Sunday, February 14, 2016



I am a musician. I have been a musician for most of my life.

I’ve written hundreds of original songs and I play the guitar, keyboards and bass and even program acceptable drum sections from time to time. Even though I am good at what I do, I’ve never reached what I consider to be a successful musical career. If Fact, I still don’t know exactly how one defines success within the music business.

Some people think success is the journey, experiences and the friends you meet along the way. If this is true, then I guess my life in music could be seen as very successful. After getting proficient enough with my musical instrument to write my own original music, I felt I’d reached a milestone and half my picture of success was complete.

I have played a lot of live music as a member of 20 plus Sonoma County bands to date and seen a lot of interesting places and things in my life time. I have been lucky to have met an extraordinarily long list of musical celebrities along the way. I will to mention a few of those celebrity encounters with my musical heroes within this story, the musicians/songwriters who influenced me or meant a lot to me over the years.

I am proud of most of the tunes I’ve created over 35 years and I believe I am a pretty good songwriter now, but creative talent and success in music industry are not synonymous. After a lifetime of chasing my musical dream, I’m now sharing my stories for those who want to learn about the true meaning of stick-to-it-tive-ness.


As I look back, growing up in the Northern California city of Santa Rosa was pretty normal, I suspect. I was born at the start of the sixties and lived in the Northern California Sonoma County region.

Our small city seemed a very safe place for kids to grow up at this time. From my earliest memories I’ve had a fascination with words, lyrics and music. When I was six or seven years old, my parents used to play these syrupy instrumental records The kind with orchestral arrangements of popular songs of the day. Songs like "The Impossible Dream", and the "Hawaii Five-O" theme song.

I remember around the mid-sixties when my parents bought Joan Baez and Credence
Clearwater Revival records. They also bought two Glen Campbell albums: “By The time I get to
Phoenix,” and “Wichita Lineman.” I realized then that music could be something more than a Disney soundtrack, T.V. theme songs and The Archie’s records. I would listen to those first two Glen Campbell records for hours in amazement. How they could tell such swell stories within a song was fascinating to me. These songs were like mini movies and at the time and I would learn every word as I sang along.

Since that young age, I’ve developed a life-long admiration for the original songs of Jimmy Webb and am especially fond of his tune, “Wichita Lineman” which I still consider one of the best songs ever written by anyone who has ever lived.

My first creative memory was in third grade when we were doing a class project. It was a cut-out picture of a bunch of grapes glued to paper. The next day as the glue was drying on our project, I put in some extra effort by writing an original poem to accompany my picture.

I remember it was only 6 or 8 lines, yet the teacher was so thrilled about it that she put my picture and poem on the wall, front and center above all the rest of the pictures our class made.

I realized then that there was something cool about writing poetry and getting praise from others for my effort. I liked that feeling. For my little brother Tim and me, our childhood was like many of the other kids, we liked singing along to our Monkee’s records while holding broom sticks like guitars and pretending to be famous musical stars.

At one point my parents bought me a drum set and my brother a cheap electric guitar. I soon destroyed that kid’s toy drum set and turned my focus towards the guitar my brother had no interest in learning to play. It was hard for me to understand how to play that guitar at first because it was strung for a right handed player and I was a lefty. It made things a bit confusing at first, but those were my 1st toys...

Electric Toys- 1979 -80

Throughout the 70's I was very interested in the local music scene in the North Bay and would often go see original rock bands play in Sonoma and Marin Counties. One of the better bands in our area was a rock power trio called Electric Toys.

The Toys were fronted by a great guitarist/ Singer /Songwriter named Phil Holden, and the bass player was my childhood friend David Payne. I happened to meet Phil at a party one night when I was 18 and asked him if his band ever considered adding another guitar player and to my surprise he said yes, Thinking fast I quickly set up an audition for myself.

I had recently made a huge musical instrument purchase that included a Fender Rhoades Piano a new acoustic guitar and a huge Lab Series guitar amplifier with 2 speaker cabinets. The amp was taller than I was and had a unique tone for being a solid state amp. With pretty decent gear I now had some confidence to do a legitimate band audition.

My audition was a bit scary for me, I was 18 years old and this new band was very organized compared to my previous bands. Electric Toys had rented a huge warehouse and owned a full P.A system as well as many great Guitars and basses. Phil owned some very valuable 12 and 6 string Rickenbacker guitars and also had a huge Pyramid of Orange 4x12 speaker cabinets powered by two 50 watt Marshall Amps in fact, Phil’s set up was very impressive to me and sounded great. I was also impressed that they even had roadies/ family volunteers. I came prepared and went through a few tunes and afterword's everyone seemed happy.

I passed the audition and was thrilled to be joining this really good band and to be playing some really strong and unique original music for the first time. Once I was a confirmed Electric Toys member then things started to move very fast. Within weeks we were recording in a local 8 track studio called La Lomita which soon would be renamed and become the world famous Prairie Sun Studios. We did a four song demo in what was for me my first pro recording session. I was thrilled to be there and paid close attention to the recording techniques as I played my guitar parts as best as possible. The demos came out great and still sound good to this day .

Our drummer was a guy named Bob Burnheart who I thought was a real powerhouse, and certainly the best drummer I had played with up to this point. I believe Phil and Dave thought he was a bit of a loose cannon because of his attitude. They soon gave him the cold boot. I never got a real reason from them why Bob was ousted..

It quickly became apparent that I too was also only a hired gun for the band. Electric Toys was the Dave and Phil show all the way and I had no creative input whatsoever. I was just told what to play and what to sing, I was ok with it at the time because I felt I still had a lot to learn. Professionalism within music was new to me so I just observed and learned as much as I could from this fast moving outfit.

Phil quickly found a new drummer named Joe Murazzo who seemed to them to fit the bill. Dave and Phil were big Who fans and Joe could play Who songs equally as well so they felt his style was a perfect fit. Phil and Dave also found Electric Toys our first band manager, a guy named Tom Boylin. Tom was enthusiastic and had built a custom rehearsal studio and stage for our band in a Petaluma warehouse.

I was delighted by the huge financial investment he was making in the band and felt very lucky to be part of the good fortune we were having. We seemed to have everything going in the right direction. Around the time we moved into this big new studio I bought a new left handed Fender telecaster, so along with my Les Paul, I now had two great left handed guitars that had distinctly different sounds and only made the band sound that much better.

Electric Toys were starting to play some good gigs!

One in particular was opening for big acts like Greg Kihn to a sold out crowd at The Phoenix Theater in Petaluma. The audience was very enthusiastic and loved us, Greg Kihn was on his way up as an artist would become very famous in a few years and have a lot of radio friendly hits like “The Break up Song “and “Jeopardy“. I felt really hopeful in those early days about the possibilities for the Electric Toys. Ironically I would be in many other original bands over the next 20 years that would also play the opening slot for Greg Kihn.

The demos we had just finished recording soon caught the ear of this guitar company’s owner and before long she had serious interest in becoming the band’s new manager. She had a few friends in the music Industry and persuaded her old friend, L.A. producer Paul Rothschild (The Doors, Runaways) to come up to Nor-Cal from L.A to watch us perform a showcase set of originals for him. I was very excited and at the time I thought this was it, we are on our way.

Well, we did our little presentation and after our set and a long discussion with him off he went.
Paul seemed interested in us but not enough to take us under his wing. It baffled me because we were much better than any of the bands he was working with at the time. He was busy producing a record called The Rose with Bette Midler at the time and he suggested we develop our sound a bit more and do more recording. This didn’t dissuade the owner of the guitar factory from her interest in managing us. In fact she knew we were a hot commodity and she obviously made Phil and Dave an even better offer to take over the manager position for the band.

Dave and Phil jumped at the chance so she also built a custom stage and rehearsal studio in her guitar factory and supplied our band with amplifiers, guitars, speaker cabinets, new shockingly bright stage clothes and most importantly good gigs. I felt bad about them just dumping Tom Boylin like they did because Tom was one of the nicest guys ever. It wasn’t my band and I had zero say in any matters concerning the change’s they made for our band.

All of our gigs went really well and I remembering a Palms gig opening for a band called “The
Textone’s” and their cute bass player Kathy Valentine, Kathy would soon go on to form a new band called The Go Go’s and have huge chart topping success also. At some of those Palms gigs, Singer Eric Martin would pop in to see us perform when he wasn’t rehearsing with his popular SF band Kid Courage.

As I grew as a player I continued to expand my record collection and at this point my musical tastes were changing dramatically. Phil turned me onto new bands like The Records, 20/20, Roxy Music and Japan. On my own I was becoming a huge fan of Elvis Costello and Joe Jackson as well as discovering New Wave music by bands like The Paul Collins Beat, The Clash, The Vapors..

In my last months with Electric Toys, Phil was contacted by a well-known L.A personality named Kim Fowley concerning an Electric Toys ad Phil placed in B.A.M magazine. Kim talked to Phil many times on the phone and seemed to really like the band demos Phil was sending him. He wanted to fly Phil to L.A to record an album. His thinking was, Phil would sing and play all his guitar parts on the recordings of our songs but he wanted to have studio musicians play the Bass, Drums and my guitar parts.

The Idea was discussed that the rest of us would support the first Electric Toys album by touring but not get to play on the original recordings and this Idea didn’t sit to well with any of us, especially David. I thought it out, and would agree to the arrangement because Dave and Phil’s band was only a stepping stone for me. It could only lead to more contacts and opportunity for me in the near future. I had nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Dave and Phil were fighting like cats and dogs over this dilemma and one night during rehearsal they came to blows. Our new manager was not at all pleased about things and I knew that night that the Electric Toys days with her were numbered. We were asked to leave and this ended our band relationship with the Guitar factory owner.

The last few months of the band were unsettling, Now without a manager we moved our rehearsals to a studio in San Anselmo in Marin County called The Church, we shared the studio with my old friend Mike Varney’s band Cinema. Mike and his band mate Jeff Pilson (soon to be bassist for the rock band Dokken) would watch us rehearse from the elevated windowed control room in the studio.

At a Church rehearsal one day, Mike came in and grabbed the mic and started singing the lead vocals to one of our tunes. I was shocked because it was spot on and word for word, capturing a dead on impression of Phil’s lead vocal style, a slightly affected fake British accent. I was really impressed by Mr. Varney’s impersonation and still laugh about that incident to this day.

In the last remaining months of Electric Toys, I was getting more comfortable writing my own original songs and was for the first time allowed to contribute two of my originals to the bands set list. The songs “Nothing to laugh about“, and Give me a Call” were allowed into the set list. In retrospect they were not very good songs compared to the songs I would soon be writing but they seemed to fit in pretty well with Phil’s tunes.

At this point the Electric Toys inner band conflicts between Phil and Dave were becoming too much for Phil to handle anymore, so he made the decision to leave the band and he packed up everything he owned and moved to L.A to live with Kim Fowley who promised to make him a star. Later, Phil Holden would return from L.A. and re-form The Toys version 2.0 again with David and some other really great local players and release the 45 single "Electric Energy," pretty impressive for sure!

For the most part I really enjoyed playing original music with Electric Toys. It really showed me what to do right and what not to repeat in my next original band. With Electric Toys, things were mostly very professional and I learned a lot from the experiences. We did get together once for a reunion photo about 20 years later and I enjoyed that a lot.

Sadly I was informed that our drummer Joe Murazzo died on a stage due to a heart attack while performing at a huge live festival in Sacramento CA. He was a really nice guy and a great drummer up to the last second. He will be missed.

For Electric Toys demos and pictures visit: Tony Stoufer FB

Electric Toys band members
Phil Holden - Guitar, vocals
David Payne - Bass, Vocals
Joe Murazzo - Drums
Tony Stoufer- Guitar, vocals
Here is a complete list of the local bands that Tony has either started or belonged to:

1. Expressers 71-75
2. Stallion 77
3. Fazor 78-79
4. Electric Toys 79-80
5. The Scam 81
6. The Defectors 81-82
7. Tony Lonely Band 83-84
8. Out Of The Blue 84
9. Boys Night Out 85
10. Wild Life 85-86
11. Lee Ryan Band 87
12. The Reactions 87-88
13. Mark Tate 88
14. Romeo Jones 88
15. Crying Out Loud 89
16. Bang Theory 89-90
17. Hidden Pictures 90-91
18. Strikes Twice 91
19. Euphoria 92-93
20. Romeo Jones II 94



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