11/16/14 Pete Sears photo by Bob Minkin

Pete is a full time mem­ber of the band Moon­al­ice.


He’s played with many artists includ­ing, Ear­ly Rod Stew­art, Ron Wood, Long John Baldry, orig­i­nal Jef­fer­son Star­ship, Hot Tuna, John Lee Hook­er, Dr. John, Gov­ern­ment Mule, David Nel­son Band, Louisiana Love Act, Cal­i­for­nia Kind, Moon­al­ice, Har­vey Man­del, Nick Graven­ites, John Cipol­li­na, Los Lobos, Jer­ry Gar­cia, Sam Gopal Dream, Sons of Fred, Fleur DeLys.
Since 1963, when Pete Sears began his career as a pro­fes­sion­al musi­cian, he has played key­boards or bass gui­tar with a large vari­ety of artists on many records. His cred­its include the clas­sic ear­ly Rod Stew­art albums, Gaso­line Alley, Every Pic­ture Tells a Sto­ry, Nev­er a Dull Moment, and Smil­er, fea­tur­ing Ron Wood and Mar­tin Quit­ting­ton on gui­tars, Micky Waller on drums, Pete on piano and some bass, and Ian Mcla­gan on organ.

Pete was bassist and key­boardist with Jef­fer­son Star­ship from 1974 to 1978 (which fea­tured Grace Slick on vocals, and Papa John Creach on vio­lin), and from 1979 to 1987, he was with Star­ship, play­ing on over ten albums with the two bands. He con­tributed sev­er­al songs to each album, includ­ing San­dalphon, an instru­men­tal tune on their biggest sell­ing record, Red Octo­pus in 1975. Pete col­lab­o­rat­ed on many songs with Grace Slick as lyri­cist, includ­ing Hyper­drive and Play On Love. In 1978, after Grace left the band for one album, Free­dom at Point Zero, he began work­ing with wife and lyri­cist, Jean­nette Sears, and over the years they wrote many of Jef­fer­son Starship’s songs, includ­ing Stranger, Awak­en­ing, Save Your Love, and Winds of Change. Sev­er­al of these songs were made into music videos and were put into heavy rota­tion on MTV. Jef­fer­son Star­ship were guests on the tele­vi­sion com­e­dy show, “Friday’s”, where he met come­di­an Don Nov­el­lo, famous for his “Sat­ur­day Night Live” char­ac­ter, “Father Gui­do Sar­duc­ci”, they became long time friends.

They also played on Dick Clark’s “Amer­i­can Band­stand” in 1983, and per­formed one of Pete and Jeannette’s songs “Winds of Change”.

From 1992 to 2001, Pete played key­boards with Jor­ma Kauko­nen, Jack Casady, Michael Falzara­no and Har­vey Sor­gen in the Jef­fer­son Air­plane off-shoot, Hot Tuna. He also played in the Jor­ma Kauko­nen Trio with Jor­ma and Michael, often tour­ing Italy. Pete has taught piano at Jor­ma’s “Fur Peace Ranch Gui­tar Camp” in S.E. Ohio, and per­formed as a solo artist on the Live From Fur Peace Sta­tion radio show. He also played key­boards with Zero on sev­er­al tours and albums dur­ing this period.

In 1998, Pete per­formed at the ‘Rock n Roll Hall of Fame Trib­ute’ to John Lee Hook­er at Stan­ford Uni­ver­si­ty as one of John’s guests, along with Char­lie Mus­sel­white, Rich Kirch, John­ny John­son, and Elvin Bish­op. Footage, includ­ing an inter­view with Pete, was shot at the show for an acclaimed doc­u­men­tary film about John Lee’s life titled, That’s My Sto­ry. Pete also played key­boards for John Lee in Oroville, Cal­i­for­nia on May 25th 2001, the third to last show before John’s death. John Lee was also a guest on Pete’s album, The Long Haul. Pete’s oth­er release, Watch­fire, in 1988, includ­ed Jer­ry Gar­cia, Mick­ey Hart, David Gris­man, and Mimi Farina.

Over the years, Pete has worked on many ben­e­fits with Bob Weir of the Grate­ful Dead includ­ing an ear­ly ver­sion of Rat­dog, and in 2001 he formed his own band Dawn Patrol.

In 1999, Pete and Jor­ma Kauko­nen per­formed with Phil Lesh in sev­er­al Phil and Friends show along with Steve Kimock at the Warfield The­ater in San Fran­cis­co. The week­end of shows were even­tu­al­ly released on a CD called, “And Love Will See You Through”.

He is cur­rent­ly a full-time mem­ber of Moon­al­ice, also fea­tur­ing Roger & Ann McNamee, Bar­ry Sless, and John Molo. He also a mem­ber of The David Nel­son Band, and flies around the coun­try play­ing one-off gigs with artists like, Steve Kimock, Los Cen­zon­tles with Dave Hidal­go and Fla­co Jimenez, Max Baco, Dave Alvin, Peter Rowan, Vince Her­man, Har­vey Man­del, Nick Graven­i­tas, Eric McFad­den, and Rich Kirch, and is col­lab­o­rat­ing on an audio/visual project with renowned visu­al artist, Andreas Nottebohm.

Career overview

In 1964 and 1965, Pete toured Britain with the Sons of Fred, record­ing five sin­gles at E.M.I.’s Abbey Road Stu­dios in Lon­don. Next, after a brief stint on key­boards play­ing Motown songs with Fleur De Lys, he formed the under­ground psy­che­del­ic band Sam Gopal Dream along with renowned gui­tarist, Mick Hutchin­son and Tabla play­er Sam Gopal. In 1967, Jimi Hen­drix joined the band onstage for a night of very intense jam­ming. Pete then record­ed key­boards with blues­man Fred­dy King’s Euro­pean back­ing band, Steamham­mer. In 1969, Pete worked as a ses­sion musi­cian in Lon­don, includ­ing play­ing bass on Mar­i­on Segals, clas­sic folk rock Jade album with Ter­ry Cox from Pen­tan­gle. He then flew to the USA to form Sil­ver Meter with Leigh Stevens and Micky Waller, and lat­er the orig­i­nal Stone­ground, who toured Europe and the US. Both bands were man­aged by Tom Don­ahue, pio­neer of the FM music radio format.
Pete record­ed piano and bass on Rod Stewart’s Gaso­line Alley in 1970.

In 1971, he played bass on the first Papa John Creach solo album in San Fran­cis­co. After record­ing on Rod’s Every Pic­ture Tells a Sto­ry in 1971, Pete joined The Long John Baldry Blues Band for their first tour of the Unit­ed States. He was lat­er a found­ing mem­ber of the San Fran­cis­co based band, Cop­per­head, which fea­tured gui­tarist and close friend, John Cipol­li­na. He left the band just before their first album to fly back to Eng­land and record with Rod Stew­art again, return­ing to the U.S. imme­di­ate­ly to play bass with renowned key­boardist, Nicky Hop­kins. Pete played piano with blues­man Nick Graven­i­tas on the noto­ri­ous Mill Val­ley Bunch album dur­ing this peri­od, as well as co-pro­duc­ing and arrang­ing the music for the Kathi McDon­ald album Insane Asy­lum. He also formed a band, Sears, Schon, Erri­co with Greg Erri­co, and Neil Schon. Pete did quite a bit of ses­sion work as well, includ­ing work­ing on the album, Bet­ty Davis (Miles Davis’s wife) which many con­sid­er to be one of the sem­i­nal funk albums of all time.

In 1975, Pete (on piano) and Jer­ry Gar­cia played on Robert Hunter’s album, Tiger Rose.

In 1988, Jer­ry Gar­cia was a guest on Pete’s album, Watch­fire, along with David Gris­man, Mick­ey Hart, and sev­er­al oth­er friends. The album dealt with envi­ron­men­tal and human rights issues, with the lyrics writ­ten by writer, Jean­nette Sears. He released an avant garde solo piano album, Mil­len­ni­um, in 2000, and intro­duced the work with an impro­vi­sa­tion­al solo piano con­cert in Tokyo, Japan.

Pete released his third solo CD, The Long Haul, in 2001, fea­tur­ing many guests includ­ing Char­lie Mus­sel­white, John Lee Hook­er and Steve Kimock.

Pete and Jean­nette worked in envi­ron­men­tal and human rights issues for many years, most­ly con­cen­trat­ing their efforts in Cen­tral America.

Pete has writ­ten and record­ed the orig­i­nal scores for many doc­u­men­tary films, including
the award win­ning Fight in the Fields on Cesar Chavez and the Farm Work­ers Union.

List of artists Pete has played with:

For many years Pete has trav­eled back and forth between the US and England…touring, record­ing, and doing ses­sion work on over one hun­dred albums. He has played with many artists, includ­ing John Lee Hook­er, Alvin Young­blood Hart, War­ren Haynes, Steve Kimock, Ron Wood, Jer­ry Gar­cia, Steamham­mer, Long John Baldry, Rod Stew­art, Sil­ver Metre, Peter Rowan, Los Lobos, Steve Earl, Gov­ern­ment Mule, Lev­on Helm, Tra­cy Nel­son, Rich Kirch, Dave Sharp, Zakiya Hook­er, G.E. Smith, Tay­lor Bar­ton, Har­vey Man­del, Nick Graven­ites, Taj Mahal, Mick­ey Hart, Hans Olsen, Mark Naf­tal­in, Bob Weir, Nicky Hop­kins, Left­over Salmon, Bob­by Vega, Don John­son, Mark Unob­sky, Eric McFad­den, Wal­ly Ingram, Smokey Smoth­ers, Lester (Mad Dog) Dav­en­port, Mark Ben­no, John Pop­per, Amos Gar­rett, Craig Hor­ton & The Scratchin Dogs, Rust­ed Root, Nor­ton Buf­fa­lo, Zero, Sons of Fred, the orig­i­nal Stone­ground, the orig­i­nal Sam Gopals Dream with Mick Hutchin­son, Fleur de Lys, British beat poet Mike Hart with fel­low poet and Cream lyri­cist Pete Brown, Leigh Stephens, Jack­ie McCauley and Judy Dyble, Bet­ty Davis, Cop­per­head with John Cipol­li­na, Chris Jag­ger, Roy Harp­er, Steve Gillete, Robert Hunter (“Tiger Rose” album pro­duced by Jer­ry Gar­cia), Ike and Tina Turn­er (record­ed at Bol­ic Sound for two weeks), Papa John Creach, Steve Crop­per, Neil Schon, Derek Trucks, David Lind­ley, Bud­dy Cage and Zen Trick­sters, Tim Rose, Brew­er & Ship­ley, Mer­rell Fankhauser, Maria Mul­daur, Alex Har­vey, Wavy Gravy, Kim Fow­ley, Fred­dy Roulette, Kathi McDon­ald, Sly Stone, Chet Nichols, The Point­er Sis­ters, Made­line Bell, Nils Lof­gren, Big Broth­er, Shana Mor­ri­son, Floyd “Red Crow” West­er­man, Den­nis Banks, Char­lie Hill, Mick Gillette, Lar­ry Gra­ham, Wayne Jack­son & the Mem­phis Horns, Mal Sharpe, Ter­ry Hag­ger­ty, Zyde­co Flames, Lorin & Chris Rowan, Julie Lar­son, Ultra Vio­let, Mark Karen, Michael Dia­mond, David Hayes, Quick­sil­ver Mes­sen­ger Ser­vice, Fly­ing Oth­er Broth­ers, Fred­die Hugh­es, Hen­ry Kaiser, Bil­ly Kruet­zam, Don­na Jean God­chaux, and David Nelson.

He has also sat in or jammed with such peo­ple as, Jimi Hen­drix, Car­los San­tana, Yehu­di Menuhin, Lit­tle Feat, The All­man Broth­ers, Gra­ham Bond, Sam Bush, T‑Bone Bur­nett, Coun­try Joe McDon­ald, Jesse McReynold’s, Hubert Sum­lin, Ziga­boo Mod­eliste, Sug­ar Blue, Vass­er Clements, Elvis Costel­lo, James Bur­ton, David Cros­by, John­ny John­son, Paul But­ter­field, Mike Bloom­field, Boz Scaggs, Merl Saun­ders, Chris Whit­ley, Shan­non McNal­ly, Frank Mari­no, Trey Anas­ta­sio, Holy Modal Rounders, John Sebas­t­ian, High­er Ground, Pine­top Perkins, Ken Kesey, Blues Trav­el­er, Hot But­tered Rum, Gan­dalf Mur­phy and the Slam­bov­ian Cir­cus of Dreams, Ron Thomp­son & the Resis­tors, Grate­ful Dead, Eric Bur­don and the Ani­mals, Lau­rie Lewis, Hawai­ian Slack Key mas­ter George Kahumoku Jr and many more.