Jimmy Buffet said something 20 years ago that (in retrospect) I believe is BS. But for the sake of argument, I’ll repeat it.

  1. You need to have talent.
  2. You need to be persistent
  3. You need to be Lucky

#3 helps, but Mr. Parrot head said you had to have all three. 2/3 doesn’t work.

I call BS on #3. Yes, #3 can be what you owe your success to, but I wouldn’t make it a part of my business plan.  If you have a following, you’re doing something right and success will find you.  Even if it’s just one song or painting.

If I wanted to make this article really long; I would have written on things that kill a career in the arts.

So here’s the secret. (Something I learned too late in life).  So here it is.  This will probably be the most important post regarding a career in music and I think the principles apply in general.

  1. You need to have talent (*Buffet rule #1)
  2. You need to be Passionate about your music or art.
  3. ***MOST IMPORTANTLY ~ You need to focus on ONE AREA or GENRE.

I don’t care if you’re Barry White or Rammstein. #3 is the MOST IMPORTANT ELEMENT.

What sucks is if you are a really good singer, chances are you Love Frank Sinatra and Luther Vandross as much as you do Freddie Mercury and Luciano Pavorotti. If you’re a music lover; you Love Glenn Miller as much as you do The Ramones.  A true Music Lover has the worst chance of being a successful musician.  It’s fine if you want to be the next Lee Ritenour. (A studio Musician) But you’re not going to be the next Ramones if you want to play “Rage against the machine”.

One thing Dan Baird, the Lead singer of the Georgia Satellites said was when he decided to play roots rock, (Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly) He had to put away his “YES” albums.

A Brand name is probably more important than skill. Take Buddy Holly for example.  And Buddy is a roots rocker that I love, but his songs are mainly 3 chord songs in A.  But what he was doing was HIS.  (His other amazing contributions to music notwithstanding).  Buddy Holly is arguably the most important person to affect modern music.  Sure he did what Les Paul was doing, but Buddy changed the Industry. But I digress.

Very few bands can pull off the Chameleon reinvention genre that Queen did. I doubt anyone else ever will.

If you love Metal music AND you can appreciate Johnny Mathis, you’re going to struggle gaining a following. What’s worse is, even if you have the skill to be the next guitarist for Metallica, if you still love The Eagles, you’re never going to be happy.  Let me give you food for thought.

Look at Weird Al Yankovic. He’s creative.  But if he ever tried to go legit, he would lose his loyal audience.

Metallica cut their hair and their audience started calling them sellouts.

I’m not saying you need to be the musical equivalent of AC/DC or the Ramones or even James Taylor. But when you hear the name James Taylor, you know what you’re getting.  I doubt John Fogarty would be successful today if not for CCR.  If he had kept doing the Bayou music, he would have been “The Man” at Gumbo festivals.

As long as your musical style is consistent, you can be George Thorogood and play a Hank Williams song (Move it on over) and have a hit. You can be Little Richard and play a Hank Williams song (Love sick blues) and have a hit.  When both artists did their Hank Williams covers, the song sounded like them, not Hank Williams.

Can you imagine going to see Stevie Ray Vaughan and having him come out and play Barry Manilow?   Or go to a YES concert and sit through 2 hours of country music?  Anyone that’s ever made it, made it because they were associated with a genre.  Even if you were the Rolling Stones playing Robert Johnson blues songs, you were a British invasion group.

As for Jimmy Buffet’s rule #3, tell Kurt Cobain he was lucky.   He was brilliant.  Kurt and other coffee addicts in Seattle created a genre that hit the charts like a cruise missile.  Then Hollywood had to find their own clones (or clowns) to mimic the grunge sound.  And in 3 years you had Grunge in the music rack with Glenn Miller and Elvis.

Pick one genre and stick to it. Give the people what they came to hear.  The more you enjoy what you’re doing, the less like work it will be and you will become the definition or Icon of that genre.  When you start your career, approach it like you want to be the new “King of _____ music.  BB King was called the King of the Blues.  James Brown was the godfather of soul.  Elvis the King of Rock.  Michael Jackson was the King of Pop. Nirvana  is the King of Grunge. Sinatra was the king of the Standards. Hank Williams is the father of country music.

Pick a sound you love and go with it. Live it.  If you’re a punk; wear a leather biker jacket to weddings and Levi jeans with holes in the knees. (And always wear a spiked wrist band) BE THE FIRST GROUP OR SINGER THAT PEOPLE THINK OF WHEN THEY MENTION YOUR GENRE.  THAT’S THE SECRET TO SUCCESS.  Be Monet’s Lilly pads.  Be Michael Jackson’s “Moon Walk”.

When someone asks: “What kind of music do you play?” Be able to answer it in less than 3 words and 5 seconds. Preferably one word.

Nothing Fails like Success


Stephen R. Covey said it. I can sum it up in one word.  Pagers.  Or if you need another example; Video cassette recorders.

But this conversation is about MUSIC. Being a musician from the age of 6, I’ve followed every new trend that was introduced.  I’ve listened to everything from the blues sung in the cotton fields of Mississippi, to German Thrash Metal and Neo-Classical.

In 1956, the genres of blues, rock and country had a serendipitous collision with a guy named Elvis Presley at the wheel. More important than Elvis was a guy named Sam Phillips.  He’s the father of Rock and Roll.  Sam was a recording engineer that loved recording music.  All sorts of music.  He even went into the Oklahoma State Prison to record a quartet of black inmates that could sing.

You all know the story of Buddy Holly and the Beatles, if not, I’ve written a few articles on the History of Rock and Roll. Just use the search button.  I want to take a very close look at the British invasion as I believe it was the British I hold responsible for a mongrel genre called “Classic Rock”.  What Elvis and Buddy Holly, even Chuck Berry and Little Richard were singing is now called “Roots Rock”.  As in “The beginning or foundation of Rock and Roll”.  It was this blend of Blues and country that gave us the musical ideas for The Beatles and the Rolling Stones.

If you look at the first albums of The Beatles, the Rolling Stones and many of the legends, they were all covering Robert Johnson blues songs, in fact the first recording the Beatles did as a demo was “That’ll be the day”. (Buddy Holly)

But the longer a Genre is bastardized, the more abundant it becomes. It’s hard to write a Rock song that doesn’t fall into the washed out category of classic rock.  For those musicians that scored hits in the 70s and into the 80s, they saturated the Genre until it was a cup of worms.   Frankly Classic Rock was pushed to the point of decadence.  In the 90s, grunge came in like a cruise missile and bands that were in the top 10 on the charts were losing their contracts.  Labels were catching direct flights from LAX to SeaTac airport and were signing bands they hadn’t even seen. (Just heard about) “There’s gold in them there hills”.

So what happened to the stable artists that could be relied on for a Platinum album? They were told not to let the door hit them in the ass.  One hair band artist from L.A. that belonged to a Spandex/Aquanet band that still had an album on the charts (Falling like a meteorite) was reported as saying he couldn’t get a job at Tower Records.

This article is about a very legitimate Classic Rock artist that was shown the door because of a change in the music industry. He was the first “Victim” of the music channel MTV.  In 1980, MTV was basically the only game in town.  MTV made and MTV took away.  It had that much influence. Up until 1984 MTV videos supported music released by the artist.  (Until the “Rock Me Tonight” Video by Billy Squier).

Before MTV, most music videos where live recordings, or even studio recordings of bands or singers performing. Then they became little movies and the song became nothing more than a soundtrack.   Before MTV, you heard the song on the radio and you made your own movie in your head.

Before MTV, Billy Squier had two Albums that would have made any record company fight over. “Don’t Say No” and “Emotions in Motion” were both double platinum.  Squier had 28 hits songs that charted.  Then he was forced, perhaps coerced to release the “Rock me tonight” video.  Rock me tonight was a hit on the radio .  The video was a hit, but more of a left hook that took Squier down, career and all.

Fast forward 24 years. Billy Squier in a recent interview said He listened to his first Album that didn’t chart.  “Tell the Truth” (1993) was the 3rd album after the atrocious video that soiled the mind of concert goers and 12″ vinyl buyers.  1993 was the height of the “Grunge” movement in Seattle and Squier was told that Capitol records was not going to support the album.  No ads in rock magazines. No MTV interviews, don’t let the door……..

Squier said after decades he listened to “Tell the Truth” and he had such verve as to say that he put on The Beatles’ “Revolver”, Led Zeppelin’s “2nd album” then “Tell the Truth”. He then said: “I felt that “Tell the Truth” stood up well next to those Iconic Rock Albums.

“In short, “I agree”.

In Squier’s defense, I had been given a copy of the cassette back in 1993. I remember playing it a lot.  But “Revolver”? Zeppelin’s II”?  Is he crazy?  So I went on Amazon and bought a copy of “Tell the Truth”.  I had forgotten how good this album is.

There is not a thing wrong with this album. I won’t review it as I don’t do album reviews.  I will say this: “Had Kurt Cobain not been discovered in an obscure club in Seattle; I believe this album would have charted in the top 10.

If I can use an analogy? Billy, this is one of the best radio pagers ever made.

On a deeper note; be thankful for what you have or had. Life is too short for regrets.  I’ve been saying for the last 30 years, if the Beatles were an unknown band in Liverpool playing the music they wrote.  Songs we call classics such as “Strawberry Fields” or “Yesterday”; they would never see a record contract. However; if they made the most dreadful “dissonant” unheard of noise and talked trash about a politician, added 16 bars of hate, I’m sure it would go viral.

This is one of my favorite songs on the Album.




Repetitive Times Revisited


The following is strictly my anecdotal observations on the repetitive time phenomena.  If you want to read how rare it is that you will glance up and see a time of 1:11, 2:22, 3:33 etc… and specifically 11:11, go back to my original article on repetitive times.

On May 1st, I saw 2:22 and took a screen shot.  I told myself that every time I saw a repetitive number that I would take a screen shot.  Today is the 1st of June and I knew by the 3rd of May that something was going on.  I was correct.  By May 3rd I had 4 repetitive number screen shots.  (Remember these do not include the kitchen digital stoves or other LED clocks around the house).

Once again; I knew by the 3rd of May that something was going on.

Major fires started in May.  It was a month I would describe as full of misunderstandings and poor choices of words misunderstood verbal forest fires were blazing.  I will go so far as to say that, like many articles on the net, repetitive numbers are your angels Or as some call them, “Spirit guides”, are trying to get your attention.  Unfortunately, I went back over my phone to see if any major impact calls corresponded with any of these repetitive times.  They did correlate to several phone calls but not enough to create an “aha” moment.

My non-scientific observations lead me to this conclusion.  If you start seeing multiple repetitive digital times on your IPhone or LED clock; know that something of importance is going down and you need to (as they say in the godfather) “Go to the Mattresses.