By Steve Baltin
Original Source: forbes.com
Addiction and depression are, sadly, nothing new, in the music industry. As long as there have been rock stars there have been too early tragic demises, from Jim Morrison and Janis Joplin to Amy Winehouse and Prince.
Harold Owens, Senior Director of the Recording Academy’s MusiCares charity, has been helping the industry deal with addiction and depression for going on 29 years. He does think though that after so many years, things are changing.
“It’s almost reaching a head. We have to absolutely do something,” Owens says.
The issues are unquestionably more at the forefront of the industry then they have been in years. After the shocking deaths May 18 and July 20 of Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell and Linkin Park vocalist Chester Bennington respectively, addiction and depression are discussed constantly behind industry closed doors and on social media.
Both men were incredibly well liked and respected within the industry. Cornell for his graciousness and humility, Bennington, who will be honored at an October 27 concert by Linkin Park and friends at the Hollywood Bowl, for his constant smile, sense of humor and warmth to all. Given the impact both men had on music, as public faces of best-selling rock bands and tireless behind the scenes advocates for multiple charities, it is no surprise that their tragic deaths have served as a wake-up call to an industry that still faces hurdles with these issues and is trying to figure out how to best help artists in need.
Hopefully, part of their considerable legacies can be opening up dialog on these issues too often left in the dark. With that in mind I spoke to superstar DJ Steve Aoki, who worked with Bennington on multiple occasions; Circa Survive and Saosin frontman Anthony Green, Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker; Owens and Jeff Jampol, manager of the Doors, Janis Joplin, Ramones, Otis Redding, Jefferson Airplane and more iconic acts.
The eclectic panel of industry heavyweights spoke candidly about addiction, their own personal battles, the issues musicians face on the road and at home dealing with addiction and depression and, most importantly, what the industry needs to do to help artists struggling with both illnesses. And in their moving candor are stories and wisdom that transcend music. Their advice and honesty will hopefully help anyone, regardless of profession, in need of help.
Steve Baltin: How has being sober changed you?
Travis Barker: Sobriety saved my life. My only my regret is it didn’t happen sooner. It was sad that it took a plane crash and almost dying to finally sober up. My second chance at life and my kids was enough to never touch drugs again. Being present and sober is something I wouldn’t trade for anything. Music is my drug.
Baltin: What are the biggest issues you face on the road and what can be done to help musicians the most?
Steve Aoki: Every time you go into a city people come and see you and they’re there to have the biggest night of the weekend, especially in Vegas. So when I do a show and have my friends come through they’re there to party hard. And I think the thing for me, back in the day, was say I was taking a sabbatical from drinking, I would end up having a shot, then I would have two, and I would…click here to continue reading