Victor McClain, a native of Southern California, grew up at the time of Doo-Whop, Rock'N Roll, and Jazz. At an early age, music was a big part of his spirit. Singing and dancing to songs of that era was a natural. "I remember asking my mom about certain songs, and she would say stuff like, 'you were only three or four years old when that song was out'".
One day there was an instrument demonstration at his elementary school and after that, he had to have a clarinet. "I just liked how it sounded." After many months of asking for a clarinet, his mother, unable to afford a new one at the time, found him one at a local pawn shop. That was quite a few years ago and he still has it to this day. "It's an old metal clarinet, and I still play it once and awhile." When Victor got his beginner's music book, he taught himself the basics of playing his instrument and reading music. In a short while he began playing by ear to jazz saxophonist, Hank Crawford. "We were living in the San Francisco Bay area at the time and the song I was playing to had "I Left My Heart in San Francisco" on the album (there was no such thing as CD's at that time). That was the first real song I ever played. He soon was playing to other artist's albums, all by ear, note for note, lick for lick. "I loved playing my clarinet and took it everywhere I went."
Victor soon was playing at family gatherings. "When we got together for Thanksgiving or whatever the occasion, I would take my 'horn' and perform for the family. I miss those days." While in the bay area, he began playing solos at school recitals, winning many first place ribbons and awards. "There was a park between the house and the school, and in the recreational facility they would have free jazz concerts which only made me want to play more and some times there were concerts in the park." (The school was Ralph J. Bunch elementary in Oakland, California.)
By the time he was in Junior High (now known as Middle School) he had reached the beginning stages of advanced musicianship, on his own initiative. When the family returned to Southern California, Victor auditioned for the marching band at Washington Jr. High in Pasadena. "I was scared to death, but I got in. My band instructor was young; this was his first teaching job. His name was Terry Newman. Mr. Newman took a special interest in all the exceptional students and formed a jazz ensemble. He needed someone to play the alto sax and persuaded Victor to take up this instrument. The band played at many school functions, talent shows and ball games. From that experience with the ensemble, Victor's first band was formed. "We called ourselves 'The Soulful Crusaders'. We played songs by artists like The Crusaders, Chicago, and Blood Sweat & Tears, just to name a few. The band played all over the Los Angeles area and even made an appearance on a talent show televised on C.B.S.
Victor took his music into college, studying music, pretty much without any formal lessons. "I went to Pasadena City College and studied music theory. For a city college, their music program was very intense. At that time they had one of the most advanced music study programs. Many teachers in 1972 were well known classical and jazz artists."
While in college he joined a rock band with guitarist, Skip Burrus called 'Bluefield'. Even though they played rock music, Victor fell into the mix. He talked about how he used to make guitars with a soapbox and fishing string when he was a kid and imitate groups like "The Beatles, Paul Revere and The Raiders, and of course, The Rolling Stones". "Playing with 'Bluefield' was a great experience. I went from Jazz and R&B to Rock without missing a beat. Skip and I have been friends ever since." As a matter of fact, Skip and Victor did some song writing and recording together. Skip's singing style reminded him of 'David Gates', who Victor liked a lot. You can hear 2 songs on Victor's gospel CD 'My Prayer' written by Skip Burrus.
After 'Bluefield' he joined a band called 'Messiah'. Messiah played all over Southern California making a name for themselves. Soon they joined up with 20th Century Records and producer Bob Crewe (Frankie Valli), and for a brief moment became the '11th Hour', releasing an album and a single. The band had many dealings with record companies but nothing took off. "After dealing with the label companies, we got burned out with the head trips so we decided to try to record our own music ourselves." After toying with a concept and a name, "The United Rhythm & Groove Exchange" (U.R.G.E.) was born.
The nucleus from the old band, Victor, brothers Hector & Charlie Estrada, bought a home studio and began writing and recording their own material. U.R.G.E. stayed together for many years but did not release any music.
Victor later hooked up with 'L.A. Faultline' a Latin rock band. The band recorded two CDs and one single while Victor was a member, and by that time he was well versed in playing and recording. Most of the singing, playing, recording, arranging and mixing was done by Victor. L.A. Faultline played the circuit from Santa Barbara to San Diego to Palm Springs, along with other acts like 'Malo, War, Tierra, and Tito Puente'.
Victor left the band and recorded his first CD 'Familiar Faces'. From start to finish, graphics included, all was done by him. Still collaborating with the Estrada brother's he reignited the Groove Exchange with the brothers as writers. "We wrote a lot of good songs together" he mentions "and we lived together for a long time. We were family before musicians, and that is always more important. Many songs on Victor's CD's are written by Victor and Hector & Charlie Estrada, the original U.nited R.hythm & G.roove E.xchange. Before moving to Metropolitan Atlanta, Victor played in his last band, U.W.O.(United World Orchestra). "Its time to concentrate on CD production" he said. "I'll still perform but only as a solo artist, no more bands."
Victor's live show is a selective selection from smooth jazz, standards, funk, rock, to pop and R&B, featuring songs by well known artists while singing and playing the sax, flute, keyboards such as 'Stevie Wonder, Chicago, Duke Ellington, Steely Dan, Earth, Wind & Fire, George Duke, and Antonio Carlos-Jobin' just to name a few.
"Kick back, relax, and take a listen. Peace."