IT worker by day, ‘80s rock god by night, this local musician won’t stop believin'
On stage, Apopka’s Pedro Espada is rock ‘n’ roll personified. As the frontman of Rockit Fly, Central Florida’s premier ‘80s cover band, he’s got the look, the sound, and an electrifying presence that keeps audiences rocking all night long to their favorite hits. Off stage, however, Pedro is a self-proclaimed introvert who spends his days not behind a microphone, but behind a computer screen working for a local IT company.
Pedro was born in Puerto Rico to a musical family. His mother was a church singer and his dad played a variety of instruments. Pedro mastered the trumpet by age eight, and though he doesn’t remember it, he sang when he was a young boy, too. Pedro’s mom was concerned about him because, for the first three years of his life, he didn’t talk. She quickly learned that music was the language Pedro spoke, and he’s been speaking it ever since.
By high school – in the early ‘80s, of course – Pedro and his family were living in the Orlando area. He recalls that he was often bullied but lost himself in his computer games to avoid the pain. Then, Pedro’s dad bought him a set of drums. It took those drums and a Van Halen music video he watched on MTV to convince Pedro that playing music was his purpose.
“There was no YouTube back then or how-to videos,” he says. “I taught myself how to play the drums. I would listen to my cassettes or watch MTV over and over, and I would play those drums, day and night, until my hands bled. Within eight months, I was a good drummer, and I was hooked on playing music forever.”
Pedro’s reputation in school began to turn when a group of seniors learned that he was a fan of ‘80s rock music and could play an instrument. They wanted Pedro to join their band, not a as a drummer, but as a bass guitar player.
“I was not about to give up my chance to hang with the cool kids,” laughs Pedro. “So, I picked up my dad’s bass guitar, and once again, I taught myself how to play by ear. This time, I played day and night until my fingers bled.”
Pedro and his bandmates made a name for themselves in the local Orlando music scene. Pedro even began singing backup parts on a few tunes and discovered his falsetto voice – perfect for those ‘80s power ballads. Listening to his favorite rockers at the time, especially Steve Perry from Journey, Pedro mimicked their sound. He wrote hundreds of his own, original songs. Unfortunately, an overly saturated market and the arrival of grunge music in the early ‘90s halted his success.
So he settled down, got married, took a 9-to-5 job, became a father, and put his dream of a career in music on hold. Although, not entirely. It seemed as though his dream was sailing away until Pedro took to the karaoke stage on a cruise ship and blew everyone out of the water with his rendition of “Lights” by Journey. When Pedro got home, he formed the band Rockit Fly, and it has been rocking in local bars, restaurants, private parties, and events ever since. The band will be celebrating its 10th year together in 2019.
Now a single dad, Pedro juggles running the business of Rockit Fly, performing as its lead singer, working a full-time job, and taking care of his son Jayden, all the while keeping his eye on the prize of eventually making a full-time living in the music industry. For now, Pedro is “Livin’ on a Prayer” (a nod to Bon Jovi, who Rockit Fly covers at their live shows). He believes the 30 years he has been eating, sleeping, and breathing music will result in a career where, one day, aspiring artists will be covering his original tunes.
“At this stage of my life, I have all of the ingredients to make my dream a reality,” Pedro says. “In this business, and in life, you have to make your own opportunities, and that’s exactly what I have been doing.”
To see Rockit Fly play live, visit the band’s website at RockitFly.com for a list of upcoming show dates.
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