One definition of rock and roll is: A style of music characterized by a basic drum beat, generally 4/4 riffs, based on (usually electric) guitar. Another is: To start doing something, to begin.
At the age of 11, I started playing the guitar – a guitar with two strings. I had no idea how to tune it; I was just fascinated with the sound. Eventually, I got a guitar with all the strings and a chord book. I spent hours learning the instrument from my musical heroes: Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, The Who, The Allman Brothers, Earth, Wind & Fire, and The Beatles. I practiced unit my fingers couldn’t take it anymore. Then I’d ride my bike and, when I was bored of that, practice the guitar some more. Music was the focus of my life. I’m sure my concentration was helped by the fact that there weren’t the technological gizmos that my boys have today. There were no Xboxes, computers or cell phones to district me.
By the time I was 13, I formed a band with some kids in my neighborhood. Our first gigs were at the Dairy Queen. We set up our equipment in the parking lot and got paid in burgers and ice cream. Customers sat in their cars and honked their horns after a song. We assumed they liked our music, but looking back, they might have been trying to order more ice cream. Later, we performed at school dances, skating rinks and parties. We had no idea what we were doing, but we had begun. We were like a tribe, it was us against the world. We had rebel spirit. Being part of a group was as important to me as the music.
For me, rock and roll was, and is, about pushing boundaries and working toward a vision regardless of popularity. That spirit remains alive and well today in the music industry and beyond. You don’t have to be a musician to live life on your own terms, to do what work you care about, or to travel your own path.
Rock and roll is timeless. It’s about spirt. It’s about doing what you love. I recently took my 12-year-old-son to see The Rolling Stones. He was blown away. He’s seen almost all the big stars, and The Stones show was his favorite. Even though the band members are in their seventies, they have a timeless spirit. They still have the magic. Watching The Stones in concert was a reminder that creating what we care about and doing work we love is not determined by our age or our concept of how our lives should be lived.
Excerpts from Chapter 8 of Dennis’ book, “Rock ‘n’ Roll, Martial Arts & God: Tips on Success From the Masters.” For a full copy of Dennis’ book, please visit https://www.amazon.com/Rock-Roll-Martial-Arts-God/dp/1522808019