Growing up in Dayton in the ‘60s and ‘70s, Peter Price said he had the typical childhood of a rambunctious kid and his father tried to keep him involved in activities so he would stay out of trouble.
Music was one of those activities.
“I joined the church choir when I was 10,” Price said. “Turned out that I could really sing.”
Price credits his musical beginnings to the choir at Christ Episcopal Church where his father, the Rev. Gordon Price, was the rector. The younger Price earned several solos as a boy soprano and, as a sixth grader at Fairview Elementary School, he was asked to join a rock band with all the “cool kids.”
“There were five of us in that band,” Price said. “They made me the lead singer because I didn’t play an instrument.”
Price realized quickly that he didn’t have the personality to be a lead singer and then and there decided he needed to learn to play an instrument. He picked up a guitar and started teaching himself.
It was 1966 and a 12-year-old Price was inspired by artists like Bob Dylan, James Taylor and Neil Young and he started out learning how to play their music. His older brother was a guitar player and helped him along his way.
“I was never afraid to ask questions,” Price said. “I just kept getting better and better.”
While attending high school at Colonel White, Price started playing for patrons at a nearby neighborhood bar on Salem Avenue called “The Dugout.” He had plans to become a musician and take it as far as he could. But his dad had a different plan for his son.
“Dad convinced me it would be better to stay in school and maybe learn a trade,” Price said. “He was tremendously influential in my life.”
Price moved to Denver, Colorado when he was 19, following his brother who had moved there six months before. He moved to the mountains, found a place to live and a job as a construction laborer working in an underground mine. Eventually he learned carpentry while working on construction sites building houses.
“When I was 25, I started my own carpentry business,” Price said.
Music remained a passion and Price played in local clubs in Denver. He briefly lived in Fort Collins to attend Colorado State University, where he met his first wife.
“I loved the idea of creating a little utopia on a farm for my family,” Price said. “We decided it was time to move closer to home.”
The couple moved to Bowling Green, Kentucky, where their daughter Amanda was born. Price got a job as a cabinet maker but soon realized he wasn’t going to make enough to pay the bills. He moved his family back home to Dayton, where he was hired as a construction engineer working on the then new Dayton Correctional Institution.
“There was something about being my own boss that I really enjoyed and missed,” Price said. “I started Stillwater Builders in 1987.”
Price’s first marriage ended in divorce in 1988. Single again, he joined the French Fries after another member left the band. The group changed the name to The Fries, and eventually the Fries Band, and started playing in community concerts and at local venues on weekends.
Credit: Knight Family
Credit: Knight Family
In 1999, Price met his second wife, Laura, and the couple moved to Oakwood. By 2018, he had sold his business and finally had time to fully focus on a music career
“My goal was to apply myself to the music that I loved,” Price said. “But then COVID hit, and all our shows got canceled.”
During the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown, Price focused on writing new original songs. One of those songs, “Before I Go,” was recorded by his friend James Mills in Nashville. Price fell in love with the process of writing and recording music. In September of 2021, Price recorded six original songs, inviting talented musicians to come to Dayton and play with him. His friends and members of the Fries Band, Steve Phelps, Matt Scholp, Henry Mays and Gary Knight also played with him on two songs. His first album as a solo artist, “Department of the Interior,” was released in 2022.
“I decided I wanted to do this first class,” Price said. “I wasn’t going to worry about the results or be disappointed if it never went anywhere. I just did it for its own sake.”
He is working on his second album of original songs and is excited to be back in the studio.
“I love the process and sit down every morning with my guitar and play what comes in my head,” Price said. “People really like my music. I’m amazed and very gratified.”
Learn more at petepricemusic.com.
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