It’s funny how when you listen to music you may never know who is playing with the name musician. Many times a popular artist will have session musicians come in and play on a song. Session musicians are musicians available for hire, as opposed to musicians who are either permanent members of a musical outfit or who have acquired fame in their own right. Many go on to a solo career or join a regular band.
One of these unknowns was Chuck Day who was a guitarist and baritone bluesman from South Side Chicago with a name you may not have heard of, but you have probably heard his work. He will be most well known for coming up with “The Riff” in the song “Secret Agent Man”. He has taken his Final Taxi at 65.
Born in 1942, he recorded the single “Pony Tail Partner” under the name Bing Day at Federal Records in 1957. Day recorded several singles over the next ten years as ‘Bing Day’ and as ‘Ford Hopkins’.
He moved to Los Angeles, California, in 1965 and began a career as one of the most listened to “unknown” artists in rock and roll. He became bassist with Johnny Rivers’ Band playing with River on songs like “Seventh Son” and “Poor Side of Town” but he made a name as a musician when he came up with the cords heard in the popular song “Secret Agent Man”. The song was used during the opening titles of British spy series Secret Agent which aired from 1964 to 1966.
Day joined The Mamas and the Papas in 1967 playihng on such classic tracks as “Monday, Monday” and “California Dreamin'”. During this time he became the father of band member Mama Cass Elliott’s daughter, Owen. Elliott never identified him as the father. He was stunned when his daughter, 21 years later, sought him out.
During the ’70s and ’80s Chuck played on numerous recordings including Shel Silverstein’s “Freaker’s Ball”. He also wrote for the soundtracks of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Switchblade Sisters , Blacula and Fritz the Cat
He eventually formed his own band in 1986 called the Burning Sensations also known as the Chuck Day band. They released a CD called, “Desperate Measures” in 1997.