Rolling Heads, a musical group launched in 2009 and based in Rescue, played a private party thrown by Gov. Gavin Newsom earlier this year but that’s the least of the band’s notoriety.
Rolling Heads is Northern California’s No. 1 cover band (according to GigMasters.com) in Sacramento, San Francisco and San Jose. Its lead vocalist and one of its two guitarists, Denise Leonard, is also the co-founder and executive director of Legacy Music Inc. — a nonprofit organization that provides musical services in support of children, teens and their families. The program includes vocal and guitar instruction that includes “guitars for keeps.”
“Rolling Heads was started before I was in the band; they were mostly classic rock but we needed some dance music so we have added artists such as Lady Gaga,” said Leonard, currently in her last few months training as a marriage and family therapist. She’ll graduate in March with her master’s degree.
Learn and earn
“I was fixing guitars at one of my employers and the kids asked me if I could play. I did and one of my supervisors asked what I thought about teaching the kids how to play. So I started providing them with lessons and they can earn their guitar,” she explained.
Leonard received her bachelor’s degree in psychology from William Jessup University in 2015. Her pursuit of a master’s degree is through Harold Abel School of Social and Behavioral Science at Capella University. She began this particular career with at-risk-youth working at Summitview Child and Family Services in Placerville and is currently working at Heart Strings Counseling in Loomis.
The therapeutic healing of music was noticeable as Leonard engaged young people in songwriting, guitar lessons and group sing-a-longs, inspiring her to create Legacy Music.
“There is a quote from Stephen Covey that says, ‘Live, love, laugh and leave a legacy’,” she said. “My ultimate dream has been to inspire kids and their families — no matter what has happened in their lives — to leave a beautiful legacy of the good things in their lives.”
Legacy Music Inc. was formed.
Leonard’s deep musical background, along with her educational training as a therapist, helps her provide engaging experiences for youth with whom she works. She began her musical career in the third grade as a singer and cellist, continuing her musical studies in piano and voice with a vocal scholarship to William Jessup University in Rocklin.
During college she became involved in Christian contemporary music with various churches across the United States as music director, lead vocalist, bassist and rhythm guitarist. Leonard has performed in a variety of cover bands and singing telegrams. Through Legacy Music she provides instruction to beginning students, citing her musical influences as Heart, Pat Benatar, Melissa Etheridge and Adele among others.
Leonard’s husband Ted is lead vocalist and lead guitarist with Rolling Heads and Legacy Music’s financial officer, guitar donation coordinator and music instructor to intermediate and more advanced students. He holds a degree in accounting and is the owner and vice president of Data Analytics. He has enjoyed a full career as a rock vocalist, songwriter, guitarist and recording artist, working with Spock’s Beard since 2011 as its lead vocalist.
Ted also is known for his work with the progressive rock band, Enchant, which has released nine live and studio albums over the past 13 years. His first solo album, “Way Home,” debuted in 2007. He has also written and recorded on two Thought Chamber albums and toured internationally with Transatlantic in 2014. He was the impetus for Rolling Heads and shares the vocals with Denise.
Making music together
The couple met 12 years ago and went through the blended family experience with Denise’s three boys and Ted’s son and daughter. They also share four grandchildren.
“Our lives wouldn’t be what they are today if we hadn’t met,” said Denise.
Rolling Heads’ bassist and vocals is Dave Meros. He has more than 30 years of musical touring experience playing and recording with bands such as Sugarloaf (“Green-Eyed Lady”), Mark Lindsay (Paul Revere and the Raiders), Eric Burdon and The Animals, Bobby Kimball and Simon Phillips from Toto, Robbie Krieger of The Doors and Spencer Davis of The Spencer Davis Group. Currently he tours with Iron Butterfly as its bassist and is the founder of the band Spock’s Beard.
Drummer Jimmy Keegan is a familiar face. He has played drums professionally since age 10 as a performer on the NBC production “Real Kids.” When he was a teenager, his first band, Polo, regularly played at Disneyland for many years. He has since toured or recorded with Carlos Santana, Kenny Loggins and Tony Orlando, among many others and currently holds the post of drummer in the band Asia. With his extensive background in theater, television and film, as well as in the recording studio and on stage, Keegan has a feature piece in the March issue of Modern Drummer.
“We are so fortunate to have such an artist as Jimmy established with the band,” said Denise, adding that they flew him up from L.A. two years ago and he’s been with them ever since.
Rolling Heads has been the “best of” in cover bands since 2012 adapting music of the ’60s and ’70s to the present for everything from private parties such as weddings, anniversaries and birthdays, to the stages of the El Dorado County Fair and Sonoma County’s Fourth of July Festival. The band’s client list includes Groupon, Google and Comcast.
For more information about Legacy Music Inc. visit legacymusic.online.