Earl collected blues, jazz, rock and soul records while growing up. He studied American History at C.W. Post College on Long Island for a year and a half, then moved to Boston to pursue a Bachelor’s Degree in Special Education and Education at Boston University where he would graduate in 1975.He spent a short time teaching handicapped children. During his college years, he attended a Muddy Waters concert at the Jazz Workshop in Boston. After seeing Waters perform, Earl took a serious interest in the guitar, which he had first picked up in 1973. His first job was as a rhythm guitarist at The Speakeasy, a blues club in Cambridge, Massachusetts. In addition to playing in the Boston blues scene, Earl traveled twice by Greyhound Bus to Chicago, where he was introduced to the Chicago blues scene by Koko Taylor.