I wrote my first song in March 1971. Since then, I've tried to keep my musical life and my professional life separate, primarily because early on in my writing career a music publisher stopped taking me seriously once I told him my profession. At that point, I decided it would be best to live two lives. But it feels like it's time to come clean with you nice folks.
I grew up in East Rockaway, Long Island. As a kid, I played piano and saxophone and sang in the chorus at East Rockaway High School. At Cornell University I majored in Chemistry, briefly played saxophone in the marching band and concert band but then joined the Cornell Symphony Orchestra and chamber orchestra, where I played bassoon. While attending the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry I played Beatles songs on the piano and started teaching myself some chords on guitar. My father passed away in 1969 while I was still in med school. In 1971 during a year away from the stress of med school I wrote my first song and knew that I had discovered my lifelong means of self-expression. I was a songwriter. I've been writing songs since then and imagine I'll continue writing songs as long as I'm around.
I graduated from medical school in June 1972 and started my Pediatric internship at Oakland Kaiser Hospital that July. In 1975 I married Oakland Kaiser Xray Tech Charlotte Dobbins in Berkeley California and soon adopted her maiden name as my stage name.
I made up the Dean for the sake of alliteration. Because Charlotte had grown up in Virginia, I started listening to country music, which influenced my writing style.
Charlotte and I moved to LA in 1977. In 1979 I completed my Pediatric residency year at The Sunset Kaiser Medical Center in Hollywood and then joined the Pediatric Department at Panorama City Kaiser Hospital in the San Fernando Valley. During my residency year 1979 jazz legend Carmen McRae recorded a jazz ballad that Charlotte and I wrote called "I Need You In My Life." In 1982 Dennis Weaver of Gunsmoke and McCloud fame recorded my song "If I Had A Love Song."
Because initially I worked overnight only a few nights a week, I had a few free days every week. After performing solo, then as a duo, then as a trio, I organized the Dean Dobbins Band around 1984. We were an active band in Los Angeles's country music circuit for about 10 years. We performed at the Palomino, The Bandstand, The Crazy Horse Saloon, The Longhorn and The Cowboy Palace. We opened for Tammy Wynette in Newport Beach, Rick Nelson at Big Bear, Johnny Lee at The Palomino and The Kendalls at The Mule Lip Saloon in Colton. We were voted 1990 California Country Music Association Band Of The Year and I received several CCMA awards including Song of the Year ("One, Two, Three"), Songwriter of the Year ("Writers and Pickers") and Male Vocalist of the Year.
About 1990 The Dean Dobbins Band recorded about 2 dozen of my original songs, which were sold as 3 cassettes. Later I transferred those songs to 2 CDs The Dean Dobbins Band, Volumes I and II. Several of the band's recordings received considerable airplay in Europe, particularly "Writers and Pickers" and "He Can Dance (The Way They Dance In Texas)," which reached #2 in "Indie Bullet Magazine" out of Tyler, Texas and landed me on the cover of the magazine. "He Can Dance" was played on about 50 radio stations across Texas. The band's recording of my song "Where There's A Will, There's A Way" was used in the Ivan Reitman film "Big Shots." The band dissolved soon after the Northridge Earthquake in 1994, when our home was damaged extensively and Charlotte, daughter Nadia and I lived in an RV in front of our home for 2 1/2 years before repairs were completed and we were able to move back into our home. The quake inspired my songs "When That RV Is Rockin" and "My Home's Gonna Look Like New." Several local tv stations in LA ran features about the Kaiser pediatrician who wrote a song inspired by the earthquake.
Since the dissolution of the band around 1995, I've continued writing and recording. I recorded my "Thank Heaven" CD in LA in 1995, then my "Train Car #4" CD in Nashville in 2000. In 2002 Wendy Lands recorded an album of songs with music written by "the pianist" Wladyslaw Szpilman and new lyrics by current American songwriters, including my lyric "I Wish You'd Ask To Dance With Me."
In 2003 I released "Rickety Boat," the first of 3 "solo" CDs containing piano/vocal and guitar/vocal demos I recorded, mostly in my small home studio. In 2006 I released my "She's Hot" CD, including songs I wrote or co-wrote. Most of the songs were recorded in Nashville and were sung by excellent Nashville singers including Buddy Jewell, who had sung some of the songs on "Train Car #4," and Craig Campbell. Both Buddy Jewell and Craig Campbell subsequently secured recording contracts in Nashville.
In recent years I performed solo in songwriter venues in LA, particularly at Kulak's Woodshed, where I hosted monthly for quite a while and where the live performance videos at this new website were filmed. I saw my last Pediatric patient at the Panorama City Kaiser Pediatric clinic in late May 2012. In June 2012 Charlotte and I drove cross country with our dogs to Virginia Beach, Virginia, where we're both thoroughly enjoying our retirement. My medical days are behind me but my musical life continues. Hopefully, one of these days I'll see you in the audience.
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