What it’s like to raise a rock star
New York Post
25th April 2017
The first time Hester Diamond saw her son, Michael Diamond, perform, he played drums for a sixth grade production of “Jesus Christ Superstar,” and was “very joyful doing it. ” The second time was a bit scarier. As told in “ ” (Seal Press) by Virginia Grohl, mother of Fighters rocker Dave Grohl, Hester first saw her punk rock son’s new band, the Beastie Boys, at an unidentified dance hall in Alphabet City with an open floor and balcony.
Her son suggested she sit upstairs. When the band began to play, she saw why. “When the music started, the floor below became a mosh pit, a tornadic mass of young, fearless lovers of chaos,” Grohl writes.
“From her safe perch, Hester was astonished to see the and immediately realized ‘how crazy it was going to be.’ ” But the sight of her son inspiring this wildness didn’t cause her to doubt his direction in life — it just confirmed to her that he was on the right path. And it made her rethink what she had said to him when Michael told her he was going to make music his career: “That’s just an excuse for not working!” “From Cradle to Stage” finds Grohl interviewing the mothers of 18 music stars, shedding light on what it’s like to raise a creative child who becomes a star, as well as sharing elements of their own stories.
Dave Grohl, who has long augmented his musical talent with corny comedy, showed a penchant for both from the outset. Virginia writes that her son was a “happy, silly, goofy” kid who liked to make his family laugh with Swedish Chef impersonations, crazy dances and funny faces. Making his acting debut at 10 in a stage production of the drama “Compulsion,” he was asked soon after by that play’s director to appear in “a political roast of a US cabinet member” — she doesn’t identify the roastee — playing Amy Carter, the daughter of Jimmy Carter.
“Of course that meant donning a wig, dress, and patent leather Mary Janes — full juvenile drag,” Grohl writes. Dave declined. The director offered him $80, and he still said no.
But when the director mentioned he’d get a full day off from school, that sealed the deal. “As I look back on the performance — that one day out of school in the ridiculous wig and navy polka dot dress — I recall the surges of laughter and applause from the packed audience,” Grohl writes. Guitar sensation Gary Clark Jr.
saw the Jackson 5 perform at four years old, but “it wasn’t Michael he was drawn to; it was Tito and his guitar. ” His mother, Sandi Clark, shared how her son’s passion for music got him in trouble as a teen: “When he was 16, he earned the nickname ‘Hotwire’ by climbing out his bedroom window to a porch roof, carefully sliding to the edge where he would give the family dog a treat to keep him from barking, hopping to the fence below, and hotwiring the family car. He went to clubs to listen to music, occasionally getting called to the stage.
” But Sandi got her revenge. One night, she and her husband, Gary Sr. saw that their car was missing, and that Gary Jr.
’s bedroom window was open. This was “the only clue the parents needed. ” Sandi simply “crawled into Gary Jr.
’s bed, pulled up the covers, and waited for him to return through the window. ” When Gary ultimately started his own record label, he named it Hotwire Unlimited. Several of the mothers interviewed struggled between supporting their children’s dreams and being afraid of the direction they’d take.
Mary Weinrib, mother of Rush Geddy Lee (born Gary Lee Weinrib) was a Holocaust survivor who had seen the worst. As such, she wanted what she thought was the most stable life imaginable for her son — to become a doctor. Despite his being more nerd than traditional rocker, — the band members of Rush spent their time on the road in the ’70s reading books and watching TV in their hotel rooms — Weinrib was terrified that Geddy, who by his senior year of high school was ignoring schoolwork for music and had hair down his back, was throwing his life away.
After hearing endlessly from friends, “How do you let your son walk around like this?” Weinrib had enough. She decided to do them all a favor and surreptitiously cut his hair while he slept. “But as she approached, scissors in hand, he woke up and she backed off.
A bit ashamed and completely helpless, she declared, ‘OK, that’s it. I don’t care if he has hair to his knees. ’” Some of the parents Grohl interviewed had interesting tales on their own.
Country music star Miranda Lambert’s family were private investigators, and Lambert started helping her parents with investigations from the age of six. On one investigation involving the surveillance of a doctor’s cheating wife, Rick Lambert worked the camera and mama Bev befriended the woman while young Miranda did the same with the woman’s daughter, telling her, as instructed, that mommy was a teacher. Later, the Lamberts were hired by Paula Jones’ lawyers to investigate Bill Clinton.
They spent over two years on the case, leading to a day when a helicopter hovered over their property. Bev called Rick, and when she saw the copter had no registration number on its tale, he told her to get every single piece of evidence they had, “take everything to a safe place, and don’t tell me where it is. ” Those files “became a crucial part of the Clinton impeachment investigation.
” Some of the moms in the book had lived musical lives themselves, helping them nurture their children’s creativity in more direct ways. Donna Haim, mother of Este, Danielle, and Alana Haim of the band that bears their last name, was a young folk guitarist who appeared twice on “The Gong Show,” getting gonged off the first time and winning the second. Later, she and her drummer husband, Moti, gave the girls their start, all playing together in a cover band called Rockinhaim.
What Grohl makes clear in this book is that while some mothers of rock stars came from hardship and struggled to support their children’s risky ambitions, all eventually took pride in their child’s success. Even Geddy Lee’s mom came around. By the time Rush released their debut album in 1974, she had changed her tune on her son’s ambition.
“Mary plastered the windows of her store [a successful discount store that her late husband had founded] with Rush posters and gave albums away to any kids who wanted them but didn’t have the money to buy them,” Grohl writes. “She even advised the kids to play the record at school!” She watched as Geddy and his high school friends became superstars, even entering the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2013 — Dave Grohl gave their induction speech — but perhaps her proudest moment came in 2014, when Geddy Lee received an honorary Ph. D.
from Ontario’s Nipissing University, and honored his mother in his acceptance speech. “Finally!” he said. “My mother’s dream comes true.
She has a doctor for a son. ”.
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