Written by Michael Del Pizzo (Sunflower Dead)
What Made Me Wanna Be A Rockstar?!?!
What made me, a little kid (at the time) from just outside Philadelphia, PA take the road to rock stardom and turn into a guy who now wears a bunch of makeup, sings and plays the accordion in Sunflower Dead? Well, I am a weirdo! Really though, it’s an interesting question. I mean, for a long time, being a “rockstar” was a negative thing. Remember the ‘90s? Loved the music, but hated the whole ‘we are trying to be regular people’ thing.
In my humble opinion, it all starts with the music, but when you have something special, that “it factor,” that is when you become a rockstar. It can happen in different ways with different looks, but once you have “it,” you are a rockstar whether you want it or not.
I can easily narrow down my desire for rock stardom into three events, like the three ghosts that visited Scrooge in A Christmas Carol. Yep, it was these three events that led me to this whole rockstar thing (with a side of WEIRDNESS).
Event one started back in the day when there was this little thing called MTV, you know…Music Television. Yeah, I know, it sounds crazy, but there was actually a time when this thing was HOT and really, truly played music videos. When I was a kid, I didn’t have cable, so I didn’t have MTV. I would go to my friend’s house and watch the music videos like they were crack though. I mean, I couldn’t take my eyes off them. One day, this video came on the screen with this guy screaming at a kid…“WHAT DO YOU WANNA DO WITH YOUR LIFE?!” The response, which EVERYONE should know, was…“I WANNA ROCK!” Just like that, the kid in the video transformed into a big-haired, makeup-wearing thing known as Dee Snider. I looked at my friend and said…“What is THAT?” He was like, “THAT is Twisted Sister.” I responded…“I have no idea what a Twisted Sister is, but THAT is what I wanna be when I grow up.” Looking back on it now, those are some mighty big words coming from a little boy. But hey, I guess I always knew what I wanted.
That Christmas, my Aunt and Uncle ended up buying me Twisted Sister’s Stay Hungry album, and there I was, immersed in songs like “Burn In Hell” and “Captain Howdy.” I would stare at the pictures of the band for hours while reading the lyrics and seeing myself perform the songs. Remember that last statement… “SEEING MYSELF PERFORM THE SONGS,” it is an important one that we will talk about at a later time.
Event two happened around the same time as my whole Twisted Sister extravaganza. I had a neighbor who was much older than me (he was in high school at the time). He would sit on his porch, play his guitar and read heavy metal magazines all day. One day, I walked over to his house, and all I remember is him telling me about this guy who had died named Randy Rhoads (the guitar player in Ozzy Osborne’s band). My neighbor knew I liked horror movies, so he started telling me that Ozzy’s next album would be him dressed like a werewolf. Of course, I thought that was so cool. So, I started walking across the street everyday to hang out with Bobby, and we began this very inappropriate relationship…HAHA got ya. Get your minds out of the gutter you sickos! Actually, he would tell me all about heavy metal…Motley Crue, Ozzy, Judas Priest, etc. He laughed that I liked Twisted Sister, but he did gave me their You Can’t Stop Rock ‘n’ Roll album on vinyl. He said the album was lame, but I loved it (and still do), and still have it to this day.
I remember sitting there and drawing pictures of stage sets and rockstars performing. Lo and behold, I was actually drawing pictures of me performing as I was getting my first class in heavy metal and rockstar education. Remember, I never saw rockstars performing to me. I always saw me as them.
Event three happened a few years later. I must have been in middle school. I was sitting in the back of my parent’s car on a Sunday, and a radio countdown was on. The number one song came on the air, and I remember my Mom saying…“that’s the number one song in the country?” Haha, the song was U2’s “With Or Without You.” To me, it is one of the greatest songs ever written, but that is a different topic altogether. Back to the point…as the song was playing, all I could see was me performing in front of 20,000 people. Now, I had yet to be a singer, so it was odd to me that I had a vision of me singing in front of all those people, but hey, that’s where my mind was going, and I went with it. Down the line, I really went with it!
Realistically, it was quite a few years later before I started my journey of playing in bands (and believe me, it’s an interesting one).
It was these three events that let me know what I was put on earth to do. They fueled my desire at a very young age to be a musician. Not just a musician, but a songwriter, an entertainer, a businessman and a ROCKSTAR. Unfortunately, all rockstars have to start somewhere, and for this guy, it was the BOTTOM, and man it was bad. We will talk about that later as the chapters of my story unfold…
Michael – SFD