Is your life balanced? Can you actually think of a rock star that has a balanced life? I wrote last year of the Sunday School teacher who asked me what I wanted to be when I was 40. That day, he mentioned how so many rock musicians didn’t live to be 40. It got me thinking about whether or not some of the greats would have been around had they had a more balanced life? Imagine what Jimi Hendrix might have been like as an old man. Would he be telling us how drugs could ruin your life? What kind of music would he be making today? Who would he have mentored? How would today’s music be different?
I think of the great bands, or solo musicians who lived to have long careers in rock music. I wonder about their journeys and what they might have had to learn at some point in the party lifestyles to mellow out and balance their lives.
Think of the one-hit wonders and hearing their stories ten years later on “behind the music” shows. You will likely hear about how they had a big, fast rise in fame and success then, after not getting a firm hold on life, ended up losing their homes, cars, wives, etc. Now, what is different about your life compared to theirs? In our bad economy, many people are finding it’s tough to make ends meet moneywise if you spent the last five to ten years living on credit – another way of living to excess.
Once again I don’t want to turn this into a blog into money. I want to talk about something else. Many businesses get off to a fast, early success. Maybe this happened to you – you got a great early contract, over-extended yourself to keep the fast pace going and found yourself investing more and more time and money into the business. As a result, you spent less time with your two-year-old son who needed you to teach him how to grow to be a young man. Or all your time at the office led your wife to believe that you are having an affair. Or you found yourself in the fast lane, partying and having what seemed like a good time, only to get addicted to drugs or alcohol or some other thing that ruined your life. This is how many of those rock stars of the days from my childhood lived, and why they did not make it to age 40.
I want to bring up three greats whose lives stretched from my birth to my young adult life. All three of these men were the groundbreaking for what they did. Yet none of them lived to be 30. The first was the guitar great, Jimi Hendrix, who lived to be only 27 years old. He was a talented man; some say a genius, who could play with such passion that, to this day, my favorite version of the “Star Spangled Banner” is the one he played. But imagine if he had learned to control his life. Imagine him not ever getting into heroin, learning to love his life so much that his high in life was to simply play the guitar.
The second person I want to bring up is still my all-time favorite guitarist: Randy Rhoads. He’s the great guitarist who played with Ozzy Osbourne on the famous song “Crazy Train.” Let’s face it, when Randy picked up that guitar and played, it was like it was an extension of him. And just like with Jimi, you can still hear that sound of Randy’s, his signature riffs. The intro to “Crazy Train” just rings in my ears, even right now while I sit in this Starbucks and listen to what they are playing – and it isn’t “Crazy Train.”
Now, imagine Randy had lived, maybe seeing him on the TV show with Ozzy and Sharon, going by the house and playing a practical joke on Ozzy. Or imagine him in a Super Bowl commercial with Ozzy. If he’d lived, he would have been in his late 40s at the time of the TV show. If he were alive today, he would be in his mid-50s.
The third person I want to bring up is Kurt Cobain. He was part of the original sound of the grunge rock movement of the ‘90s. His voice and his musical genius were just great. I know from many accounts I’ve read that he did not like his stardom and was unhappy with his life. Thus he ended it in 1994.
But imagine if Kurt had not taken his life, decided, instead, to stay with his wonderful daughter (who gave him so much pleasure in the days immediately before he died) and raised her to understand those things in this world he did not like. It is interesting to note that Cobain is quoted in a 1994 Rolling Stone interview as having said about R.E.M, one of his favorite bands, “God, they’re the greatest. They’ve dealt with their success like saints, and they keep delivering great music.” What if Kurt Cobain had been able to “deal with his success like a saint”?
During part of his childhood, Kurt Cobain lived with a devout Christian family and was himself, devoutly faithful, although he later renounced Christianity for a combination of Buddhism and Jainism. As a Christian myself, I grew up in what might have been a similar type household. But for me, the difference is that I wanted to live to teach my child who God really is, and not some form of what others think God is. What if Kurt Cobain had wanted to live so he could teach his child what he knew about music and what he believed about God?
These were three music greats, and it’s safe to say they were all considered rock stars by just about anyone you’d ask. And each of them died after living a life of excess, after their lives got out of control – whether intentionally or unintentionally. They died after great success, because their success led to a life out of control.
This blog is not about whether their genius was dependent on their drug use or whether their art could have happened without their accompanying problems. It’s not even about whether they could have transferred their genius to their children or sustained their success over many years. It’s about how they were lost too soon from their families, their friends, and their fans; how their loss affected many people; and how they may not have realized how important it would have been to so many people if they had found balance in their lives.
So, in your life, when a big wind of success comes along, learn to take it properly, like another rock star I can think of, who didn’t let his success ruin his life, who kept true to his form. To this day he is still true to what he believes, and for a rocker, he seems to have a very balanced life. It may not be what those in my church home would call normal, but his success has not led to his downfall and his life is steady. I’m talking about Gene Simmons of KISS.
While I’ve not met him in person, I have read a lot about his life, as well as faithfully watching his TV shows. I believe he has never done drugs – at least not to the point they have ruined his life or his career – and does not drink. If I’m wrong about this, please let me know in a comment. Or, better yet, maybe Gene could read this and comment for me! (Hey, I am still a dreamer, and hope to meet him one day and actually have a one to one talk.)
Bottom line, as you plan out life, remember to take care of every part of your life. I try to spend as much time with my family as I can. I wish I could spend time with my other family members more, like my brothers, my mom, and my cousins. But my world moved west and they are mostly east and far, far east.
I encourage my daughter to live her own life and never intrude by making her come do things with me, but she knows I’m available and I invite her to join me in a lot of my activities. My mom and dad never did that to me when I was a kid, never forced me to see them or made me feel guilty when a lot of time passed between visits. They were always happy to see me when they could. But that’s my balance, you need to make yours.
I do live my life the way I want. I do work a lot, but now I do what I enjoy. That came through work of my own, and a great business partner to make both of our businesses successful. But we both have a successful life more than just a successful business. And that is more important to me.
What’s your balance story? Write a note in the comments section of my blog about how you keep your life balanced. And if you want some insights into finding balance, that’s what I’m here for. Contact me and let me know what I can do for you. I’m Tim Gillette, The Rocker Life Coach. Live…. Love…. Rock on.