Inside a home studio in the Sun City Anthem community, an award-winning composer is arranging orchestra music for legends Frankie Valli and Kenny Loggins.
Over a 60-year career, Artie Schroeck has worked with the greats who wrote the sound track for the mid- to last century: Sinatra. Sammy. Liza. Manilow. Anka. Torme. Diamond. Petula.
"I really have never had any trouble musically," Schroeck said recently in his Golf Mesa village home. "It was always so easy for me. I started when I was 5 years old. I don't remember ever not playing music."
He's 70 now, capped with snowy white hair. He walks with a bit of a shuffle. Schroeck, who has been married to his wife, Linda November, for 12 years, calls himself absentminded and a hermit. But what a hut he hides himself in.
Schroeck's studio contains a drum set, three keyboards, a vibraphone, a percussion instrument which uses aluminum bars rather than wood, and a guitar and bass for impromptu jam sessions with friends, since he's not as proficient on the string instruments. He works on an iMac. Speakers are stacked around the work space; wires snake across tables, creating jumbled jumping ropes.
It's here that Schroeck avoids retirement. He alluded to a secret album project with Valli and The Four Seasons, of which he'll only say: "It's something completely different. Frankie Valli is only going to be a guest star. The Four Seasons are the main artists."
He's arranging for a swing band with Loggins for another album. Both will be out next year, Schroeck said.
Performance isn't out of the picture yet, though he admits he's more into writing music than playing it in front of an audience.
Schroeck started performing at the age of 8, on the Atlantic City piers playing drums and tap dancing with his brother.
Schroeck and November, 64, will perform a short concert at a Florida retirement community in March. The couple last performed together in January 2008 at the Suncoast Casino.
"He's my greatest friend. The lover of my life. My soul mate, and when he dies I'll have to kill myself," November said dramatically.
They moved to Sun City Anthem in 2001, picking southern Nevada because of the weather. ("Darling, I wear a mink coat when it's under 100 degrees," November said.)
Hanging on the wall of their foyer is the 1967 Recording Industry Association of America pop-single gold record for Valli's "Can't Take My Eyes Off You." Schroeck arranged the music.
Schroeck still takes calls from Frank Sinatra Jr. He considers the song "Here's to the Band" that he wrote for the elder Sinatra as a career highlight.
Their golden years will be here in Henderson. "They're going to take us out in a box," Schroeck said.
He first visited Las Vegas in 1958, when Vegas drew the big stars into its smoky lounges.
His last thoughts on Las Vegas, the entertainment capital: "It lacks music, the way the casinos have cut back on the lounges. They used to be the place for lounges and lounge acts. You used to have Frank Sinatra and all those guys come in and play with the house band. Just like that. Now it's not that way anymore. They (casinos) don't care about the lounges. Bring back the gangsters," Schroeck said with a smile.
Becky Bosshart can be reached at 990-7748 or [email protected].