”

Those include “Isn’t It Time,” “When I See You Smile” and “Missing You,” which went to No. 1 in the U.S. in 1984 and was nominated for a Grammy Award.

“The set changes every night,” the singer said. “You sort of jump from different periods. That’s the charm of it. We keep it (as) fresh as we can.”

For Waite, who is currently touring several U.S. cities, performing before a crowd is “the best feeling in the world.”

“When you first walk out from the wings, you’re like 30 feet away,” the music maker said. “Fifteen feet away, you’re plugging in your guitar. Ten feet away, you’re looking at the audience. From 5 feet away, everyone’s looking at you. By the time you’re at the mic, you’re at home. You bring it.”

The singer’s vocals have stayed solid for decades.

“It’s gotten a lot stronger over the last 10 years,” he said. “The voice is always there.”

Waite also is known for putting his heart and soul into each song he writes. Many times a lyric will come to mind when he’s making coffee, getting out of bed or watching kids play.

“You articulate that,” he said, and then the songwriting “comes in like a flood.” Each song has to possess two qualities: integrity and energy.

“Music is still mystical to me. When you write a song, it doesn’t exist until you share it,” he said. “When you share a song, you’re trying to communicate ‘this is how I feel’ and connect with the person next to you. There’s no rules to songwriting whatsoever. ‘Missing You’ came out of nowhere. It’s had an effect on a lot of people over the years.”

There have been plenty of changes in the music business since Waite started, and he has rolled with all of them. The biggest, he said, is the internet.

“I think it just about killed all the record companies,” he said. “You can download music. There’s no material, physical product. The music business now is touring. The artists are playing live.”

Another new era came in the early 1980s, when MTV became a staple in many living rooms. When the cable music station was taking off, Waite lived in New York City, where MTV was headquartered, and he knew all the veejays.

“They were really great people,” he said. “There were only, like, 20 artists at the time that had videos. ‘Change’ was on eight times a day.”

Waite said he’d be in his “crash pad” and would see videos on a “tiny, black-and-white TV.” Then someone from MTV would call and he’d be down at the studio for an interview.

During his teen years, Waite knew he wanted to pursue music, especially after hearing the groove of Jimi Hendrix and the emotion of bluesmaker John Mayall. Waite’s family also listened to country music, and then “the Beatles happened, the Stones.”

At age 14, he began “messing around with a bass guitar I got.” A couple of years later, he joined a band, and by age 19, he was living in London and soon the Babys were born. Breaking into the music business was “impossible,” but he didn’t let that stop him.

“There was no plan B,” he said.

Soon, the Babys became radio hitmakers, releasing several albums on Chrysalis Records before breaking up after a six-year run. Waite went solo for most of the ’80s, but hooked up with former Babys members Jonathan Cain and Ricky Phillips, Journey guitarist Neal Schon, and drummer Deen Castronovo to form Bad English. The band dissolved in ’91.

From that point on Waite has played different genres of music. He said the best part of his career has been since the ’90s and one of his favorite records is “Temple Bar,” which includes the original “Downtown.” He was able to “put everything on the table” to make the album.

Waite also got a chance to soak up the twang of Nashville when he once lived there. He even called up bluegrass artist Alison Krauss to see if she could re-record “Missing You” as a duet with him.

“She said, ‘I’ll be there at 2,’” he said. “She’s friendly, kind, generous — one of my favorite people in the world.”

While in Music City, Waite crossed paths with Vince Gill, Nashville songwriter Jeffrey Steele and bluegrass musician Del McCoury. Waite made it all the way to the Grand Ole Opry performing with Krauss and Gill. He even got to know Robert Plant, when the Led Zeppelin legend toured with Krauss.

“I went on some of that tour,” Waite said. “Great guy. He’s a very smart guy. He’s the real McCoy.”

Various websites are selling John Waite tickets for the Jan. 25 concert. The showroom holds 800 people. At press time, only single tickets were left.

“We bring in all kinds of events: comedy, opera, Motown and just a variety of shows,” Joe Vicari, the president and CEO of Andiamo Restaurant Group, said. “One of the successes of the showroom is you can see national acts in a more intimate setting than an arena.”

This is the first time Waite will play at the showroom. Other classic rock acts are scheduled this spring: the Bay City Rollers March 14, Three Dog Night April 25 and Gary Puckett May 16.