West Valley grad Glenn Symmonds drums with Eddie Money on Thursday
Many people heading to Daley’s Cheap Shots on Thursday might be going to hear Eddie Money sing – reliving moments from their youth through music.
But the performance will be a homecoming for Money’s drummer Glenn Symmonds, 57, who graduated from West Valley High School in 1973.
Symmonds came from a musical family that had moved to the area from California when he was 11 years old. He’d been getting in trouble in California – “stealing was my big thing,” he said, “skipping school and telling lies” – so his parents essentially threw a dart at a map and ended up here.
Moving to the Spokane area paid off for him in a number of ways: He enjoyed four seasons, a wholesome lifestyle and involvement in music.
He remembers his West Valley band director, Dean Rowbotham, with fondness.
“He was very instrumental in developing my full spectrum of being a musician,” Symmonds said.
Rowbotham wrote to him a year after Symmonds graduated and left the area to pursue a music career, telling the drummer he was proud of him.
While he was still in school, Symmonds joined local bands, touring around the area on weekends.
At the time, Spokane was a “melting pot of fantastic talents,” he said.
Another inspiration for Symmonds was Howard “Howie” Robbins, the director of the Percussion Nauts, a local drum corps Symmonds played in during that time. When Symmonds last came through Spokane, in 1991, Robbins saw him perform at what was then the Opera House.
“He taught hundreds of drummers,” Symmonds said.
Robbins died last year at the age of 92. At his memorial service, several former students honored him by forming Robbins’ Rebels Fife and Drum Corps, a group that carries on Robbins’ musical traditions. At Thursday’s performance, Robbins’ Rebels will perform as one of the opening bands, and Symmonds will join them for one piece.
Symmonds recalls the Percussion Nauts’ first tour of Europe, when he was in the ninth grade. He wanted long hair, which wasn’t allowed in the drum corps, so he stayed home.
After high school, Symmonds went to California, where he met Money; he’s been performing with him on and off for 38 years.
Aside from Money, Symmonds has performed with UB40, Etta James, George Benson, The Cult, Peter Tosh and more. Over the past several years, Symmonds has been writing and composing his own music. His latest album, “Southern Poets, Trains and Troubadours,” is sold on iTunes.
One of the songs, “Railroad Man,” is a tribute to his father, Robert “Guitar Whitey” Symmonds, an old-time, train-hopping hobo. Symmonds said his father rode the rails before he married and had a family, but when the children grew up and moved away, Guitar Whitey walked to the intersection of Trent and Fancher – not far from where Daley’s Cheap Shots is today – and hopped the first train out of town.
Symmonds said he inherited his own wanderlust from his father, something he appreciates, since he is on the road about 160 days out of the year, both with Money and for his solo act.
When he’s not touring, Symmonds said he enjoys being at home in Bethany, Mo., where he plays golf and volunteers at his son’s school. Marley, 13, plays the saxophone.
“He is gung-ho music,” Symmonds said.
Symmonds said he’s reconnected with many Spokane-area friends through social media and expects to see some of them while he’s here.
If he couldn’t have had the musical career he’s had, he said he would have had to find a way to play music anyway.
“I’ve seen the world and got paid for it,” he said. “I’ve never had a day job.”