R.I.P. Rockstar – The Dream vs. True Love

I met Carole Fruner in November of 1989. She had just become engaged to a mutual friend of mine & John’s.

The last picture taken with me & my mom - 1989At this point, my life was in full-blown self-destruct mode. With the death of my mother in May of that year, I was pretty much alone, with the exception of one cousin. For four years, I secretly resented her for being so ill and “handicapping” me from travelling and reaching for my dream. Now she’s gone, and despite all the times I remember praying with her & telling her I loved her…I still felt like she parted on bad terms. There were so many things I wanted to tell her. Self-pity & loneliness, gave birth to a deathwish.

Caught off guard by a cameraThe theme that year through early 1990 was sex, drugs, but no rock & roll. Recording & rehearsals were replaced by hanging out at strip clubs along Queens Boulevard. Money for studio time and even rent went toward cocaine and handing money to strippers; just so they would sit down, have a drink, and pretend they liked me.

I came up with a concoction that was aptly nicknamed “liquid death”. Cough medicine, laced with codeine, washed down with beer. Concerned friends would actually break in my apartment and try to hold conversations with me, force-feeding me black coffee, keeping me awake, even sneaking out and dumping my medication down the sewer. They later confessed how frightening it was to see me, barely coherent, sleeping for days in a row, and my eyes were a bloodshot red with dialated pupils that covered my iris…I looked like an alien! But that year I found out who my friends were…I also learned that numbing the pain didn’t help…it only prolonged the agony. I heard inside, John’s voice, repeating over & over…”Eric, you’re a survivor…” They knew I would eventually snap out of it…and I did.

It wasn’t until I was sober & drug-free that I was able to deal with the pain and mourning…I arose from the ashes with a new drive & a new outlook on life. There was no way in hell I was going to be remembered as washed up, alone, and dead at 24. Thanks to my friends, this rocket was not going to explode prematurely…another victim of the dream…

John’s studio was then divided between a slew of songs from my solo efforts and a project from another longtime friend and bandmate, Michael Clark. 1991 gave birth to a band called “Ethereal Machine”…techno/alternative music featuring John, Mike & myself. Simultaneously, my demos & Ethereal Machine’s were being mailed out to record companies & entertainment lawyers worldwide…

There was not only a new Eric in those days, but a new Carole…emerging from a bitter divorce, and left with two small children, Carole also learned how to survive. She and John’s wife, Janet, were always close friends, and it wasn’t until years later that I found out that she had a crush on me since day one…

She “popped by” during the times we were all together hanging out. Always armed with trays of entrees (She had her own catering business)…working her way into my heart through my stomach. I started to spend a lot of time between recording breaks hanging out and talking with her. I tried to be cool about it, but inside I was always a nervous wreck around her. Unlike the old Eric, it took me forever to finally get the courage to get her phone number and ask her out.

After six months of dating, we became man & wife: June 5th, 1992.

Less & less time was spent with Ethereal Machine & the recording studio. Carole & I were expecting our first child in spring of 1993…though I had extended my time limit, it became apparent that Carole & the kids needed a full-time husband & father…

…it was time to make the hardest decision of my life. The dream or the family. Having both was NOT an option at this time.

Eric becomes a Daddy...1993I had dropped out of Ethereal Machine, and recorded a song called “The Day The Fire Died”…a tearjerker about two lovers who thought they’d be together forever…finally calling it quits. I played the rough mix at home and heard the words take on a new meaning…I was saying goodbye to the “other woman” in my life.

I was saying goodbye to the dream.

I have a new dream now. Something else I always wanted back…a family.

Some years later, my son’s Godmother, Danielle Setzer remarried. One of her sons, Brian Setzer wrote his mother a special wedding song at her reception…which eventually evolved in to a mini-concert. Had a chance to talk with him, too.

I never bothered to hand over a demo, or even mention I was once a musician.

Afterward:
If you read the interviews of a lot of popular performers…they always say that the best times of their lives was “just before they made it. The struggling, the clubs, the anticipation”…

Ethereal Machine eventually evolved into Eternalist, who released their first album last spring on Love Cat records. I’m genuinely happy for John & Mike.

While I still hold my convictions and belief that Jesus Christ is my Lord & Saviour, I will NEVER adhere to any religious organization or group again.

Carole still does catering, is currently managing a home improvement company with the future possibility of becoming a partner.

And I guess, I’m a “slower-burning” rocket these days. Happily married for seven years, 5 beautiful kids and I wont stop until Erox Graphix conquers the Poconos and eventually the globe. And I plan to be around for years to come…stronger, smarter…and for the first time in my life I can honestly say I’m happy…

Maybe Rockets can become Candles after all….

Eric Brooks - If I DareR.I.P. Rockstar Soundtrack – Various recordings I’ve done over the years. Most of them either rough mixes in studios or done at home with MIDI and my Tascam Multitrack.
All songs Copyright ©1986,1989,1990,2002,2006 Eric Brooks.

R.I.P. Eric Brooks...Rockstar

Eric Brooks

Musician, Programmer, Graphic Designer, Evil Clown - A thorn in the Internet's side since 1997 with no intention of stopping any time soon.

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R.I.P. Rockstar – Rise & Fall

BIG DREAMS...a shot in my room in Bushwick. Decked in my "Distant Thunder" uniform.Toward the beginning of 1985, still convinced that CCM was the way to get my start, the church band felt time to “take it on the road”, we became known as “Distant Thunder”. Traveling with our pastor across New England and Canada, performing and raising money for the church; always under his watchful eye, and under his thumb. Our travels ended abruptly with my mother becoming a victim of a hit and run accident on her way to work in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. Traveling became impossible as her condition was “touch & go” for several months. She passed away four years later.

With the tragic death (drowning accident) of our drummer in August ’85, in came John Panasik, who not only played drums, but was a prolific songwriter, keyboard player, and bass guitarist. John bounced between our rehearsals and his other group “The Notorious Ones”, a very popular R&B/Rap band in the Brooklyn/Queens club scene. John & I begin to stray off and pen songs together, as Distant Thunder basically disintegrated, playing only for the church’s outreach programs on weekends. During the week, John and I layed down tracks in his home recording studio in Canarsie. Between the two of us, we played every instrument on the tracks. Mostly R&B, which was primarily our faves as opposed to the Heavy Metal dominating the charts at the time.

Chatting & hanging out at a rock club in Queens.1986-1987 in between gigs & clubs, I met up with a man who was starting an organization called CMU (Christian Musicians United), given my “Christian roots” I felt obligated to assist this man (you’ll notice, everytime I don’t give out a name, they eventually get trashed in this story?). With the advent of the rock group “Stryper”, he felt convinced the God was calling for a Christian Musical revolution. John was very leery of this guy, and of course, I was a blind fool, convinced that this guy would help if I made a return to CCM. We had just made our break from the church (which to this day we refer to as “The Cult”), and John felt it was more “Praise the Lord! Help me & I’ll stab you in the back” bullshit that we put up with not so long ago. This guy really could care less about any other form of music except Heavy Metal, so no help was coming from him with the style of music John & I were working on.

John Panasik at his home in NJ.We put out a release in 1988 called “The Only Way To Rock”. Well, sort of “we”. Halfway through the production, John and his wife-to-be moved to California, and I was stuck in NY doing a really bad mix of this EP. I used this “screeching, Vince Neil-like” voice, imported lead guitarists. And tried to appease that CMU guy so it can be reviewed in his magazine (which I helped with typesetting & layouts). He spitefully sent it off to a critic who ridicules almost everything he gets. Surprisingly, the critic, was able to hear through the muddy bass, and overmodulating vocals, and actually see potential. However, the nice stuff is edited out of the magazine, and remarks like “a good producer should be on the top of this guy’s prayer list” stays in. Well this stab in the back was the last straw with CMU and Christian music in general.

Hamming it up for the cameras (as usual) during a sound check.In 1989, the word “MIDI” became an intricate part of our lives. Turned out I had a gift for punching buttons and getting technical. John (who had returned to NY armed with a lot of “I told you so’s”) and I no longer needed outside musicians to lay down tracks for my next demo…hell we had sax players, lead guitarists and percussionists in a box! However…. time was running out for me. I was giving it until I was 25 before I packed it in and quit the music business.

Me in a photo boothClubs were nice, the girls were nice, the songs were nice.

…I wanted a record deal!

…I wanted the dream….

Eric Brooks - If I DareR.I.P. Rockstar Soundtrack – Various recordings I’ve done over the years. Most of them either rough mixes in studios or done at home with MIDI and my Tascam Multitrack.
All songs Copyright ©1986,1989,1990,2002,2006 Eric Brooks.

Eric Brooks

Musician, Programmer, Graphic Designer, Evil Clown - A thorn in the Internet's side since 1997 with no intention of stopping any time soon.

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R.I.P. Rockstar – Candles & Rockets

Sunday morning in a church in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn. Some time around 1983.

The pastor preached a sermon called “Candles and Rockets”. The basic point of this parable was to explain that there are two kinds of people in the world: The candles were dependable. They provided warmth and light to guide though the darkness. Candles burned throughout the night, and were able to be counted on for as many times as they were needed. Candles had longevity, as opposed to the rocket.

Early days at the church outreach programThe rocket’s sole purpose was to wait for the day when it’s fuse would be lit. It would reach the sky, and in one explosive moment, it would light the heavens in a glorious burst of color…and then it would be no more.

Rockets were worthless in the grand scheme of things…except in the eyes of one 17 year old kid, sitting way in the back. He was the guitarist for their outreach program to inner city kids. The pastor knew at that moment, that he had a rocket in his congregation.

The pastor meant well, but I guess he didn’t understand the nature of a rocket. Its seemed as if the next few weeks of sermons were dedicated as messages to me. Stories of men who put their own quest for glory above God and crashed and burned as a result. Actually started getting to me too.

Fact of the matter was, I was being brainwashed. Anyone that came to work for this pastor, would have instilled in them that this was God’s plan for the rest of their life. To stay in that church and work in their various programs for the community, preferably as volunteers. As the staff grew in Bushwick, housing was needed. Donations from all over the country helped him to buy up property at rock-bottom prices all over Bushwick. He went from pastor to landlord, raising non-member rents up, and becoming rich.

With singer Teri DeSarioOh wait. No one is supposed to know that. And I’m straying from the story.

Somewhere, subliminally, it was now in my head that my musical aspirations were to be fulfilled in Contemporary Christian Music. I despised CCM, not for their message, but for the bland talent & lack of originality. However, I thought it possible to begin there and make a name for myself. How hard could it be? Most of the artists I heard sucked!

1984 rolled around, I was out of high school, and deliberately took the crappiest jobs possible. I knew I wouldn’t be around long. On the down side, this usually left me broke. No problem, use the church’s state-of-the-art equipment to whip up a demo. Which was fine with them, as long as it’s CCM….I remade “Soldier of the Light” by Andrus, Blackwood & Co.

I also entered a program called “Young American Showcase”, another Chistian outreach program based in St. Petersburg, FL. The pastor was good friends with the people there. He offered, to “throw in a good word for me”, and was sad to see me go….

Young American Showcase claimed they never got my audition materials….hmmmmm.

Hangin' out with Robert & Michael Sweet from STRYPERI let a co-worker hear my demo of “Soldier of the Light”. It blew him away. Sure it was rough, but he saw the potential.

“You know, my next door neighbor is Billy Joel’s manager. How about we spring for a recording studio and re-record this…” he said…”Just one thing, you have to change the words, cause this christian shit wont sell anything.”

Well needless to say, my brainwashed mind was offended at his remark. I politely declined his offer…

…I kicked myself in the ass for years to come!

Eric Brooks - If I DareR.I.P. Rockstar Soundtrack – Various recordings I’ve done over the years. Most of them either rough mixes in studios or done at home with MIDI and my Tascam Multitrack.
All songs Copyright ©1986,1989,1990,2002,2006 Eric Brooks.

Eric Brooks

Musician, Programmer, Graphic Designer, Evil Clown - A thorn in the Internet's side since 1997 with no intention of stopping any time soon.

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R.I.P. Rockstar – Eulogy

R.I.P. Eric Brooks...Rockstar

Practicing air guitar riffs in the late 60'sI always wanted to write my own eulogy. Who better to sum up a life than the person who lived it. All the secrets, the joys, the sorrows, the triumphs…and finally the fall…

Perhaps a lesson is to be learned. Either some things weren’t meant to be or things WONT be if you don’t want it to be. Truth is, for as long as I can remember; I saw my name in lights, my picture on magazine covers, I saw myself in the Rock-n-Roll hall of fame.

I saw the future…and it scared the living hell out of me.

20 Years later...ready and rarin' to go in the 80'sIt’s time I shared with you all the story of Eric Brooks, rock star. And bring closure to a chapter of my life that I have struggled with all of these years. The headstone above isn’t mine, but for a dream that died a painful death….

 

 

Eric Brooks - If I DareR.I.P. Rockstar Soundtrack – Various recordings I’ve done over the years. Most of them either rough mixes in studios or done at home with MIDI and my Tascam Multitrack.
All songs Copyright ©1986,1989,1990,2002,2006 Eric Brooks.

Eric Brooks

Musician, Programmer, Graphic Designer, Evil Clown - A thorn in the Internet's side since 1997 with no intention of stopping any time soon.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
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