September 26, 2005
When I was younger, I used to feel my parents were hard on me. My mom and dad split when I was very young and so my stepdad was the male role model in my life. I didn’t used to like him. I was actually afraid of him. He had a paddle with holes in it and he used it from time to time. Each time he used it on me (which was maybe 6 times in my life) I would say I was innocent and that he was over-enthusiastic to use it. But one time I really had it coming.
A bunch of kids were trying to hit a street light with a football and were missing by a mile. I took one throw and not only hit the target but busted the light. Rather than go tell my parents, I asked my friends not to tell on me. Everyone agreed. Guess what? Everyone told on me. I received about 5 or 6 good swats from the paddle. But I knew I deserved it because I didn’t do the right thing, which was take responsibility for my actions. I learned a deep lesson that day. And I must have been about 11 years old. I hated getting the swat, because, more than hurt my bum, it made me feel degraded. I now understand that my stepdad was sadistic but that’s his problem.
Later on in life I realised how most people make excuses. I used to make excuses as well. I stopped a few years ago. Lucky for me, the people around me wouldn’t accept my excuses. unfortunately for some people, the people around them not only accept excuses but encourage them. That’s the death of a person right there. That’s what I think. But what I learned is that, once I decided not to make excuses for myself, then it was hard to make them for other people. And therein lies a problem. See, if i have a close friend who always makes excuses for his behavior and everyone else around him encourages him instead of challenging him to comfront this problem, then i become the enemy. And I’m ok with that because I tried really hard to make a grown man grow up. And for a while it worked. Why it eventually failed, I have not the answer to that.
Being a leader means taking risks. But it means being the last in line for excuses. it also means taking the ultimate responsibility for everything. Love with Arthur Lee really didn’t have any leadership. Ever. So it was a constant struggle to continue any type of success. And whatever success we achieved, trust me; we achieved it DESPITE ourselves and the many excuses we rode on. There were excuses why we couldn’t play Japan or Canada or why there was never a new album. These were collective excuses. People might say that I’m not a member of Love and they might say I have no right to claim that but I would say that I took responsibility for the success and the failure and i worked with the music so closely and studied it to no end. i know 90% of the catalog inside and out. I do not run from responsibility.
As a group, we had so much fun and traveled and met so many great people. Ate and drank with nice wonderful friends and shared the stage with many talented bands. For that I feel blessed beyond words. My only regret is that I wasn’t as influential. For that I feel like I failed in my leadership. It’s not even worth mentioning that I had many many ideas for the band. We all did. But it means nothing if no one wants to listen. And that there is why so many people fail. What people might want to think over is this; leadership is EARNED. When you stamp someone with that title, out of respect, then you have effectively weaked that person’s success.
People who work for a living believe they should get a raise because they worked somewhere for so long a time. This idea is nuts to me but MOST people believe this is the way life should work. The idea of ‘results’ or ‘company success’ doesn’t even play into this way of thinking. If you buy a record or see a movie or go to a concert, in a sense, you are investing in the talent on stage. We perform for you but we pay OUR bills with YOUR money. Without YOU, we have no job. So, essentially, we need you more than you need us. So in a way, a band is sort of an investment – let’s call it an EMOTIONAL AND SPIRITUAL investment. For it to continue to be any kind of success, it has to be held to standards. The minute an artist realises their fans will support them no matter what is when they lose interest in being a success. And that goes for their Art AND their life.
years later i asked my stepdad about that time he paddled me for breaking the light. I wanted to know if it was really that bad that needed the paddle. He thought back and said that he didn’t care about the light. he knew it was a dumb, playful accident. What he got me for was me trying to broker deals with my friends when I should have come right out and told him and my mom. he said my friends didn’t respect me, which is why they ratted me out. If I had been a leader and told the truth, the whole senario would have played out differently. But, to this day, I am glad I was held accountable. i would hate to think what and where i’d be had excuses been made for me. Whether you’re the guy making ice cream at Dodger Stadium or the President of the United States, i think it’s never too late for you to learn that lesson.
all the best,