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Instructor Dave Miller fueled by love of rock, heavy metal

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Posted: Monday, March 22, 2010 12:00 am

Dave Miller enjoys just about anything played on a guitar.

The only problem was that he grew up in a household where his parents were classical piano players, had two pianos and didn't allow 1960s rock and roll to be played in the house.

"I went to sleep with George Gershwin's 'Rhapsody in Blue,' 'An American in Paris' and 'The 1812 Overture,'" Miller said.

Fast forward four decades, and Miller not only plays the guitar, but he plays it loud.

"I love heavy metal," he said. "The heavier the better."

Miller, 51, lives in Woodbridge and plays in the band at Lodi's Cornerstone Church and with a couple of other bands. He also teaches beginning guitar in a youth program in Thornton called Guitars Not Guns, and he gives private lessons in his home.

Miller's musical tastes are based on two life-changing incidents.

"I remember going to a friend's house and (I) heard The Beatles," he said. "I was in third grade. I was floored." Somehow, Miller talked his father into buying him the 45 RPM record of The Beatles' "Let It Be," because the piano was the dominant instrument.

Then, in 1969, one of his father's optometry patients loaned him the "Woodstock" soundtrack album. His father had no idea what kind of music it was, but as it turned out, young Dave Miller really enjoyed it.

That's when he discovered Jimi Hendrix, who performed a hard rock version of "The Star Spangled Banner" and then "Purple Haze" on the soundtrack.

"I had to get a guitar," Miller said upon hearing those two songs. "That was the defining moment."

Growing up as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Miller served on a two-year mission to Arkansas, Mississippi and Tennessee.

While he says he dutifully told the Mormon gospel, if he saw anyone with a guitar, he would borrow it for a couple of days. He also went to concerts in some small town halls since he was theoretically spreading the word of the LDS church in the process.

So what did he do when he completed his mission in November 1979?

"I traded my bicycle for a nice Yamaha guitar," he said.

He still has it.

Miller than combined his love for music with the corporate world. It was the 1980s, and young people were looking for the best way to make money, so Miller got a business degree at California State University, Sacramento, with a marketing concentration. He was a pharmaceutical sales representative for 15 years, he said, because the money was good in that field.

Dave Miller at a glance

Born: Aug. 21, 1958, in Sacramento; grew up in Fair Oaks.
Residence: Woodbridge.
Occupation: None officially, but teaches guitar in his home.
When not teaching guitar: Playing the guitar, listening to the guitar, reading Guitar World.
Family: Wife, Chris; one cat.
News-Sentinel staff

During that time, Miller played some Van Halen, Journey and similar music with some college buddies at small clubs and parties.

He discovered Christian rock after visiting Bayside Church, a megachurch in Granite Bay, which he said has some outstanding musicians.

"Christian music is huge," Miller said. "The only thing selling now is country and contemporary Christian."

Miller moved to the Lodi area because his territory went south of Sacramento, but he quit the pharmaceutical business in 2001 to help take care of his father, who was dying of cancer. He later created concert stages for big-name entertainers like Lynyrd Skynyrd, ZZ Top, Glen Campbell and George Carlin before becoming a truck driver for Paul Vaz Trucking in Acampo.

He's been out of work since October 2007, when he developed vertigo. He can no longer drive, as he loses his balance easily and becomes dizzy, especially in the afternoon. He went on disability, and his only work is an occasional music lesson in his home.

When he's not teaching music or performing at church, Miller and other musicians will perform at homeless shelters and Celebrate Recovery meetings for people tackling drug addiction and alcoholism.

His home office resembles a rock and roll museum. He subscribes to Guitar World and puts magazine pictures on his wall. You'll find Aerosmith, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, Keith Richards, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Eddie Van Halen and several country artists covering his wall. And what other room he has is for his multitude of guitars.

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1 comment:

  • posted at 8:08 am on Mon, Mar 22, 2010.


    What a great story. Dave I too love hard rock, heavy metal. My mom keeps telling me to grow up. I'm a 51 year old Nana and I turned my 11 yr old and 9 yr old g/sons on to Rob Zombie and even Day of Fire (an awesome Christian rock band). I LOVE articles about people in my generation still rock'n on!!! I was introduced to rock by my dad who turned me on to DOLLY DAGGER by Hendricks. I too am a musician and really love playing classical music but you wouldn't catch me listening to it.



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