This is really an important topic to discuss here, whether you ever become really successful at a young age or not. This is because all of us will experience highs and lows along the way which will definitely feel like huge successes and/or failures, even though they may not be on such a grand scale.
The truth is that early success at a very young age can be really lethal, and it’s hard for a young person to have the “coping” mechanisms in place so soon to deal with success, really at any level. I know that when I was starting out, once I reached a kind of success level that really started to make a difference I felt like I could conquer the world, literally. This set me up for equally strong “lows” as much as my “highs” were, but the energy and high level of euphoria I had was sustained for quite a long time. I must warn you though from my experience, for when you feel this “high” for such a long time, you have got to know that there will be an eventual slump to follow at some point. I can remember moving to Woodstock in 1971, with a pre-formed band, feeling like the world was my oyster, and that I could do no wrong. This, by the way, is how one should think of oneself at times like these, regardless of eventual outcome or reality! In any event, the first thing that I noticed, and that others were pointing out to me, was that my playing itself had hit an all-time low, or slump. It was as if I had lost the “center” to my guitar playing, and just didn’t have “it” anymore! It Turned out to be very temporary, but I can attribute it to the fact that everything else in my life was so new by moving away from home, and also the feeling in the air in Woodstock that there were many sort of unwritten “rules” that now governed guitar playing in this small town full of well-known musicians.
As I’ve stated in other blogs, I hit the music business’ ground running, and I was a very unbridled and “free” player at that time, who had not yet experienced being a “sideman” or “back-up” player. This all changed when I was thrown into an environment of not only more experienced players than me, but folks who were just a lot older, too! It all made for a humbling experience, but they largely only wanted me to be myself still, just more within the confines of their music, which was totally to be expected.
I did during that time, get to know a lot of musicians who had a lot of success at a very young age, and who had become very used to being pampered by the record labels, mangers and the rest. These people definitely had real problems later on when it came to coping with life in the “real” music business, which as we all know, is mostly about losing, not winning!
In any event, this is the first in a series of pieces I will be doing on this very important subject, so please be sure to stay tuned for more! Good luck in all your successes, no matter what age you’re at!