Bryan Bassett admits that despite the incredible life he's lived, he does have one regret.
"I never did finish college," he said. "I always intended to, in fact I've taught at colleges as an adjunct professor for four or five years at Daytona State College, but I never personally got a degree and I regret it."
The guitarist best known as a member of Wild Cherry in the 1970s who recorded the hit song "Play That Funky Music," said had the band not found success, he would have become an English teacher.
"I was always interested in medieval literature and a lot of the playwrights and I took a lot of college courses in that direction along with artistry and the classics," he said. "But then Wild Cherry took off."
Bassett said he was initially inspired to take up the guitar after watching the performing acts who appeared on "The Ed Sullivan Show."
"Like a lot of guitar players my age, ‘The Ed Sullivan Show' and all the British invasion acts who performed on there were big influences, such as The Beatles, The Stones," he said. "I think everyone in my neighborhood either got a guitar or a snare drum after that and we all started little basement bands playing at birthday parties for our friends."
He said his mother soon after enrolled him in guitar lessons with an Italian jazz guitarist who specialized in the Big Band-era of music.
"He used to come to my house and my mother would shoo my brothers and sisters out of the house for an hour while I studied, and I did that for two years," he said. "He taught me a lot of great techniques that really got me started on the right foot."
Initially, Bassett learned Big Band-era songs on the guitar, followed by chord charts.
"I wanted to learn ‘Louie Louie,' but he wouldn't go there," Bassett said with a laugh.
Bassett said in high school, he played football and ran track but his most cherished memories are those involving jamming with friends in the library.
"They'd let us go there after hours and make a racket, which is totally against normal library rules," he said. "Pittsburgh, where I grew up, was really great for young musicians because there were tons of places to play. There were youth clubs, coffee houses and as we got a little older we were able to play in a lot of the nightclubs. Really, all through the 70s, it was an excellent time in Pittsburgh to be in a band and play. It seemed you could work seven nights a week in various nightclubs around town."
He said he was "making a pretty good living" while going to school and performing at night and on weekends.
"When I started college, I got into a band called Wild Cherry and we were a pretty successful mid-level club band and it was right around that time when music was shifting more from rock to dance music — the BeeGees came out, KC and the Sunshine Band, The Commodores — so we shifted our sound and started to write songs in that vain and came up with ‘Play That Funky Music.' "
He said the song was picked up by a record company and before they knew it, they were "real professionals touring nationally."
"It was like a scene in a movie," he said. "We're all driving around in our big black Lincoln Continental, which we had as our band car, and our record came on the radio and we pulled off the side of the road and cranked the radio and started screaming. It was so exciting; a really great time."
Bassett said he feels very blessed to have found success with two major recording acts.
"I feel very lucky to be able to make a living doing what I love, which is playing guitar," he said. "I actually worked after with Wild Cherry in a recording studio and became an engineer and producer and set guitar player. I did that for many years up until I met Dave Peverett and we became best friends over our love for old blues music and he asked me to start touring with him and he introduced me to the Foghat family."
Outside of having to wake up early to catch the first flight out of every city they perform in, Bassett said he enjoys life on the road.
"Our little joke is we play for free and we get paid to travel," he said. "That's just part of a musician's lifestyle, you have to love to travel in order to do it and I certainly don't mind it. It's nice to see all different parts of the country. I like to go on walkabouts and see what a city has to offer."
Bassett will be performing with Foghat — known for such hits as "Slow Ride," "I Just Want to Make Love to You" and "Drivin' Wheel" — at 8:30 p.m. Dec. 27 at the Golden Nugget.
"I love seeing the crowd's reaction to ‘Slow Ride,' that sound never gets old for me," he said. He said the local audience can expect a high-energy rock show with a party atmosphere.
"We'll play many of our most-known songs and we're in an anniversary period for the ‘Live' album so we're playing a section of our show dedicated to that record," he said. "We try to get a little blues in there, which is part of our sound because we're basically a blues-rock band, and then we just rock on from there."