Though I don’t count many as one, truly, I have always been thankful for my friends. Yet, it wasn't until an extraordinary occurrence recently that I've even begun to understand the real power of friendship.
Like love—because its essence is based on love—friendship can overcome many things:
Friendship can travel across the greatest distances and remain intact.
Friendship can rise above inherent biases. It can cross gender and age and political differences.
Friendship can remain strong—even become more robust—in strife. Like steel, friendship can be made stronger by fire, stress, and the pounding of the troubles that hammer us in life.
Friendship can remain healthy in a sick body and it can remain lucid in a cloudy mind.
And as opposed to other precious commodities, real friendship has no price tag, nor is it based on quid pro quo. True friendship is free.
What I have also learned is that there is an exponential quality to friendship. Not only can it transcend death, but it can cause itself to grow even from death, and in some cases revitalize old friendships.
In a most glorious way, that’s what has happened to me.
Three years ago a dear friend of mine died, my rock brother (for those who don’t know, many years ago I was the lead guitarist for the heavy metal band AMERICADE) and friend, AMERICADE’s drummer Walt Woodward III.
I hadn't communicated with any of the other band members in many years, but I felt compelled to reach out to them. Breaking up a band—like breaking up anything—can be painful and produce hard feelings, but I still needed to contact them to tell them about our fallen brother. The result was more than I anticipated … in many ways.
In fact, it was a blessed, glorious thing for all of us.
What I found was that time eroded the hard feelings, but not our friendships. Indeed, it became apparent to me that—not only did our friendships survive the long time lapse—but it overcame old disagreements and even ire.
Friendship had emerged victorious and it sprung up even from death.
But the story didn't end there. One of the people I reached out to three years ago was the producer of our last album, the legendary Jeff Glixman, who was producer of—among many other rock icons—KANSAS.
As it is between producer and band—for a time—Jeff became the fifth member of AMERICADE. So, I felt an obligation to tell Jeff about Walt’s death. Yet in that bearing of bad news—once again—friendship showed its amazing power.
Though we hadn't spoken in almost three decades, from the moment Jeff and I heard each other’s voice our friendship was rekindled. I think I can speak for Jeff when I say I got off the phone three years ago feeling like no time has gone by since we spoke last.
Here’s where glorious happens.
On that phone call three years ago, Jeff asked me what I was up to. I told him I was in the process of writing and publishing my first novel.
He was blown away.
You see, Jeff had always been an avid reader. He asked me to send him a copy of my first book, and since then, over the last two years, I continued to send him copies of each of the sequels.
It’s important to note that I sent Jeff the books solely out of friendship. I had no veiled agenda, nor did I even contemplate him taking any more than a reader's interest in my works. I wasn't sending him the books for any other reason than I wanted him to enjoy them – and I wanted him to be proud of me. Keep in mind, Jeff was my mentor in music. I recorded with him when I was only 21-years-old. Though I grew older, I never changed my feelings of respect for him.
What does this all have to do with the power of friendship?
Last week, Jeff contacted me by phone. He told me a most extraordinary thing.
Jeff told me he had given the Cris De Niro novels to his close friend, the equally-legendary KANSAS drummer Phil Ehart.
Now it was I who was blown away.
Jeff said that Phil had also become one of Cris’s biggest fans. But that wasn't all. I was incredibly surprised with what he called to say … or rather to propose.
Oh … and what’s more … Phil joined him on the call! I had never spoken to Phil before. Combine that with the fact that—like most people my age—KANSAS was one of my favorite all-time bands and you can imagine the thrill I felt.
There I was, still sitting in my underwear (it was an early morning call) and on the other line(s) were two of my heroes telling me that they were my biggest fans and that they were interested in managing me!
On top of being dressed entirely inappropriately, I was left speechless.
So Jeff and Phil did the talking.
They explained to me that they loved my character Cris and the series so much that they took it upon themselves to introduce it to their friends and the people they were working with in Hollywood.
They went on to tell me that, as God would have it, an executive producer and producer fell in love with Cris too. What's more, the interest was serious enough that I needed to give them the legal right to represent me to them.
So, last Sunday Jeff, Phil, and I signed a contract making them my personal managers!
Yes, nothing is in stone with the producers and there are miles to go before Cris De Niro will ever make it to screen even with their interest, but I cannot help being profoundly impressed, humbled, and very grateful to Him above for this outstanding opportunity and show of support from two icons … two friends – one old and one new.
And all of this came from the death of a friend.
The power of friendship.
Think where man’s glory most begins and ends, and say my glory was I had such friends. –William Butler Yeats
p.s. Special thanks to Passive Guy … another person I’m blessed to call friend.