I didn't drink any alcohol from 1989 to 2009, except for 2 beers about 10 years ago when a gig fell through and I was the only musician that showed up to play.
Other than that, I was dry, completely dry, for 20 years until 2009 when I realized my marriage was falling apart.
There were several reasons for my abstinence...I drank heavily from the time I was 13 years old through high school weekend parties and on into College where I would finish classes on Thursday afternoon at Colo. St. University, then my musician friend and I would go buy a couple six packs and start the weekend early.
The drinking continued after college when I began playing in local bands playing 6 nights a week (when such gigs were available.) I would start the nights gig with a beer and by the end of the night I would have put away probably 6 beers and 2-3 shots. Afterwards the musicians and I would go to an after hours club or someones house and have a few more beers and shots.
I thought I had to have a drink in my hand to "fit in" and be one of the crew and also to hide a social nervousness around people even though I was on stage.
This went on for years and I was burning out quickly.
I 1982 I joined a Christian Rock Band called Steve Taylor and Some Band and we were signed to a national label touring the country at first in a Dodge van, then in tour buses and airplanes.
I continued drinking even on the road in this band but the Leader (Steve) put strict rules on us musicians that drank alcohol in the band that we could not drink in public at our hotels, in the Hotel bars, or Hotel lobby but had to drink in our rooms or go away from the hotel we were staying at to bars or clubs. ( I want to point out here that Steve Taylor did not drink alcohol at all.)
These were strange people (I thought) these Conservative Christians that didn't join us in imbibing after shows.
In fact at one point one of our crew threw all the beer out of our tour bus some of us had procured.
I Laugh at stuff like that now, but, in looking back, it probably saved my life at the time being in a Christian Rock band and being a non conservative/non Christian in that group amongst these very different band mates that didn't drink at all...
When I actually became a Christian and started following the Lord Jesus Christ I began getting convicted in my heart about drinking too much. I was on stage in front of a lot of mostly young people and still drinking alcohol quite a lot and so, after I was married I just stopped... quit drinking completely. I believe God gave me the strength to just quit cold turkey like that.
I was playing in bars still in California (where I had moved to and was married), and playing the occassional national tour but was completely alcohol free, just drinking coffee or cokes on gigs and raising my new family with the recent addition of my first wonderful little boy.
I didn't want my new boy, who I knew was a gift from God, growing up in a house where he saw his dad drinking...
I think the musician/artist/actor psychology lends itself to addictions quite easily. We like to think outside of the box, artists tend to see things differently than a lot of people and we become very emotional and engaged over the senselessness and heartbreak of the world. We anguish over the inequity we see, the hypocrisy of the powerful that many times use the poor and working class to their advantage, and also the hypocrisy of politicians, and those around us in positions of power. It's part of our psychological make up, and it's also why we do what we do...
But having said that, I think musicians/artists/actors also use this as an excuse to drink too much and use illicit drugs as well. It's a nice cop out.
As the Title says...my marriage of 20 years started falling apart and came completely apart after I returned home from a playing trip to Beijing, China in 2009. My wife left, took my children with her and filed legal seperation.
I won't go into details but I had been suffering from clinical depression and insomnia for two years which was turning me into a vegetable of a human being. I remember being able to relate to Michael Jackson's stories of insomnia. Not being able to sleep for days weeks or months is horrible. Depression is treatable and I finally found the right doctor (Christian Nurse actually) that prescribed the depression drug Cymbalta and another, Seraquel which is a non narcotic depression/Insomnia medication after two long years of no answers. I have to say that Depression caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain is completely treatable with the right medications and I have found the one's that work well for me.
Unfortunately, a massive amount of damage had already been done to my marriage. I won't say it was all my fault nor all my ex wife's fault, it was both our faults that the marriage fell apart. We also had a tremendous amount of pressure trying to raise two boys with very different special needs.
I started enjoying my new found "Freedom" sitting in with bands, and hitting the liquor store for a six pack or two. I was looking for a way to numb the incredible pain of a lost family...
For three months I was drinking heavily and thought I was "Free" to do so until I rolled my car on a lonely road after going to a bar to sit in with a band and got in an argument with a complete stranger who was just looking for a fight. I thank God I was out on a country road miles from traffic and another car was not involved.
The next thing I remember was being able to grab my cell phone somehow within arms reach, dialing 911, and being pulled out of the car window by paramedics.
Needless to say I lost my license for a year with a reduced sentence of DWAI, had to complete many hours of Community service, a week of work release (which was sort of like being in a college dormitory) and a M.A.D.D. class, group class, as well as paid several thousand dollars in fines and lost work.
I almost lost my life in that wreck and I still suffer from the eight cracked ribs...and I think it was God's intervention that it happened.
So...after seeing the effects drinking was having on my two boys and the incredible mess I had created... I promised my older son I wouldn't drink again, and I've been able to do that (With God's help) for almost 2 years now. I don't even crave the stuff at all.... I've held to my promise to my older son.
Things have been turning around although slowly, I've written a small part of a new book out called "Reflect, 52 stories from worshipers" by my friend Stan Endicott (Beacon Hill Press), and I have more music work coming in all the time. My oldest son is attending Colo. Christian University on three scholarships (thanks to the Lord and his good grades.) And I see God working around me all the time...even in the really difficult, hard times.
He is alive and well and still sitting on the throne, looking for those that He can use for His glory, even the very broken one's like myself.
And I want to be in that Number, When the Saints Go Marching In. How 'bout you?
Don't Shoot me, I'm just the Sax Player...