The '80s saw the emergence of quite a few technically accomplished hard rock bassists -- tops being Billy Sheehan and Stu Hamm -- as well as several lesser-known (yet just as skilled) players, including Randy Coven. Coven happened to come from the same locale that two of the decade's top guitarists hailed from, Long Island, New York, Steve Vai and Joe Satriani. Word has it that another renowned player, bassist Jeff Berlin, lived nearby as well, and offered Coven some pointers early on. Learning bass by playing in local cover bands that specialized in the top hard rock names of the day (Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, etc.), Coven packed up his bags after high school graduation, and enrolled in Boston's Berklee School of Music. The old adage 'it's a small world' came into play, as it turned out Vai had enrolled in the same school as well. It wasn't long before the two formed their own local band, Morning Thunder, and while the band never issued any recordings, quite a few band compositions would later turn up years later on both Vai and Coven's debut solo albums. After the group's split, Coven turned up in a Canadian based fusion band, Orpheus (not to be confused with the late-'60s band of the same name), which gave the up-and-coming bassist his first taste of touring, and his first appearance on record, on the group's sophomore outing, Orpheus II, which featured a pair of songs penned by Coven. By the mid-'80s, Coven had returned to New York, and set out to form his own group, the Randy Coven Band. Joined by guitarist Jim Hickey and drummer Todd Turkisher, the trio recorded their debut, Funk Me Tender, in 1985. The title track featured a guest spot by Coven's old pal Vai, and when Vai achieved stardom a year later when he joined David Lee Roth's band, interest in Coven's debut peaked amongst guitar players. A deal with Guitar Recordings soon followed (run by the magazine Guitar for the Practicing Musician), which resulted in such subsequent recordings as Sammy Says Ouch! and C.P.R., the latter of which was an album that saw Coven teamed with Alice Cooper/Megadeth guitarist (and another fellow Long Island native) Al Pitrelli, and drummer John Reilly, as well as a host of special guests -- Zakk Wylde, Vito Bratta, and Steve Morse -- among others. Coven also appeared on a host of compilations put out by Guitar Recordings around this time, and began penning his own monthly column for the magazine as well. The '90s saw Coven team with a pair of renowned guitarists, Leslie West (touring as part of a reunited Mountain, and also appearing on West's 1994 solo release, Dodgin' the Dirt) and Yngwie Malmsteen (1999's Alchemy and several supporting tours). The early 21st century saw the release of a 16-track compilation, The Best of Randy Coven, while Coven issued his first true solo album in a decade, 2002's Witch Way, as well as guest on the sophomore release by Norwegian prog metallists, Ark (2002's Burn the Sun). Additionally, Coven hopes to get a new project off the ground, M.C.M., a band comprised of Coven, guitarist Alex Masi, and drummer John Macaluso. ~ Greg Prato, Rovi
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