I finally figured this out – the day after I turned 45.
First let me explain. I have been playing guitar since I was 13 and formed my first band when I was 15 (and quit it when I was 16 because I thought the band was going too “mainstream”). I briefly had a band in my 20s and have had one the past few years (Fantastic People) that has played a few gigs in Manhattan. I am a huge music fan, having attended at least 500 concerts and if you see me in a non-social setting (like the train or walking around), chances are, I have my headphones cranking anything from The Allman Brothers to Metallica. I love music.
Until my recent discovery, I always thought that I never became a rock star because I didn’t have the talent. After all, I am a only a slightly-better-than-an average guitar player (at best) and I can’t sing. I had dreams of being a rock star when I was a teenager. In my 20s, I thought I would get discovered and be a late bloomer (as if I would get discovered practicing in my apartment on East 95th Street). By the time I hit my 30’s I realized it just wasn’t going to happen (although I did think that just maybe, someone would hear a few of the songs I wrote and want to record them). But of course it didn’t happen because I believed that “I just didn’t have the talent”.
Then, the day after I turned 45 I watched the 2014 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction and I saw KISS and the E-Street Band get in. And I heard them tell their stories (which I had read before). And then it really hit me. These guys worked their asses off. They lived and breathed music. They slept in cars, had opening gigs from hell and at times didn’t know where their next meal would come from. (Imagine wearing the KISS costumes and putting on all that makeup every night.) And while it is easy to look back at their success now, they certainly had no idea that they would achieve the fortune and fame that they ultimately did. They became rock stars, and I didn’t, because they wanted it. I thought I did, but I didn’t. And I wasn’t going to make the sacrifices to the extent necessary.
Would I have made it big if I found other hungry musicians, skipped college and played gigs for $40? Who knows. But without really wanting it and making the sacrifices, it was never a possibility.
Hey, I have no regrets. I became a successful businessman with a fun but “normal” life that has allowed me to have a terrific family and avoid the “Behind the Music” lifestyle. But when I figured out that it wasn’t a lack of talent but yet lack of desire and effort, I learned a lot about success.