There are a million rock bands out there. Some break out and become hitmakers. Then you have those rare few who are in a league all to themselves. That would be ZZ Top. Are you the ZZ Top of your profession??
You and ZZ TOP?
Now, I’m Betting that Nobody Has Ever done what I am about to do. I am about to compare your solo business to the legendary rock band ZZ Top!
Let’s go back to the 1980s. I was a chauffeur in Phoenix Phoenix Arizona and I was just assigned to handle the country supergroup, The Oakridge Boys. At this time, they were like the hottest thing in country music and I was to drive them around for the day doing interviews, then dinner, then the show at the auditorium.
We start the day off doing interviews at the various radio stations around the area. Somebody asked them “where do you see yourself in 20 years? You know, after all the crowds have died down and the hots stop coming.” Pretty much in unison, they said “No, don’t think so! We love what we do and as long as there’s a fan out there that wants to hear us play. we’re going to play.” To me, at that moment in time, I kind of thought that their response was kind of a brush-off of an answer.
This was also around the time that Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones had made the comment about not wanting to be 50, wearing diapers and being on stage. The actual quote was more like “I’d rather be dead than sing Satisfaction when I’m 45.”
After all that, we went back to the hotel to relax with their families and then everyone went to the restaurant and had dinner. It was a family-friendly restaurant. We had all the band members with all the band members’ families. Everyone was there. We had fans every now and then, politely approach the members and ask if they could get a photo or an autograph. As long as they were considerate of the family time, we were told to let them get what they asked for. Most were.
The Energy is Addictive
From there, it was off to the auditorium. The band went to their dressing room and I was escorted to stage left. Just out of sight of the crowds. I could see the first five rows upfront. I was on stage, but no on stage! It was my first time being that close to the band and to 15,000 screaming fans. The energy coming from the crowd onto the stage, I can see why they do this forever!
As the band is getting ready backstage I am escorted upfront and put on stage left, literally to the side I could see the front for five rows and that was it. When the band came out, the 15000 fans just went full blast. It absolutely off the walls these guys played their heart out for the next 90 minutes.
Standing on the side stage left you could feel the energy coming off of that crowd. you could just feel the electricity like I’ve never felt before and I could see why these guys are doing it for 90 minutes just sweating their butts off just playing their heart out.
That experience answered so many questions on how and why these bands can do this day in day out. Play the same song sets every day. Even after the crowds have died down and you’re doing the casino circuit.
You could have stopped years ago. Taken the millions you made from the recordings and go off to do something else. But why? When you have that love and that energy. You just want to continue doing it.
Its Not a Job
I saw this with so many other bands afterwards and it’s not with so many business professionals as well. When you’re doing something you love to do and you’re getting the feedback that you’re getting, you’re going to do this until you drop.
The Tribute Band Vs The Real Deal
It’s the late 90s. I’m in Minneapolis, Minnesota. I haven’t moved to Las Vegas yet. I went to see ZZ Top. The opening band was what I call the tribute band Lynyrd Skynyrd.
Now before all you Skynyrd fans get all upset, let me explain why I refer to them as the tribute band. I am a big fan of the original group. I have and I love the Muscle Scholl Album!
Yes, I know, by contract, three members of the original, pre-crash band have to be on the tour for them to use the name “Lynyrd Skynyrd” . They don’t have that anymore, so its time for them to retire.
The show was at the Northrop Auditorium on the campus of the University of Minnesota. This Auditorium has built back in the 1950s. It was not set up for anything like this.
The stage had a little back area, not enough for a break area. So they put up a four-walled curtain on the back of the stage. This is where they would enter to get out of the lights as well as get onto the stage from the dressing area.
We were on the second level balcony and overlooked the stage and this curtained off area.
The tribute band comes out and they essentially play the “Live Album” They add a few other songs, but they essentially recreate the most famous album of the band’s legacy. 1976 “One More from The Road”
During a few of the songs, the lead singer or another band member would duck back into the curtain room to get a drink or something and you could see their body movements, the changing from a performer into a person on their routine break at work. This was a job for them. They were checking their time, getting out of character for a few minutes before resuming their character they play on stage.
They ended their set just as the album does, with an encore of “Freebird”. Right on cue, they hit the notes and exit, stage left. Exiting thru the curtain room, saying their “hellos” to the real deal, ZZ Top entering the stage.
When the three guys known as ZZ Top hit the stage, they hit it running. Playing and jamming as if this was their last performance. It wasn’t a performance, these guys were playing what they wanted to play, how they wanted to play. They were not playing because 5,000 fans paid to see them perform. You could see they were playing because they loved to play. They were in their own little world; we were just invited to join along.
What Is This About?
Ok, you came along this far, I guess its time to explain why I am having this brain dump.
Last night I surfing thru Netflix and came across on ZZ Top. They were talking about how they play, some of the stories that they were having and they talk about how and why they have performed an entire concert for one person in an otherwise empty auditorium.
That is their approach. They love what they do so much and are so appreciative to have a fan who was willing to sit there alone and watch them perform. That is the band. They don’t do it and they never had done it for the money.
Having seen them that one time and to see them with a lesser quality band, essentially a tribute band who was performing because of a paycheck. I can tell you that ZZ Top plays because it is what they were meant to do and they give it 150% each and every time. One fan or 100,00 fans, you are going to get a great performance.
Are You Them?
As a tour guide, a tour professional, can you honestly tell me you are there because you want to be there (ZZ Top) or are you there because you get a paycheck from being there (Lynyrd Skynyrd)?
If you’re doing it for the paycheck, please do us all a favor and go find a different profession. I hate being around people who don’t want to be where they are. Your guests can tell when you are there for the paycheck or when you are there for the Jam Session.
From my feedback, comments, and reviews, I can tell you that my guests know I am there for the Jam Session. Put me in front of them and they will get a personalized tour that is fact-filled, with plenty of entertainment to make them feel they got way more than what they were expecting and what they paid to be there.
As someone who is work with the general public most of my career in one form or another and working with the various bands that I work with as well as business executives, I can almost guarantee you if you’re not these guys (ZZ Top) for what you do, find something else to do.
When you find your passion for work, it isn’t really work. When you find that passion in your work, the money will follow, the glory will flow. When you have a better job, you have a better career, you will be a happier person you’ll probably even live a whole lot longer if you are doing what you want, what you love and what you have a passion for.