Buffalo Music Hall of Fame welcomes member of Kool and the Gang
With over 70 million albums sold and a history that extends over four decades, Kool and the Gang is familiar to most. Perhaps not as widely known is Lackawanna native Shawn McQuiller who joins tonight's class of inductees into the Buffalo Music Hall of Fame, 21 years after joining Kool and the Gang.
McQuiller was on tour with a local band called Traffic Jam when his big break occurred.
"While we were in Singapore, we opened for Kool and the Gang, and after the show their manager approached me," McQuiller recalled. "We got to talking and just to make a long story short, I joined Kool and the Gang."
That started a relationship that has kept Shawn McQuiller traveling all around the world, playing guitar and singing the many familiar songs of Kool and the Gang.
"It's really amazing, with all the travel that we do, how many people know us. Maybe they can't speak English, but they can sing the song "Celebration."
With Kool and the Gang, Shawn McQuiller has traveled the world. In fact, he just returned from Japan late Sunday night, coming home to Lackawanna in the town where his father spent 45 years of his working life at Bethlehem Steel. Though he's seen most of the world as a celebrated performer, McQuiller continues to make his home in Lackawanna where he and his wife have raised three children.
When it comes to his career development, McQuiller doesn't cite any specific influence.
"I just listened to a lot of people. No one particular person. I did find that I was really turned on by rock and roll guitarists because they were really able to get into their guitar. That was the kind of playing I wanted to do."
Kool and the Gang's recent tour with Van Halen offered a close up chance to watch and listen to the guitar of Eddie Van Halen.
McQuiller is at a loss for the words to describe Eddie Van Halen's brilliance, other than to say he might be the best there ever was.
The tour stopped at Buffalo's First Niagara Center, allowing McQuiller a chance to perform in front of his hometown crowd in what he refers to as a career highlight.
Tonight, Shawn McQuiller appears in front of his hometown again, when he is inducted into the Buffalo Music Hall of Fame
"That's equivalent to a Grammy," McQuiller said. "This from my hometown. For me to look out and see people from my hometown, Lackawanna, people I know from Buffalo, different musicians and producers and vocalists that I've worked with over the years, that's going to be a great feeling."