Mark Avsec formed Donnie Iris & The Cruisers in or about 1979. Mark had been in the band Wild Cherry (“Play That Funky Music, White Boy”) and Donnie Iris joined the band in its waning days. Mark and Donnie roomed together and they became friends. Mark desired to write songs and produce records but found he could not do that in Wild Cherry. Mark recognized in Donnie a great, but largely undiscovered, voice. The two became fast friends. That’s why they’re still together. They just like hanging out.
While in the band Breathless (Mark also was not permitted to write songs in Breathless as it was fronted by another songwriter), Mark booked time in Jeree’s Studio for a project nominally to be fronted by Donnie’s voice and to be written and produced by him. Mark brought in Kevin Valentine from Breathless to play drums. Donnie brought in Marty Lee Hoenes to play guitar (who was in a band called The Pulse) and Donnie also invited Albritton McClain to play bass; Albritton was a monster bass player. Mark brought some songs and produced; he also played keyboards when necessary (he is a keyboard player by trade). The late Jerry Reed engineered the sessions. The rest is history.
The guys got sued for copyright infringement for “Ah! Leah!” Mark overreacted and went to law school after he and Donnie won a jury verdict completely exonerating them. Now, in addition to serving as Donnie’s CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER, Mark practices law with the Intellectual Property Practice Group of Benesch, Friedlander, Coplan & Aronoff LLP and has also practiced extensively with the Corporate and Securities Practice Group. A litigator and business attorney, he focuses his practice on entertainment, copyright and trademark, particularly music industry matters, and e-business matters, including private equity investments in music companies, copyright and trademark litigation, and other legal support with respect to various types of entertainment, Internet, media, and software companies.
Besides writing and producing Donnie’s songs, Mark is head of business and legal affairs for the band. He has earned a living as a studio musician, producer and songwriter, writing over 300 songs for, among other artists, Bon Jovi (“She Don’t Know Me”), and producing more than 25 sound recordings. He is an American Music Award winner and has been nominated for two Grammy Awards. Mark serves as an Adjunct Law Professor at Case Western Reserve University School of Law, where he teaches “Law of the Music Industry.” Recently, he authored the following publications: “‘Nonconventional’ Musical Analysis and ‘Disguised’ Infringement: Clever Musical Tricks to Divide the Wealth of Tin Pan Alley” 52 Clev. St. L. Rev. 339 (2004-2005); and “Bridgeport Music, Inc. v. Dimension Films LLC: A New Standard As To What Constitutes Actionable Infringement Of Sound Recordings In The Sixth Circuit” New York State Bar Association Entertainment, Art and Sports Law Journal Vol. 15, No. 3 (Winter 2004).
In the past three years, besides writing and producing “Ellwood City,” Mark achieved his boyhood dream of joining the James Gang (with Joe Walsh, Jimmy Fox, and Dale Peters). “Now I can die a happy man.” Unfortunately, due to conflicting schedules, Mark will not be able to go on the road with the “Gang” during that band’s 2006 tour.
Mark will, of course, play keys with Donnie Iris & The Cruisers as always. He is most known for the following sayings:
(1) “Guess we have to try harder”;
(2) “Anything worth doing is worth overdoing”; and
(3) “Let’s create the illusion of progress.”
Mark is convinced that he will be the first one to die in the group. He knows that the band will go on live without him, though he believes that the mates will miss him in the studio. He asks that a riderless keyboard occupy stage left under a spotlight for the first show that the boys perform after he passes; a moment of silence – and then, “Agnes” please.
If you want to learn more about the law firm Mark practices with, log on to www.bfca.com.