Concord resident and digital marketer and videographer, Pat Mosca, from the outside, walks and talks like any other Bay Area successful entrepreneur, smiling, casually dressed, oozing with confidence. But this warm-hearted and humble man has never forgotten his roots – he became a rock star virtually overnight. He was the keyboardist for the Greg Kihn Band from the mid-80s to mid-90s.
(Later, lead singer and band founder, Greg Kihn, became a resident of Clayton while working as the morning host of San Jose’s KUFX-FM [KFOX 98.5] until 2012.)
How does one become a rock star? Mosca shared his rags-to-riches story.
Born in West Pittsburgh (Bay Point), Mosca graduated from Pacific High School knowing that music, especially keyboards, would be at the center of his life. With friends he started a band that played on weekends, and after graduation in 1973 he became a starving musician.
With Elton John as his idol and The Allman Brothers as his favorite rock band, he began writing music, playing local gigs, earning little but wanting to make it to big time Rock and Roll.
Finally, realizing that it was just too difficult and needing to pay his bills, he gave up.
“I sold all of my equipment, cut my hair, bought a suit and tie and earned my real-estate license,” he says. But three years later he decided he would not spend the rest of his life doing something he did not like and returned to pursue his musical passion.
He joined several bands, played events all over California, and lived in his car and on his mother’s couch. Realizing he needed a more stable income, he began working at Leo’s Music in Oakland, a landmark place for almost every band in Northern California. Leo’s was their hang-out place, where they bought or had equipment repaired or where they simply socialized.
Pat started to meet the roadies for such bands as the Grateful Dead, Santana, Tower of Power, Steve Miller Band and Van Morrison. He developed friendships and listened intently to local news about the industry.
One of Santana’s band members mentioned that Greg Kihn had fired his keyboard player and suggested he ask for an interview. Not believing he had a chance, he applied anyway and was shocked when he received a call telling him to show up two days later. Rushing out, he went to Tower Records and bought every recording the band had made staying up all day and night practicing. He went to studios in Berkeley and auditioned. He thought he did well but days went by with no word from the band. Now waiting for the call while Greg Kihn continued their concerts all over the state including making appearances on TV’s America Bandstand in Los Angeles and Solid Gold. Mosca kept to his day job at Leo’s.
Life, however, suddenly changed forever. Greg Kihn called.
Mosca was to join the band in New York. For his first performance, the band was to be the musical guest for the Saturday Night Live’s Season 10 Finale, on April 13, 1985.
Leo’s was not going to give him time off for the engagement, so Mosca quit his job, packed his bags, and flew to New York City.
Very much a ‘rookie’ in the industry, he was in awe at the opulence of the hotel they were staying at in downtown Manhattan. It was crawling with movie stars and his room was next to the U2 band. Intimidated by it all and unable to socialize at the bar or dine out since he only had $40 in his pocket, he spent most evenings watching TV except when U2 gave him a ticket to their show at the Meadowlands arena.
Rehearsals lasted four days and while his playing was excellent, being around the famous stars overwhelmed him even though they all treated him kindly. It was a far cry from West Pittsburg as he talked casually with Billy Crystal, Jim Belushi, Martin Short, and the whole cast. He sat nervously like a starry-eyed, embarrassed teenager next to a scantily clothed Julia Louis-Dreyfus, as he waited his turn for make-up. The highlight of the week was meeting Howard Cosell of NFL fame, the special guest and who treated Pat with real kindness.
On the fourth night, the manager of the band came into his bedroom and dumped armfuls of cash on the bed. Mosca was in shock. “You are now hired,” he explained, “You’re going on tour with us.”
After years crisscrossing the USA (1986-96) mainly playing headliners to other bands such as Journey, Cheap Trick, the Beach Boys and the Rolling Stones, life on the road was exhausting and prevented him from having his own family. For the next twenty years he worked from his own home studio writing music and producing soundtracks for TV commercials, National Geographic and History channels. Unable to finish a music video for a national hamburger campaign he knew he was burned out.
Mosca moved on and created his current Concord business. Scrolling through his impressive website, www.patmosca.com, Mosca now offers business solutions, especially digital marketing including video production, website design and drone services. He is a licensed drone operator. Mosca recently received a prestigious Poppy Award for his “Visit Concord” video for the Concord Taco Trail promotion with the star of “Workaholics”, Clayton Valley High graduate, Blake Anderson.
On his website Mosca attributes his success to his experience. “Any form of success in the entertainment world is unbelievably difficult. For over twenty years I turned music into mortgage payments and that’s hard to do.”
It is an amazing career for a boy from a disadvantaged neighborhood who just wanted to be another Elton John… and this man is your neighbor.
Michael Barrington is a local humanitarian and author: his memoirs, “The Bishop Wears no Drawers”, a historical fiction navel, “Let the Peacock Sing”and romance novel, “Becoming Anya”. www.mbwriter.net.