Mark Pardue heard a recording by jazz Trumpet great Al Hirt in 1964 when he was 10, and was hooked. When the time came a few weeks later for Mark to test for a band instrument, he was elated when the director said that he tested best on Trumpet (of course, that was purposely the only instrument he had practiced). That was the start of a short, but very enjoyable music career, which is documented in large part by this compilation of his original material..
The Rock Bands
Although he was progressing well on Trumpet, rock music started capturing his heart (after all he was young and impressionable), and at 13 he joined his first group - an anonymous garage band. Within weeks, he had his very first gig (no money), playing Electric Bass and Lead Guitar. A significant event in 1969 allowed him to merge the love of Trumpet and rock music, when the future supergroup Chicago had its first nationally released album get significant radio air play. Now brass instruments in rock bands became uniquely wonderful, and in 1970 at age 15 Mark turned professional, joining the group The Fabulous Fortes playing lead Trumpet. During that time the keyboardist of the 60's rock group Keith (national top hit "98.6") happened to hear him playing in a club and told him he sounded great. When he found out Mark was only 15, the response was "Man, I can't wait to hear you when you're 21!" That was the confirmation Mark needed, and he continued playing professionally during the 70's. He joined his high school friend Robbie Cooke (former lead guitar player for The Fabulous Fortes) playing Trumpet, singing background vocals, and arranging with Soul Unlimited from 1971-1973, all the while studying Trumpet from the famous big-band Trumpet player Ziggy Harrell. During that time, Mark also had a chance to begin writing some original material, but had only a few opportunities to perform any of the material (although a television appearance by the group in 1973 featured an original Robbie Cooke song which Mark had helped co-write). He then had a brief stint in 1974 playing Trumpet and singing background vocals in the band Oxxe (the house band at the Bullfeathers club in Virginia Beach). In 1975, Mark joined the group Heaven and Earth (which was led by an old friend Alan Sawyer) and became the keyboardist and male lead vocal for the group. That allowed him to broaden his musical capabilities to be able to not only perform some of the original material he had been working on since he had been a teen, but also led to him writing most of the remainder of the material for what would later be his first record album.
The Studio Years
Mark left the performing stage in the late 70's to begin his after-college career in Electrical Engineering. He was shortly drawn into studio work after his friend Alan Sawyer branched out to develop his own recording studio. In addition to playing on other musicians' recordings, he began to record his own original music, thanks to the generous support and trust extended by Alan (not to mention the free studio time). For almost two years, Mark worked on recording his album, with guest musicians like Sawyer, "Scooter" Reid, the Hotcakes brass section (recently liberated from Bill Deal and the Rhondels), Tom Scott, and other local Virginia professional and aspiring musicians. He did all of the arranging, including orchestra arrangements for Old Dominion University Orchestra musicians who performed on the album. With Alan Sawyer's advice, training, and help, Mark began the final mixdown and the album "This Man / Mark Pardue" was released in late 1980. That was the culmination of his short, but enjoyable, musical career - there would be no more significant professional work, either on stage or in the studio. Mark concentrated solely on his stable career in Electrical Engineering. There were, however, occasional sessions sitting in with other groups during their performances (Artistics Unlimited, Pendulum, Pizzazz, and Lewis McGeehee (the musician who inspired Bruce Hornsby to start his career), among others. And, in 1984, Mark went back in the studio one more time to record a song he had secretly written for his wife Ann for their anniversary. After the recording was finished, the musicians and engineers present during the final mixdown listened with awe. As they heard the last line, "Ann, I love you", they asked how much money Mark wanted to record a customized version of the song for each of them, substituting the names of their wives/girlfriends for Ann. While flattered, this was a one-and-only song, and is included on this compilation along with the songs from his first (and only) record album. Thus, the name of this compilation became at once obvious:
"The Best (and Only) of Mark Pardue"
It started with listening to a jazz Trumpet player in 1964, and in 1993, Mark played lead Trumpet with the Old Dominion University Jazz Ensemble (led by John Toomey, former keyboardist and arranger for Maynard Ferguson). Hearing the crowd applaud after his Flugelhorn solo and later wailing away up high on Trumpet on a Maynard Ferguson arrangement at the end of the night signaled that Mark had come full circle.