Mark Francis has shared the stage with such legendary rock acts as Whitesnake and Alice Cooper and many others! Mark is an American multi-talented guitarist, vocalist, songwriter, producer, actor, and author. A consumate professional working in the genres of hard rock, heavy metal and southern rock music, he has attained an International reputation as a talented guitarist, vocalist, songwriter and producer. In 2001 his band Cottonmouth served as support act for AC/DC and served as Lynyrd Skynyrd's support act in 2002. Mark has had the privilage of working with some of the best in the business and has performed concerts with The Allman Brothers Band, .38 Special, Judas Priest, Scorpions, Ted Nugent, the Doobie Brothers, Molly Hatchet, The Marshall Tucker Band, Jackyl, Foghat, Blue Oyster Cult, the Michael Schenker Group, Kentucky Headhunters, ZZTop, George Thorogood, Kansas, Peter Frampton, former Bad Company lead singer Brian Howe, Kid Rock, Joan Jett, Aerosmith, Elton John, Eddie Money, Poison, Vince Neil of Motley Crue, the Cult and countless others, performing to crowds of up to 60,000 at a single event.
Mark got his first guitar at age 4, and it was love at first sight! Looking back, he states "Guitar picked me. I didn't pick it. It picked me. Music picked me, this life picked me. Music for me is a way of life. Playing the guitar is not something I do.... it's part of who I am". As Mark got more seriously interested in learning to play the guitar he also pursued other instruments like the oboe, the saxophone, mandolin and the drums. But guitar was always his passion. He says "Learning other instruments helped round me out as a musician and taught me a lot more about melody than you would just pick up as a guitar player. Playing the drums certainly helped me understand time signatures and taught me a sense of rhythm. There are so many great guitarists who are masters at soloing but have almost no rhythm and strumming hand".
A 12 years old Mark formed his first rock band called Apache. They played all original songs and appeared at the Junior High School talent show and at local pizza shops. At 14 he was invited to join a popular local cover band called Alliance playing biker bars and private parties around the suburbs. At 17 he joined a Cleveland area hard rock band called Fractured Image that was playing rock clubs and outdoor festivals regionally. His next musical endeavor involved laying down the guitar and singing lead for popular Cleveland band Stryker, who had a dedicated following and had been playing such large rock clubs as the Cleveland Agora and opening for national acts.
After leaving Stryker, Mark formed the Cleveland metal band Matrixx and took things to a whole new level. A Scorpions/Iron Maiden/Judas Priest styled band, they toured and enjoyed ample radio play of it's 4 song EP on college and commericial rock stations, especially abroad. Matrixx quickly reached legendary status among the blossoming Cleveland heavy metal scene to the rave of critics and rock fans alike. After Matrixx disbanded, Mark later went on to guest spot some fill-in dates with a few legendary rock acts and established himself as a responsible, reliable professional, garning the respect of his peers and rock music fans across the globe.
After spending several years jamming with friends, doing guest spot fill-in tours, writing a few books, doing some TV shows and many globe-trotting adventures and mis-adventures, Mark formed the Southern Rock styled band Cottonmouth in the late 1990's. Playing a fiery brand of guitar-driven rock, the band became a staple at motorcycle rallies and festivals around the country. The band's debut CD release "Voodoo Highway" sold over 160,000 copies in 12 months, garnering a few songs on rock radio stations worldwide- the title track "Voodoo Highway", "Trashed", "Fire it Up" and "You". Mark disbanded Cottonmouth in the mid 2000's to focus on his acting career, writing a few more books and his continued wildlife research and philathropic projects.
Now, like Count Dracula... he has risen from the dead and is ready once again for the kill! Mark says "I'm sort of like a tribal warrior when it comes to approaching my musical pursuits, especially onstage. I like to kill it. Every time. Every night. And when I'm not onstage killing it, I'm at home sharpening the blade".
Now comes the next chapter... 2018 and beyond.......... stay tuned!