As the son of a British folk-rocker, GENERAL HOSPITAL’s James Patrick Stuart has always loved making music. Now, Valentin’s portrayer is releasing his debut album to honor his father, Chad Stuart — known for being half of the hitmaking ’60s duo Chad & Jeremy. When not scheming as Valentin, Stuart has been busy writing, recording and producing The Apple Tree. “It’s taken over everything,” the actor admitted to Soaps In Depth. “It’s like an animal that got poked and woken up. The fun part was writing and playing the songs. Then the rest is all post-production. You’ve got to sweeten this, take the noise out of that, and, ‘How about if we put a sitar in there?’ I’ve been caught in the moment, deep in mixing and very outside of my comfort zone. There’s been a lot of sleepless nights!”
Stuart’s definitely not complaining, however, because this has been a labor of love. “This is a tribute, gift and salute to my father,” he explained. “He always wanted me to release an album… and I always thought I’d get around to it.” Once GH teamed Stuart up with cellist/violinist Christine Wu for the Nurses Ball, it all started to come together. They collaborated on a version of Nat King Cole’s “That’s All,” and, said Stuart, “Once my father got wind of that, I realized, ‘Oh no, here we go!’ I knew in that moment that time was not unlimited and that one day, it’ll be too late. So if not now, when? As soon as I realized that, all the musicians I knew in the world said, ‘It’s about freaking time. How can we help?’”
So late last year, Stuart dug into Chad & Jeremy’s music. “My father had a few hits in the ’60s, but he also had some songs I’ve always loved that didn’t make it to the top of the charts,” he said. “So I recorded my interpretations of them, and all of a sudden, we had three Chad & Jeremy songs, ‘That’s All’ and two of my own originals… and then we had eight songs! Well, here’s the record.” And Stuart does it all on his new album. “I sing, I do the bass and drums, I produce, I’ve written, and I play some of the piano and some of the guitar."
Stuart also called on some of his professional pals — including French horn and sitar players, Wu, and his father’s former partner, Jeremy Clyde. “I told him I was making an album called The Apple Tree, and he said he’d be happy to come climb a branch. It was amazing, because I have a voice very similar to my father. We did this great a cappella version of their final hit ‘You Are She,’ and we both got choked up. It was a nice moment.”
Stuart gets a thrill out of pressing play and hearing his own music, but seeing a new side of his father has been an unexpected highlight of this adventure. “It was like time-traveling and embracing him as a young man,” he marveled. “What I’ve loved was getting into his songs and breaking them apart. I would listen to guitar parts and learn them and realize how incredible he was. I took him for granted growing up. It didn’t matter that he was famous — he was just my dad. But I learned his brilliance.”
The song “Rest In Peace” left Stuart particularly awed. “My father was able to play it all in one take, just by pressing record and playing one guitar,” he explained. “I had to do it in three different tracks!”
Stuart has finally fed another of his passions, but that doesn’t detract one iota from his love of acting. “This is just another branch on the tree,” he maintained. “There are moments where certain branches get more sun and produce more fruit,” he suggested. “Now, the joy will be flying up to Sun Valley and putting this album in my father’s lap and telling him how much I love him.”
After that? “I don’t know what I’m going to do with myself,” admitted the Renaissance man. “I think I’ll have to reintroduce myself to my wife and my children!”
For more on your favorite GH stars, keep reading the ABC edition of Soaps In Depth magazine.
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This story originally appeared in our print magazine