What defines rock music as an ideology is “authenticity.” It’s the same yardstick we need to use to measure how real we have been to our self, our life and our career. Just as the litmus test of rock & roll music has always been whether the artist is true to his creativity or has sold out to commercialism, reinvention is our opportunity to find, free and follow our passion or to concede to what significant others throughout our lives have told us would be best for us.
I had the incredible opportunity in the ’70s as Engineer and Head of Recording Studio Operations for London Records, Inc. to be in charge of the final sound that analogically made it to listeners’ ears on such hit singles as “LaGrange” (1973) and “Tush” (1975) and such iconic albums as “First Album ” (1971), “Rio Grande Mud” (1972), “Tres Hombres” (1973), “Fandango” (1975) and “Tejas” (1976) and to work with a band that articulated rock culture’s defining paradox: authenticity vs commercialism: ZZ Top.
Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh’s has advised entrepreneurs to “Chase the vision, not the money; the money will end up following you.” More than 50 million global album sales and an induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame later, ZZ Top has stayed true to its strong blues roots without compromising authenticity and the money did end up following them…lots of it.
The blues-powered “Little Ol’ Band from Texas” has a lot to teach us about staying true to who you are as a person and living your passion without compromise. “Waitin’ for the Bus” wearing a pair of “Cheap Sunglasses” is living the dream as long as you’re doing what you love!