How do Rockstars become Rockstars?

Watching an episode of Law & Order about desperate young hopefuls in New York City made me realise that many of our students are probably asking the question ‘How do Rockstars actually make it?’ The lead detective describes how by his estimates 50,000 guitarists every year give up everything on a quest to become the next big thing yet only about 10 (if that) will make the big time. They are very long odds. So why do so many go after the prize? Is it really worth it? Are they just setting themselves up for years of disappointment?

Is it possible to beat the odds and become a rockstar? I have witness thousands of wannbes try yet fail but I have also always had a fascination for those who are successful. What makes the difference? What do the Eric Claptons and the Jimi Hendrixs, the B.B.Kings or Eddie Van Halens of the world have that us mere mortals do not? Were they truly born with a gift or just lucky? While it would be naive of me to say there is one simple answer there are definately clues.

One thing that I have notice amongst not only successful guitarists but anyone from Hollywood actors to famous politicians is they network. The quickest way to get noticed is to stand next to someone famous. This will not make you a great guitar player but people will listen. You will get a chance to be heard. Jimi Hendrix got his break after Keith Richard’s girlfriend of the time saw him playing to an empty room in the USA. Notably impressed she introduced Jimi to the right people and the rest is history.

You do need to have something worthy of an audience but you don’t have to be the greatest guitarist ever. When you start mixing with the right people you will learn from them. You will rise to the occasion. One of my favourite guitarists of the 80s was Neal Schon. Neal got to play with Santana as a teenager. Naturally he got noticed but he also picked up a few tricks from Santana.

Finally if I were a teen and embarking on a career of becoming a rockstar I would move to Hollywood and spend as much time making contacts as I would practicing guitar. Bottom line is you need to be good at both or at least a master of one to have a chance.

That’s my take on it…

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