Kenny Fukomoto Interview
Webmaster: Kenny, It is a honor to speak with you. As an author of the song Feelings and a member of the 13th Floor you had an impact on The Grass Roots. How did you get into the music business?
Kenny: I started in at age 16. Like everyone else in the era, I never had any music lessons, you just pick up your guitar and do your thing. I played in several different groups until I met up with Creed, Rick & Warren. We played a lot of Hollywood and the Sunset Strip, and then just before everything happened, I got drafted.
Webmaster: How did you make your initial contact with the 13th Floor?
Kenny: .....I think that came through girlfriends. I think my girlfriend was friends with Creed’s girlfriend. I really can’t remember how we all met but I think that was the start of it. They were trying to put a band together and needed a bass player. I think that’s how I ended up playing with them.
Webmaster: Did you sing, as well.
Kenny: I did. I think I was doing all the singing before I was drafted.
Webmaster: How long were you with the group?
Kenny: I would have to say we played for about a couple years before I got drafted.
Webmaster: Can we probe your memory concerning the song Feelings? What inspired you to write the song and how did it come together?
Kenny: Well, at the time as I remember, we were doing top forty songs to get jobs, playing various clubs. We figured in order to try and get someplace, we would start writing songs. That was just one of the few that I wrote. What inspired me to write that? ......it was just a feelings song (laughs). It was a long time ago! More than 40 years, I was 18 or 19......I can’t really tell you why I wrote that song.
Webmaster: The bass riff in that is just exceptional....
Kenny: Oh....thank you. It was one of their different songs, I know that because a lot of it was studio written material that they did. I wasn’t with the group when they recorded it. I wrote the song and brought it and we worked it over and I never thought it would be recorded. In fact, I never knew it was recorded. I was in the service and I was on leave. I was driving from Ft. Ord near where I live now, to my home in LA. I was just listening to the radio and it came on. And I go - I know that song! It was really a thrill, a really a big moment in my life when I heard that on the radio. An interesting story - after that I remember receiving a royalty check. I went out and spent the whole money on a new Martin guitar. After that, I thought nothing of it. I put my guitar away because I got into the restaurant business. A mom and pop deal, my wife and I still work it. I put that guitar away for I don’t know how many years - twenty five years maybe. I went into storage about five or six years ago and brought it out. It was warped. Buckled and everything - but Martin Guitar has got a great lifetime guarantee on guitars. So I took it back to the factory and it was all fixed for me for free. Thousands of dollars worth of work. I’ve been playing it ever since! At the same time I thought, you know, I only got one check for the song and so I researched it, I guess they didn’t know where I lived and so on. I had to get all my information together and about five years ago I received some more money. Not much, but some money.
Webmaster: That’s great! When you left the group, what branch of the armed forces did you go to?
Kenny: Oh, I was drafted into the army. You know the Vietnam era. I went and did my duty in Vietnam, served my two years and came back out, finished up school and got a degree in fine arts. You know how those college degrees go - a degree in fine arts and you end up in the restaurant business. So....
Webmaster: Your restaurant is well respected in Carmel....
Kenny: We have a nice little business going.
Webmaster: I read on the net that there is a nice personal touch to the restaurant...
Kenny: My wife and I work the restaurant and we have a lot of repeat customers. It’s a good feeling restaurant that’s small. It seats 40 people. We only open for dinner. Like every Friday night, we have a few people over and play music. It’s kind of like more personal than it is business on that night. I don’t play at the restaurant professionally or anything like that. It’s just that since I picked up the guitar about six years ago and I’ve learned a lot of old rock and roll songs, we just sit there and do them.
Webmaster: Do you ever play Feelings?
Kenny: You know, I never do! In fact since you contacted me yesterday, I tried to play it today! I kind of remembered it but I don’t even remember the words anymore!
Webmaster: Maybe you should add that to your repertoire?
Kenny: I think I will! It sounded pretty good!
Webmaster: What are your plans for the future?
Kenny: Well......my plans are to get my boys to a good college. I’m thinking of running the restaurant another 8 or 9 years. And then look for a nice place to retire!
Webmaster: Great! Thank you for the many historical facts. It has been a honor to speak with you.
Kenny: Can I ask you some questions? Rick, where does he live now?
Webmaster: He lives on Vancouver Island.
Kenny: OK, when I got drafted and I came back to look him up, he was already going to Canada. That was 35 or 40 years ago. I’d love to talk to him.
My cousins friend worked in a studio and one day he met Creed. That’s how I heard he was still in the music business.
Webmaster: Yes, Creed has been active since the 60’s musically and is also a cast member in a TV show called The Office on NBC.
Kenny: That’s great. I know that he was quite a musician. And Warren Entner?
Webmaster: Warren is a well respected manager for some current music groups.
Kenny: That’s great. I am glad to hear everyone is doing well!
Flying Fish Grill