May 20, 2024

Beauty Arts

The Arts Authority

Three decades after an alcohol-induced abyss, Madison musician Michael Massey pens a clear-eyed memoir

Three decades after an alcohol-induced abyss, Madison musician Michael Massey pens a clear-eyed memoir

A likelihood conversation backstage at the Dane County Coliseum on the night of Nov. 16, 1977, out of the blue manufactured everything feel attainable for the Madison rock band Chaser and Michael Massey, its entrance gentleman and lead singer.

It also opened a trapdoor which eventually swallowed Massey, taking him to a darkish spot from which he extremely virtually did not return.

A dream and a nightmare, while both equally took time to materialize.

On that evening 45 decades back, Massey was doing work backstage at the Coliseum for a Jethro Tull concert. At 155 lbs, he was an unlikely safety guard. But Massey had an in by way of his Chaser bandmate, drummer Tony Cerniglia, whose father ran Tri-State Safety.

Just before the present, Massey was talking songs with a pleasant youthful gentleman who launched himself as Rick Ambrose, director of nationwide publicity for Chrysalis Information, Jethro Tull’s label. At a single place Massey explained, “I’ve acquired this band.”

Ambrose, inexplicably, did not justification himself. Instead, he questioned when this band of Massey’s was enjoying subsequent. “Tomorrow evening,” Massey said. That was an open up evening on the Jethro Tull tour, and Ambrose permitted that most likely he could show up at. It was a frat bash at the Karakahl Inn in Mount Horeb, but Chaser rocked like it was a sold-out live performance at Madison Square Backyard. Afterward, Ambrose stated, “If you fellas can compose songs and carry out them with that kind of electrical power, I’d like to get involved.”

Massey relates that tale early in “More,” his candid and compelling new memoir, later on noting how Chaser, just after some twists and turns, traveled to New York City on the cusp of a recording offer with Atlantic Information — the brass ring. But even right before the backstage Coliseum story, Massey permit the reader know that when “More” involves well-known names and showbiz sizzle, his embrace of rock and roll extra exacted a steep price tag.

“The 1st hallucination was the belief my enamel had been melting,” he writes, in the book’s prologue, of the horrors of alcohol withdrawal.

But Massey manufactured it, he received sober. He took his previous drink in 1993.

“The intent of the book is to assistance men and women,” Massey said, when we spoke last week.

He ongoing: “It’s the largest cause I wrote the book. To exhibit folks it can be carried out. When you are in the throes of substance abuse you sense there is no way out. I’m not a preacher or a counselor, but I can convey to my story and be an instance that it can be performed. If I can do it, so can you.”

Massey is a Madison indigenous and lifelong east-sider. Audio hooked him early. “To this day it remains magical,” he claims. “It was an epiphany that this was what I was likely to do in some way condition or form forever. I’m heading to be involved with this my total everyday living.”

Massey shaped his 1st band at 15. A 12 months before was the initial time he obtained drunk — on a church choir trip to Houston. Drinking and taking part in, playing and ingesting. As Chaser toured, Massey, out front, assumed the undesirable boy persona that appeared almost essential of lead singers in rock ‘n’ roll. “Everybody held up a bottle of Jack Daniels in a 10,000-seat auditorium,” he claims.

In 1981, Chaser recorded 6 tracks at Atlantic Studios in New York. Andy Warhol was there and stopped by to chat. The demo was a formality — everyone understood Chaser was finding a file offer. Besides they did not. Atlantic handed. “Devastating,” Massey suggests.

Throughout the subsequent decade, more audio, a lot more ingesting. He fashioned a new band — Boys in White, which manufactured it on to “Star Search” with Ed McMahon — but, eventually, much more disappointment. One particular late ‘80s spotlight: Massey fulfilled and married a female named Robin, who by 1993 had tried and unsuccessful to loosen alcohol’s grip on her partner. She sent an ultimatum. Massey, defiant, stalked out.

He shortly returned, chastened, decided to stop, and did, for several days, at which point the withdrawal hallucinations started. Melting enamel adopted by hideous trolls, perched on his dresser, menacing. Robin took him, terrified and shaking, to the clinic, exactly where an emergency area medical professional later on explained to Massey he wished they’d videotaped him to use as an alcoholic beverages deterrent for young children.

And then, perfectly, he received superior. “A fantastic storm of recovery,” he says. “I was blessed.”

Massey spent time at an inpatient rehabilitation facility. “I woke up a person day and I could odor the food cooking. My hunger experienced returned for the first time in a few many years. I began having, attaining weight and doing exercises.” The cravings that bedevil some in early restoration mainly passed him by. He and Robin, married extra than 30 a long time now, have two daughters.

Right after a transient time in the course of which he proved inept at marketing furniture, Massey reinvented himself musically in the mid- ‘90s.

“It was the starting,” he says, “of producing tunes a vocation and getting it very seriously, alternatively than chasing rock stardom. I turned what I connect with proudly in the guide a blue-collar musician. I was undertaking regardless of what I could, wherever I could, to make funds and get far better.”

Massey performed piano, wrote music, recorded albums and received awards as an important determine in the Madison musical landscape throughout three sober decades.

And now, an writer. Massey credits Madison poet and innovative composing teacher Matt Guenette with aiding him arrange the prose he claimed poured out of him stream-of-aware.

“I’ve been conversing about composing a reserve for 20 decades,” he claims.

Massey these days has many explanations to be grateful. Be certain, he appreciates it. “I can near my eyes,” he claims, “and continue to see people trolls.”

Related: ‘A misplaced year’ following a auto incident and the pandemic: Award-winning musician Michael Massey claims there is still ‘so much still left to do.’

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