Born 28 March 1937, Los Angeles, California
Nowadays, Lincoln Mayorga is best known as a highly regarded classical concert pianist who has performed all over the world. However, he has also made some important contributions to popular music, most notably in the period 1958-1963. Trained as a classical pianist, Mayorga hooked up with the vocal group the Four Preps (Bruce Belland, Ed Cobb, Marvin Inabnett and Glen Larson) as their arranger and accompanist. This group was signed to Capitol in 1956 and had its first big hit in early 1958 with "26 Miles" (# 2), soon followed by "Big Man" (# 3). The latter featured powerful piano chords, vital to the success of the record. Only recently was it revealed (by Todd Everett) that there are two piano players on this disc to establish that big sound. Mayorga was joined by none other than Dudley Brooks, who plays piano on "Jailhouse Rock" and many other Elvis Presley recordings.
Mayorga was such an important contributor to the recordings and live shows of the Four Preps that he was called "the Fifth Prep". While still with the group, he branched out into the field of instrumental rock 'n' roll, a popular genre during the 1958-64 period. Together with his friend Ed Cobb of the Four Preps, Mayorga created the Piltdown Men, a group of L.A. studio musicians whose name was derived from the Piltdown Man archaeological hoax in 1912 (Piltdown is a village in East Sussex, England). The Piltdown Men featured a "dirty" sax sound, from the horns of Scott Gordon and Jackie Kelso. Mayorga himself played piano on the Piltdown sessions, which he also arranged. The group was more successful in the UK, where their first three singles all made the Top 20, than in their native country where only "Brontosauris Stomp" (in the UK this was the B-side of "McDonald's Cave") made any impact (# 75). In an interesting diversion, Mayorga and Cobb teamed up with Al Garcia, Fred Mendoza, Vince Bumatay and Art Rodriguez as the Link-Eddy Combo. This outfit hit the R&B charts (# 28) in May 1961 with the instrumental "Big Mr. C", one of the first 45s to be released on Frank Sinatra's newly formed Reprise label (Reprise 20002). The second Link-Eddy single, "Cat's Pajamas"/ "Katrina" is pleasant enough, but more poppy (Reprise 20008) Mayorga was not involved with the Piltdown Men's final Capitol single, "Tequila Bossa Nova"/"Night Surfin'" (1962). By this time, Ed Cobb and he had found a new protégé in the person of Ketty Lester (born Revoyda Frierson, 1934). Her first record, "Love Letters", co-produced by Cobb and Mayorga, went to # 5 in the US and # 4 in the UK. Mayorga took care of the arrangement and the very distinctive piano accompaniment. In 1987, Alison Moyet had a # 4 hit in Britain with "Love Letters" in a version that copied Mayorga's arrangement note for note.
After Ketty Lester's success dwindled, Mayorga became a busy session pianist in Los Angeles. In 1966, he went to work for Walt Disney Studios and was staff pianist for 15 years. At Disney, he performed on the soundtracks of several animated classics. He has also contributed to the soundtracks of many movies, like "Chinatown", "The Rose", "Ragtime", The Way We Were" and "Pete's Dragon" and TV series like "Bonanza", "Dallas", "Little House On the Prairie" and "Highway To Heaven".
In the mid-1980s, Lincoln moved from California to Columbia County (in upstate New York) to be near his beloved Berkshire Mountains. He married singer Sheri Bauer and adopted a couple of kids. He has worked as pianist, arranger and conductor for artists like Barbra Streisand, Phil Ochs, Johnny Mathis, Andy Williams, Frank Zappa, Mel Torme, Ringo Starr, Vicki Carr and many others. His pianistic versatility runs the stylistic gamut from 18th century pieces to ragtime, pop, jazz and rock. There is some incorrect information about Mayorga circulating on the web. He was not born in 1919 and he does not play on "Nut Rocker" by B. Bumble and the Stingers (the pianist on that record is Al Hazan).
Acknowledgements : Stuart Colman.
More info on the Piltdown Men :
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