Garage Band Entrepreneurs

Friday, 1:48pm
Rancho Cucamonga, CA
Cuz the thought that I coughed up my head is the event of the season…” (“Mr. Soul”, Buffalo Springfield)

Howdy…

You like music, don’t you?

And you like getting filthy-stupid rich in business, too, right?

Well, join the club. In fact, it’s astonishing to me how many wily online entrepreneurs are not just music lovers (we’re talking the “nutso” category of fan here), but also musicians. Some keyboards, a drummer hither and yon… but more often guitar. It’s something we quickly bond over…

… even though I’m a totally old-school rocker, and most of the younger dudes are either speed-thrashers (who worship Yngwie Malmsteem) or Tone Monsters who embrace the technical side of digital music-making (with an engineer’s-level command of effects).

Which just pisses me off. The story of my early musical career fits right in with other geezer tales of walking ten miles to school in the snow (and eating gravel for lunch). We were as close to analog as you can get and still be pumping noise through electronics.

Back when I started playing, the Beatles were still touring, and everyone plugged their guitars straight into the amp (which had actual springs for reverb). The only “effects” we produced was the occasional accidental squeal, or — if we were lucky — a gutteral growl from a blown speaker that was still alive.

My first stomp box was a simple one-button fuzz-tone that mugged the signal and distorted it like a mofo. (My pal Bob made it in Shop Class.) (It sounded like a Tyrannosaurus Rex trying to eat the building, and sometimes startled dancers near the stage.) Later, I bought a used Morley wah-wah… and even later I loaded up on Boss pedals and digital amps with sampled sounds and all hell broke loose.

But basically, I’m still that guy who was most impressed with Dave Davies of the Kinks (who slashed his little amp’s speaker with a razor blade before recording “You Really Got Me”). Simple, non-technical abuser of equipment (and pentatonic modes).

So what’s this got to do with making money?

A lot… at least as far as becoming a successful entrepreneur.

Because it’s all about attitudefrom my humble experience, anyway.

You hear a lot (from guru’s) about the need to be passionate about your business. To get, and remain, excited with the process of fulfilling your dreams… so you can’t wait to get to the office again and stoke the magic that brings in the bucks, fame and happiness.

And hey — if you got that kind of mojo in your system, go for it.

However… that image of constant, unrelenting bliss is kinda total bullshit. I know a lot of entrepreneurs… and none of them are swooning while going through bills, meeting payrolls, fixing a glitch on their website, or desperately trying to meet crushing deadlines.

They’re not necessarily unhappy, either. But it’s not like the 7 Dwarfs singing merrily as they head for the mines.

Being an entrepreneur means there’s work to be done, every day. Overall, yeah, you’re moving closer and closer to goals that mean something to you…

… and when you sit back and reflect on your career, you smile and your heart skips a beat. Because you’ve done, and are doing, something that very few people ever pull off.

You’ve created a biz out of thin air, and made it successful. You’re the backbone of American industry.

Still… I get a little pissy with authors and motivational speakers who insist it’s all about the passion, cuz it’s just not. I know many multi-millionaire biz owners who get bored shitless with their gig, and constantly dream about the day when they sell the joint and do something else. Anything else.

Oh, they’re intensely invested in what they’re doing, and love to talk about it and commiserate with colleagues who understand and especially love to launch new ideas and make them work.

But it’s the semi-drudgery of the day-to-day details, and the constant movement against resistance (both internal and external, as your brain and the outside world conspire to derail your plans) that delivers the moolah. And the moolah can buy you time, and in that time you can pursue your true joys. (And yes, sometimes that true joy means starting another project… but for most, it means indulging in the guilty pleasures of someone with many desires and dreams. And the bliss is real when you realize you suddenly have the money, the time, and the access to the right tools to make those non-biz related desires come alive.)

I think the motivational stuff serves a purpose… especially in the early days of any career where your confidence is shaky and you really do need to rally your emotions and energy and brain-wattage to the tasks at hand. I used to read a new Og Mandino book for every new biz book I devoured… to give my soul the “atta boy” it needed to rush once more unto the breach (while I delicately survived week-to-week on each incoming fee).

But there were actually THREE things going on there:

(1) I studied biz books…

(2) I absorbed self-help crap…

(3) AND I took it all out into the real world the next day and used it all to earn my bread.

For too many wannabe entrepreneurs, the process is stunted. It’s just focusing on the motivational crap. And planning to, real soon, God willing, maybe take your show out on the road.

It just never occurred to me to dink around with learning from books and juicing up my mojo… and NOT waltzing out into the cold cruel world to see if I got killed or rewarded.

That attitude was the KEY to every trace of success I have. Basically, I can sum it up in one sentence: “What the fuck, let’s go do it.

You wanna know where that attitude came from?

It came from picking up a guitar as a kid… right after hearing that slightly distorted kickass rock tune “You Really Got Me” on Mom’s little Motorola kitchen radio one day (not too long after my first adolescent hormone-dump). Mom had always kept that radio tuned to the country station (KWOW), but inexplicably decided to see what was up on the pop station KRLA. I walked in, my heart stopped, and I nearly fell to my knees as British Invasion rock and roll penetrated every membrane in my system.

Done. Hooked. Let’s talk Pop into buying me a gee-tar and see what happens.

Now, I didn’t even know the word “entrepreneur” existed. (Heck, I had barely incorporated “bitchin’” into my vocabulary at that point, let alone big foreign words.) But there were a bunch of us who caught the fever around the same time (I was part of that huge Boomer glut of kids that blew up the school system in California, and I can’t even imagine what it was like for our parents to behold this blossoming of rebellion amongst their offspring… who, weeks earlier, had been happily wearing Davey Crockett coonskin hats and ignoring the opposite sex)…

… and a percentage of us figured out “The Code”: Get good enough to be in a band… get IN a band… and go play in front of people.

Seemed simple enough.

However, it was my first big lesson in entrepreneurship to discover that many of my cohorts just couldn’t pull the trigger.

This included most of the truly talented musicians I knew. They were good, they were courted by bands… and they refused to get involved. Sometimes, they were just perfectionists who couldn’t bear the thought of subjecting their talent to any kind of “test”. Sometimes, they were too distracted by other things, like sports, or a special girl, or (shudder) a job.

And sometimes, they were just plain scared.

For me and my cohorts, it was “what’s the big deal?” We pushed hard to master the basics… and I beg forgiveness to all the neighbors who had to hear us grind through “Gloria” twenty times in row in Pop’s garage through that first clunky summer.

But we did push. I found a partner in Bob Stevenson, a kid my age who was ahead of me musically… and who took the time to show me barre chords, and help me break down the songs we thought we could pull off in a band. (Which meant listening to singles and albums over and over and over, wearing down the vinyl and needle to nubbins.) (And pissing off the entire older generation, who hated rock and roll anyway, and ESPECIALLY hated hearing “Good Lovin’” on a scratchy 45 leaking from my bedroom all afternoon.)

We found bass players, and drummers, and singers from among our friends… from word-of-mouth at other schools… and from other bands. And we ushered them into our band, and escorted them out of our band like we had a revolving door… trying to find that right mix of talent and responsibility and commitment to the cause. (Starting to sound similar to starting a real business?)

Then, without batting an eye, we auditioned for jobs even before we had a bass player who knew the songs. And got gigs at Sunday afternoon socials, at junior high dances, at private parties, at Battle Of The Bands, at supermarket openings. We were fearless. Yes, we were raw, screwed up often, and hacked up songs like chopped liver for an omelet…

… but by God, we showed up, set up, and pounded out four sets of rock and roll like heroes. Even in our nascent state, we weren’t that far away from the best bands in the area (and this was just outside of Los Angeles, where the Byrds and Buffalo Springfield played high school proms before they hit it big).

Rock is a very forgiving medium. Major, minor and seventh chords will get you anywhere you want to go with sixties-era pop. And NO ONE had decent PAs, or Marshall stacks, or even monitors. Playing a gig from an unfamiliar stage (or, worse, crammed into a living room or in the corner of the banquet hall) meant strange acoustics… so we were like brave mushers heading into the wilderness, to live or die by our own wits. (I spent many a gig hearing only the drummer, and just barreled along, damn the torpedoes, assuming the bassist and Bob and the singer were in the same pocket.)

There were moments of sheer bliss… but those moments arrived only after weeks of hard work. We had to figure almost everything out from scratch, because the phenomenon of Do-It-Yourself bands was still new.

We learned that the average “full night” gig had four sets (of approximately 50 minutes, with a 10-minute break)… and that meant we needed a song list with at least 40 different songs. We tossed two or three songs for every one that made it on that list (either because we just couldn’t pull it off, or because nobody danced to ‘em). We sometimes had contracts that specified we’d play two fast songs and then one slow one, all night long. (The contracts also stipulated we’d arrive with fresh haircuts and a clean “look”… this was back when most bands invested in uniforms, to look like pro entertainers.) (We went with black slacks and white shirts with paisley vests optional. Which we already had in our closets — all our money went for gas, strings, equipment and the occasional six-pack hidden backstage.)

Here’s the thing: We weren’t the best musicians. We lacked polish, and experience, and we were doing it all on our own. No adults involved in any way, shape or form.

But what we lacked in fundamentals, we made up for with cojones and a commitment to making the band work. (“Sure, we can play at your dance Saturday night.” Sotto voice: “Bob, can we get a drummer by Saturday, and find a PA with mikes?”)

This was pure, raw, unadulterated entrepreneurship, in blazing glory. The guys who wouldn’t commit… or who couldn’t get on stage without wetting themselves… or who never felt “ready” to take on a gig…

… gone.

No time for ‘em, no matter how talented they were.

This is important: It never occurred to me to NOT be in a band. I loved playing, it was a gas doing gigs, and I suspected that meeting Bob and finding a rhythm section that shared our attitude was a rare thing we should take advantage of while it was hot.

I had zero clue how to do ANY of it before we started.

We were motivated up the yin-yang. We paid attention to the needs of a live performance — equipment, songs, practice/practice/practice. And we took every gig offered, no matter how small, weird or scary.

Years later, when I decided to become a freelance copywriter, I just booted up the same mojo. Motivation, dedication to getting good, and taking my act out into the world.

The bliss, when it arrives, will drop you to your knees (just like the Kinks dropped me in the kitchen).

But there’s a good bit of drudgery and work required, too. Overall, it’s the kind of experience that delivers a never-ending, ongoing thrill that most people will never know. Because, even if they have the urge, they can’t get past the requirements to move beyond “really, really, really wanting to do it”… but never acting on it.

Which is where most motivational guru’s will leave you, stranded and flapping around like a beached fish.

And that’s the truth, Ruth.

Rock on… get your butt in gear… and…

Stay frosty,

John

P.S. You got a good story about playing in bands as a kid? Love to hear it. Also how you earned your entrepreneur stripes… it’s all related, you know.

P.P.S. I’m visiting the town I grew up in (and had all these music-related epiphanies) — Cucamonga, right on Route 66 — for Pop’s 92nd birthday. He’s still as active as he was in his sixties, still a great guy, and I still owe him big-time for buying me that first Vox guitar…

… and for putting up with years of us making a racket in the garage. He remains an essential part of who I am, and how I got here.

I love ya, Pop. Happy birthday.

P.P.P.S. Final note: If you’re interested in knowing exactly how I put together my now-legendary career as a freelance copywriter… from scratch, figuring it out as I went, and coming up with a solid “shortcut” plan that any writer can use to leap past your competition and get your own career going on high heat…

… then check out the re-release of my classic “The Freelance Course“:

Go here to see what the fuss is about.

69 Responses to Garage Band Entrepreneurs

    • John Carlton says:

      Indeed. Just watch the head-bangin’ when you get past 30…

    • Joe says:

      Your story about the first time Rock n Roll hit you between the eyes reminds of Bruce Springsteens. If i remember correctly, he was around 12 and riding with his mom in the car when he heard the classic tune like a Rolling Stone for the first time. He said “it was like a door to my brain was kicked wide open changing everything about how a I thought and what I thought about from that day on.”
      I know for others and me it was the night they sat down in front of the black n white tube to watch the Beatles in 64. Cool stuff to think about.

      • John Carlton says:

        I saw that Sullivan show in ’64. My cousins and I saw the promo’s for it, with a big painting of the Mop Tops, and thought they must Czech jugglers or something. Never heard of them before. Being in a big media market — LA — meant we soon found out. I was NOT a Beatles fan immediately, though. The Who, Them, the Animals and the Kinks “spoke” to me more… and for some reason, I really connected with the American “answer” to the British Invasion. This included a lot of one-hit wonders (because the draft kept killing bands by taking members — with a four-piece band, chances were you would lose at least one guy within the year). So I swooned over the Box Tops, ? and the Mysterians, the Standells, Count Five, the Seeds…

        What a great time for music. I think there’s a fresh Renaissance now, too, with the Web allowing bands to market themselves nationally. There’s a genuine “return to basics”, too… with bands eschewing the special effects of the studio for a live performance they can replicate. I applaud that…

  1. Whitney says:

    You want a story about playing in a band as a kid?

    I was in a girl band for exactly one day. The reason why we never continued: one of the girls had to get a nose job that summer. Guess that’s what it’s like to grow up in Orange County, CA these days…

    • John Carlton says:

      Wow. You coulda been the next Runaways, right? They were in the Valley, but you coulda suburbanized the sound.

      And really, even a day in a band is better than never having cranked it up at all…

      Thanks for the post, Whitney.

  2. Love the post. Tale about earning my stripes? All the usual details of sacrifice, struggle, and the guts (or stubbornness) to keep going. And somehow, somehow the trying, the going, the innovation turned into a successful business that hit the ten-year mark this year. I think you’re right. It’s the attitude of “let’s do it!” that makes things happen. No time to think, pray, and plan forever. The thinking, praying, and planning must turn into doing.

    • John Carlton says:

      There seem to be two kinds of entrepreneurs… those who jump in without thinking, and those who are drug kicking and screaming to the game…

      … yet both types get there the same way, as you said: They put aside “thinking”, and get on with it. Regardless of any thought running counter to “let’s do it”. There will be plenty of time later to marvel at the recklessness of your decisions… while you’re enjoying the success of having gotten in the game.

      Congrats on the 10 year anniversary, Monica…

  3. Jason says:

    … “stranded and flapping around like a beached fish.”

    HOW TRUE! — The longer I live the more it becomes evident that most of it just doesn’t help.

    On a separate note: Started playing Guitar in run down college room that resembled that beauty filmed in ANIMAL HOUSE. Been jammin with family every now and then ever since.

    Thanks John

    • John Carlton says:

      Playing with the “family” used to be an American tradition… ruined (as R Crumb eloquently put it) by the invention of recorded music. Yet, for some lucky families, it’s still done. I have a nephew who is a master-level musician, and we’ve played together a few times — it’s just bliss, a very nice form of it, to bring the family, isn’t it. Making music opens up ancient parts of your mind, and allows you to brush up against the cosmos in ways that cannot be replicated by any other activity…

      If I were King, I’d demand that everyone learn at least one instrument. Yes, it’s tough to make that first breakthrough to playing something, but after a very brief period of learning, you understand what it’s like behind that obstacle. It’s very nice, very fulfilling…

  4. john lloyd says:

    Shit John.

    That’s just about the closest thing to my own heart I’ve ever read.

    I can’t go a day without playing, I have played and formed numerous bands in Liverpool UK, the home of them there mop tops.

    I am a biz owner, and it was the exact desire that led me to practice my guitar like a demon that led me to start my biz.

    This biz came when I had children and had to reign in my wilder side. But you know why have my biz John, so I can play my guitar when the fuck I want to. Not to be dictated to by the man.

    With commitment and passion in equal measure.

    Great post John.

  5. Alan says:

    Already bought the “Kick-Ass” course …awesome. Just needed the “WTF, let’s do it” kick-in-the-ass! Thanks for the swift kick John and for telling it like it needs to be told. Rock on “Wild Thing”.

  6. Kevin Rogers says:

    Damn, John.

    You know this speaks straight to the ex-pseudo-hippie wanderlust comic in me.

    Funny how you don’t see the hard work you’re putting into a show-biz dream until you pop your head out for a minute and notice what “normal” people consider work.

    “I drove 400 miles for $150 bucks how many times?” you ask yourself for the first time. “Shit, that was great gig though…” and you’re off down memory lane.

    You’ve preached to me many times about balancing this career with fun. I notice that the better the pay gets, the deeper the anxiety runs.

    Not sure there’s a way around that… but the way through is experience… and figuring out that the fk ups won’t kill you – even if it feels like death sometimes.

    Great piece, John. Has looking back, but mostly more determined to wear the frets on that too new Strat winking at me across the room.

    Happy birthday to Pop.

    Kev

    • John Carlton says:

      Heck, we NEVER made enough money in all our gigs to even pay for our equipment. A key part was being staked by parents, or friends with jobs. (Our manager was a guy our age with a car and a job… so his job was mainly getting us there, and being the responsible guy when we had to sign stuff. Cuz, you know, he had a good job.)

      None of the guys who committed to our bands were in it for the money. A great gig would bring in $50 each, but even those were rare. (And we’d usually have to bring our own PA, which we had to rent for $100.) No, we didn’t learn how to get rich — that part came later, with real entrepreneurial adventures bent on scoring the dough. But everything else — organization, management, channeling passion into hard work — changed our abilities to get stuff done.

      And yes, never forget to have fun, Kev. Never.

      Thanks for the post.

  7. John,

    Led Zepplin is one of my favorite bands, even though I’m only 38.

    Something about their sound just caught my attention as a kid when my Dad was playing Kashmir over and over again.

    I’m in agreement with your take on “passion”, because passion alone doesn’t pay the bills.

    • John Carlton says:

      I’m amazed at how many younger people in biz choose “classic rock” bands as their favorites… or who know most of the Boomer catalog. The soundtrack to my youth was pretty fucking awesome, and I think the fact it was all done before The Man got his claws into the counter-culture and started ruining it for everyone is a big reason why. There will ALWAYS be room for new rock bands… like Muse, Jet, the Darkness, Kid Rock… they’re keeping it alive. (And yes, I know The Darkness broke up years ago…)

  8. Dear John -

    I sent this to my son, Peter. He was a musician – and I was a Rock and Roll mother with his band in my basement for years.

    (I swear my hearing is still impaired)

    He did this whole scenario – moved from Chicago to Los Angeles and had a moderate amount of success with his band. Sold a couple of tunes to movies – played all the clubs.

    A “record deal” was always pending. Never happened.

    I am sure he will be fascinated with your connection with music and entrepreneurship.

    He is now a full VP at Merrill Lynch in the Weath Division.

  9. Jeff Waite says:

    -TORONTO, (8 floors up, facing West)

    Hi John!

    Just want to extend a huge, “ThANK YOU MAN!” for sharing your experiences blossoming in the age of rock and roll (which was well before my time, I’ll have you know). But regardless of decade…

    I have immense and everlasting respect for how you just keep gettin’er done, again… and again… and again. But you might be wondering…

    How do you know I REALLY have such a deep well of respect for you? Actually, it’s a pretty good story, so let me quickly explain…

    After graduating college with a biochemistry degree (and simultaneously realizing I hated being in science labs), I got the opportunity to move to Eastern Europe. I didn’t know anyone. I didn’t know the company I was working for. But I knew it’d be an adventure. And not just any adventure…

    But an adventure in good old-fashioned salesmanship! Yup. I got suckered into boiler-room cold calling, dialing for dollars from the crumbling remnants of a cold war era, communist style concrete prison. It was tough. For 8 months I made 120 calls a day to professional assholes, selling services and consulting. It was the hardest thing I ever did. But also…

    The best experience I’ve ever had. I was out of my comfort zone, with no idea what I was doing. And yet somehow… despite myself… I came out alive! And low and behold, I’d even figured out how to get cash, with just a little conversation.

    So thank you John… from the depths of my capitalistic heart… for reminding me (and validating)… the only thing that really matters is… MOTION!

    Until next time,

    Jeff

  10. Nice post hombre!

    Early band memories – sitting around in the practice room for hours on end trying to figure out if the drummer would have enough left over from his unemployment check to buy cigarettes AND pay the drumstick rental fee.

    Seriously. The guy NEVER had sticks, and the practice place would rent them to him, because they got so sick of him never returning stuff. If all he had was enough cash to buy cigarettes, practice would be cancelled for another week, because, ya know, God forbid we practice without a drummer, or find another one.

    That was our modus operandi, and somehow we STILL got on the radio.

    Enthusiasm wins.

    -Flashman

    • John Carlton says:

      Money and gear was always an issue. Duct tape for the drummer’s sticks, using a G string for a B (and playing half a gig with no high E string), sparks jumping out of amps cuz we jerry-rigged the electronics, the constant triage management of cords and straps and picks and tubes… it was like a patrol that got too far ahead of the main force, and had to forage for themselves and make do with what they had. That kind of self-sufficiency was a big part of learning the biz ropes, too, now that you mention it, Flashman. Thanks…

  11. Marc (aka doceye) says:

    Am I the only one picturing Carlton grinning out at that early-blossom girl from algebra in the front row, hiding a boner that could cut glass behind his guitar (probably the source of some monumental feedback its own damn self), reeking of Olympia (or Hamm’s) beer, and wearing the shit out of that paisley vest?

    Good God, I miss the Sixties.

    • John Carlton says:

      Okay, you kinda started to creep me out there, but recovered. I know what you mean. I didn’t talk about the girls, but that was, of course, a major benefit of being in a band. But we didn’t KNOW that when we started out. We got into it for the thrill of playing.

      And the girls in my algebra and trig classes were kinda scary…

  12. Ken Ca|houn says:

    Hey John, outstanding rant…thanks — I’m always keen to hear your take on music, because of how much it relates to copy and entrepreneurship, as you explained so well in your writing.

    Music-biz Parallels:
    - playing in a band, you learn timing… and courage, to just jam, with improv solos — and as an entrepreneur, same thing, launching new jvs, new products, without blinking. You just do it.
    - fearless production: in music we really don’t care if we miss the occasional note during a riff, it’s all part of the song — and in biz, same thing, much of what we do won’t meet sales hopes, so we keep on plugging away at new launches til we find ones that click with the marketplace/audience

    music here:
    - played lead alto in jazz and marching bands from grades 7-12; keyboards at home
    - played keys/sax in Top-40 and reggae bands all over southern cal, at the whisky in LA/clubs in huntington beach, manhattan bch, during the late 80s/early 90s, had a blast
    - currently working on mastering ac/dc, zep, pink floyd etc solos on my ibanez elec gtr and playing along with other pop band concerts (phil collins, clapton, police, rush etc) blu rays…

    been playing 30+ years and will play all my days, music lifts the spirit and energizes the entrepreneur… thanks for a great rant, much appreciated to see how it “relates” to your take on business.

    “Music happens to be an art form that transcends language.” – Herbie Hancock

    To the improv,

    -ken

    • John Carlton says:

      Glad you caught (and reported) the timing and courage parts, Ken. Absolutely essential stuff for a well-lived life, and a well-run biz. I was gonna go off on having a “Big Ear”, but ran out of steam. A Big Ear means, as a musician, you care more about how the band sounds than you care about how YOU sound. You’re a team dude. This doesn’t mean you can’t solo like a hero — but you step forward when it’s time, you rip off your best stuff (and don’t try to fool or confuse the rhythm guys)… and then you step back and melt into the sound again. That’s a pro move.

      My greatest happiness in a band was finding Bitchin’ Bob, a drummer who was so good it made me swoon… but even better, he paid total attention to me when I led the band (especially pick-up bands, where the other guys had just met each other in the parking lot, and so I had to arrange, lead and sing/play guitar on each song knowing the bass and keyboard were following my signals)… and anticipated my solos (adding machine-gun rolls when I did glissandos, or hitting a perfect rim shot when I brought the mood from soft to loud, etc.). Heaven.

      Of course, I had to play with Bam Bam — the guy who genuinely believed that people came to hear the drummer, and so played twice as loud as every other instrument, all night long — in another gig to appreciate Bitchin’ Bob’s professionalism. The great bandmates were rare, and few. The dicks, egos, unreliable thick-skulled yahoo’s far outnumbered them. And yet, even a sloppy gig had moments of sheer bliss… because I did whatever had to be done (including keeping the songs simple, or riding out a groove we finally got into for 20 minutes just because it was so hard to get there) to find a way to make it work.

      I totally understand why so many folks are scared of the stage, or of going out on your own in biz. I understand… but I can’t sympathize. There are so few opportunities for true adventure left in life, and music and biz are two of the best. Courage is just stuffing your fears away and doing it anyway.

      Thanks for the post, Ken.

  13. Alan Robinson says:

    I’ve been playing keyboards in Prog-Rock,Funk and blues bands for 40 years. Actually played in a Yes tribute band at one point.

  14. Ed says:

    Hey John,

    Awesome post man!!

    Would love to share on Twitter and Facebook if you add functionality…Cheers, Ed : )

  15. Bernie says:

    Memories…memories. When was growing up on Long Island (NY), it seems that you knew at least 3 people who played guitar and were in a garage band. Some local musicians actually made it big…Billy Joel…Blue Oyster Cult…Steve Vai…etc.

    And yeah, I knew of a lot of book educated entrepreneurs who never gave it a shot because it wasn’t perfect. I also knew of a few with a very basic education who made it big. Rock on!

    Waiting for your Simple Writing System to open up again.

  16. Joe Ditzel says:

    John,

    Great stuff. This post took me back to my freshman year in high school in Iowa. I decided our school paper needed a music critic and elected myself.

    I started by reviewing my own Black Sabbath records, some of which were 2 years old. (Hey, nice review, kid! Got anything that came out recently?) What did I know? I just did it.

    Then I figured I could get into rock concerts free if I was able to convince someone I was a music journalist.

    Black Sabbath was coming to town so I called the manager and he called me back! (Things were different in 1975.) I told him the name of my paper (leaving out the high school part) and asked if I could interview the band when they came to Des Moines.

    He said, “Pick up a press pass at the backstage door and see me when you get here.” Woah.

    A few weeks later I was having my own “Almost Famous” moment. I was interviewing Ozzy Osborne backstage.

    I didn’t even have a microphone. I just held up one of those old piano-key-button shoebox-sized cassette players up to his face when he answered questions. Totally professional!

    I never understood a word he said, then or now.

    Over the next few months I interviewed REO Speedwagon, Boston, KISS, and many more. Eventually some of the arena staff started to recognize me so I had my mom drop me off a block away. I didn’t want them to think a journalist didn’t drive.

    I also got to go to some after-parties where I saw things a 15-year-old in Iowa probably didn’t see a lot.

    Try explaining that to your mom. “Hey, mom, can you pick me up a little later? I’m going to a party with Cheap Trick, Foghat and a lot of half naked girls.”

    Good times.

    • John Carlton says:

      Great story! The key, of course is “What did I know? I just did it.”

      The mid-seventies was a strange time. Like the 50s, it wrongly gets blasted as “lost years” of culture, cuz of disco and the post-Vietnam malaise that settled in. However, if you knew where to pay attention, it was still a total blast. I have fond memories of all the decades — didn’t let the sixties define me.

      Foghat — best band name ever. Makes me laugh every time I hear it…

  17. John,
    I just want to say thank you for always speaking from your heart and telling it like it is.

    I appreciate your honesty, and courage in talking about the things that matter most in building our business.

    As a new business owner myself, I get lost in the sea of motivational and strategy information. It is helpful but if not balanced with action, it makes me paralyzed. I always tell my clients to put their ass behind their aspirations. I think you are saying the same thing.

    I grew up in the radio business. My father owned radio stations and I started my career at his station in sales.
    I stayed in that industry for 14 years as a manager before I want off on my own. That is the closest think I have to musical experience:)

    I knew at a young age I could make things happen even if I wasn’t sure how. I remember selling my first car at a garage sale when I was sixteen. I didn’t know the first thing about how to conduct the transaction but I told them to come back the next day and I would have everything ready for them. I did my research that night and came up with everything I needed to sell the car legitimately. It set the stage for me in my life to just go for it even when I wasn’t exactly sure how to make it happen.

    Here’s to always taking action!

  18. Doc says:

    Love the post…WTF -you said it was gonna be short. SUCKED in again! Ha,Ha…

    • John Carlton says:

      That WAS short, Doc. For me, anyway. Hey, doesn’t Zappa have a b-day coming up soon? That means another special Lagunitas beer…

      • Doc says:

        John, Frank’s B-day is right around yours Dec. 21st…(both musical geniuses) –Oh, and that beer tastes so much better with a Zappa label doesn’t it.

  19. Joe says:

    I had forgotten that feeling – of wanting to be that guitar hero. To be Jimi at Monterey laying down his stunning rendition of Like a Rolling Stone.

    But hey, I was only dreaming of the life – playing make-believe in empty basements. You were out there doing it.

  20. Tom Malcolm says:

    Yea, as someone once said, “Courage is not taking action without fear, courage is taking action in spite of it.

    Great post John,

    Tom

  21. Jon says:

    Great stuff. Well born and raised in the UK, my introduction to rock and roll was Ozzy, White Snake and the Who.

    I bought my first guitar from a guy at school when I was 13, it had only 3 strings and a missing pick but I loved that damn thing.

    I don’t remember much else other than practicing every day, drinking beer or doing martial arts lol

    It was at least another 8 years before I played in a band and I learned a lot about dynamics and realizing that you don’t learn much by sitting and listening on the side lines you have to get in there, get dirty and hit a few wrong notes ( in my case quite a lot )

    Less is more took on a whole new meaning.

    Cut forward.. now doing copywriting for the past 11 years, it pays the bills, i like it but I would rather play guitar, watch a movie or write a novel

    So I do a bit of both ;)

  22. Wow,

    All I can say is Wow again. Your post hit home on so many levels.

    Can’t say that I played in a band myself growing up, but I do feel the strong connection with actually forming a band and DOING IT..with entrepreneurship.

    I’ll admit I’m a little younger, and grew up on head banger music of the 80s. The music has a similar attitude though as you said.

    Loved your line, “it’s the semi-drudgery fo the day-to-day stuff….that delivers the moolah, and the moolah can buy you time to pursue your true joys.”

    You are dead on about “passion” isn’t enough to pay the bills. Passion can him and haw quickly when the going gets tough in a business.

    Gotta just be fearless and just get after it.

    That’s the motivation to getting good enough at what you are doing and as you say, “take the act to the world”.

    Got me very fired up just reading this.

    Thanks,

    Kurt

  23. Daniel says:

    I agree the two are relative but c’mon John, you could have at least correctly spelled the name of a man who single handedly started a new genre of guitar music and who inspired a whole new generation of players to pick up the instrument.

    Yes, I am a Strat fanatic and yes, I love “MALMSTEEN”

    But hey, at least you got “Yngwie” right. :D

    • John Carlton says:

      I actually looked it up, just flaked on getting the spelling right. Damn. (Probably a Freudian thing, since I despise speed-thrash…) I’ll correct it later…

  24. David Tomen says:

    Loved the post John. Boy did that bring back memories. We used to practice in the neighbor’s cider-shed in an apple orchard.

    Made our own speaker cabinets (my ears are still ringing 40 years later), nearly blew up the front row in one show with our flash-pots, and beat Shely Wright in a talent show at the Merlin County Fair (ask her, she remembers).

    Shely went on to fame and fortune, and I gave up and went to business school. ‘course I traveled around the world – 45 countries at last count, lived in some exotic places (Antigua, London, and played and worked with some very interesting people. So, I guess we both made out OK.

    Never occurred to me until now from where that entrepreneurial bug sprouted. Genius.

  25. David says:

    Hey John,

    Great essay.

    I guess that I learned one thing from my teen/early twenties experience in bands/the music business: unions are in restraint of trade and suck the big one.

    When I was about 15, my band was hired to play in a catering hall for a bar mitzvah. The pay was an outstanding $200. Sheesh!

    But no sooner than we started to play than a greasy little guy shut off all the power. He mentioned to the boy’s father “dat we wasn’t inna yoonyun, an’ we coont play fa money.”

    We were bought off with some stale sandwiches and finished the gig. The father, obviously relieved, slipped us $10. apiece. Cool.

    A few years later, I was working as a record producer in Italy. We were laying down the instrumental tracks in Milan prior to doing the vocals in Rome.

    We had a 23 piece orchestra, and the arrangements were a bit complicated, like Burt Bacharach.

    I noticed a greasy little fellow in the studio who did nothing but smoke and drink, and was informed that he was the union representative, and was paid the same amount as a working musician.

    We continued take after take, and we were finally getting close to perfect. At this point, li’l greaseball called a union break.

    After the musicians had taken half an hour off to have a few drinks, we went back in the studio, very far from the last version.

    In the end, it cost me several thousand dollars to get where just one more take would have had it.

    Bottom line: entrepreneurs are awfully lucky not to have to deal with soul and money killing yooun-yun creeps.

    Let the big corporations devote most of their working hours to appeasing these fine fellows.

  26. Bill says:

    My 16 year old son Jacob got his first “real” acoustic two years ago. It wasn’t long before I was hearing Creedence, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and Dylan blowing out his bedroom door.

    The next year he got a Fender Squier and now I’m hearing Hendrix, AC/DC and Zeppelin.

    Last month I got a chill when I heard Wish You Were Here and thought he was playing it on his stereo. I started to sing along like always and realized mine was the only voice.

    The thing is, he’s fearless. He will not hesitate to play anywhere, any time, alone or with strangers. He just watches everyone else and tries to fit himself in and help.

    I play harp and I am not fearless.

    But every time I’ve jumped up on a stage and played I got nothing but raves. Not because I’m any good, but because of the novelty of some local dude blowin’ a harp.

    It’s always a hoot and I can’t explain why I don’t do it more. Definitely look forward to jammin’ with Jacob more before he is discovered and runs off to be a star.

    I’m trying to teach him how to go out and live HIS life. The real life that only HE was born to live. I’m coming late to the realization that I have not. Now, I’m teaching by example.

    It’s taken fifty years but now I know what I want to be when I grow up. I want to be a successful copywriter. I want to have the free time to stand on stage with my son and jam like Magic Dick.

    When I’m there I’ll thank you, Carlton.

    Just so you don’t think I’m totally altruistic…in my mind I’ll definitely be pretending that all those young lovelies are throwing their panties at me.

  27. Hal Merrill says:

    Hey, I just love this post John! As I love all of your posts. My story of being in a band as a kid is that I still am a kid at 56 years old and still doing the music thing. I started 32 years ago on pedal steel guitar and took it into jazz because that’s just what I wanted to do and disbelieviers be damned. Classic story how they laughed at me here in Seattle when I first started to go to jazz sessions in the 1990′s, haha, now I’m recognized and it’s not laughing anymore.
    So now you all can hear a little of my music at: http://www.halmerrill.com
    The big challenge now IS REALLY getting more presence on the web and more traffic to the website, a better presentation, some video. After all, the thing that’s really going to do it for me is this music thing. It’s something (the steel guitar jazz) that Nobody has done this way before now. IT just has to be that way. If I can just get the marketing thing going now, and that’s where I can use these copywriting skills. I’m taking some of Eben’s classes now…Yes the gigs are bliss, yes the marketing is tedious, but hey I’m doing it, drudgery and all. Soo, thanks again John for such an inspiring post.

    Regards,

    Hal Merrill

  28. Spencer Shaw says:

    Damn bro, your story hooked me and the language brought me back into “the pocket”… you kept me glued. I grew up playing in bands starting at the ripe age of 14 with my 72 Fender P Bass (still got her).

    My first band I was a punk band playing power chord covers infront of friends at parties and a high school assembly – we thought we had made it… so fun and naive.

    I then moved on to a pop rock band in high school where we gloriously recorded one of our tracks in the bathroom – cause of acoustics of course… again we probably made any pro musician or non tone deaf friend puke but we thought we were good enough for shows.

    We gigged out several times a month at coffee shops, clubs, dances, battle of the bands, state fairs. Oh I’m brining back some fun memories.

    Thanks for the post, if anything it’s brought back some of the nostalgia of youth and innocence. As a musician I get ya how it’s easy to relate with the language and the fact of nutting up and just going for it. Sure we were just hacks but we got out there and did it and got better each time… heck we even got good enough to have a song on the radio so work, fun, and laying em on the table pays off.

  29. Michael Cole says:

    Hi John,

    Never had a real urge to be in a band, but I find going to YouTube and listening to the Rock and Pop Rock from the late ’70′s, when I was in High School, sometimes really sets the mood for a difficult post.

    Not really motivation, more like inspriration.

    Mike

  30. Janice says:

    Hi John,
    How I just love readin your post.Sounds like you really had fun growing up,you should be greatful.For me, well I grew up in the country,Rock & roll was and is my music..how odd is that, I still listen to classic rock..
    Thanks John,this post brings back many memories..

  31. Margie says:

    John
    You are the most inspirational practical no bullshit motivator I have ever had the pleasure of listening to … And I’m not easily impressed!!
    Rock on man
    Ps I love music !!!!

  32. Colin Power says:

    Ok story from a groupie…

    My Wife was a lead singer in a 50′s Rock n Roll band and was performing at the Brisbane Greek club when the air-conditioning failed…yeah the Band was Real Hot in a Blistering Australian summer.

    During one of her gutsiest songs she pasted out from the heat falling back stage behind the Drummer…well you know what Drummers are like…the Band were oblivious and kept on playing.

    Luckily she regained consciousness…realised they had slipped into one of those long ego driven instrumental breaks that her Band was famous for…she jumped back up on stage, tipped a large Jug of water over her head and down her tight Red dress and finished the show.

    She realised like in Business you don’t get paid if you don’t finish the Job.

  33. Francois Van Rooyen says:

    I had to thank you personally for thia post.
    Beginning last year I decided to quit my job as a small business consultant for the biggest bank in Africa. I wanted to follow my passion by becoming a marketing consultant. Since then I have had good months and bad months. I have always been under pressure from my fiance and my father to get a ‘real’ job, and the last week I finally decided to bow to their wishes.
    But today I read your blog for the very first time, and the latest post is this one.
    Thank you for that. If I had not read this post, at this moment, then I might have given up.

    Francois from South Africa.

    P.S. Written from my phone, so excuse the format!

  34. Pete Moring says:

    Hi John – in 1963 two good friends and myself decided we were going to be the next Beatles/Rolling Stones :-)

    We reserved two guitars and a set of drums at our local music shop in Reading, Berks. We were going to pay for them on a weekly basis and the store would give us our instruments when we’d paid them all of the money :-)

    Great little arrangement at the time we thought ….. except that we got a little over-zealous about the way we got the money.
    I gave up school at 13 and took on part-time jobs at our local pig farm and the local chicken farm – (I was earning more than my Dad at the time) but I got sussed – introduced to the legal system – and got put into ‘care’ until I was 18 :-(

    Never did make it as a musician – probably because I’m tone deaf when it comes to playing – even though I can spot a bum note a mile away.

    Still working on the Entrepreneur thing though – Stay Frosty Yourself John – And thanks for yet another great read :-)

    Pete Moring.

  35. Holly Lisle says:

    Yeah, I did that. Inherited an acoustic guitar my father bought from a furniture store when I was fifteen. It had an action like a meat grinder, and my fingers bled learning to play it.

    I worked all summer the year I was seventeen and saved every penny to buy myself an Epiphone 12-string. My first real guitar.

    I took a couple lessons, wrote my own songs, practiced all the time, and the first opportunity I got, when I bought my own car (a used Chevy Vega) at nineteen, started playing in local restaurants and coffee houses and a deli (honest to God)—anyplace that would have me. For tips. And alone.

    I got a roadie (my boyfriend at the music store where I taught beginner guitar) and the use of loaned mikes and an amplifier from the same music store, and got into a better restaurant—a private club.

    It lasted for a year, which was long enough for me to discover that my three jobs (teaching guitar, singing for tips, and saying “Would you like fries with that?” at McDonald’s were never going to get me out of the house and on my own.

    But like you, I learned that being afraid was never a reason not to do something I wanted to do, and I made it through nursing school, earned myself a career as a pro novelist, built my own business teaching writing, and have finally moved into self-publishing as my business from what I learned standing in front of strangers singing my own songs all alone.

    And my “good” guitar now is a Taylor six-string.

  36. Cathie Heath says:

    Took me right back, John!

    I was the “female lead” in our band. Sang, played both guitar and piano, rocked out and had a BLAST!

    You’re SO right…we never did stop to think why we shouldn’t be in a band, did we? We just did what we knew how to do. Simple yet profound.

    Rock on!!!

  37. Christine says:

    Thanks John, I think it’s finally getting through to even the staunchest “Law of Attraction” promoters that taking action and following through is actually more important than visualizing, or “feeling” a certain way. You can feel horrible, be low on the “vibration” scale, and create more breakthroughs and learn more things when you take action than when you stay at home trying to feel better, trying to get your “vibration” right.
    Keep up the good work.

  38. Steve says:

    “commitment to making the band work.”

    commitment to making your business work

    Commitment to executing, measuring, rinsing and repeating what works…constantly

    PS…Love the reel to reel in the picture

  39. Bonnie Kane says:

    Hey John,
    As a bandleader/musician, entrepreneur who has “grown into” playing instead of “grown out”, I think that once again you’ve hit the target making some great points – although I must say that it took some time to learn to harness that energy and focus it in a profitable direction – for alot of the “I’ll do it anyway, no matter what” attitude that you champion here, also means that one is going to continue plying their art regardless of financial renumeration – even though one might continually make every effort. The business of music is quite challenging, changing, and although ripe with opportunity, alot of situations that you would think pay out, do not – or the “financial success” bar is actually quite low.

    It would be an interesting factoid to find out how many of these garage band entrepreneurs remain players even if their money/success comes from another business.

    I also appreciated your recognition/shout out to those of us who have by hook and crook have managed, and continue to manage, to pull a living out of the ether. There is seldom enough talk concerning living the steps along the entrepreneurial path – all focus is on survival, growth, achieving. Thanks for mentioning about the constant effort and balancing. So many of the “gurus” are already playing at such a high level that their business/lifestyle does seem dreamlike, even rock star like, thus probably unattainable to those who study them (and I bet it seems that way especially to musicians). A great follow-up article would be: “Taking it Out of the Garage”.

    Anyway, your article provides alot of food for thought.

    Thanks,

    Bonnie Kane

    http://www.theguidetowellbeing.com – enabling creative and forward thinking people to take charge of their health
    http://www.starrynightrecords.com – we buy and sell vinyl LP collections
    http://www.bonniekane.com – foreground music for forward thinkers

  40. Cheri Ruskus says:

    Loved the analogy to the entrepreneur and the band. Back in the day myself and 7 of my dearest friends decided to start a girl band called Everyone Self. Or first goal was to give our selves cool names and figure out how we were going to be the coolest girl bad ever.

    Then we moved on to play the Animals – House of the Rising Sun. Only problem was that none of us really knew how to play and instrument. Sure I was pretty good at drums, everyone else had instruments they just didn’t know how to play. Bottom line was other than seeing the coolness of it – none of us wanted it bad enough to actually do the work required and sooner than later Everyone Self faded into only the 8 memory banks of my best friends growing up.

    Your analogy is so right on as I have observed in the 25 years I have been working with Entrepreneurs in different capacities. Most recently as a Business Coach facilitating Master Mind groups. Getting them to not only launch but to fully launch in every aspect required from finances to sales is indeed the problem.

    If the world could have as many entrepreneurs as there are entrepreneurial wannabe’s we could turn this economy around in a heart beat! Thanks for saying it so well!
    Rock on!
    Cheri

  41. Mark L says:

    Hey JC,
    As usual, great post!
    Since I was in your hood and took lessons at the same music store at 4th and Grove, I saw a Vox…then I picked it up and played it. Yipes!
    -firewood. I ended up with White Fender Duo Sonic and a Fender Deluxe Amp.
    But YOU eventually had the “magic” custom Stratocaster.
    Grrrrrrrr…
    I was taking classical guitar lessons, but the rush of playing the Rolling Stones “Get Off My Cloud” was the raw lure of rock and roll distorted FUN.
    Since then, I’ve put in my 10,000 hours as a professional musician. That’s a side gig. (I’m a copywriter and an instructor in JC’s Simple Writing System – the best gang of wicked-smart copywriters/mentors out there.)
    What I LOVE about playing music live on stage is that it drains the poison. I’m a bass player in front of a 1000 Watt stack and I’m peeling the paint off the walls.
    I’m perfectly in the moment…nothing else matters except the pocket and kick drum.
    Nirvana!
    But I’ve had my share of musical train-wrecks, wasted singers falling off the stage and my amp catching on fire.
    All part of the journey! (If I ever have to play “Any Way You Want It” again – please shoot me.)
    John and I play music together on occasion.
    You up for the long version of “Shot Gun” amigo?
    Never stop rockin…and change your strings.
    Mark L

    • John Carlton says:

      Hi Mark. Yeah, it’s been a great ride… and even the bad gigs end up with a great story. At times, we’ve been the best 3-piece biker bar band in the universe, too… pure bliss…

  42. I got my first gig at a place called the Town Pump Tavern. Two whole nights in a row. First time on a stage. Totally alone. (With the shittiest sound equipment you have EVER seen. And I set it all up myself. Took me hours before the show started.)

    I didn’t know enough cover tunes (and only had five originals at that point) to do the entire three sets.

    So, I figured everyone would be so drunk by the third set, they wouldn’t know if I just played my entire first set over again. (And if you throw some Janis Joplin, the Town Pump drunks will pretty much forgive you for anything.)

    Anyway, I was right. No one ran me off stage that night.

    And you are right. Starting a business was pretty easy on me after 15 years of playing music and realizing that 90% of the battle was in my head.

    (I love your blog, btw. I come here to read when I need a dose of real.)

    • John Carlton says:

      Funny story, Christine. I remember adding longer solos to tunes, cuz we were at the end of our playlist, and realizing that no one noticed. So we started jamming on-stage, just going with riffs and seeing what we could pull off and still keep the crowd dancing and drinking and having a good time. Our only rule: The tune either had to make you wanna boogie, or cry in your beer. No in-betweens.

      I also dragged a large number of friends on stage — singers, bass players, you name it. One guy who had an angelic voice, but was terrified of public singing, was horrified that we elongating a song he was on… because he’d “run out of verses”. “Just sing the first one again,” I stage-whispered, and he was baffled. You can’t DO that. Can you?

      Yes, you can.

      Yes, you can…

  43. Your analogy is so right on as I have observed in the 25 years I have been working with Entrepreneurs in different capacities. Most recently as a Business Coach facilitating Master Mind groups. Getting them to not only launch but to fully launch in every aspect required from finances to sales is indeed the problem.
    i will again

  44. Rob says:

    From: Rob Joy
    1:12pm Glenelg,
    Adelaide SA
    5045

    Dear Big dog…

    Nother killer post…cool shot of you and ur ‘boys’ jammin…can I ask what is the story behind the staute of ‘budda’ (correct me if I’m wrong) on stage…

    Great to see reel-to-reel magnetic tape recording your gig…I’m sure you may know “Foo Fighters” recently reverted back to recording their latest album on magnetic tape…

    …from what Dave Ghrol said he spent cool mill on full digital set up and it sounded like crap! and he rounded up heap of ‘old-school’ recording equipment and used his garage…as a recording studio…

    …and amazingly doing the old school way sound ten times better while I dont know diddly squat about the technical side of recording…still teaching myself how to play my gorgous les paul…(child hood dream to play live in a band)…

    It scored a music award for being best album (I think)…what are your thoughts using ‘tape-to’tape’ for modern bands…

    As a kid I was heavily influenced by my uncle on my mums side who took every known drug back in the 70′s whilst some how running his fingers up and down his les paul…

    And was always influenced…by bands as a kid growing up in the 80′s like Led Zepp,Deep purple,CCR,AcDc,Ozzy,with their solid rock sounds right to Pete Townsend,Hendrix,Clapton,Stevi Ray Vauhn,to name but few of the guys who I also admired for their masterful ability to force their guitars to prodcue sounds unlike any other…

    I absolutley LOVE music its way for me to escape and dive into another world to be carried away to some place where things like LMS stuff dont exsist…

    Anyone who dose not crank up the volume in their car,home,i-pod and give your mind a good trashing of tunes (whatever ur ,musical taste maybe)…is missing out I beleive in something deeper…

    Its little hard fro me to describe in words what I mean by this I suppose I have always used music as a form of being able to escape while the world seems to be hell bent on nightmeres produced by media abd govt’s…

    And while I’m nutting out my owen les paul like I did when I started to teach my self how to write I know that its only time and practice that will lead me to path of being able to play some of those childhood riffs and leads I’ve played so many time over with my ‘air-guitar’and in my mind would not have this learning curve any other way…

    …while some other guys would prefer the ‘matrix’ way of learning…

    (having a USB port in the back of their neck and beiing able to plug in USB drive and POOOF being able to instantly play clapton)

    I think life has been set up like this to knock out the deadwood…

    This is post like the last one seems to be getting (for me) better and better with ten times the enjoyment of seeing it in my email ‘inbox’…

    Because I know not only do I get to look at the world threw your eyes…see what it would normaly take me decades to experience and for that I’m appreciative.

    Later-man.

    RJ…

    P.S. The second I got the email bout the freelancer course I popped my credit card out and did not even read the pitch for it…not until few days later I printed it out and tracked it from Rodchester NY all the way to my home town half way around the world…the excitment that built up as it came closer was like being a 5 year old on xams day…for newxt couple days before I got back to my part time j.o.b..

    I will emerse myself before going back…have already listened to some of the audio on the way to work…for whatever reason I feel calm now that…

    I have the tools to stand on my own two feet with the ‘correct’ information…truly greatful…it was for sure worth the wait…cheers mate!

    • John Carlton says:

      That band photo up top is actually from one of the last gigs — late 1970, I think, at some ballroom in San Berdoo. (Bob and I had been the consistent elements for 4 years at that point, and we were about ready to take a break.) Yeah, that reel-to-reel was a trip, but none of it survives. (As superior as metal tape is, it’s a bitch to store… especially when you’re constantly moving and losing boxes of stuff.) For some reason, we had named the band “Siddhartha” at that point… after the novel about the Buddha by Herman Hesse. It was part of the Zeitgeist at that time… and there were other bands in the area using the same name. The drummer thought the statue was cool, but I thought it was tacky. Last gig, what the hell, we were barely speaking to each other anyway, except onstage… (and yet, I still have nothing but fond memories of those guys, and that group)…

      Hope the course helps you in your adventures…

      • rob joy says:

        Just an update…

        Been threw the course twice and right now I’m sending out letters to potential clients…Found the audio better way for me to learn and I have read the course once and ‘speed read’ session over the weekend.

        I just wanted to express my heart felt appreciation for being able to ‘fill-in’ all great gapping holes in my self funded education…

        I feel really guilty for paying next to nothing…just few moments ago I was approached by one of those shopping mall ‘sprukers’ to sign up for local gym after building little repour this young girl from Toronto Canada, said he boyfriend is a marketer and I asked what does he do, she replied ‘internet marketing’ so I told her I’m a freelancer and she said “shut-up!” he’s having trouble finding good copywriter and she immediatley gave me his number,email and web address…

        said that he could book all the work I wanted…so I guess the course has already paid for itself if I did not stop and say ‘howdy’ I would not be writing this…

        I’ll be deep in your debit because unlike other courses I have you go way beyound what I expected…

        lot of life lessons and lot of things that would take me 20 years to disocover truly feel greatful to have had the chance to get your course…later man!

        RJ

  45. Jeremey says:

    Wow John,
    I’m late to the party on this thread but I had to share….I’d been a full time musician up until this year and ran my own band touring most of the US…I had guys come and go all the time in the band, mostly because of the rock star misconceptions a lot of these guys had were absurd, but also because the “real work” and commitment of working as a band didn’t register with people until they’d spent 18 days on the road in hotel rooms with 700 miles to go between gigs.

    Anyway, to relate to your story, a few years ago I had a single gig in Detroit MI at The Fillmore. It was a single night show, a door deal, and my band didn’t want to do it. We had the contract, my agent just couldn’t follow through with any routings. So we were on the hook for the show.

    In the weeks leading up to the gig, one by one my guys started dropping out. Couldn’t take the road, had too many other commitments, the whole “musician” drill.

    So two weeks before the show, my band consisted of me and the bass player. Over the next two weeks, I put together a new band spread out over 3 different states, sent them the material…

    We met 4 hours before show time in Detroit, onstage at soundcheck.

    We had to put together that whole show within an hour or so…everyone’s greatest suspicions about me (that I’m batshit crazy) were confirmed.

    But we had to do it – I had to do it…my “band” had to do it. And we played 4 hours later for 600 people, barely knowing each other’s first names.

    I see the lack of balls to get out and play all the time in music, and it’s helped me identify it in most other areas of life as well. Nobody wants to “do” anything.

    Some people are naturally wired to live life without any other thoughts than “well, I said I was going to do it….so here it is, I’m doing it.” I’ve had that approach in every part of my life and its been the source of my greatest success and my greatest failures. But there’s for me, there’s no other choice.

    And the gig went fine…except for when the drummer started playing Journey’s “Still They Ride” in 3/4 time. So that didn’t end well.

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