We all know the tales of excess, but perhaps not enough attention has been paid to rock’s stories of sobriety.
GQ addressed that very topic in an outstanding feature highlighting nine different musicians and their paths to sober living. Among those nine musicians sharing their stories were Steven Tyler and Joe Walsh who shared some eye-opening details on what it took to get sober and what it takes to maintain sobriety. Here are six interesting takeaways from Tyler and Walsh.
Both Tyler and Walsh had interventions
Tyler and Walsh’s respective bandmates gave them ultimatums regarding getting clean. For Tyler, he said, “If I don’t go away to rehab, then sh*t’s over,” but he mentioned, “...It was interesting that I was being told by a bunch of guys that were still getting f*cked up. But I’m grateful that that happened. ’Cause I would have never seen the light.” For Walsh, Don Henley and Glenn Frey approached him on getting the Eagles back together saying, “We can’t do it without you, and we can’t do it unless you’re sober.” Walsh viewed the opportunity as his chance to turn things around.
Both Tyler and Walsh were scared about sobriety
Tyler and Walsh had some interesting first thoughts about what sober life would be like. Tyler expressed he was afraid to “lose my creativity,” while Walsh thought he “would never be funny again.”
Both Tyler and Walsh aren’t worried about maintaining their sobriety
While Tyler says he’s not worried about relapsing, he acknowledges that it’s certainly possible. Walsh, on the other hand, said, “I can just see it, clearer than anything: If I get going again, I won’t make it back. And I don’t want to do that. Life is too good.”
But do they miss their old ways?
Both Tyler and Walsh acknowledge they had their share of fun while using, but they both realize how much they’d lose if they fell off the wagon. Walsh said, “It’s kind of happy sad about those days—I could do anything I wanted to. I did. And now I don’t want to do any of that.” Tyler remarked, “[Aerosmith] is still together and still sought-after. People still want us for a million-plus dollars a night. And that’s what’s at risk if I use again. And my kids. My cats. My dogs. My beautiful f*cking house in Maui. My girlfriend. Everything is at risk.”
Writing new music sober was difficult at first, but…
Tyler and Walsh touched on the struggle of creating new music after getting sober. Tyler said, “All the magic that you thought worked when you were high comes out when you get sober. You realize it was always there, and your fear goes away.” For Walsh, as much as he wanted to use in order to write new music, he said, “...that was not an option, so I would have to put down the guitar and walk away. If I never wrote anything again, that was going to have to be okay. Once I decided that I had this big sigh of relief. And about four months later, I wrote a song.”
The wildest thing Tyler and Walsh did back when they were using
While there are probably a ton of insane things Tyler and Walsh did back in the day, they each cited interesting stories when asked about things they did while using they can’t believe they did. For Tyler, it was getting thrown off the island of Anguilla by police, while Walsh mentioned he came to out of a blackout and realized he was on a flight to France, but he had no idea how or why he decided to go to France. Walsh also may have had the best one-liner of the entire article with, “When I stopped doing cocaine, it was amazing to me that I didn’t need to carry a gun anymore. I just didn’t need one!”
I guess cocaine really is a hell of a drug.
Erica Banas is rock/classic rock news blogger that loves the smell of old vinyl in the morning.