Daisy Jones & the Six is a series about a rock band forming and making it big in the late 60s, the golden age of classic rock. I must admit it really upset me because it's about what I wanted to do: become a rock star.
I had my chances. After being in a ton of bands, I joined Tiny Alice, a band with a small national hit and was offered a contract with Buddha Records and Miles Davis' managers. My lawyer told me not to sign the 15 year contract if I had any real talent because they would own all of it. Right after that, when I was 20, I had a band named Backlash. We followed Eric Carmen (after he made it big) at the Agora, Cleveland's largest rock venue. We were packing the house and getting bigger and badder. The manager at the Agora, Buddy Maver, asked me not to quit because I was the next Joe Walsh to come out of Cleveland, but I quit to be a jazz guitarist because I thought rock was beneath me at the time. So foolish.
I got a scholarship to BW as a classical guitar and composition major. I thought I was on my way over the top. I was honored as the only freshman to do a solo at the Christmas concert there all by myself. Being a rocker, I threw together a crude arrangement of Chestnuts I could jam over, not knowing how big a deal this concert was. When I got to the concert, everyone in the place had a tux on and it was standing room only jam packed with classical snobs who had no love for the Hendrix style arrangement I was going to lay on them.
I was in the jazz band's part of the concert and was third on their program in the middle of all kinds of orchestras and ensembles of refined classical virtuosi and I started shaking all over for the first time in my life right on stage in front of everyone. I was having a full blown panic attack. I thought I was going to die on stage. I crawled through my solo and my guitar instructor said behind my back to the other instructors that it was “the worst performance ever on a BW stage”. That crushed me.
After that, I couldn't play without freaking out. I had anxiety disorder and at the time, very little was known about it, so therapists and doctors had no clue how to cure someone of it, so I quit the conservatory and disappeared into the family company, extinguishing my dreams of making it.
I still practiced rigorously daily and wrote and recorded privately while doing small gigs with a few biggies I could handle as I dug my way out of anxiety disorder with great help from Jesus and my wonderful wife. 50 years later, after leaving the my Dad's business, I'm finally becoming the artist I dreamt about, but I still feel disappointed because I never became the star with all the adulation and hero worship I somehow thought I wanted way deep inside. It's like my ego still harbors this desire for that big career. Why? What for? What would I have become if I had made it big? Sex, drugs and rock n roll? Money? Why do I need that adulation Elvis, Jimi, Prince, Janis, Michael? Tell me why from the grave.
You can see here, I'm yelling at myself for not fully letting go of the egotistical, narcissistic need for popularity that has crushed so many and may have destroyed me too. God probably redirected me.
Now I have a great family of my own and my art continues to reach higher and higher more enjoyable levels that I can share with many through the unlimited digital platforms and the small and medium festivals and gigs I get now.
So the final question remains for me and those of you like me: Should we continue to regret and be miserable about not making it big or shouldn't we realize that the love we have from God, family, friends and listeners who enjoy our music and the love of reaching ever higher heights in art are more that good enough for us?
Let me know your thoughts. Please listen to my music and come to see me on my YouTube channel or in person if you can make it to one of my shows.
Gaetano (Tom) Letizia