One pound, eight ounces
Tony was born prematurely at 24 and 1/2 weeks gestation, weighing only one pound, eight ounces. He wasn't supposed to live through the night. His birth mother, racked with guilt and thinking she had caused Tony's premature birth and the problems he was having, abandoned Tony.
After an extensive hospital stay and many medical procedures, Tony went into medical foster care for a short while. Just before his first birthday, Tony was adopted by his grandparents, Gordon and Diane Drake and they became Tony's mother and father.
Two months after Tony's adoption, his left eye was operated on to fix a detached retina, in the hope he would get some sight in one of his eyes. Recovery from the surgery was difficult, young Tony had to lie on his stomach and had to have his hands secured, loose enough so he could move around, but prevent him from turning over, disturbing the protective bubble placed over his eye or causing other problems with the surgery. In spite of all the precautions, all Tony got from the surgery was a little light perception in the eye, as only ¾ of the retina was attached.
Tony's adoptive parents, Diane and Gordon, were dedicated to not let Tony's problems hinder him from discovering the world. Gordon took Tony for long stroller rides around their Portland neighborhood. He'd lift Tony up to let him feel the tree trunks, smell the flowers or touch the leaves.
Tony progressed rapidly with their loving care. He rolled over at eighteen months, crawled at the age two , took my first steps at the age four and at five years old, his cousin with a guitar taught Tony to play "Tom Dooley". Afterwards, his parents bought Tony a toy guitar, but it wasn't designed to play like a real instrument, so Tony convinced them to get him a child's guitar to play.
At nine, Tony tried the piano, but didn't enjoy it. Shortly after that he took electric guitar lessons from a jazz and blues player in Portland, Oregon. Tony was hooked and the guitar became his passion. He took three years of lessons, started playing lead guitar and at twelve years old, began playing in front of audiences. He's continued to amaze his audiences every where he's played.
Tony has had to adapt his guitar playing style. He's tried it all different ways; stringing the guitar backward, forward, holding it up, and holding it flat. Tony settled on playing with the strings on the normal way; only he lays it flat—and plays it backward.
While his first love is the blues. Tony has the amazing gift to be able to learn music by ear. He can listen to an artist on CD, immediately hear the key the song is played in, and then can sing and play the song. He seemingly takes on the very voice and style of the artist, be it bluesman Jonny Lang, country stars Big and Rich or a song in Spanish or German.
While playing at an October Festival in Portland, the festival co-ordinator asked if Tony knew any German music. Tony took a lunch break and spent thirty minutes listening to a CD of German music, then came back from lunch and played German music for the crowds.
Tony's in his twenties now, and has played with such notables as Jonny Lang and Roy Roberts. Tony continues to perform and is working on his next CD.
Pick up Tony's first CD, "Touched By An Angel" and tell your friends about this amazing artist.