Happy Birthday to Arthur Barrow, born February 28, 1952
Barrow was born in San Antonio, Texas in 1952 and grew up in a part of town there called Alamo Heights. His father played piano and organ, as had his father, Arthur Barrow of Buffalo, New York, a strict piano teacher and organist. When he was 13, he washed neighborhood cars until he had saved enough money to buy his first electric guitar (an Alamo) and his first amplifier (a Kent). He learned how to play music by ear by copying surf guitar records like The Ventures, and later, Jimi Hendrix, and still later, Frank Zappa. He played in local bands through junior high and high school during the 1960s. He began to study classical organ in 1970.
While attending Alamo Heights High School, Arthur Barrow cut his musical teeth playing lead guitar with a rock band known as Wisdom, playing fraternity parties, high school dances, and small concerts in the San Antonio area. His fellow band members (Ian “Toby” French (singer), Raymond Tolbert (bass), Alfred Toerney (keyboards), and others) knew that Arthur was “marked for greatness” due to his outstanding talent and ability to quickly pick up songlines (source?).
He attended North Texas State University (now University of North Texas) in Denton, Texas from 1971 to 1975 where he studied composition and organ. He began teaching himself bass guitar in 1974 while at school there. He spent many hours in the electronic music labs learning about analog synthesis on the Moog modular systems there. He graduated cum laude, receiving a bachelor of music degree with a major in composition, specializing in electronic music.
In 1975 he moved to Los Angeles to pursue a professional music career, with one of his main goals being to play in Frank Zappa’s band. He took whatever kind of musical work he could get – night clubs, weddings, high school dances, a few sessions. He met Robby Krieger in 1976 and recorded synthesizer with The Doors on an album called American Prayer. He formed a jazz group with Bruce Fowler and Don Preston called Loose Connection in the latter 1970s. They made some recordings in Echo Park and performed a few times in Los Angeles. They did some recordings in Hollywood with Vinnie Colaiuta in December 1978.
In mid-1978, he passed the audition and began playing bass in Frank Zappa’s band. In 1979, he also took on the duties of being the “clonemeister”, or band rehearsal director. The band rehearsed for eight to ten hours a day, five days a week. He would run the rehearsals for the first half of the day, then Zappa would take over when he arrived. He did four tours with Zappa and can be heard playing bass, guitar and keyboards on about a dozen recorded albums.
In the early 1980s he co-wrote music, recorded and toured the U.S. with Robby Krieger. They had a live band then for a short time called Red Shift that did only a few recordings and gigs in the LA area. By this time, having a 1/2″ eight track tape recorder, an electric piano and some synthesizer gear, he focused a lot of attention to writing and recording music at home.
He began working with Giorgio Moroder in the mid-1980s on albums and film sound tracks, including Scarface (1983) and Top Gun (1986). He did keyboards, programming, bass, and arranging for a wide range of artists including Joe Cocker, Diana Ross, Billy Idol, Berlin, The Motels, and others.
He opened his own Lotek recording studio in the Mar Vista district of Los Angeles in 1985. Through the latter 1980s and into the 1990s he has produced albums and composed sound tracks for films and television at his studio. He has composed and produced three solo CDs and he is currently working on a fourth CD as well as other projects, like the Strange News from Mars – feat. Tommy Mars and Jon Larsen, and The Mar Vista Philharmonic, featuring Tommy Mars, Bruce Fowler, Vinnie Colaiuta, and other Frank Zappa alumni, on the Zonic Entertainment label.
In 2010 he recorded an album with Robby Krieger called Singularity which was nominated for a Grammy. It includes performances by Vinnie Colaiuta, Bruce Fowler, Walt Fowler and Sal Marquez among others. Most of the album was co-written by Arthur Barrow and Robby Krieger and recorded at Arthur’s studio.
In 2012 and again in 2015, he did residencies at The University of North Texas in connection with a class on Frank Zappa which included concerts of Zappa’a music. View the 2015 concert here: He also did a Zappa residency and concert at The University of South Dakota in 2013.
In 2016 he published a memoir called “Of Course I Said Yes!” subtitled “The Amazing Adventures of a Life in Music.” It describes his musical history from his youth up to the time of publication.