A lucky kid living near Grass Valley, Calif., has one of the coolest surrogate brothers around – former REO Speedwagon drummer Alan Gratzer.
The musician recently spent time talking with The Union about his work with his local chapter of Big Brothers Big Sisters and how else he’s been spending his time since his days with REO Speedwagon.
Gratzer started playing drums in high school and then joined the band as its original drummer during his sophomore year at the University of Illinois back in 1967.
“We started out just to have fun, but it took over our lives,” he told the paper. “We made 16 albums, sold 40 million copies and got to see the world.”
After putting in 21 years with the group, in 1988 Gratzer said goodbye to life on the road to spend more time with his three grade school-age children.
“I was a dad to our children, but I needed to be their father,” Gratzer said, who spent the next two years as a stay-at-home dad.
He then opened a restaurant in Santa Barbara, Calif., which featured California cuisine cooked up by a chef from New York.
Eight years later Gratzer and his family relocated once again in 2001 to their present home just outside of Nevada City, Calif.
“Once we came here, I knew it was the perfect place,” he said.
Now that his own children are grown, Gratzer is giving back to the community by spending three or four hours a week with his “little brother” from the Grass Valley, Calif., chapter of the Big Brothers Big Sisters.
“Most kids are from single parent homes where the environment is not so great. It's a great way to connect to the community and help kids,” Gratzer said, who is now working with his second “little brother.”
The child’s mother doesn’t drive but thanks to his relationship with Gratzer he is able to go on adventures and explore the town.
“We need people who are dedicated and passionate about helping children,” he added.
Gratzer is in his third year as board president for the organization’s local chapter and has also served as a mentor. The former drummer, who names Kings Of Leon as one of his favorite new bands, also helps deliver food to the Interfaith Food Ministry in Grass Valley, which provides food for 250 people three times a week.
Click here to read The Union story.