Keyboards/Vocals (January 1978-January 1979)
Photo by Dan Winner
At 4 and a half years of age, Mark Winner started playing the piano on his own, learning by watching his mother’s antique player piano and listening to old 78 RPM records. While still a youngster, he began improvising his own arrangements of classic American standards in a jazzy style. Winner began formal instruction at age 6, and eventually went on to study under classical piano teacher Ruth Walker.
When he was 12, he did his first professional performance at The Grapevine Lounge, a well-known Chicago area jazz club. From ages 13 to 15, Mark served as the musical director for an annual local theatrical vaudeville style production.
Mark graduated from high school a year early based on academic achievement, and at age17 was on his way to San Francisco to attend Lone Mountain College. While on the west coast, Mark also studied acting under the legendary Lee Strasburg at The Strasburg Studio.
In the spring of 1977, Winner took a UCLA music film scoring class, but later that year returned home to the Chicago area. His sister Karen had already joined the Skafish group and when David Prochazka left the band, Mark replaced him as keyboardist in January 1978. Mark brought a great sense of musical/theatrical flare to the band. His helpful insights, complimented by his keen understanding of the flamboyant side of Skafish, made him a great contributing force both musically and visually.
When Mark left the band in early 1979, he and sister Karen (who also left at the same time) formed their own group The Winners, playing around Chicago, and eventually in New York, where they moved to in 1980. After the Winners disbanded, Mark was in a short-lived rock group with former Plasmatics bassist Chosei Funahara.
He began playing piano in “Little Italy” for a couple of years, and since 1984, has played solo piano throughout the New York area. Further developing his theatrical skills, Mark briefly resumed acting studies, this time at H.B. Studios, run by world-renowned actress Uta Hagen. Afterwards, Mark was featured appearing in drag in a 1995 music video directed by Alexander Rockwell for Japanese actor/musician Masatshi Nagasa. Behind the scenes, Winner scored the music for the film “Fatal Mission,” starring Peter Fonda and Tia Carrere.
Enrolling in Hunter College in 1996, Mark is currently in the process of completing his B.A. in Music, and continuing his education in media and film studies. He is presently playing piano for private parties in the New York and North Carolina areas. In July 1999, he founded his own real estate development corporation in North Carolina.
All photographs copyright by the respective photographers