Phases of Musical Fate: Aaron Gallagher Riding the Wave of the Unexpected
By Julie Perine on June 10, 2012
That sounded more like the future of his buddy, Brooks Parker, from Fairmont.
He was the musician. Gallagher was the athlete, a regular on the baseball field and basketball court during the years leading up to and including 2003, his senior year. His short-term plans: To play baseball and study biology at West Virginia Wesleyan. His long-term goal: To become a doctor; likely in optometry.
But during his senior year at Wesleyan, Gallagher picked up a guitar and a whole new world opened up for him.
“I started taking guitar lessons, but it didn’t feel like it helped me as much as it should have, so I tried to learn on youtube. There were a few good people, but I found that some just wanted to show off,” he said. “So I told myself that once I learned to play a little, I’d post lessons for beginners – the average person who didn’t know what the strings or parts of the guitar were even called.”
And so he did and people took notice – lots of them. The postings led to an endorsement with Taylor Guitars. Some lessons got hits from tens of thousands of people, including Jim Melanson of Toronto, Canada.
“He told me he was a web designer and had learned to play guitar from my video. He said he felt like he ripped me off for free lessons and wanted to design a site for me,” Gallagher said. “We exchanged like 100 emails and talked on the phone. I gave him some ideas and he ran with it and built my website.”
That site was called Free and Easy Guitar (www.freeandeasyguitar.com), which grew to include some 400 videos and accessed by about 40 million.
“I had one video that got 7 million views in one day,” Gallagher said. “That’s really not typical. It’s just one of those things.”
It seems those out-of-the-ordinary circumstances just kept happening, further launching Gallagher into a career with music.
After receiving a bachelor’s in biology from Wesleyan, Gallagher opted not to go right into medical school, but instead take a little time off. He relocated to Raleigh, NC to work in the biotechnology field. It was there that he met Chris Hendricks, the next link in his musical fate.
“I met Chris about two and a half years ago. I saw him on stage at a coffee shop. He had cerebral palsy and he was so talented. I saw him as this kid with unlimited potential; just someone who needed a push and a little help,” he said. “So I asked him if he wanted a career in music and I started managing him. We worked together recording albums and trying to put a band together.”
Gallagher represented Hendricks and also served as an intermittent member of the band. The regionally-touring Chris Hendricks Band was born.
Johnson & Johnson heard about the band’s circuit at schools and proposed a trip to The Chris Hendricks Band – to fly them to New York City to film a documentary: “Rise Up to The Chris Hendricks Story,” now found on You Tube and the band’s website, www.chrishendricksband.com.
That led to Hendricks doing more motivational speaking, including that on a corporate level.
“At his first show in Florida, Chris got a standing ovation and they booked us for three more showsi n Bridgewater, NJ, Philadelphia and Newport Beach, Calif.,” Gallagher said.
In the meantime, their band was thriving with live performances of their original tunes, including “Noise,” which caught the attention of the NHL. Soon, it was playing in arenas prior to games of the Raleigh Hurricanes and the Miami Panthers.
“They played it right before the face-off, when they turn the lights down and play the psyche-up videos,” Gallagher said. “The Panthers brought us down in December for a big New Year’s Eve concert outside the arena after a home game. There were 7,000-8,000 people.”
A representative of Sanofi-Aventis, a leading pharmaceutical company in the area of diabetes and cancer meds, caught wind of the band’s music and message.
“Someone from Sanofi had hard ‘Noise’ at a hockey game and seen the lyrics on the jumbotron,” Gallagher said. “She liked the lyrics and was trying to change the direction of the company. She actually called us to license our song to use in one of their corporate videos.”
The French company debuted the video at their worldwide global sales meeting in no other city but Paris France, at the Louvre.
The Chris Hendricks Band presently consists of Hendricks, Gallagher and Mark McKee, with whom Gallagher was impressed for not only his guitar talent, but also as a producer. The pair of musicians co-own a recording studio in Raleigh.
In March, Gallagher started working for a German company, Gerstel Pharmaceuticals and Biotechnology.That same month, he embarked upon a mission trip with his church to Amacuapa Valley in Honduras.
It just seems to have been meant to be.
“If I wouldn’t have moved down here, the snowball effect with the musical stuff wouldn’t have happened,” Gallagher said.
As for Parker? He landed a pretty good gig, too. He works for “Queen of Christian Pop,” Amy Grant.
The Chris Hendricks Band is coming to Bridgeport soon - headlining at the Benedum Festival 7 p.m. Saturday, July 14.