Lou Gomez’s Memoir “Almost Famous” details a career in Music that Spans 65 Years

He’d continue to demonstrate his adaptability in rock bands, jazz bands, doo-wop and pure pop acts. The percussionist, composer, and vocalist would vary his approach, but his enthusiasm for making music with friends and family would never fade.  “Almost Famous,” a recently-published memoir of sixty-five years in show business, chronicles his artistic and professional journey in frank, forthright, and funny language. Gomez has plenty to say about the Hall of Famers and lesser lights he shared stages with: Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel, The Who, Mike Love, many others. (The Boss comes off beautifully; Gomez becomes the latest reporter to suggest that Love is something of a cad.)  But at its heart, “Almost Famous” is the story of a lifelong love affair with popular music, expressed in colorful language by a drummer who prides himself on never missing a beat.    

“So many people heard my stories and asked for a book,” says Gomez, who was born in Bayonne in 1947. “Friends, family members, people in my office. Something would happen and a story would come back to me.  We just lost Eric Carmen — he’s in the book.”

“Writing it was lots of fun.  Then it became a job.  And then it became melancholy, because I’m old now.”

Father time hasn’t laid a glove on Gomez’s memory.  His reflections on the bubblegum era are sharp and rendered with clarity and candor.  In “Almost Famous,” he captures the excitement of the fast-paced, fluid, and freewheeling scene that surrounded Super K Productions and Buddha Records, which sometimes felt more like a confectioner’s factory than a record company.  Gomez recalls cutting records, singing high harmonies, touring Europe, and doing it all in an electric blur as the musicians and producers raced against the coming obsolescence that was built in to bubblegum pop.  

But he’s at his warmest when he’s writing about the time before he first tasted success: his upbringing in Bayonne in a musical family with a singing mom and a drumming dad, his first experiments with vocal harmony on the street corners of Hudson County, and a talented brother who’d join the competing pop outfit The 1910 Fruitgum Company. Richie Gomez would go on to play George Harrison in “Beatlemania,” but not before he joined forces with Lou in Hudson County.  The two refugees from the bubblegum pack were thrilled to be making music that reflected their tastes, their proclivities, and their heritage, like the relentlessly groovy “Everybody’s Funky,” another Lou Gomez composition.  

“It was much more what we were about,” says Gomez of Hudson County. “We’re of Spanish descent, and me and my brother always had that funkability.  And we always loved to play.”

“My brother truly was a talent. He was Prince before Prince.”

Richie Gomez has relocated to Arizona, but he’s still close with his sibling, who remains in New Jersey and performs with The Jalapeño Trio, a group that chases a hybrid of classic pop-rock and Latin music. Gomez continues to make music for the delight of harmonizing with friends, connecting with audiences, and enjoying every step of an unpredictable journey.  After completing his memoir, Lou Gomez made sure that his brother and past bandmate was the first to read it.

“He loved it,” says Gomez. “Then he told me, ‘maybe *I* should write a book’.”

“I told him I’d already written half of it for him.”