Edgar Struble is a multi-faceted creative. He’s a film producer, music director, author, performer, and public speaker. He played critical roles in the Kenny Rogers Band for 15 years and has an ongoing association with Dick Clark Productions, where he has been the music director and composer for the Academy of Country Music Awards and the Billboard Music Awards. To say he’s been in and seen countless interesting situations and rubbed shoulders with all sorts of stars would be an understatement.
Today he’s working to mentor younger folks in the industry and continues to expand his roots into film production. Let’s learn how this dynamo balances life, entertainment, and his health to help the beat go on.
Q. How did you end up with Kenny Rogers?
I worked with this rhythm and blues band after I graduated from college with a degree in music education. I was a qualified band director and qualified to substitute teach … I substituted one flu season. Then, I thought, if I’m going to do anything with my career, I need to go where the music’s being made on a national level. I’d been to New York and wasn’t excited about that. Didn’t have the guts or the wherewithal to go to L.A. So, I went to Nashville because I knew somebody there that I could stay with… Sure enough, he let me stay at his house for a month and introduced me to people. There was this group of guys playing at this Holiday Inn, a drummer and two keyboard players, and one of them played bass with his left hand. They were doing the O’Jays, and The Spinners, and rhythm and blues. And I thought, oh, this is kind of cool in Nashville.
I ended up sitting in with them. I then went back to Michigan for a month. During that time Kenny Rogers had just split up with The First Edition and was starting to record albums on his own. He wanted to hire a Nashville-based band to go out on the road because he was leaning toward country music. So, he hired these three guys, plus a guitar player from another band. When I came back to town, they were rehearsing with him during the day and playing this Holiday Inn gig at night. They introduced me to everyone that came through the door, including Kenny Rogers.
I went to a Ramada Inn and played there for five months. When that gig was coming to an end … Bobby Daniels (the drummer for Kenny) called me and said, “Kenny wants to add a third keyboard player. Can you play Clavinet and synthesizer?” And I said, yes. I’d never seen a Clavinet or a synthesizer, but I figured what the heck. They have keys, right?
So that was kind of my job interview. In September ’76, I went on the road with Kenny Rogers and, for the next 15 years, we traveled all over the place. He was barely anything in 1976. Of course, I rode that wave to stardom with him in the 80s. It was just phenomenal. I learned so much sitting around that campfire…
Struble shares fun stories about being a “fly on the wall” and hearing Larry Butler, the producer for Kenny Rogers, playing a demo of the song Lucille. His comments are priceless in the podcast and underscore the reality that perspective and timing are everything. He goes on to talk about recording it and other mega-hits including The Gambler, Daytime Friends and She Believes in Me and Lady. In the podcast, he also talks about working with Dottie West, Bobby Hatfield of The Righteous Brothers, and The Oak Ridge Boys. As music director for the Academy Country Music Awards, he has worked with just about everybody including Miranda Lambert, Taylor Swift, Tim McGraw, Dolly Parton, Blake Shelton, and Lionel Ritchie.
Q. You worked at TNN: The Nashville Network, on Prime Time Country, the weeknight talk show produced by RAC Clark, Dick Clark’s son. Do you have any nuggets to share from the Prime Time Country days?
Not really nuggets, but it was a great time to build relationships. RAC and I are best friends and we have been since that show, basically. That relationship has not only been a very fruitful personal relationship, but it has also been a great business relationship for me.
He continued to speak about moving from Nashville to LA and getting involved in other Dick Clark shows, and working with Bob Eubanks, a guest host, on one of the programs. He shared how a segment he did on that program took a turn South and it ended up being featured in a blooper program put together by Dick Clark Productions.
Q.Our personal life is always a part of our journey. There have been challenges in yours that you do not shy away from sharing. Will you tell us a little bit about alcohol?
Well, somebody said, “I don’t know if he’s got a drinking problem, but he is sure going through a lot of ice …” It’s been about 33 or so years now that I’ve been sober. That was the best thing that ever happened to me.
In the podcast, Struble goes on to share about his use of alcohol and how a friend and confidant helped guide him through his journey to sobriety. Then, with his unique analogies, Struble recounts how stress and family history may have contributed to his desire to use booze as an escape mechanism.
Today, Struble is almost 71 years young and is eager to share the virtues of staying physically and mentally fit. In the podcast, he talks a bit about his routine (the 4 Ps), speaks about raising four daughters, and teases an upcoming film he is producing with New York Times’ best-selling author, motivational speaker (who used to be a stand-up comedian) Andy Andrews. Don’t miss this inspiring Squeeze the Day podcast as Struble demonstrates how living for tomorrow, rather than in the past, lights his path to success.