I’m Jerry Giles
I’m an actor, an actor that sings. I have a great love and respect for the music of Neil Diamond.
From the first note of the intro to the final note, I want to embody all that Neil gives to song, the same way I’d embrace an acting role. I want to know what he was thinking when he wrote it and why. I want to know how he felt when he was singing it to millions around the world at arenas like “The Greek” or “MGM Grand.” I want to feel those things and then have you feel it. I don’t want to just sing nicely or whatever, I want to share an experience with you. Remember the first time you heard “Sweet Caroline?” Or how “Love on the Rocks” made you feel after watching The Jazz Singer? I want you to feel those things again.
I was born in Alabama but as a child growing up in the 60’s I lived mainly in Florida. I grew up in the shadow of Cape Canaveral during the height of the space boom. My favorite musical group as a kid was probably Simon and Garfunkle. I loved their harmonies. Plus, I had a brother almost my age and we were sure to become like them. The first time I felt the real power of music was when I heard Christopher Plummer sing “Edelweiss” in “The Sound of Music.” That particular song that stirred me at 9 years old would accidentally change my life years later.
We moved back to Alabama and I finished high school there. Christmas of my junior year my mom and my older sister gave me and my brother guitars. For me that was “all she wrote.” While I never became a great guitarist, but am still trying, I found a fantastic means of expression that I count myself lucky to have. It was my senior year that my brother and I first got on stage in a talent show singing, you guessed it, a Simon and Garfunkle tune. We didn’t place in the finals, nor should we have, but had a great time.
I went to college at Jacksonville State University where I played tennis for them. From time to time I studied music there also. I had a terrific voice teacher named Dr. Andrew Toney. He had one radical method. He believed because of the hops and protein in them, that it was actually good for your throat to have one beer a day. That’s just what a college kids wants to hear! True story.
The Jax State tennis coach had asked me and few other from the team to teach tennis at a summer camp in Massachusetts. I took the job and while there met a guy named Ziggy who, after law school, wanted to be a music exec. He wanted me to be his first big “find” so a year after college I headed west to sing and write. While he was finishing law school at UCLA and we were waiting for things to hatch in the music world, Ziggy suggested I take some acting lessons so I’d be as comfortable in front of the camera as I was in front of the microphone. (It seems there was this new medium for music called MTV, so people were doing these things called “videos”) I had done a couple of musicals in college and even played Fred Casely at Town-n-Gown’s production of Chicago. I didn’t mean to audition for Chicago but I drove my girlfriend to audition and they said that we both had to audition since we were half and hour late due to her nerves and fear of auditioning. It was there that I had to sing a song. Yikes! The only thing I could think of was “Edelweiss”. That’s where that song accidentally became a big part in my life. I got the part. I “thought” I was acting because I was saying all the words that I was supposed to say. Nope, I was just reciting lines. Fast forward, Hollywood 2 years later. During my very first acting class with Bill Sorrel I knew that acting was my real love and that I’d like to sing as a sideline only. That is unless I could find a way to do both. Thankfully for me, years later I did find a way to do both.
These days, other than acting for film and television and performing as a Neil Diamond Tribute at venues across California, I also am a photographer at Jerry Giles Photography serving Los Angeles and the entire California coast for their weddings. I also photograph actors, models, musicians and corporate headshots through my headshot company, Impressive Headshots. So you might say that I spend my professional life either trying to re-create memories for you… or capturing the current ones. I’m a pretty lucky guy!