5 Influential Musicians Who Died Too Young

Some of the greatest lights the musical world has ever seen have been extinguished way too early. Though in some ways it might be nice to be so extremely talented that everything you ever needed to do to change the world could be accomplished before the age of 40 [or 30 sometimes!], in other ways, there’s a lot of great life events that would be missed. Here are the 5 most influential musicians who died too young.

1. Bob Marley

How did Bob Marley die? He had melanoma that had spread to his lungs and his brain. What made Marley influential was the fact that his music encompassed societal issues, religious components, and cultural components that could really touch a person’s soul. His passion for music and life was contagious, yet in some ways, it also seemed like Marley was chasing life as he was creating music too. His last words to his son were “Money can’t buy life.” That final thought is as profound as it is simple, which is how Marley’s music can be seen in many ways as well.

2. Kurt Cobain

How did Kurt Cobain die? Unfortunately it was by suicide. What I remember about Cobain is the story of how they were still driving around in a van, couch surfing between shows, even though their album had already gone platinum. People were craving his music and loving the grunge sound that his band produced and it just ended up being too much. My kids today here is music and ask when they can go to that band’s concert. That in itself is a good enough reason to have Cobain on this list.

3. Janis Joplin

How did Janis Joplin die? It was because of a drug overdose. Joplin had a stage presence that transcended her music. She might have had only one #1 hit in her brief four year career, but her music was able to touch people on an emotional level that is unequalled to this day. An original and unique voice, critics compared her often to Elvis Presley with her ability to engage with her fans. Many of today’s female artists consider Joplin a major influence, which is precisely why she deserves to be on this list.

4. Jimi Hendrix

How did Jimi Hendrix die? It was also because of a drug overdose. Hendrix died just 16 days earlier than Joplin and that period of time shocked the music industry. With Hendrix, you’ve got a man who understood that language of music better than anyone ever before or maybe ever since. There are many guitarists who are great and respected, but no one can ever compare to what Hendrix was able to do with that instrument. As one of the best musicians who has ever lived, his influence is felt in every guitar riff that is created in a song solo.

5. Frank Zappa

How did Frank Zappa die? It was from prostate cancer. So Zappa did have a career that spanned over 30 years and he lived into his 50’s, which really isn’t that bad when you compare it to other musicians who died too young, but considering the immense talent that Zappa had, who knows what he could have done with even just 5 or 10 extra years of life. An independent musician for most of his career, his influence is often seen in other indy artists who are striving to create their own brand of art, even if it doesn’t bring commercial success.

Pursuing you passion for music by becoming a music producer

Engineer_at_audio_consoleBeing a music producer is an incredibly lucrative job if you do it well. It is a lifelong goal for many people and a lot will fall short, but how do you turn your love of music in such a fantastic job?

One way is by actually playing music. If you have some talent with an instrument or can sing or, now we have the huge dubstep scene, can use a computer well, then you might well be able to boost your way up in the music industry. Once you are playing regularly and making some money, you will begin to gather crowds and gain proper fans. This is a massive advantage as the more popular you become, the better contacts you will make.

Let’s face it, if you are a lead guitarist in a great band then you are going to be attending events with more important people than your average Joe. From here you can get out of playing and try a get a job at a record label. Here you might start as an assistant music producer or even lower. If you’re really ambitious, you can work towards acceptance at a top rate musical school like Berklee or the Peabody Institute, but that certainly doesn’t guarantee success. You will have to work your way up until you get to that goal of being the man (or woman) in charge of an artist’s music.

The other main way is to work the way up right from the bottom. Try to practice as much as possible and see if you can find a friend to help with their band/music. If you start small and build up it will take a while but as long as you put the effort to talk to as many people in the industry as possible then you will eventually get your break. Don’t just look for the best; you are going to have to take whatever you can get at first. Movies, television and advertising all need music too, so if you are struggling to find work, why not search around these industries too.

Overall, there are many paths to take but at some point you are going to have to get a lucky break. It’s sad to say but it’s not all based around talent. If you make as many contacts as possible then this will stand you in really good stead for the future. Once you have got a job in some form of production company you can begin to work your way up and earn more. Good luck!

What Do I Want To Accomplish This Summer?

Mt. Fuji - beautiful right?

Mt. Fuji – beautiful right?

Summer is when I get the most work done. Maybe its the inspiration of the warm weather, maybe its just because everyone around me is more relaxed and happy. Whatever the reason, I want to make this summer the most productive summer ever, both in terms of work as well as life experiences, a.k.a. bucket list items.

Here are some of the things I want to accomplish this summer:

1. Learn To Play The Oboe
Why the oboe? Why not? Its been awhile since I picked up a new instrument. I can currently play 11 instruments passably, 6 of them well. I’ve also always been horrible with reed instruments, and I figure there’s always room for something new and working on things you’re not good at.

2. Spend 1 week Relaxing By Myself On A Tropical Beach
Instead of taking the wife and kids, I want 1 week just to relax and recharge on a tropical paradise. I’m thinking somewhere like the Maldives or Bora Bora, though I’m not sure I want to be around all those honeymooners.

I’ve read that a break like this can be great to recharge the creative juices. Really, it doesn’t matter too much where I go, as long as its beautiful, serene, and I’m away from the world for awhile. Maybe Vermont?

3. Hike Up Mount Fuji
Its something I’ve always wanted to do, but somehow never got around to doing (even though I’ve been in Japan twice). There’s something peaceful and majestic about Fuji. It probably won’t be so peaceful when if I take the family, but hey, that’s how it goes.

4. Write A Symphony
I’ve been dabbling a lot in classical music lately. I’d like to complete a full symphony from beginning to end. I’ve never really had the patience with this sort of thing in the past, but with age, I’m thinking I might actually follow through this time.

That’s what I want to accomplish for the summer, I’m sure I’ll have a lot more to add to this short list in the coming months.

Motivation: Nothing Just Happens On Its Own

4978627798_f17eeae09e_nEvery time you hear quotes about procrastination, stop and think about how effective they are for you. For many, hearing about procrastination seems to only trigger stress, since the word “procrastination” reminds people of what they are putting off for tomorrow! To alleviate that stress, they put it off even more, and it becomes a perpetual cycle of fear and being unproductive.

However, in order to work on overcoming procrastination, you need to realize that the motivation to work on what you are putting off comes from within. Wouldn’t you think that our mind would want us to do what needs to be done right away? You’d be surprised. The human brain is a fascinating machine, and it is probably the most advanced thing on the planet when it comes to rationalizing being lax putting things off for the next day. Continue reading

Why Do So Many Successful Musicians Use Drugs?

Ah, music and drug use…the two seem forever intertwined with one another when it comes to cultural references. It’s become a mainstay of pop culture to associate famous music stars with drug use.

220px-OzzyChangingHands02-20-2010For example, it’s quite common for people to associate Snoop Dogg and weed, Sid Vicious and heroin, Ozzy Osbourne and cocaine, or the Grateful Dead with everything. Many famous musicians have been caught in drug use scandals, were sent to rehab for excessive drug use, or even died due to drug overdoses. Did you ever wonder why so many musicians use drugs?

A very large part of it is because drugs are very, very prevalent in the music industry – that includes booze. Every major concert that is thrown has people who smoke pot or even use harder drugs. The music industry is a “party industry,” in the sense that people somewhat expect entertainment and upbeat emotions when they attend a performance. Drugs, in many cases, are used to enhance entertainment, or to enhance emotions in general.

Of course, there is also a link between many drugs and creativity. Marijuana has been medically proven to improve a person’s creativity when used regularly. There is also a very obvious link between hallucinogenics and other psychedelic drugs with a person’s ability to create unusual lyrics. Some of the most popular songs have been linked with drug use, such as “Rehab” by Amy Winehouse, “Black Balloon” by the Goo Goo Dolls or “Reefer Man” by Cab Calloway.

Will the world of music ever let go of its drug influences? Most likely, drugs and music will always be interconnected with one another in some respect, even if our culture will change in the future. It’s just the way things always were, and always will continue to be.

What Do You Like To Do When You’re Bored?

me_boredEveryone gets bored from time to time however there are several ways to get out of a “bored stiff” mentality. Unfortunately when you’re already in that state of mind coming up with activities can be challenging; it’s where that there’s so many choices and boredome seems to make them invisible. It’s interesting paradoxes like these that can certainly kill a good time.

While you might live a hectic lifestyle and many of us remain quite fulfilled with work, friends and family there are still going to be those days when you’ll have free time on your hands yet just can’t think of a fun way to take advantage of it. By keeping the following list of stuff to do when your bored at home close at hand you’ll always have access to ideas for great ways to pass the time, and they may even spark a few of your own. Continue reading

What I Love About K-Cups

As a musician and composer, my life is fueled by caffeine. I love coffee and always have, I guess from the first cup my grandmother gave me when I was 15, whipped up in an old school percolator – do you remember those? Well the coffee drinking experience has come a long way and today there’s a Starbucks on just about every corner, serving a long list of fancy coffee drinks or bold, rich drip coffee named after its country of origin. One of the latest innovations in the coffee industry is the Keurig coffee maker and their fantastic K-Cups.

Well, I’ve always had a 12 cup drip coffee maker and at first figured the Keurig K-Cups were just another gimmick that I could live without, at least until I had the opportunity to try them out at a friend’s house; now I’m hooked. I love everything about K-Cups! I love the fact that I can make one cup of coffee in the early afternoon or evening without having to make a whole pot. I love the fact that you never get those left over drips on the kitchen counter that I can’t seem to avoid. Most of all, I love that I can choose from a variety of coffee blends (I love options) one cup at a time and even tea or hot chocolate; what’s not to love about that??? Best of all, my delicious cup of coffee will be ready for me to enjoy in seconds and tastes as good any coffee blend you’d find in a prestigious coffee shop, at a fraction of the cost.

Long story short, I love my Keurig coffee maker, their awesome K-Cups, and the variety they come in that includes Green Mountain coffee, one of my favorites. Other popular brands include Starbucks (of course) Donut House, Timothy’s, Gloria Jeans and more. I’d suggest buying a sampler pack of K-Cups and trying them all.