Pro football, sings Mike Reid in his composition entitled Down in Style, is “nothing like the sugar-coated pictures on the bubble gum cards.” From 1970 through 1974, Reid was himself a sought-after card—a standout defensive tackle (All-Pro two years) for the Cincinnati Bengals. But at 27, the 6’3″, 255-pound former Penn State Ail-American left the game. Now, as he says in another of his songs, Road Musician, he’s “tryin’ to make the transition from a hundred grand a year to any old job I can find.”
The amiable Reid, who began playing piano at age 6 in Altoona, Pa., appeared with the Cincinnati, Dallas and San Antonio symphonies while a Bengal. Now he fronts a soft-rock foursome with a repertoire of easy, countrified sounds. Recently the group appeared at Reno Sweeney in Manhattan and ran through a tight and pleasant 35-minute set. It was their best booking yet after playing small clubs in Ohio and Pennsylvania at about $200 a week. Sounding like a slightly higher-voiced Gordon Light-foot, Reid performed his own works and led the combo through a reggae-esque version of Joni Mitchell’s Carey.
Some 30 pounds lighter since retirement, Reid misses “the very close contact with my teammates. But,” he adds, “I don’t miss preseason camp or hurting on Mondays.” Though his earnings are a tenth of what they once were, the unmarried Reid claims, “My life-style hasn’t changed greatly. My house in Cincinnati has always been completely empty except for a stereo, records, a baby grand piano and two beanbag chairs.”
Reid will continue to showcase his act in New York and Florida in search of a recording contract. “I have no aching dream to be a giant rock star,” says Reid. As he puts it in Road Musician, “I get such a twinge from my musical binge and my little band suits me fine.”