Hair metal was all about hard partying, even after the party was over. So how did Great White become all about sobriety?
No More Heroin Survivor Story
Great White guitarist Mark Kendall has been sober for 10 years. But he drank and did drugs for over 30. Then again, Kendall really didn't have much of a choice. After all, he played guitar for one of the hardest partying bands in the land. And he did so when hard partying was an integral part of the time, as well as the place. In fact, if you didn't drink and do drugs in '80s LA, you were a failure. And your band would be a failure too.
It was a dangerous mindset. And hardly conducive to sobriety. It was also a dangerous way to live. Not to mention a quick way to die. And the lifestyle took a significant toll on even the hardiest of partiers.
Kendall was no exception. He'd gone at drinking and drugging as hard as any of his partying peers. Often even harder. And his mind and his body and his soul suffered as a result. So did his career. And many a time he tried to get clean. He just didn't try hard enough.
"I'd try it and then I'd quit again," said Kendall. "I'd literally keep starting and stopping. Then I'd try it again. Try to drink like the normal guy who just watches the football game on the weekends with his buddies and has, like, four beers. The guy who doesn't wake up the next day and have to start drinking again. I wanted to be that guy."
"So I'd force it," he continued. "This way I could tell myself that I'm normal now. But here it comes again. I'd end up in pain. Still I kept trying and trying and trying. Going two years, a year and a half, a year, another two years. And I'd keep trying and trying."
It's an all-too familiar story. Not just for one-time rockstars in bands like Great White. But for nearly everyone in recovery. It's not the only all-too familiar story though. It might not even be the most prevalent. In fact, relapse is increasingly being beaten by sobriety itself. So long as the fighter stays in the ring and continues to bring the fight.
That's what Kendal did. But though the guitarist started getting sober way back in 1991, he didn't go at it wholeheartedly until 2008.
"That's when I started giving it a hundred percent," he says. "And that's when I became successful."
"I started really listening hardcore to people with lots of sobriety time," he adds. "And I really paid attention to how they did it. I grabbed on to things that they taught me. And I held on for dear life."
One Day at a Time
One day at a time isn't just a catchphrase or some well worn cliche. It's the secret to successfully making it through the night. Addicts and alcoholics often feel overwhelmed by the prospect of never drinking or drugging again. AA's slogan pares down the prospect. It also gives it manageable perspective.
Kendall swears by the directive.
"Nobody's ever gonna hear me say, I'll never drink again, or, I'm done," said Kendall. "I just don't go there. I don't put these impossible tasks [in front of me]. 'Cause I don't know if I'll never drink again. What I can tell you is that I'm not gonna drink today, no matter what happens. I don't care if I have guns pointed at me. I'm not drinking!"
That's not melodrama. That's simply matter of fact. It's the sentiment of a man who's come to terms with his addiction. A man who's willing to do whatever it takes to effect successful recovery. And that includes beginning simply.
"I know it sounds stupid simple to some," says Kendall. "But when I do it this way I can just leave the task to today. I'm just not gonna drink today. Yesterday, whatever happened, I don't know. And tomorrow I'm not even concerned with. I'm not concerned about something that takes care of itself. Time takes care of itself. Years are gonna go by all by themselves."
"The only thing that I can control with confidence is being sober today," he continues. "That's my task. If I make it to midnight, I've made it through another day. That's the way I've done it. And 10 years rolled by. It's not like I sat there one day and [went], 'You know what? I think I'm gonna be sober for 10 years. I'm just gonna go for it.' I never did that."
Great White & Sobriety
Kendall still revels in the reveal sobriety brought into his life back in 2008. And he'll likely revel in the reveal for as long as he lives.
"I remember calling my wife and getting honest," he says. "Having this moment of clarity. I got pissed off at myself. I was hiding my substance abuse from her — out on the road in a hotel somewhere."
"My whole life changed," he continues. "It got so much better. All the things I didn’t believe could happen, well, they happened. And now, instead of using Facebook to talk about me, I offer my sober friendship."
Kendall works with several addiction support organizations, including one online source made up of members from the music industry itself. He also recently announced a new edition of Great White, as well as a round of new action that includes teaming with Rock N Roll Coffee Company at NAMM and a summer Dodge County Fair appearance with Slaughter.
No More Heroin
The above extraction comes courtesy of Blabbermouth, who culled the copy from Kendall's appearance on the No More Heroin Survivor Series (see below). Recovery Boot Camp wishes to thank both parties for providing the impetus for this inspiring sobriety story. We'd also like to thank Great White. And while we're at it, toss in a hefty Congrats to clean and sober Mark Kendall.