By 1982, at age 32, after playing with several different
bands, and even starting my own group called "Rock Island",
I decided that music was never going to pay the bills and
I quit playing altogether.
My thinking was that if I put as much effort into my day
job as I had into the music I should do all right. I turned
my back on my music for what would be the next 10 years.
During my time as a studio engineer at Tel-Med, I enrolled
and attended a private school for sound engineers in Los Angeles.
The Recording Institute of America rented private studios
all over the Los Angeles area to hold their classes. I attended
class at Studio A at Capitol Records in Hollywood.
My judgment about applying myself at worked paid off and
after a short time, I was promoted to Manager of Operations.
I was responsible for the operation of the studio and tape
duplication center. During the early eighties the business
continued to grow and after several years, I was promoted
to Vice-President. Tel-Med had annual gross sales of over
one million dollars. At this point my responsibilities increased
and I took over the day-to-day operations of the company and
reported directly to the Executive Director.
In 1985, I decided to go back to school and enrolled at Valley
College, taking a class in Basic Programming. Computers were
installed for our work order/invoicing system at Tel-Med and
I needed to learn more.
And then, the Internet appeared and instant access to medical
information 24 hours a day and seven days a week created less
need for our services. At the same time, the whole medical
profession was undergoing a major change called managed care.
The hospitals that used to pay for our systems could no long
find funding. Sales started to slow down.
The company developed an automated system to compete with
the Internet. This system did not require an attendant to
answer the phone and was more cost effective than the manual
systems. The system that we developed had many equipment failures
and was constantly breaking down. Sales continued to decline.
Profits declined even faster because now we had the increased
expense of the warranty service that was being performed on
the systems in the field.
The pressures on me were increasing and my personal life
was not going very good either. Looking back now, from the
time I quit playing music, I continually felt like there was
something missing in my life and I thought that the more I
worked the more that feeling would go away. But, it didn't!
My drinking and drug use slowly increased in an effort to
alleviate the pain. Of course this didn't help either.
By the time Tel-Med was sold to my boss, my addictions were
out of control. I would still show up for work and do everything
I was responsible for, but I was using more and more drugs
to do it. Then at night I would drink to forget the pressures
of the day. I would then repeat the process the next day.
Not a good cycle to get into, but I was there.
In 1991, I was terminated from Tel-Med because I was the
highest paid employee next to the owner. They felt that they
could cut the budget and staff, and still continue to operate.
Unfortunately, at the same time my personal life came apart.
I had withdrawn my 401K from Tel-Med and received a good-sized
check when I was terminated. This was going to keep me going
while I started a new business that would compete with Tel-Med.
Within several months of my termination, Connie left her
job on disability due to stress, which would later be denied.
She was hospitalized twice for alcohol abuse and started to
attend A.A. meetings. She moved out about 7 months after my
termination and sued me for 1.2 million dollars for palimony,
claiming that I had told her that I would take care of her
for the rest of her life. I had to retain a lawyer for a sizable
amount of money. I was in a downward spiral.
It was at this point that I realized that I had a problem
and that I had better address or I would die! I started to
read the materials from A.A. and sought counseling. Because
of all of my problems and the time involved in getting healthy
again, the new business failed.
Things were pretty dim at this point and it was then that
the greatest gift I have ever received came to me. In a deep
sleep I dreamt that Marie came to me and gave me a hug and
then stepped back into the darkness. I woke up startled. It
was one of those dreams that you can actually feel. I could
feel her arms around me. I could feel her body pressing against
mine. It was so real that when I woke up I looked for her.
I thought about this for several days and I could not shake
the feeling the dream had left me with. I thought about what
I had done to her 23 years earlier. In the A. A. materials
they have a concept called "Making Amends". It says
in the step that you should make amends to anyone you have
caused harm to whenever possible. I figured this would be
a good place to start my program.
So I began to look for her. It had been 23 years since I
last saw Marie. I looked in the phone book, thinking maybe
she hadn't married and changed her name. There it was her
last name with the same address as the house her family had
lived in. It was her brother. I called. I was so scared I
was shaking. I spoke to her sister-in-law. She said that they
were not speaking to Marie but she could get a message to
her through her mother. By eight o'clock the next morning
the phone rang and it was Marie.
I was unemployed for almost a year and during that time I
tried to find employment but discovered that even though I
had a lot of management experience, I was competing with other
candidates that had a degree. And then, as fate would have
it, I got a call from an old client I knew at Tel-Med, that
used our recording studio to do the narration for his fireworks
programs. He was looking for a studio engineer and wanted
to know if I knew anybody. I said that I did. Me!
I started at Pyro Spectaculars part-time and soon become
a full-time employee. Pyro is a world-renowned fireworks company
that produces fireworks shows all over the world for all types
of events. Some of the shows we have done include Super Bowl
halftimes, opening and closing ceremonies for the 1996 Summer
Olympics in Atlanta, movies like Sleepless in Seattle and
Three Wishes and post game shows for the Angels, Dodgers,
Oakland A's and San Francisco Giants, to name just a few.
I have converted their studio from an analog to a digital
studio, and we produce the soundtracks for large fireworks
displays all over the world. For me it is the best of both
worlds. I work with music and utilize a computer to do all
of the editing and mix down.
When I started this job, I discovered what that empty feeling
actually was that I had experienced for all those years. I
missed the music! I now use all of the skills I learned from
years of live performances; how to move and touch a crowd,
how to tell a story with music. Now I can use all types of
music, not just the music I had been trained in. You hear
it from almost every performer interviewed; there is nothing
like performing on stage, there is no drug that is better
than that. When I go and see a show that I have produced the
soundtrack for and I hear the crowd yell and scream, I get
that same feeling.
In the summer of 1995, I decided to enroll at San Bernardino
Valley College again. This time I majored in Computers and
in 1999 I graduated with an Associate degree in Computer Science
and I was able to finish the Associate of Arts I had started
so many years ago. I continued to receive a Bachelor of Science
in Information Systems from the University of Redlands.
That same year a friend introduced me to something he called
Guided Imagery. I did my first weekend with Dr. Charles &
Patti Leviton of Synergy Seminars. At the weekend, they used
soothing music as a background for the imageries. For me,
I found that the music really help set the stage for the experiences.
I wondered if I was the only one that was moved by the selection
of the music. I had been using music to tell a story at Pyro
for years. Why couldn't it help to tell the story in imagery?
Over the next couple of years I went to several more weekends
sponsored by Synergy Seminars and each time the music had
a profound affect on me and consequently on my experiences
during the weekends. I found Guided Imagery was a great tool
for dealing with the stress of life and to help keep the cravings
for drugs and alcohol at bay. It helped my sleeping problems
and depression. I started to use what I was learning at the
weekends in my daily life with positive results.
At one of these weekends during a break, I had a chance to
talk with the Levitons about my experience with music and
my emotional state. I have always found that my emotions were
closely linked to the type or style of music I was listening
to at the time. From this conversation, I found that my experience
was not unique, but in fact is a universally understood phenomenon.
For the next couple of years I spoke to other Guided Imagery
Specialists and Vibrational Therapists about the different
types of music and the associated emotions the body has to
In 2003, I approached the Levitons about producing music
specifically designed and recorded with the Guided Imagery
experience in mind. I created my first three songs for them
to listen to and they liked the way the songs provided different
backgrounds to support different experiences. They shared
two major problems they had with commercial music. First,
often the music was not creating exactly what they wanted
for a specific imagery experience, and second, the songs were
too short for the total imagery and they had to change songs
several times during the experience. For this reason I have
created all of my songs to be at least 30 minutes in length.
That way both the therapist and the client are not interrupted
during the imagery.
I have been very blessed to be given the chance to work with
such incredible and caring people as the Levitons. With their
help, I have created 4 sets of music for Guided Imagery. I
have finally returned to the music I love. And yes, Marie
and I have been married for over 10 years and I have been
clean and sober for over 13 years.
I have been certified as a Guided Imagery Therapist
and I have finally found my passion, reclaiming my music.
I think that the most important thing I have learned
from my experiences over all these years is that not often
life gives us a second chance. So when and if it does come
along, DON'T MISS IT!