Pete Sears

Pete Sears (born May 27, 1948 in Bromley, Kent) is an English rock musician. In a career spanning more than four decades he has been a member of many bands and has moved through a variety of musical genres, from early R&B, psychedelic improvisational rock of the 1960s, folk, country music, arena rock in the 1970s, and blues. He usually plays bass, keyboards, or both in bands.

Sears played piano on the Rod Stewart albums "Gasoline Alley", "Every Picture Tells a Story", "Never a Dull Moment", and "Smiler". He also played bass on Rod Stewart's versions of "Cut Across Shorty" (from Gasoline Alley) and "Rather Go Blind" (from Never a Dull Moment). During this period, Sears toured the US with Long John Baldry blues band, and played with John Cipollina in Copperhead. Sears was with Jefferson Starship from 1974 to 1987, and went on to play in the Jorma Kaukonen Trio with Kaukonen and Michael Falzarano. He also played with Kaukonen and Falzarano along with Jack Casady and Harvey Sorgen in Hot Tuna.

Sears performed at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame tribute to John Lee Hooker at Stanford University as one of Hooker's guests. He also wrote a song with Hooker, "Elizabeth", which they performed live together in the studio on Sears' solo album "The Long Haul". In 2001, he played keyboards as a guest of Hooker's in Oroville, California, shortly before he died in July 2001.

Sears has played with many other artists through the years, including Leigh Stephens and Micky Waller in Silver Metre. Long John Baldry in 1971, the original "Copperhead" with John Cipollina, "Zero", "Nick Gravenitas", Jerry Garcia, the Steve Kimock Band", Bob Weir, Phil Lesh, Leftover Salmon, and Los Lobos.He now plays with the band Moonalice.


Pete Sears' career as a professional musician began in 1964, touring the British Isles with the band Sons of Fred. As well as playing classic British T.V. shows such as Ready Steady Go and Thank Your Lucky Stars, Sons of Fred also recorded at EMI's Abbey Road Studios in London. The records they released are now sought after by collectors.

He went on to play and record with many musical artists, including the “Fleur De Lys” in 1966, and the psychedelic underground band Sam Gopal Dream which featured guitarist Mick Hutchinson, Sears on bass and Hammond organ, and the Indian tabla player Sam Gopal. Jimi Hendrix once sat in with the band at the Speakeasy Club in London.

Sears was a session musician during the late sixties, including recording piano with the blues band Steamhammer. Steamhammer would back up the legendary Freddy King when he toured the UK. In early 1969, Sears along with Terry Cox of Pentangle, Jeff Beck’s drummer Micky Waller, Jimmy Litherland of Coloseum, John Wetton of King Crimson, and Pete York of the Spencer Davis Group, recorded a folk rock album with Marian Segal and Jade. The album, "Fly on Strange Wings" is considered one of the seminal British folk rock albums of the 1960s and is highly valued by collectors. Around this time Sears teamed up with original Fairport Convention singer, Judy Dyble, and Van Morrison’s Them guitarist, Jackie McCauley, to form the band Trader Horn.

In the summer of 1969, he left Trader Horn just before they began recording and flew to the U.S. for the first time. While in California, he formed Silver Metre with Blue Cheer guitarist Leigh Stephens, drummer Micky Waller, and singer Jack Reynolds. The band released one album on the National General label, produced by FM rock radio pioneer Tom Donahue. After Silver Metre broke up, Sears joined the original Stoneground band in England, later returning to the U.S. with them to release their first album, also produced by Tom Donahue.

From 1970 through 1974, Sears returned tp session work, including playing piano and some bass on Rod Stewart's early British solo albums, "Gasoline Alley", "Every Picture Tells a Story", "Never a Dull Moment", and "Smiler". He also played bass with the Long John Baldry Blues Band on their first tour of the U.S., and played bass and keyboards with John Cipollina in the band Copperhead.

Sears left Copperhead just before recording their first album to work on Rod Stewart’s "Never a Dull Moment" album in London, but mainly to join a new band Nicky Hopkins was putting together. Hopkins, who was on tour with the Rolling Stones had rented Sears a house in Mill Valley, California until he finished with the Stones tour. However, Hopkins was ultimately unable to form the band due to ill health and a dislike of the road. Sears went on to co-produce, arrange the music and play on, Kathi McDonald’s "Insane Asylum" album, using guest artists like Sly Stone, The Pointer Sisters, Nils Lofgren, Neil Schon, Aynsley Dunbar, and the Tower of Power horns. He also co-founded a band called Sears, Schon, Errico with Neil Schon and Greg Errico, playing the Diamond Head Crater Festival in Hawaii, as well as several California shows.Sears spent two weeks recording with Ike Turner at Ike's studio, Bolic Sound in Los Angeles, California. Tina Turner came down one night and recorded vocals on some of the tracks they had recorded, including a version of George Harrison's song "Something" on which Turner changed the "she" to "he".

With Jefferson Starship and Hot Tuna

In 1974, Sears was a founding member of the original Jefferson Starship, switching back and forth between bass and keyboards with his close friend, David Freiberg. He also wrote two or three songs per album with Grace Slick. Grace and Pete wrote the song "Hyperdrive" for the "Dragon Fly" album. "Dragon Fly", made in 1974, was the first official "Jefferson Starship" release as a band. During the 1970s and early eighties he would perform a ten minute bass solo regardless of the size of the venue, even when playing to a 100,000 people in New York City’s Central Park in 1976. Singer Grace Slick left the band after her non-appearance caused a riot in Germany in 1978; within months drummer John Barbata was severely injured in a car crash and the band's other singer, Marty Balin, also left. The band hired vocalist Mickey Thomas and, at Sears' suggestion, drummer Aynsley Dunbar. The band's musical direction changed, adopting a hard rock edge. With Slick gone, Sears' wife Jeanette Sears became one of the principal lyricists, and the pair together wrote some of the band's best-known songs, such as "Stranger", "Save Your Love", and "Winds of Change". Sears remained with the band after the departure of leader Paul Kantner and the subsequent name change to "Starship". He played only bass on the double-platinum 1985 album "Knee Deep in the Hoopla" but left the group in 1987 due to an intense disagreement over the direction the band’s music had taken over the past several years, especially the decision to have no political or controversial content in the lyrics.

From 1992 - 2001, Sears played keyboards with Jefferson Airplane's Jorma Kaukonen, and Jack Casady, in Hot Tuna. The band also included Michael Falzarano and Harvey Sorgen. Sears also teaches piano at Jorma Kaukonen's, "Fur Peace Ranch Guitar Camp" in south eastern Ohio.

Other collaborations

Through the years, he has recorded or performed with many other people, including Jerry Garcia, David Nelson, Warren Haynes, Leigh Stephens, Nick Gravenites, Peter Rowan, Steve Cropper, Roy Harper, Nicky Hopkins, Steve Kimock, Zydeco Flames, Ron Wood, Leftover Salmon, Eric McFadden, Betty Davis, Bob Weir, Mickey Hart, and Phil Lesh.

He has also worked live and in the studio and performed with John Lee Hooker, who wrote and recorded a song with Sears, called "Elizabeth". He has shared the stage with artists like Jimi Hendrix, The Allman Brothers, Los Lobos, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Sam Bush, Elvis Costello, Paul Butterfield, Michael Bloomfield, Levon Helm, the Grateful Dead, David Crosby, and Carlos Santana among others. Sears' solo CDs include "Watchfire" with guests Jerry Garcia, Babatunde Olatunji, David Grisman, Mickey Hart, Mimi Farina, and Holly Near. Along with Jeannette, who wrote the majority of the album's lyrics, Sears became involved with human rights issues in Central America during the 1980s, and led a highly successful radio drive to raise food and clothing for refugees from the civil wars of Guatemala and El Salvador sheltering in the bay area. They formed a non-profit video production company called “Watchfire Productions”, with Mark Adler, Mary McCue Obrian, and Emmy award winning documentary film director Ray Telles, producing a music video about human rights abuses on the Mayas of Guatemala. The project was funded by Jerry Garcia and the Rex Foundation, the Tides Foundation, and Earth Island Institute. Hundreds of free copies of the video were distributed free of charge to human rights organizations around the world working to help stop the genocide in Central America. It was also aired extensively on the Canadian Much Music TV channel. During the mid-to late 1980s, Sears and singer songwriter, activist Mimi Farina played at many benefits and protests in the San Francisco Bay Area in support of various Central American human rights, and environmental related causes.

He once joined bluesman Nick Gravenitas on the back of a flat bed truck, to drive down Market Street in San Francisco, playing the blues in support of nuclear disarmament, and protesting the US backed injustices in Central America. They were joined by a hundred thousand other peace marchers.

"The Long Haul" includes guests Davey Pattison, Charlie Musselwhite, Levon Helm, Jorma Kaukonen, Jack Casady, Steve Kimock, Francis Clay, Maria Muldaur, Wavy Gravy, Shanna Morrison, Rich Kirch and John Lee Hooker who co-wrote and performed a song with Pete. The track, “Elizabeth” was the last “live in the studio” band performance with no overdubs that John Lee Hooker was to record before his death in 2001. Pete Sears is now a full time member of Moonalice, along with Barry Sless, Roger McNamee, GE Smith, Ann McNamee and Jim Sanchez. He also flies around the country playing one off gigs with artists like, David Nelson & Friends, Zero, and the Steve Kimock Band.


;Solo Albums
*"Watchfire" (1988)
*"Millennium" (1997)
*"Long Haul" (2001);with Sons of Fred
*" "Sweet Love" 1964
*" "Baby What You Want Me To Do" 1965
*" "I'll Be There" 1965
*" "I Want Your Lovin" 1965
*" "She Only Wants a Friend" 1965;with Fluer De Lys
*" "Circles" 1966;with original Sam Gopal Dream 1967
*" unknown;with Steamhammer
*"Steamhammer" (1969);with Marion Segal
*" "Jade" 1969;with Silver Metre
*" "Silver Metre" 1970;with Stoneground
*"Stoneground" (1971)
*"Family Album" (1971);with Rod Stewart
*"Gasoline Alley" (1971)
*"Every Picture Tells a Story" (1971)
*"Never a Dull Moment" (1972)
*"Smiler" (1974);with original Jefferson Starship
*"Dragon Fly" (1974)
*"Red Octopus" (1975)
*"Spitfire" (1976)
*"Earth" (1978)
*"Freedom at Point Zero" (1979)
*"Modern Times" (1981)
*"Winds of Change" (1982)
*"Nuclear Furniture" (1984);with Starship
*"Knee Deep in the Hoopla" (1985);with Hot Tuna
*"Live at Sweetwater" (1992)
*"Live at Sweetwater Two" (1993)
*"Live in Japan" (1997)
*"And Furthurmore..." (1999);with Jorma Kaukonen
*"Too Many Years" (1998)
*"Jorma Kaukonen Trio Live" (2000);Guest Appearances
*"Papa John Creach" (by Papa John Creach) (1971)
*"Betty Davis" (by Betty Davis) (1973)
*"Manhole" (by Grace Slick) (1973)
*"Insane Asylum" (by Kathi McDonald) (1974)
*"Tiger Rose" (by Robert Hunter) (1975)
*"Solid Silver" (by Quicksilver Messenger Service) (1975)
*"Blue Star" (by Nick Gravenites) (1980)
*"The Doubtful Handshake" (by Terry & the Pirates) (1980)
*"The Usual Suspects" (by The Usual Suspects) (1981)
*"Rising of the Moon" (by Terry & the Pirates) (1982)
*"Planet Earth Rock and Roll Orchestra" (by Paul Kantner) (1983)
*"Chance in a Million" (by Zero) (1994)
*"Mecca" (by Memphis Pligrims) (1996)
*"Kak" (by Kak) (1999 re-release)
*"Love Will See You Through" (by Phil Lesh) (1999)

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