Your Favorite Rock Stars Got Sober. Here’s Why, in Their Own Words | Recovery Roundtable
These 11 legends of rock, powering bands from Great White to The Go-Go's to Godsmack, talked to All Sober about the new creativity and lasting happiness sober life has given them
Some struggled for decades. Others overcame addiction at the height of their success. They’ve been inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame; they’ve played on the greatest hits of Jimi Hendrix, Billy Joel and Cyndi Lauper; and some of them are just getting started. The one thing these icons of rock have in common? Sobriety has given them new life, and they’re not afraid to tell the world.
For Recovery Month, All Sober spoke to 11 musicians who have shaped their genres, from metal to glam to new wave. Now they’re working to help others fight addiction and find the fulfillment they’ve achieved in recovery.
Hear them celebrate sobriety in their own words, in the latest installment of our Recovery Roundtable series, and get more sober inspiration from other All Sober all-stars of music, movies and sports! (Some interviews have been edited for length and clarity.)
Shannon Larkin | Longtime drummer of Godsmack, advocate with mental health awareness nonprofit The Scars Foundation | Sober since 2016
My name is Shannon Larkin and I am a musician — been the drummer with Godsmack for 20 years, toured the world and back again. The problem is, most of that time I don’t quite remember, as I was an alcoholic who blacked out too many times to list or was just so clouded and out of it, that it’s mostly a blur.
More than seven years ago, however, I went to treatment because I didn’t want to die. More than seven years ago I got “me” back, and now I am a much better version of myself. My drumming is better than ever, and I can remember what I did yesterday. I have a close relationship with my daughter now, I have healthy friends and relationships, and our band is stronger than ever as well.
What recovery and sobriety means to me, well: life. It means having my life back in full color.
Kathy Valentine | Rock & Roll Hall of Fame bassist of The Go-Go’s, memoirist | Sober since 1989
Sobriety is the foundation of my life.
My 34 years have shown me I can deal with life’s highest highs and lowest lows without escaping or dodging one precious moment. I get to live knowing I’m my best self, even as I continue to grow and change.
I’m present, grateful, curious and best of all: spiritually, emotionally, physically and mentally healthy — all due to being sober one day at a time.
Kevin Jenkins | Touring and recording bassist with Roberta Flack, Cyndi Lauper, Shemekia Copeland and others | Sober since 1987
My career was almost derailed because of my alcohol and drug addiction. I thought I could control it, but nothing worked until I surrendered and asked for help. It’s been more than 35 years since I’ve had a drink or a drug! I’m so grateful for my life and all the gifts of sobriety.
Recovery is one of the best things that I could have ever had happen to me, and I like to share that with whoever wants to hear and listen.
Leah Martin-Brown | Lead singer and songwriter of Evol Walks | Sober since 2019
It is often said that sobriety is the best gift you can ever give yourself — and I wholeheartedly agree.
Before I made the choice to stop drinking, my life was a life half lived. My “best times” were blurry, chaotic moments, the highlights of which were usually something stupid, dangerous or outright idiotic.
Now, my life is filled with abundance, love and meaningful relationships. There is nothing that I cherish more than my sobriety as, without it, I wouldn’t have any of the things I do now.
Liberty DeVitto | Longtime drummer with Billy Joel, memoirist | Sober since 2003
I played on 22 of Billy Joel’s 33 Top 40 hits and toured the world with him for 30 years. My name is Liberty but ironically, for too many years to mention, I was controlled by alcohol and substance abuse.
My sobriety has brought me true freedom. Being sober has allowed me to play drums like the 19 year old I once was. I am strong and healthy. You create more when you’re sober, you play longer and harder. I was in a bubble for 30 years because I was a rock star, but I was still a jerk because of the drugs and alcohol. My life totally turned around when I got into recovery.
My sobriety has given me back the love of my three older daughters, and a new life with a loving wife and the gift of another daughter. All of this would not have happened had I continued the abuse. I am here to tell you there is life after abuse through sobriety.
Mark Kendall | Founding member and lead guitarist of Great White | Sober since 2008
I just gave in to the fact that I couldn’t drink like a normal person. It became so much work to do what I call “chasing normal” that I finally gave in. I was desperate, and basically threw my arms in the air and said, “Please God, help me!” I listened to people with long-term sobriety, took direction and worked on my character defects. If I can do it, anybody can.
Today I’m grateful for the love and trust of my family. I’m grateful to be an honest person today. I’m grateful that I’m comfortable in my own skin. That I’m a better husband, dad, grandpa and friend. My sober life has been my best life — I’m so grateful for that. Anybody out there struggling, there’s this other life that’s available, the sober life, and it will be your best life.
Cricchi | Rapper and recovery advocate | Sober since 2019
I’ve been in recovery four years now, and since then I have accomplished milestones I’d never dreamed of achieving. But most importantly, I’ve achieved growth. Not only in music but in life. I went from a Baltimore junkie to a father, a husband, a sponsor, a mentor, an inspiration and a man that I’ve become proud of being.
Recovery to me means the ability to make it through a day without thinking about a substance or having a want to get outside myself. It is the gift of being comfortable in my own skin regardless of any situation, a long and continuously rewarding process that takes you through the wreckage, allowing you to stand on top of it all a better person.
Recovery is the gift of that little feeling you get when no one is watching, but newfound integrity allows you to do the right thing. The gift of life: That’s what recovery means to me.
Genya Ravan | Founding member and lead singer of Goldie and the Gingerbreads and Ten Wheel Drive, memoirist | Sober since 1990
If I didn’t get sober, I would not be here to talk to you, sing to you, laugh with you.
I thought it was the end of my life when I stopped drinking and drugging. Little did I know it was the beginning!
So here I am to say: Sobriety means you get to do it all over again. Another chance at “life” … this time, the right way.
Marge Raymond | Vocalist with Flame, ELO, Luciano Pavarotti and others | Sober since 1982
I was raised from the dead. I had no will to live anymore. Addiction was killing me physically, mentally and spiritually. It took another addict/alcoholic to save my life by carrying the message of hope and recovery.
Today I live a life free from the slavery of addiction. I have a life that I never knew existed — a great life. The promise of being happy, joyous and free has been fulfilled a day at a time. Thank you to AA, CA, PA, NA and my sponsors.
Gerardo “Jerry” Velez | Drummer with Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Wonder, David Bowie and others | Sober since 1975
My goal is to inspire others to take the leap of love for themselves. Hopefully my journey will inspire others to find their way.
Let’s all mentally jam on our futures together!
Richie Supa | Singer-songwriter who’s worked with Aerosmith, Bon Jovi, Willie Nelson and others, founding member and director of creative recovery at Recovery Unplugged Treatment Center in Fort Lauderdale, Florida | Sober since 1988
My recovery started after I was busted and went to jail. That was my wake-up call.
The gift of desperation led me through the doors of Narcotics Anonymous and out of the darkness of addiction on Oct. 18, 1988. My recovery, as promised, gave me my life back.
As my song “Amazing” says, “With the blink of an eye you finally see the light.” My journey continues one day at a time.
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Coming out of severe alcohol addiction, Ben Tuff barely knew how to swim. Ten years later, he makes a bold attempt to traverse the Narragansett Bay, taking on 24 miles of ocean in one day.
The actor became a hero to many for his years of work on recovery initiatives and his candor about his own struggles with drugs and alcohol.
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