"I knew at an early age that I was destined to express myself with music. I've always longed to touch hearts and minds with the special depth and breadth possible only through the intimate sound of the guitar." A look at Ken's formative years confirms this. The son of a night club singer and dancer, he was exposed early on to the rhythms of latin jazz. The guitar was to become his vehicle for expression.
In high school he formed his own rock group The Interns, and became known as a "hot guitar soloist." These rock and roll days saw him playing with many talented bay area artists such as Mickey Hart of the Grateful Dead, Dave Jenkins of Pablo Cruise, and Lydia Pense of Cold Blood, came over to sing a few tunes. "I remember teaching guitar for Mickey Harts' dad at his music store. This was several years before Mickey joined the Grateful Dead. After hours, I practiced judo with Mickey, who held a black belt, and when business was slow Mickey showed me drum rudiments.
Joe Bennett lead guitarist of the Sparkletones, one of the first rock & roll groups featured on Ed Sullivan's T.V. show, worked at the store. He taught me some of his guitar tricks and believe it or not, taught me my first classical guitar piece. He was one of the nicest guys you'd ever want to meet. "
The Vietnam war broke up the band, and as drugs were becoming part of the rock scene I had to choose between commercial success and the drugs that were part of it, — or the challenge of classical and jazz guitar. Fortunately, I was led to choose the challenge to personal and musical growth which classical and jazz guitar provided.
Although nowadays contemporary players like Satriani and Yngwie Malmsteen have been heavily influenced by classical music and it is fun to hear how the classics have informed their styles.
"After playing classic guitar for a few years, I met one of Segovia's students, William Snowden, who had won the Alirio Diaz guitar competition in Caracas Venezuela. I played for him and we became fast friends and mutual inspirations . He introduced me to the music of Antonio Lauro, and I in turn introduced him to Jorge Morel's music. Later I was fortunate to be able to study with his teacher, the acknowledged master of the classical guitar, Andres Segovia"
Ken went on to study at the San Franciso Conservatory of Music, in the meantime worked with the most important and influential guitarists of the day, such as the legendary classical guitarist Pepe Romero.