Eric Ragno: How a Hardworking Musician in Los Angeles Became Melodic Rock’s Busiest Keyboardist
"It's so strange to work on all of these albums, but not meet many of the musicians face to face. It's so easy to send WAV files with a high speed connection these days. It keeps me very busy, but it's definitely a weird thing to think that you're working on these great records without ever being in the same room together," says Eric Ragno.
The keyboardist is sitting with Noisecreep at a pizzeria in Los Angeles chatting about his career as melodic rock's busiest session player.
A New Jersey native, Ragno's recording appearances would take too long to type out, but some of the artists he's done session work with include Jeff Scott Soto, Trixter, Fergie Frederiksen (Toto), Seven Witches, plus live work with the likes of powerhouse vocalist Graham Bonnet (Rainbow), shred guitar hero Tony MacAlpine and AOR cult faves White Sister.
Based in Southern California, Ragno does the bulk of his session work from his home studio. "It's great because I get to take my time with each track that people send me since I don't have to worry about being in an expensive studio. I could easily finish a song a night, but I like to really give my all to each thing I work on. I noticed that you interviewed Serafino [Perugino, owner of Frontiers Records] on Noisecreep. I've done like 30 of his label's releases, and I hadn't met him till recently. He was such a nice guy, but yeah, it's one of those things where I had this working relationship with someone and had not met them in person before."
Watch Eric Ragno Perform 'Since You've Been Gone' with Graham Bonnet
Musicians from all over the world have called on Ragno's keyboard magic, including Russian hard rock group Pushking for their all-star 2011 album The World As We Love It, which also featured Alice Cooper, Paul Stanley of KISS and Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top, among others. Clearly, he's racking up the kind of discography credentials that would make any rock musician proud.
Ragno tells Noisecreep about some of his keyboard heroes. "I am and always have been the biggest Jonathan Cain and Journey fan. I remember when Journey came out with their Atari video game and it said something like, 'Are you good enough to play in Journey?' I had that poster [laughs]. I also love Geoff Downes and the work he's done in Asia. Oh, Kevin Moore when he was in Dream Theater. That was some incredible keyboard stuff."
Ragno recently returned from a triumphant trip to the Firefest (his fourth time there) in the UK where he performed in both Fiona and Robin Beck's backing bands. He was also busy at the NAMM convention where he announced that he had joined the Hammond instrument company.
"I've been friends with Scott May at Hammond for several years now. The Hammond Organ is a legendary staple of the rock sound – it's as iconic as the Les Paul guitar and the Marshall amp. This year the guys officially welcomed me on board as a Hammond Organ artist, and I've started using their awesome SK2 organ on my albums and videos. They've done an amazing job of packaging this legendary instrument into a lighter, sleeker axe that you can carry around with you. We're looking forward to a productive relationship together."
Watch Eric Ragno Perform 'Hide Your Heart' with Robin Beck at Firefest 2012
With a slew of projects already on the slate for Ragno, 2013 looks to be another crammed year for the keyboard wiz, but he wouldn't want it any other way.