Eventually he would form Darkhorse, which became one of the top bands in the tri-state area. When George Harrison of the Beatles was forming his new record company, he decided to call it Darkhorse Records. Harrison also titled his new single and album, Darkhorse. Al had the name registered and negotiations for the rights to the name ended with a few bucks and an audition for Harrison’s label. While making the audition tape at a Pittsburgh studio, Al fell in love with the recording process. So,he built his first studio in his parent’s basement. (Darkhorse did not “pass the audition” and shortly after disbanded, leaving Al doing the studio full time.)
In the meantime, different Pittsburgh talent kept showing up at Al’s studio to record.
The band Gravel was one of them. Bob Corbin and Dave Hanner of Gravel, had just been signed to a Nashville recording contract and publishing deal. They used Al’s studio to record their demos for the Nashville publishing companies, with Al playing keyboards and adding vocals to the Gravel sound. Down in music city, the bigwigs seem to like the fresh sound of the band demos opposed to the Nashville “A” studio players. It was Jimmy Bowen, Frank Sinatra‘s producer, who suggested that they sign the whole band. The Corbin Hanner Band was off and running.
Lightning struck almost immediately when Mel Tillis recorded Corbin’s “Blind in Love” which went straight to number one. A string of number ones and top 10 songs continued with the likes of Alabama, Hank Williams Jr., Don Williams, Kenny Rodgers, The Oak Ridge Boys, etc., all coming from Al’s basement studio and the incredible song writing team of Corbin and Hanner.
The Corbin Hanner Band released two worldwide albums on Alfa records and many independent releases. The band toured nationally for years usually opening up for major artists who had number ones with their songs. They headlined many shows throughout the years. A constant request from the fans was Al’s own arrangement of “Stagger Lee” which was one of the “big closers” or the encore song. By request, Al has included a live version of this song for The Corbin Hanner Band fans on this new CD.
Al has continued to play with Corbin Hanner. And a sobering fact is that collectively, versions of songs by these two Pittsburghers have sold much more than 22,000,000 copies!
Some other interesting projects in the last decades were noteworthy.
Al was honored to be invited to perform at the ASCAP showcase at Nashville’s famous Bluebird Café. This invitation only goes to a very select few writers. This was based on the strength of the “Rainy Afternoon” demo. Along with many local commercials for radio and TV, Al working with his band mate, Bob Corbin, had a national commercial for Coca Cola’s Hi-C division.
When the Pittsburgh Zoo and Aquarium started their “Zoo Key” program, they came to Al to write, produce and sing 26 songs about the animals. The patrons are given a plastic key to insert at stations in front of the animal exhibits. It plays an original factual song for the kids to learn about the animals. After five years of success, a second round of songs for new exhibits was created by Al. The “Zoo Key Songs” CD by Al Snyder is available on iTunes, Amazon, Spotify etc.
Every Christmas holiday for the last twelve years, Al and writing partner Tom Rooney have written and performed an original Christmas song for Pittsburgh’s top country station, FROGGY 94.9 and 104.3. Two of the songs have become standards played every year on regular rotation. Al and Tom put together a “12 Bands of Christmas” CD of local artists and one national artist, Danielle Peck, which is available at Al’s website and all streaming services.
Al, along with writing partner Stan Willott, wrote, produced and performed “One Day of Peace”. The theme song to promote “the international day of peace, which is celebrated worldwide on September 21 every year. The city of Pittsburgh awarded them with a Proclamation to celebrate the promotion of peace around the world.
When tragedy struck Pittsburgh in the form of three Pittsburgh police officers being cut down on duty, Al composed a memorial song along with F. Novasak. A recording of the song with Al singing was played on all major networks and cable news channels at the final ending of the service.
Most of Al Snyder’s accomplishments have always been behind the scenes. And the majority of all the studio work was always with his wonderful clients.He really loves being a producer, studio engineer, song fixer/arranger and vocal coach (his degree from Duquesne School of Music was vocal education) for the clients in the studio. His own songs have accumulated over the years. He was happily just “the piano player”, but last year he thought it was about time to put out an album of some of his favorite songs. So…..that is what this new CD is. A first release from a lifelong seasoned pro who is coming into the light after years of enjoying and being “inside on a Rainy Afternoon”. Pittsburgh’s secret “behind the scenes” musician!
For the last several years, Al has been musically partnered with Mike Lewandowski. They have formed A.T.L.& S. There are three albums available. A.T.L.& S., A.T.L.& S.II. A.T.L.& S. III part 1. All are available everywhere. Mike and Al co-wrote "It's The Little Things", Charles Moses" and "Thank You" from the new "Al Snyder / Rainy Afternoon" album. Versions of these songs are on the A.T.L.& S. albums also. Check out A.T.L.& S. and "Mike Lew" on Facebook. "A.T.L.& S.III part 2" is due out at the end of summer 2020.