Born Christopher Charles Geppert hails from San Antonio, Texas. Right out of the gate Cross was a commercial success. In 1979 he won 5 Grammy Awards for his self named debut album. Starting off Cross was in a San Antonio based cover band called Flash before signing with Warner Brothers. Although known for his vocals, Cross was asked to play guitar with Steely Dan. A fun fact is that he once filled in for lead guitarist, Richie Blackmore of Deep Purple when Blackmore was to ill to go on stage in 1970.
In one of my favorite venues, The Mayo Performing Arts Center, Christopher Cross brought both a tight band and an eclectic foray of music. Cross mixed older commercial songs and some newer ones that span over 15 albums and 40 years of music. Humble and funny the audience felt like they were spending a one on one evening with the singer at his home rather than a concert hall. Cross gave us insight into his songs and the people who helped make them as well as the musicians who influenced him personally.
The night had a variation of soulful bluesy songs like the evenings second song, “All Right”, “Never Be the Same’ (the third song), “Baby It’s on You” and “Say You Will be Mine”. Songs in the Jazz genre like: “Sailing”, “The Best You Can Do” (Arthur’s Theme) and “Roberta” ( a song about Joannie Mitchell- her real name is Roberta Anderson). “Say You Will Be Mine” had a R&B swing to it, much better than original recording with Nicolette Larson. Here, Cross and the band went for a more experimental affect.
It is the singer/ guitarist’s unique sound that makes him an immediate success with the self titled: “Christopher Cross” in 1979. Songs like: “Ride Like the Wind”, “Sailing”, “Never Be the Same” and “Say You’ll Be Mine”. “Ride Like The Wind” hit #2 on the U.S. Hot 100, “Sailing” hit #1. “Never Be the Same” hit #1 on The Adult Contemporary chart. Cross was the first artist to win all four general field awards in a single ceremony, bringing home Record of the Year, Album of the Year, Song of the Year and Best New Artist.
His second album, “Another Page” 1983 produced “All Right”, “No Time To Talk” and “Think of Laura”. Not only did this album sell well, it received Gold Certification. His career seemed to be on auto-pilot, but in 1984, as music television grew and MTV was the basis for the era’s sound, Cross’s star quickly dimmed. The mainstream music scene was a bad fit for the singer/songwriter and as such his brand of Adult Contemporary music declined in popularity. His next two albums (1985 and 1988) did not produce any Top 40 hits. In the 1990’s he had three more albums, some of the releases had critical response, however, he was unable to attract the mass audience he once enjoyed.
Cross likes to refer to himself as an “Army brat”, as he is the son of a U.S. Army Pediatrician stationed at Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, D.C. in the mid 1950’s, acting as physician to President Dwight Eisenhower’s grandchildren. Christopher Cross’s dad was a bass guitarist himself and Cross attributes that to his love of music.
In this somewhat intimate setting of Mayo Arts Center, Cross was very open about his life, music and the people he met along the way. Cross is genuine, his stories like the one he told about Dudley Moore and Liza Minelli before “Arthur’s Theme” really brought to light how a musician from San Antonio, through his magnificent songwriting and superb vocals was able to rise to the level that not many people could not even comprehend in life. Yet in the duration of forty years, Christopher Cross still has gratitude towards all his accomplishments.