The purpose of today’s entry is to help my fellow musicians, and maybe others, get through these difficult times.
By mid-2014, I was beginning to feel some burn-out. For many years leading up to that, I made sure that I was in at least 2-3 bands at the same time. I would have multiple gigs in one night, sometimes in the form of back-to-back performances at a club, and other times at completely different clubs.
Worst case, I would have to load up two drum sets into two cars. My drum tech, Junior, would follow me to the first club and help set up before going to the second club to do a pre-setup staging. I’d play the show, pack up, and drive myself to the second venue, walking in with my pedal and stick bag.
All of this was after waking up at 6:00am to go to work for an 8-10 hour work day. Chances are good that I had a gig the night before, too.
I left the rapid-fire Hollywood gigging world on an involuntary basis in mid-2014. Since this time, I’ve taken a few years to study guitar and music theory, as well as work on “curing” my burn-out.
After 33+ years in Hollywood, I decided to pack up and move to Nowheresville, Oregon.
And just as I was about to start getting somewhere with my relocation and refocus on life, the pandemic hit.
A YEAR OF ???
This past year has brought about some major stress for everyone. For me, the stress hit in the form of constantly feeling blocked when I’d want to sit down and write and record something. Some days, I’ll not want to practice guitar or drums. I’ll make myself do it, and will feel better after.
But I had some higher goals for all of this, including joining a band and gigging out in a more local sense. None of those goals got met.
So what now?
DOING AN INVENTORY
I was talking with someone the other day, and they commented, “You’ve got so many awesome stories to tell!” This was after I shared a few anecdotes about my Hollywood music experiences.
I said, “The problem with these stories is that I don’t have any photographic or video evidence. They sound so unbelievable that they’re not worth telling.”
She replied, “But those stories are for YOU! You lived them, so you get to re-tell them. If someone doesn’t believe it, then that’s fine. They can move on. But you have experiences. You have something to say.”
It got me thinking about all of the people I’ve met and the things I’ve done in my life. Those stories are nice and all, but are they really, truly meaningful?
EDDIE VAN HALEN STORIES
I don’t have any Eddie Van Halen stories, per se. My ex-wife did babysit Wolfgang when he was maybe six months old, for a few months.
Ever since Mr. Van Halen passed away almost two months ago, everyone has been sharing pictures and stories. These are complete strangers on the internet, and their stories are very cool. Most of them have photos, although some do not. The more famous people who tell their stories may not have a photo.
Nobody worries about anyone challenging their stories or memories, and I’m sure many of them get the skeptical eye by cynics.
But suppose that I did have a Van Halen story.
Well, I have the one about my ex-wife, as noted above. As for me, I met Alex Van Halen at a music store for a signing when I was 16 years old. It was a major highlight of my life.
I took a beer with me so that I could give it to him. He ripped off the tab and downed it, just like in the picture that was inside one of their early albums.
MY OWN STORIES
I have many stories about many famous people I’ve met and jammed with over the decades. But today, I’m going to share a story involving nobody you know, except for me.
There was a time when I would take screen shots of things that others had posted online. I did it so that I could save it and have the memory without having to dig through a website for it.
Every so often I would get post or messages like this one, which was posted on MySpace on November 21, 2005.
This comment was left by a person who ended up attending a few shows and buying some CDs. At the time, it was very meaningful to hear from someone who enjoyed what I was doing.
Should it be any less meaningful now? Certainly, I cannot hang my hat on it or build a career on it. All the same, it is important to remember these types of interactions, especially during the times when we cannot build or otherwise engage new interactions.
A HIGH-LEVEL INVENTORY
My personal inventory is wide-spread over the decades. I once marched as the First Chair of the drum line for an assembled band that performed at Riverfront Stadium for Johnny Bench Day.
I’ve jammed with famous musicians, and also made a few famous friends along the way. I’ve recorded in some awesome studios and have made some decent music, and I’m still proud of it.
I have played every relevant big club on The Sunset Strip as a drummer, bassist, guitarist, and keyboardist. Sometimes there were name changes to the clubs, and it wasn’t with the same band. This was dozens of bands over about 25 years.
I have no record of it, and very few photographs that support the achievement. No matter. I’m not trying to get into an official World Record book or anything. It’s just something that I set as a personal goal. I achieved it. And now, I will enjoy reflecting upon that achievement.
Some will not believe me. That’s fine. They can join the crowd of people who don’t like me and have fun with it.
IN THE END
As you read this, you’re probably in quarantine at home. Maybe you’re wondering when the next gig will take place. Maybe you miss those interactions that you had with other musicians and audience members. And maybe you’re feeling more than a little un-accomplished, to put it nicely.
Take some time to remember the places you’ve been, the people you’ve met, and the things that you’ve done. It doesn’t have to be anything like what I’ve experienced. It can be regular people, even family members, and regular events.
Remembering those times may help us get through these more difficult times.
As for me, I may end up writing some of those stories here.