Mark Hitt

Ratrace Choir, Witch Hunt, Hindenburg, The Tubes, Richie Scarlet, Leslie West, John Entwistle, John Bonham

Mark Hitt is the world-class guitarist that recorded with Maggie Bell, John Bonham and Robert Plant before Bonham’s untimely death.  Also known for his work with Rat Race Choir, Mark is considered by many to be one of today’s greatest guitarists.  He has influenced the likes of Steve Vai, Joe Satriani and Steve Stevens among others.  Hitt’s other credits include several soundtracks and a studio stint with The Tubes.

Plus he produced Ed Roman's 2nd CD  Wowie Zowie !!!!!

Mark is one of my oldest and dearest friends,  He is one of the few people that I miss from New York & Connecticut. Mark has inspired me for over 30 years. Mark and Richie Scarlet did a lot of the guitar work on both my CD's.  Richie produced the first one and Mark produced the second one.

Playing with those 2 guys plus Steve Luongo on drums has been the highpoint of my musical career !!!

Ed Roman

 

 



Mark playing an early  Quicksilver 1999

Mark's personal Quicksilver is Quilted maple over Korina construction. Mark Told me that his Quicksilver was the only guitar that ever beat out his 1960's 355 that he has been playing for the past 37 years.

Any one who knows Mark will testify to the fact that he has been using that 355 for most of his life.

 


Doug Palmer & Mark Hitt 2003

 


Mark's 2002 Quicksilver is done in "Firestorm Hellfire". His second guitar was made  oversize because Mark is 6'6" and a normal sized guitar looks too small for him.

Of all the people I build guitars for, Mark Hitt is one of the most talented musicians I have ever had the privilege of working with. stay tuned for more pictures and a commentary from Mark himself.

Ed

 

 


 

 

New York's Legendary Mark Hitt
Mark on the cover of the 1979 Dimarzio Catalog,
DiMarzio was the only game in town back then,
Seymour Duncan didn't come on the scene till the early 80's.

Today like most guitarists, Mark uses Seymour Duncan Pickups. 


Mark Hitt's Gibson ES355

 This early 60's 355 has belonged to Mark Hitt of  "Ratrace Choir" for almost 40 years.

This Paint & Repair Performed 1994

This Guitar was Originally Built By Gibson in the very early 60's.

When Gibson was Still Gibson

 

 

If you lived In New York, New Jersey or Connecticut over the past 30 years you probably remember seeing Mark playing this guitar. (it used to be sunburst).

This Guitar was played VERY  MEGA MUCHO  EXTREMELY  HARD!!!!!!!  7 days a week for over 30 years and if you ever saw Ratrace play you know what I mean. Ratrace was the Quintessential Cover Band. They were capable of  emulating "Jethro Tull"  & "Led  Zeppelin" better than the original Bands.

When they played  "The Who" "Moody Blues" or "UK". You would swear you were listening to the original album with the volume set to 1000. They used a huge Quadraphonic PA System and a bank of Eventide effects during the 70's that still makes my hair stand up 30 years later when I even think about it. Their sound man Alan Ade was a true genius.  (See some of this on YouTube)

Some of the greatest music I ever heard in my life came out of this guitar.  In fact seeing Ratrace was one of my life's major inspirations and a large reason for me getting into the music business in the first place.  I remember hearing Mark play Hammer-ons in the early 70's long before I ever heard of Eddie Van Halen. I'll bet this neck saw more beer bottle slides in it's life than most people can drink.  I can remember guitar players stacked 10 deep standing in front of Mark with their Jaws on the ground staring at his fingers (I was one of them).

I swear to God!!! I once heard Mark make this guitar sound exactly like the Hammond Organ solo on Deep Purple's "Hush".

So when Mark asked me to repair it I was flattered, honored. and a little scared.

The condition of this guitar was nothing less than totally horribly atrocious, The neck had been repaired twice from two separate breaks the repairs were done well but they were 100% visible. There was literally no binding left on the guitar, the wood on the top was worn almost through in several places. The electronics were rusted out, a total mess the frets were played down to the wood, the fingerboard was almost scalloped by Mark's fingers. Mark uses very heavy strings. The body had major cracks in the wood and the seams. The guitar was just about ready to literally come apart top sides back and neck joint.  Mark had resisted fixing the guitar for so long for the simple fact that he used it daily and simply could not make a living without it.

Fixing this guitar required a new fingerboard, frets, totally rebinding the body & neck and some serious surgery to the top, back, sides and neck.  Mark was not in the least concerned about originality he was not worried a bit about resale value. What he was concerned about was reliability and functionality and tone.  I installed a Mike Christian Piezo System. I reworked the pickups that were custom wound for Mark by Larry Dimarzio In 1980.  (Today Mark is using Seymour Duncan's)

When the guitar was done I was very worried that Mark might be displeased.  I was quite nervous because I had been tampering with black magic. You always hear about guitars getting redone or re-fretted and losing their tone and or Mojo.

When a man and an instrument are as close as Mark and this guitar I knew I was seriously playing with fire. I'm sure that Mark knew every centimeter of that guitar, I am sure he knew every dent in every fret and every divot on the fingerboard well enough to give them all separate names.  Here I was making  literally hundreds of changes to this guitar.

I delivered the guitar to Mark one rainy night at a gig in Mahopac New York. I don't mind telling you I was a bit jittery. I asked him how it looked and he seemed quite pleased. (I wasn't worried about how it looked I knew that was cool) I also knew it would be at least a week before I would find out what he really thought.

To make a long story short  Mark loves the guitar and takes it with him everywhere he goes.  Most guitar players carry several picks in their wallet. Mark carries his guitar (this guitar) everywhere. Mark was given several new Gibson 335's by the Gibson factory,  He doesn't use them. Mark uses ebony fretboards because he would probably wear through a rosewood fretboard in less than a year.

Today Mark Hitt uses a Quicksilver Guitar.

Occasionally he still pulls out the 355 but the Quicksilver smokes it,  Ask him he will tell you !!!

One of my proudest moments was when Mark put away the 355. The day he switched to the Quicksilver.  No less than 30 other companies had tried and failed. 
Ed Roman

 


Mark Hitt 1982 Playing A Hamer Special

Photo Courtesy Of Tom Hughes
 

Tom Hughes was another one of those guitar players like myself, we would stand transfixed in front of Mark with our jaws on the ground all through the 70's, 80's and 90's.  Tom bought the guitar from Mark way back in the 80's and had it for 20 years he gave it to me as a gift in 2004.  One of the best gifts I have ever received.  I restored the guitar to new and I will never sell it.  (Thanks Tom)

Ed  Roman


 


Torque

 A new twist on music

We last caught up with Torque in the October, 2002 issue of More Sugar. At that time the band was preparing to perform at BB King Blues Club in NYC at a CD listening party for The John Entwistle Band’s new double live album (Left For Live – Deluxe on Koch Records). After performing a set of original material Torque paid tribute to the late John Entwistle by hosting a jam consisting primarily of Entwistle material. The night was a big success and the CD is currently in stores and doing very well.

So what has Torque been up to lately? Recently Torque went into the studio to participate in a George Harrison tribute album. The album features an interesting group of artists including Todd Rundgren, Bill Wyman, Mark Ford, Roger McGuinn and others.

 

Steve Luongo, Torque’s drummer, was asked to produce three tracks for the album. He used the members of his new band Torque (Mark Hitt-guitar, Mark Clarke-bass & Chris Clark-keys) as the backing band on two of the tracks. The first track was a blues version of “Old Brown Shoe” performed by Leslie West. Torque went into Brandon Post Productions in Somers, NY and recorded the backing track direct to disk on a state of the art Pro Tools system. Luongo took the removable disk drive with the session on it and brought it to Show Place Studios in Dover, NJ where Leslie West added his vocals and a slide guitar track. The drive containing all of the performances was then brought back to Brandon Post where Jim Roberts mixed the completed session.

The second track would prove to be more challenging. The song was “Here Comes The Sun.” And the artist was none other than the late bassist for The Who, John Entwistle. John and Steve were actually the first artists to be invited to participate on the tribute album. After John passed away Steve was left to complete the track on his own.

Steve managed to use a bass track of John’s that they recorded last year. Using the Pro Tools system at Brandon Post and with the help of Pro Tools editor Matt Harwood, Steve was able to use that track as the foundation for Entwistle’s version of this Harrison classic. At this point the only instrument playing is the bass so Luongo added his own human click track on a cowbell in order to be able to follow the time of the bass while he played the drums later with the band. Once this was done it would now be possible for the band to perform together in the studio as if Entwistle was really there. The cowbell track would eventually be erased.

The bass track was already being well taken care of by John Entwistle so Mark Clarke, Torque’s bassist, traded in his bass for the lead vocal spot on this track. After the basic track was complete Mark Hitt added some accent guitar tracks that were played through a rotary speaker cabinet known as a Leslie. The Leslie is usually used with a Hammond Organ. This unorthodox recording technique is reminiscent of the Beatle’s experimental production style.

“The track is very much an Entwistle track” said Steve Luongo. “It’s rough and edgy with a lot of energy. It was sort of strange being in the studio and hearing John in my headphones again. It made me sad. I really miss him and I miss making records with him.”

The CD titled Songs From the Material World is due in stores February 25th, which would have been Harrison’s 60th birthday.

Once those two tracks were completed Torque went back into the studio to begin recording their own album. Armed with an arsenal of Luongo & Hitt compositions they started recording at Brandon Post Productions in early December 2002. Many people recognize Steve Luongo and Mark Hitt as original members of Rat Race Choir. “Mark and I have teamed up a few times outside of Rat Race” Luongo said. “This time I think we’ve caught lightning in a bottle.” Mark Hitt described the music by saying “Its high energy progressive rock that still maintains commercial value. Steve and I have written together in the past with great results. It’s nice to finally hear the music that’s been in my head coming out of a big pair of studio monitors.” Luongo added “I think we’ve recorded some amazing stuff already.

“I am excited about this music and that’s really saying something. I have wanted to do a progressive project for a long time. In this one everyone gets to really stretch out musically. Torque has taken some of the best parts of our collective musical history and brought them into the 21st century.”


 

Mark Hitt Uses Quicksilver Guitars


 

 

 

Steve LuongoMark HittMark ClarkeChris Clark

          TORQUE: features the soaring guitar expertise of Mark Hitt, the dynamic bass and vocals of Mark Clarke the legendary powerhouse drumming of Steve Luongo and the keyboard mastery of Chris Clark.  The band says the name “Torque” describes the music perfectly.  Torque has recently completed two tracks for the upcoming George Harrison tribute album due for release in February 2003.  They backed up guitar legend Leslie West on Harrison’sOld Brown Shoe.”  Torque’s second track was with bass guitar legend John Entwistle of The Who.  Torque’s bassist Mark Clarke assumed the lead vocal duties while Entwistle played bass as only he can on this contemporary version of the Harrison classic “Here Comes The Sun.”  Both of these tracks and a third by Mark Ford were produced by Torque drummer Steve Luongo.  Torque is currently in the studio recording their first album.

 

Steve Luongo was a founding member of Rat Race Choir but is most recognized as the drummer/producer of The John Entwistle Band.  Steve has recorded or performed with many well-known artists such as Todd Rundgren, John Entwistle, Billy Squier, Leslie West, Ann Wilson, Alan Parsons and many others.  Performing under the name Steve Luongo & Friends Steve has played host to just about everyone during the days of the China Club Pro Jams in NYC.  Steve Luongo & Friends has included performances by Rod Stewart, Joe Walsh, Edward Van Halen, Noel Redding, Eddie Vedder and even some vocals and blues harp by Bruce Willis.

 

Mark Hitt is the world-class guitarist that recorded with Maggie Bell, John Bonham and Robert Plant before Bonham’s untimely death.  Also known for his work with Rat Race Choir, Mark is considered by many to be one of today’s greatest guitarists.  He has influenced the likes of Steve Vai, Joe Satriani and Steve Stevens among others.  Hitt’s other credits include several soundtracks and a studio stint with The Tubes.

 

Mark Clarke is best known as the bassist in Billy Squier’s band as well as a founding member of the British rock group Coliseum.  Mark is also a former member of the 70’s UK ensemble Uriah Heep.  And it was Mark Clarke that replaced the late Felix Pappalardi in Mountain.  Mark has toured with several notable people including Roger Daltrey, Davey Jones and Alan Holdsworth.

 

Chris Clark is most recently known as the keyboard player the “The John Entwistle Band.”  He has spent most of his career performing music on Broadway for shows like Miss Saigon and Elton John & Tim Rice’s Aida. Chris Clark has worked with many well known R&B/rock artists including Mary Wilson of the Supremes and he was a regular at the China Club Pro Jams.

 

The band rips though a set of original material along with well placed covers from the band member’s past.  The result is a jaw dropping performance that will leave you breathless.

 

 

 
 
All Celebrity Tribute Pages