Rock to Recovery : Peter Keys

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We were joined by the one and only Peter Keys!! Peter is a member of Lynyrd Skynyrd and has worked with many legendary musicians from George Clinton, Peter Tork, Marty Friedman, Snoop Dogg, Isaac Hayes and more! Keys is a sober legendary rockstar and you won’t want to miss this episode with him on Rock To Recovery From Straw Hut Media Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

Rock to Recovery
Wesley Geer of Rock to Recovery and formerly of Korn each week interviews rad musicians, rockstars, celebs, people, that have overcome their demons to thrive in an industry rife with challenges.

Episode transcripts

STRAWUT media. Yeah, here weare for another episode of Rock to Recovery
Radio on KX ninety three, fiveFM, LAGOONA's only FM human crafted radio.
This show is also brought to youby new Vista Behavioral Health. They
have a bunch of wonderful programs outthere. If you're looking for help addiction
mental health, please check out newvista behavioral health. I'm your host,
West Gear. So I've said thatfirst. Maybe I don't know. And
why are we here having a rockto recovery radio show? Well, I'm
a sober dude. Somehow I didn'tdie, and a lot of us when
we get into recovery, you knowwe've come from such dark, scary,
death defying spots and you find away out. You just want to share
it with everybody, and so thisshow is given to me. It's a
great opportunity for me to bring onguests. We have rock stars and actors
and pro athletes and just all sortsof Rad humans that have each their own
incredible story overcoming incredible odds, notjust to recover from a hopeless state of
mind and body, you know,addiction, mental health or whatever, but
to get into what I like tocall the vortex of radness. What we
learn is that when we recover,it isn't just like some dim life,
it's the brightest life we've ever knownto be, and so we love to
share that on rock to recovery radioby talking about things like mental health and
addiction. Together we help each otherrecover. So this week I'm super excited
about my guest. I mean legendarydude right here. Cool, cool spirit
to this gentleman, and he isa gentleman. Is a wellknown known keyboardist
and he played. This is whatblows me away, with George Clinton,
if you think of Pe funk andPeter Tork, Marti Friedman, snoop dog,
Isaac Hayes and most recently and maybemost known for his stint with Leonard
Skinnard. So welcome to the show, my man, Peter Keys. Welcome
to rock recovery radio. Thank you, west, thank you rock to recovery
radio. I'm really happy to behere in your vortex of radite. Yeah,
they don't. Are you living inNashville these days? Yes, yeah,
you are right. So they probablydon't say Vortexta radness that much out
in Nashville. I'm going to startthat thought. Please do, man,
please do. And we got togive a shout out to our men,
Phil Bow Guard, or what wecall it Nashville, for linking us up.
Feels a new but dear friend ofmine, and he's doing rocked your
covery out in Nashville and you guysare are buddies, and so we got
to give a shout out to fillfor linking us together and making this all
possible. As Bill, thank youfor hooking us up, brother. That's
right, that's right. So let'sget into it. I do. Usually,
you know the form out of whatit was like, what happened,
what it's like now, and I'malways curious, and I think our listeners
are too, to hear about theorigins of the guests. And for some
people, you know, childhood maybeisn't too relevant, others it feels extremely
relevant. Where does Peter Keys,and I'm not going to try to say
you're original last name. Where doesPeter Keys story start? Well, yeah,
you want to hear my story.Oh boy, all right, pull
up the chair bucket, you know, some popcorn. There you go.
Yeah, well, you know,I'm I was born, you know,
into a really good, safe lovingfamily. So like you know, they
I can't blame them for anything.I was born in one thousand nine hundred
and sixty five, which puts meright dead smack in the middle of the
whole Hippie counterculture thing, which Ialso can't blame, but I can definitely,
you know, point cause, exceptsome influence from it didn't hurt.
It didn't hurt digital. Yeah,there was a lot of experimentation going on,
right, yeah, and you know, I considered myself as scientist,
so I was like, okay,I'm a human chemistry set. Let's do
it. This does you know,all in the all in the name of
a good time, right, Iget that. Literally almost lost it all
in the name of a good time. Uh Huh. But you know,
I've been playing music my whole life. Started playing piano when I was for
started my first band when I wastwelve. You know, played all through
Middle School High School. Started,you know, doing doing gigs and clubs
and when I was way too youngto be in clubs and, you know,
hanging out with all the cool kids, they were drinking and smoking weed,
and so I started drinking and smokingweed and then, you know,
eating acid and doing whatever else Icould find because I thought that was,
you know, how to be cool, right, I've really said really a
deep need to be accepted. Right, that's your mysticory. Totally basic round
put, round, peg, square, whole kind of situation. So where
were you growing up? I wasgrowing up in northern California, just out
of San Francisco, Marine County.Okay, yeah, there was some good
hippie culture there. Oh, yeah, the grateful dad and yeah, and
the House. We made some reallygood acid and I got my hands on
a bunch of it. So soyour high school and the Home Family,
mom, Dad's normal. They werethere. Air Is all. Everything was
just kind of, should I say, average, nothing crazy. Well,
what is normal really, come onexactly what is not yet? But my
parents divorced when I was about twelve, and that actually gave me a lot
of free time to experiment. Yeah, you know, did they finally back?
That was did you know, getsomething? It's pretty chill. NOPE,
Nope, super chill, you know. But but again I was left
unsupervised in my in some of mymost of my adolescents. So you know,
I kind of got into stuff.And how was school for you?
We were what kind of student wereyou? Because if you're you're shouldn't piano
for yeah, go ahead, Isay it. If you're shredding piano at
for, you got a brain onyou. But I feel like I have
a pretty good brain. But schoolwas not my jam. Did what did
you have a normal school life?Yeah, you know, school wasn't my
jam, but it was really easyfor me, man, you know,
like learning and stuff. I wasI actually just got bored and quit performing,
it is, scholastically. By probablymy senior year in high school,
I figured out how to take threeor four art classes in a couple cooking
classes so I could go get high, make are eat. Yeah, there
it is. Yeah, yeah,I get it. I was the same
way in high school. Yeah,so I kind of, you know,
I cracked the code, if youwill, but there was no, you
didn't. Weren't getting in trouble orgetting kicked out as your game. Oh
No, I was. I wasgetting in trouble all the time, but
I somehow managed to weasel my wayout because as addicts and alcoholics, we
are pretty intelligent beings in individuals,figuring out how to use around people and,
you know, avoid consequences. SoI skated, man, I literally
slipped through the cracks. And youknow, I do remember sitting in the
principal's office and the principal calling mymom said I've got Peter here and I
think he's hold you. Can Icheck his pockets? And said let me
talk to him, but me onphone as like hey mom, she's like
are you holding? I said Yeah, said okay, said no, you
can't check them. So you know, I was kind of now so the
parents had your back. They Oh, yeah, totally have. So when
that's interesting. It's a great story. When did you first get loaded?
What was it that you first gotwell, I was twelve, you know,
went to my aunt's wedding and allthe adults, INC uncles, were
drinking and there was a sixpack inthe fridge. I was the oldest of
all the nieces and nephews and Iwas like they're drinking, I'm going to
try this, and I had,you know, grabbed a Miller high life
out of the fridge and slammed itso I wouldn't get caught, drink it
real fast and I immediately felt thebuzz. I was like Oh, it's
great and I ended up drinking thewhole the whole sixpack. Now that's amazing.
Now, did you so? Youknow, you weren't like now,
think about it. If it waschocolate cake, right and you're just going
to sneeze, sneak a little bit, you would shove the whole cake in
your mouth. You take a littlesample, maybe not get caught. So
there must have been some some youmust have understood that this is, this
is gives it a fact it.Because, yeah, you needed all the
where'd you learn that from? Fromthat first beer were how'd you know to
pound the beer like? What didyou we used to see an adults who
are drinking and getting a little buzz, because I because I didn't want to
get caught. I knew it wasbad. Yeah, I drink it fast,
okay, but drink this real fastand I didn't realize that that gave
you an extra buzz. So,yeah, that was my first experience with
alcohol. And then, you know, I kind of drank every chance I
could. What you know, it'snot readily available to a twelve and thirteen
year old, so I'd, youknow, sneak into the liquor cabinet and,
you know, I'd go babysit forthe neighbors and sneak in a their
liquor cabinet and you know, itwas, yeah, seeking it out.
Yeah, totally planning it. Butyou know I, like I said,
I made it, you know,all the way through high school without getting
busted per se. I did getarrested, you know, hitch hiking back
from a Gig for something, andthey were going to take me to to
to home. They brought me thepolice station and I ran out the door
and like ditch and then got caughta game. Oh Man, hits,
I can again. And I wasdrunk, you know, coming back from
a gig about seventeen, I think. And I think I spent my eighteen
birthday in juvy because my parents,my mom was down on the vacation with
her boyfriend or some shit. Butyeah, you know, unsoo supervised.
Right. Yeah, so I wantto that's turned out. started. Can
we go back to that episode inHigh School? So right, you're in
the principal's office and your mom andthey want to search you, and so
they called your mom and then brightyour hold. And so it wasn't probably
booze now it was weed. Itwas weed. So so by so when
did you start smoking weed? Andso it seems like your mom knew you're
smoking weed. Yeah, I startedsmoking weed when I was about thirteen,
when we when our parents would splitup, I moved. We me and
my brother and sister moved to Californiawith my mom and again it was in
Marine County, which is a veryhippie kind of culture, and, you
know, everybody had weed. SoI stole weed for my mom's boyfriend and,
you know, tried to smoke ita couple times. They didn't get
high, like this is bullshit,and then finally, finally it hit me.
I was like, you know,like third or fourth time I smoked,
I was like Oh wow, andI had like a super psychedelic experience
and I was like this is whatI'm going to do because, see,
I wasn't I wasn't really into alcohol. It made me feel really out of
control and kind of just, youknow, it just didn't feel right.
We felt really what right. SoI was a pothead for a long time,
you know, and I just actuallyrealized this. I was like,
wait a minute, I never likedbooze until I ran out of everything else
to do. Yeah, you know, come and story and then it was
on. So so your mom,she was okay, with these smoking weed.
She wasn't okay with me smoking weed, but she was less okay with
me getting in trouble at school,I suppose. Yeah, yeah, it's
interesting. Yeah, I like lookingback at that stuff. My Dad like
was like we never talked about it, but he sure made sure he didn't
notice, right, you know whatI mean? I'll look. There's this
family disease. The denial is juston all all points. You know,
there's no you know, they're it'sreally it's painful to bring that stuff into
the open because, I mean that'sa fail as a parent, right,
like have your kids being caught withweed. It's like that makes you look
bad. We don't want to lookbad, you know. Right, right,
one hundred percent. Yeah, Iget I get caught with weed in
school myself. Yeah, and itit was ugly situation. So I get
it. I just think it's interestingto like when we go through these stories,
because we can, we can,you know, skip over the stuff
and go really fast, but Ithink it's one way that we all connect
and kind of go, Oh,I went through that too, or my
parents. I didn't even think aboutthat. My parents did that as well,
but it's for me it's really illuminatingto the disease and the culture that
I'm in. How that stuff allwent down, you know, right,
right, yeah, so you madeit, do you? You were getting
in a little trouble, nothing toocrazy. You got you got out of
high school and now you're you're doinga lot of weed. You're digging the
Wad a lot of weed room.Yeah, yeah, and good. And
I went to Berkeley, call itlike. I went straight from high school
to Berkeley College of Music in Boston, which was, you know, okay,
talk about unsupervised. And now I'munsupervised in a big city with like
a bunch of you know, barsand and, you know, basically,
you know, college kids and partiesand yeah, and then it, you
know. Then then my party reallystepped into another level. I didn't,
I didn't last very long at Berkeley. I got thrown out in those second
semester for various offenses, you know, one of them being academic probation,
because I wasn't doing any of thehomework. Right, I didn't want to
study, I wanted to party andplay music. Right. I just didn't
know how to channel that playing musicthing into the school realm. Right.
Yeah, so you know, itwas about jamming, spoken we taking drugs,
going out to parties, finding chicks. That whole rock star thing was
why I was a musician in myhead, right last to cool. I
wanted to be liked, I wantedto be famous and I wanted to be
rich, and actually what I endedup was thrown out of school and in
jail. Right, how? Okay. So, I mean, let's talk
about the skills you have. Soyou've been playing piano since for so you're
probably pretty well known in the localcommunity, playing in bands and getting some
accolades there, and then to getinto Berkeley. That's impressive and that's cool.
Where you pumped when you got intoBerkeley. I was terrified, man.
I got into Berkeley and I waslike, holy these p people are
all next level talented. I couldn't, I couldn't, I couldn't keep up,
you know, I was just terrified. So I, you know,
I did my old diversionary tactics ofbe the Party Guy, be the guy
with the drugs, be the guythat you want to hang out with,
because I'm just not good enough toplay on that level. Right. Yeah,
you know, I remember sitting inthe practice rooms with my jacket over
the window so nobody could see whoit was that was picking up his scale
so badly. I love it.Will so, you know, fears a
big part of you know, alot of our stories. Right. Oh,
absolutely, and it's cool because there'sprobably people listening that know you and
seeing you rocking out with, youknow, skinner it, or are you
know George Clinton or whatever? Wow, that guy was scared in Berkeley,
and I love when we kind ofcracked the seal and we get to see
rock stars or whatever, people whoare successful, talk about the fear,
because I think a lot of peopledon't realize that successful people have the fear.
Maybe somebody's struggling and they're saying why, I'm just so scared, I
can't do it. It's like,well, so is this guy who you
know? So is Peter Keys?Really? Look, let me flash forward.
I'll be sitting down on the pianoplaying free bird in front of Twentyzero
people. Think it God, itsuck. That is funny because I can
relate, man, I can relate, you know, and if it's totally
irrational, it is completely irrational,like the fear. You know, I
have, you know, many ofpondered fear, often in recovery. Right,
there the two fears that we have. Everything boils down to fear.
Yep, fear of losing something thatyou have or fear of not getting something
that you want right. So thatthat is that's the main, the prime
mover in humanity is fear. Fearof being eaten by the Sabertooth Tiger,
we learned how to run, etcand so forth. So there are healthy
fears, like my fear of drinkingand using again keeps is part of what
keeps me sober. But you know, other fears like I'm not good enough.
You know the way that I theway that I navigate fear. Again,
as I was told, to facefar right, face everything and recover
or, of course, at alland run. You know, the other
really cool thing that I learned is, you know, fear knocked at the
door, faith answered and no onewas there. So when we face our
fears, they basically disappear, becausefear is really an illusion. It's about
something that hasn't happened. It sothe shit that we create in our mind,
right, so it's not real.So that's, you know, something
I have to constantly remind myself ifI'm afraid of something, it's because I'm
making it up and it's not evenreal and there's something that I'm missing or
something that I'm not doing with myspiritual connection right that is that is allowing
to spirit to creep in. SoI have to again. They say fear
and faith cannot occupy the same space. Right. I have to have faith
that my higher power will carry methrough this, but that's a whole other
conversation. I love it, though. This is great. I love that
you're talking about that. And forme, and I think a lot of
when I was new, and Ithink a lot of new people are like
this. I was I was twoyears sober the second time. I almost
said three years of them, twoyears so of the second time, and
one of my good buddies said,you know, it all comes down to
fear, and I was like what, and I had I was like,
I guess he's kind of right,and then you realize like you're saying is
like it is all fear. Thethe reality is I didn't even realize it.
So this is an important thing toshare with people and I think for
newcomers when they talk about how theydon't like, how they feel their brand
new, a few days sober.Everything they're feeling really boils down to that
fear, right, yeah, fearthat my life is a mess, I'm
not good enough, I'll never recoverwhatever. It's all fear. All that
discomfort really boils down to fear.So it's a great topic and it's also
great, like I said, totalk to a guy like you who's a
rock star, you know, playingwith Rock Stars and knowing that it's not
that the fear necessarily goes entirely away. We learn how to run with it
and we pull in faith. That'sa great right. That's a great thing.
Yeah, well, you know Ifigure in. You know my recovery
at this point is all about transformation. Right. So what is transformation?
Transformation is a bridge between who youare and who you want to be,
or where you are and where youwant to be. And you know,
I broke it down like this.Transformation can be you can use it.
If it's a bridge, think ofa bridge in a song. You can
use the same chords from the burstin a different arrangement to create a bridge
to bring you to that last verse. So I can take spear and use
that as a tool transform that sphere. Into action. Right, so if
I'm fearful of something, I actuallystep through that something, whatever it is.
Say I'm afraid to do my taxesbecause I don't know how much they're
going to take or how much I'mgoing to get back, I just go
ahead and do the damn taxes andthen I find out what the result is
and I you know, then Ibring in acceptance. I'm like, okay,
this is what's so, this islife on life's terms. What's the
next indicated action? All of asudden that fear is gone because I'm at
the next step for the next levelor whatever. Right. And then,
you know what was great? Isaw a therapist for a while and she
used to say, and then what? And I'd be like, what do
you mean? That's all you're goingto say? And painting all this money.
But never I would say, whatif my business goes away and I'm
broken she goes and then what?And I'd say, well, I would
do this, and then what Idid, and you realize it's not that
bad. Like what if you oweda lot of money on taxes? Well,
I guess I'd have to make apayment plan. Okay, and then
what? Well, you like,I guess it's not really that bad.
I mean, I wouldn't like it, but I'm not going to die right.
So I think it's like and inthat what we're doing is we're embracing
the fear. And I used tohave to do it with corn. Go
play and I would get scared andsomebody taught me. Instead of like going
don't be afraid, don't be afraid, I would inhale the fear, literally,
like okay, I feel it,now, exhale it like you know,
yeah, it's great, I digit, man. So let you
know we should do. Let's throwin your song now. This is really
cool. We're going to play itnow as this song. Neither of these
have been released as of yet.They're both actually newly released. Sorry,
not, sorry. Is that actuallycomes out? I think tomorrow. If
this is broadcast on Sunday, itcomes out on the fifteen, I believe.
Very cool. And so the first, the first song, I think
we said we're going to play,is Song by you, Peter Keys,
called better way. Do you wantto right? Want to set that up
for us? Yeah, better wayis basically a song that tells the story
of my last and final God WillingDui you know, it starts out the
opening lyrics. I woke up ina jail cell feeling like a rag doll,
you know, and I know,I know a lot of us can
relate to that. You know.Yeah, locked up once again on a
Sunday afternoon, and you know itwas not the first time. Well,
you know, it really is.It's just, you know, me owning
that space like recovery for me.You know, I heard and I've learned
that my mess becomes my message.Right, all of the stuff that I
was so ashamed and embarrassed in demoralizedabout that I had done or that had,
you know, happened now is experiencethat I can share with somebody that
is going through either something similar orthe same, and be like Hey,
I actually was able to walk throughthis with this program and, you know,
with with help from other people,when I was willing to ask for
help, when I was in enoughpain to change right, to change my
actions, to have a different outcome. Now all of this stuff that was
a problem is now a solution.So that's again with transformation of transfer,
you know, transformed a problem intoa solution and just the identifying of the
problem. Me, I'm now ableto work on that right. Isn't that
incredible? We get this gift wherewe come in with a shame and guilt
and that those stories, the thingswe don't want to talk about the most,
are the very tools that help ushelp others recover, like you're doing
right now. So we're very blessedto have Peter Keys, keyboard player for
Leonard Skynyrd, on Rock Recovery RadioRight now on Kx Ninety three five FM.
We're going to listen to better way, no cover. Still feeling like
a rapt locked up once again ona Sunday afternoon. Last night I remember
how I was hitted down the highwe came to the blue last okay,
time for a quick break. I'mwe're going to come right back. And
we are on Rock Recovery Radio,KX ninety three five FM, with Leonard
Skynyrd Keyboard Player, talking about hisstory through addiction, growing up as a
musician, going to Berkeley, beingscared to death to be around those other
musicians and act the getting kicked outof the school. By the way,
I'm your host, West Gear,and this show's also brought to you by
new Vista Behavioral Health. So PeterStoked. We got to play some music.
Tell me, how did you getkicked out of Berkeley? Oh boy,
this is okay. So when Iwent to Berkeley it was in one
thousand nine hundred and eighty four.In the drinking age had just changed from
nineteen to twenty and I was nineteen. My roommate was twenty. A great
I took his ide. He gaveme an ID and I put my picture
on the back of it. Sobasically I got busted with a fake ID
and that feds came in and pulledme out of class. The feds,
yes, because it was a federalcrime to alter a, you know,
government document. Wow, and backthen it was easy. It was much
easier to falsify than the fancy thingsthat make now. Yes, that's that's
the short part of the story.So they grabbed you out, the feds
pull you out of class. How'dthat feel? It was Cumilli Eight,
oh my gosh. And then,you know, having a call parents and,
you know, have them to getme out of jail. It was
just really not cool. So thisis your mom and your Stepdad? Well,
no, actually this is my dad'smy dad was in New York.
My mom was in California. SoI had to actually call my grandparents who
lived in Massachusetts, AH, tobail me out and, you know,
like my grandma's, I couldn't.We're cutting your hair. It's the hair.
That's the punishment, man. wasthat not the punishment of the S
and s? If you screw up, you get a haircut. Dude.
It was horrible it. She wasa she was like a she owned a
beauty Sol on. That was sortof thing. She was good with scissors
all. So it was bugging herfor a long time, forever. Yeah,
I'm sure granny wanted to cut thatdo for years. Yeah, so
you know that. That's the reallyshort radio edit of this story. So
you want to end it up injail. I ended up in jail.
Yeah, yeah, how long we'rein jail for? Just for that day.
They got me out that night becauseit was, you know, Pale
chick big boy jail. We're talkingBoston, you know, riker's island or
something loud and like that. Yeah, and you had to get your hair
cut after that. It went down. They cut, cut the locks.
Oh yeah, I had no godto get my hair cut, go to
court and do all that stuff.You know, you know, and and
the thing is that came back tohaunt me, man, because you know,
stuff stays on your record, man. You know felt it. That
was a felony, a right.That was my first felony, falsifying government
document and and it, you know, literally took me a long time to
be able to go and play inCanada right, without paying the guest tone
of money. Yeah, people don'tknow Canada and I had the same thing
with my d you eyes, goingover there with corn and whatever. Canada
gets mad. They if you havea felony everything, they don't let you
across the board. I mean evena Dui, they don't want you over
there. Know a lot of themusicians can't get across that border. Oh
Yeah, not me. I literallyhad five to you last when I was,
you know, over the next twentyyears. So yeah. So,
so where does it go from there? What my friend Brandon talks about all
time is like we have these thingshappen in addiction, you know, like
we get kicked out of school orwe get arrested our federal fences. Did
you think, Hey, maybe Ishould quit this party in or this smoking
weed? Oh Gosh, no,never, never cross my mind. You
know, I was like, oh, that was just bad luck, right,
right, bad luck. So that, you know, the the denial
was already in, you know,the two big lies. Right, I
don't have a problem only if I'mnot hurting anyone but myself. Those were,
you know, I totally lived bythat. Yeah, if you if
you had a problem with my drinking, that was your problem. Yep.
So what happens after you get kickedout of Berkeley and you get a felony?
Where do you go from there?Well, so I, you know,
crawled back to California with my tailbetween my legs and started playing in
bands on the you know, onthe rock scene in California. This is
like one thousand nine hundred and eightyfive. Actually met at Berkeley. I
met good friend of mine, JayLane, who's the drummer, who's the
original drummer for Primus, Charlie,Charlie Hunter. He did many, many
years with Bob Weir and rat dog, you know, the grateful dead.
Yeah, it. So he's likeHey, man, you should come out
San Francisco. I've got this bandthat could really use, you know,
a keyboard player, and you knowyou fit in, and so I went
out there and started playing with thisband called Ice Age. Did you know,
a ton of shows just all overthe little hole in the wall clubs
and San Francisco. Played around thescene for, you know, four years,
you know, working with you knowlike, Oh God, the drummer
from from all the shrapnel music stuff, Mike Barney's label, you know,
Paul Gilbert Racer, Rex Calne,yeah, Tony mcalpiny. So listen,
that out time. That's how yougot with freedom. That's how I'm that's
how I met Marty Friedman is,did a little work with him, you
know. So I was, youknow, just really working the San Francisco
rock scene, getting into, youknow, some alternative like kind of funk
type stuff and really just, youknow, played around there for I don't
know, several years, you know, so those eighty five, say eighty
five to about ninety. And thenhow was the drinking and using during that
period? Oh, it was great, or it was working. It was
still working. Yeah, you know, when getting in trouble, bands weren't
kicking you out because you're vomiting onthe keys or anything. Now I've pretty
much kept it together. I wasa functional, you know functional, good
functional addict. Alcoholic. I didn'tget to wasted before shows. Of course,
after the shows were over, therewas you know, all bets were
off and there's no telling where I'dend up or how long it take me
to get, you know, whereverI was going. But yeah, I
managed to circle the drain for anotherdecade. Really. Yeah, you know,
I think I'd got the first Duiand like ninety four and, you
know, started that that repeating cycleof like going to jail, not going
to court, getting, you know, failure to appears, getting warrants,
getting picked up, getting back injail, going in front of the judge,
pleading my case, you know,being the perfect victim. Right,
I was the victim of all thisstuff. These were the cops out to
get me because I had long careand I was cool. Not Yea,
these are actually people doing their job, because you're an idiot in your endangering
society by being out and doing whatyou're doing. You know, I didn't
see it like that. I wasvery entitled, You know, to my
rock stardom, though. I wasmaking twelve dollars a night, you know,
but the girls didn't know that.That's right. Well, they eventually
figured it out when I was bowingmoney off down, but it's what a
good rock star does, right.Yeah, what's the joke got? What
do you call a well your case, what do you call a keyboard player
without a girlfriend? Homeless? Yeah, that's right, which is where I
ended up, man. You know, I literally was living in a keyboard
sleeping in a keyboard case in arehearsal space in the tenderloine, you know,
and I thine hundred and ninety sixwhen I had met a friend.
He's like, Hey, man,I got a session for you, but
it's in Atlanta. I was like, well, I think my truck will
make it, let's go and,you know, high tailed it to Atlanta,
just really doing a Democrat geographic sure, you know. It's like,
well, I get away from allthe drugs and alcohol are in San Francisco.
I'll be fine, I'll be great. So I moved to Atlanta,
where I literally fell into just agigantic pilot of cocaine, and I hate
it when that happens. I hateit. Yeah, but I had to
get away from the speed in SanFrancisco because I had slept in two years.
You know. Ah, you kindof let that part out. Oh
well, yeah, that was.That was the natural progression, right.
Yeah, so, you know,I'm really did just, you know,
hit all the all the marks alongthe way. Yeah, and you're still
getting gigs. So you went andyou went to Atlanta. It fell into
a giant pilot cocaine. And whois that GIG? Are? Who's that's
when I found funkadelic. Okay,cool, but the it, you know,
the pilot cocaine was actually just thepeople that I was hanging out with
around there. I literally went therefor three weeks and stayed for four years.
Kind of situation. You know,that's a hell of a GIG.
Like, you know, I don'tknow how much people listening. No,
but this is this is George Clinton, like, you know, if you're
if you're getting hired by Clinton toplay keyboards, you have got some grooves,
some pocket like that is ridiculous school. Yeah, I mean, I
guess, you know, it wasjust, you know, I literally went
out there with my friend frog togo play on some demo that, you
know, he was working on withsomebody else. ENDED UP LIKING IN IT
Atlanta because I didn't have all thewreckage that I had in San Francisco Bay
area and just kind of started checkingout the seam there after, about a
year or so, you know,I got an audition with this band called
the original p which was the originalparliament's George Right. They'd all been inducted
into the hall of fame and ninetysix and they wanted to put a band
together in toward the music that theyhad done with George. But, you
know, they had had a fallingout with him. So they hired me
on to basically cover all of Berniewhere else parts and the horn parts,
because they didn't have a horn section. So I was doing double duty,
so I told so I toured withthem. That was in like ninety eight.
I heard with them for several years, you know. But again this
was all really in the, youknow, depths of my addiction. You
know that this is where my firstlike actual thoughts about suicide happened. You
know, I think it was theday after my audition I went and played
the show with my original band calledpicture of health. That's what mean.
Yeah, it was a funny namebecause we were, we're just a train
wreck and I think I broke tooka bunch of keys on one of my
keyboards because I shoved it into theback of somebody's trunk because I was wasted
at the load out. I getback to my house I'm like, Oh
my God, I was because Ibroke my keyboards. I think I can,
I think I should hang myself.You know, was that drunk?
That was like looking at the oaktree in front of my house trying to
figure out if I had enough ropeliterally to reach the branch. And that
was my first like really low,low, low point, just being wasted
and feeling like my life was worthless. You know, that was you know,
that was still that was still,you know, a decade before I
got into recovery. So let's that. I mean, I can relate.
That's that's the dark places we go, you know. You know that first
that remember, we were talking aminute ago the drugs and the booze or
working and you know, gives youconfidence and it's a party and then at
some point it starts turning on youturn aady turns on all of us and
it doesn't doesn't work anymore. Andthen we started having suicidal ideation or get
really depressed or just our life feelslike it's just in a black hole of
poop. I totally get it.So let's let's do this, let's throw
in the next song and a greatand and then when we come back we'll
hear how you hit bottom, gotout and and found the way into the
vortex of radness and the skinnerd Gigand all that stuff. So, for
those of you listening, this isbeen rocked recovery radio and Kx Ninety three
five FM. We're here with PeterKeys. At this time in his story,
he's playing with George Clinton and he'scurrently the keyboard player for Leonard Skinner.
He's sharing his story through addiction andright now he's in a giant pile
of cocaine and wants, doesn't wantto live anymore. So not right now,
but right now in my broad rightright now in the story. Not
Right now. Yeah, let's beclear. So the song we're going to
play is by your band. Areyou suck? So I mean by you.
So you are a band, Iam a band. Yeah, so
you want to set up the song. Yeah, this song is called sorry,
not sorry, and what it isit's a personification of the disease.
Right, and I'm singing about itas if it were a girl at the
first verse. Yeah, you'll listento it, you'll get it. If
you're anyone, if you're anyone likeany of us, you will completely understand.
Tell it again to get the messageright on. So this is rock
recovery radio and this is Peter Keys. Sorry, not, sorry, no,
no, Shit, don't seem supposedto love her to take a quick
break right now and he'll be rightback. We're here on Rocky Recovery Lady
Way. I'm your host, WestGear. Just listening to some incredible music
by Peter Keys and we're talking tohim. He is the keyboard player for
Leonard skidderd telling US his story throughaddiction and getting out, kicked out of
Berkeley Music School and head wanting tokill himself, hang himself off a tree,
getting all bummed out in Atlanta whenhe's playing with George Clinton. So,
Peter, thanks for sharing so muchof your wisdom and also vulnera vulnerably,
that's a hard word to say,your story and you know, sharing
us the dark spots. How didyou end up hitting the bottom and finding
your way out of the darkness andgetting into the Vortex of radness? Well,
you know, it's I think it'smuch like everybody in recovery. It's
like I just hit that jumping offpoint. What it was for me is,
you know, I'd had several Duguys and, you know, jail
stays and fines and courts and youknow, I'd gotten married. Well,
I'll try to make this quick.My brother got married. I wasn't invited
to the wedding. I had theweek off, so I showed up anyways.
I ended up hooking up and marryinghis maid of honor like two months
later. She happened to be abartender and she had an apartment, which
was great because I was homeless andI was a drunk. So thank yeah,
I was like yeah, when gorushing it crushing. Yeah, you
know. So I totally like defiledmy family and just, you know,
made a bigger mess there. Wegot married and we had a pair of
twins, beautiful, beautiful girls,and Angel and Elizabeth with the you know,
we got married, let's say.I went to the wedding in August,
September. Got Married in October ofre Presder, Jenniferry, March,
even me June. The twins wereborn July, August, September. I
got another Dui. Then my momwas getting married to her net her well,
her now widowerk as my mom's passed, but they were getting married and
they wanted to give themselves a weddingpresence. So they did an intervention on
my sister, who was also oneof us. She's actually got it one
more year sober than I do.So the whole family went out there for
the intervention. There's there's this greatpair of interventionist that gave basically gave us
the story what was going to happen. They're like look a hook, you
know. There's it's a mixed family, so there's three of us and then
there's four of Bob's kids, mystepbrothers and sisters. And the intervention this
was like you guys, cannot drink. Are used for three days so that
we can do this with a clearhead. And everybody protested, right,
right, hell, no, that'llnever work. But anyways, you know,
day one was everybody telling their story, learning about addiction and writing down
their history of drug use, andI was like, Oh, this will
be great. I got this,you know, and I wrote a freaking
novel. And the second day everybodyread those and that, you know,
all of a sudden the tables hadturned in. They're like well, actually,
your sister's not the only one thatneeds treatment. You also are probably
going to die. And I waslike Whoa, okay, that's not cool.
And so, but there's only moneyfor one treatment. So, you
know, went to you know,to my sister put on. There's another
stupid call coming in. Let mesay. Okay. So, anyways,
death eventually got in treatment. Iwas pretty pretty shaken up because I was
there if my wife and my newtwins. I was like, okay,
maybe something needs to change and Icalled a friend of mine. Is like
no, man, you don't needtreatment. You just need to accept Jesus
Christ as your personal statan savior,because really you're just making bad decisions.
They just need to be forgiven andthen you'll be good. And I was
like cool, I mean, signme up. What I sounds easy.
Yeah, it's like. I waslike cool, what do I do?
Is like repeat after me, likeyou got it. He's like I accept
Jesus Christ my personal state in favor, and I was like cured. So
I didn't end up smoking weed ordoing anything for those three days for the
you know, intervention, and Iwas cured and I actually white and knuckled
it for about six months and thenat the end of six months I got
a record deal. I was likewow, this is amazing. I'm sober
and like now all these things arehappening to me, I better celebrate,
and so I went out and celebratedwith a drink, which for me is
two shots of gym beam and abeer back. And is that why you
came out of the gate with?That's what I came out of the gate
without a drink, double shot abeam in a beer, and literally within
two months I had another Dui.It was a felony because I was still
on probation for the last one withouta license, and I was facing one
to five years in prison and mykids, my daughter's, were not even
to yet and I was like Shit, I'm not going to see them until
they're seven. This is crazy,this has to stop. So that you
know, you know what was reallyhorribles, like I put me in jail,
like do you feel like hurting yourself? And I was like yes,
but it wasn't because I wanted tohurt myself, it's because I knew that
I could get a single room ifI told him I was that. I
was like cool, I get tosleep in right. I was still delusional,
but after about six months of,you know, being released on my
own reconnaissance and going too breathalyzer testsand doing drug tests and all of this
stuff, you know, I hadfinally had it and I was like okay,
I said I'm not drinking anymore andI went to play a Gig with
the band and that I was playingwith up in Detroit. I'd moved to
Detroit at this point, and somebodywas smoking to join. I was like,
well, I can take a hitof weed, you know, and
I took a hit of weed andnext thing I knew I'm at the bar
drinking again and I'm looking for blowlike what happened? How does this happen?
And that was where I had thatmoment clarity. I literally out on
the porch at the hotel and lookedup in the sky and I saw two
stars. One was pointing up,one was pointing down. I'm not going
to say it was God, butsomething said to me, look there,
there's only two ways that you cango from here. You can continue the
path that you're on and you're it'snot going to be a pretty end,
or you can change everything in andget sober and I got home and went
to my first meeting and that wason September, thirteen to two thousand and
two. And, you know,by the grace of God and you know,
by the power of the program andthe people in that program, I
have not had to have a drinksince and it's coming up on seventeen years.
So that's amazing. Yeah, thatwas you know, that was my
bottom is, just realizing that Iwas actually going to be locked up,
because what do they say? Youeither get covered up, locked up or
sobered up. Yeah, you know. And so what was key for you
in those early days, for peoplelistening or even now that helps you not
want to drink, not pick updrink feel good? Oh my gosh,
so much. I mean the firstyou know, the first thing is I
felt hope as soon as I walkedinto that room right I heard people laughing
and telling their stories and smiling andI saw people with licenses and jobs and
families and and they were telling mystory like they were literally literally sharing stuff
that I had actually done, likeword for word, stuff that I could
relate to. These were people thatgot it. They felt the way that
I felt. You know, andand they seemingly recovered from, you know,
a hopeless state of mind and bodyand soul and and it was,
you know, really compelling because Iwas in so much pain and I hated
myself so much right that seeing thatkind of community and honesty and recovery was
actually what I needed and what Iwanted. It was it looked like it
was just a little bit less workthan it was for me to go out
and stay high all the time,which was a lot of work. It's
a lot of work. Yeah,and I always wonder to which I get,
because nobody wants to go into meetings. I mean it's commonplace that everybody
wants to rebel against that kind ofstuff or twelve step programs or whatever type
of program but why go it alone, you know what I mean? Like
if you're trying to start a business, it's great to have people who finance
it's Your Business and help you alongthe way, you know, whatever you're
talking about. It just why doit alone when you don't have to?
I love it and I love thatyou you found your tribe there. That's
what I was here and yeah,well, I mean, you know,
just looking at those steps and realizingthat yes, every time that I tried
to do it differently, I stillhad a shitty result. Right, something
that I did not like. Itdid not come out the way that I
wanted it to. And, youknow, just surrendering to the fact that
I can't drink or use successfully liftedhuge weight off my shoulders. That means
I didn't have to anymore. Right, I did. I did not have
to fight that fight anymore, andvice surrendering, literally, that's the only
way that I was going to winthat fight. Every time I step in
the ring with drugs and alcohol,I loop. I don't like losing.
I'm tired of losing, right.Yeah, yeah, so that's amazing.
What that's what better way? isabout the first song? Right, there's
got to be a better way,and there and I have found the better
way, thank God. You knowso. So I love it. So
here's the thing I want you totalk about now as we wrap up.
It looks, I show that yougot the skinnerd Gig in two thousand and
nine, yeah, and you saidyou got sober. And what was it?
Two Thousand and two, two thousandtwo, yeah, yeah, so
that's seven years in. Tell meabout like how that Gig came to be,
and for those at home, becauseI got to tour with Corn Tot
lea sober and people take that.So you can't do that sober. I
love you to comment a little biton how that came to be and how
a guy like you stay sober inone of the biggest rock bands ever.
Let me preface this with I thinkif I had gotten that Gig one day
before I got it, I'd probablybe dead right now, because I needed
every bit of the recovery that Ihad to handle the success that comes with
a Gig like that. Yeah,right. So, you know, I
got the Gig just by, youknow, by being a person of integrity
and a person in recovery and aperson that people could count on. Right.
So, through my first seven yearsof recovery, you know, I
still played and I played with alot of people and I, you know,
made my presence known and I was, you know, at the Best
I could be, at being havingintegrity and being showing up and doing what
I said I was going to doand living by the principles that I learned
in the program. Through that,you know, I was you know,
as you know, the music field, or the music community is very small.
Everybody knows everybody. Yeah, so, so, basically, when Billy
Powell passed away, the keyboard playerfor letters Knard the guitar player. Ricky
medlock asked kid rocks guitar player,because they were out with kid rock the
previous tour, if they if heknew of the keyboard player. Well,
Kid Watch Guitar Player was somebody thatI had worked with during my recovery.
Not In recovery. He wasn't inrecovery, but we have worked together and
I brought him into several projects.He brought me into several projects. So
he knew of my he knew myskill set and he knew that I could
probably do the GIG. So Rickyasked him because then as Marlin, he's
like hey, Marlo, do youknow anybody that could cover billy's, you
know parts? He's like yeah,I think Peter Keys is a Nashville give
him a call. So really,you know, it was a result of
me doing work, being responsible andkind of living in this lifestyle, this
new lifestyle, that gave him theconfidence to, you know, to refer
me to something like that. Andso I got a call from Marley's like
hey, dude, are you inNashville? I said Yeah. He's like,
I need you to learn sweet homeAlabama. Get me three steps,
call me the breeze and freebird.Nope for note, like what? He's
like, yeah, dude, Igot to an audition with skinner. I'm
like kidding. He's like no,I said when it's like Saturday, the
dude, it's Thursday and though southernwisecan play. Man, this isn't you
know? This is so dude.I started getting into the Billy Powell piano
parts and I was like, HolyShit, this stuff is entanceman, like
this is no joke. Like notefor note means I had to go in
and really study the stuff, andyou know, some of those piano parts
are buried under those guitars, soI had to really use every bit of
my musical skill set to break downwhat was going going on in there.
And once I did that, Ireally, you know, I gain think.
You know, the rewards were endless. Like I gained a whole new
appreciation for southern rock, we Lenard, skinnerd and for piano as an instrument,
right, which was my initial instrument. So, you know, those
three days I've literally I told mywife was like, Rachel, you're going
to hear these four songs and that'sall you're going to hear for the next
three days. And I literally practiceeighteen hours a day those four songs.
Found every piece of youtube footage Icould trying to figure out his fingerings and
Co you know, just copped thoserifts man, so that when I walked
into that audition I was prepared becauseI was not going to let this one
go. You know, I loveit as just doing a podcast yesterday with
somebody and we're talking about like successfulpeople and it's that. It's like getting
the opportunity but not, you know, doing it half asked you eighteen hours
a day. You you gave ityour all, and that's the VORTEXA redness.
That's not what the old Peter Keysprobably would have done and I would
have been my I'm an interpreted myway right, which actually, you know,
I was up against the really heavyhitters, like Eddie Harsh, the
Keyboard Player for the Black Crows.Wow, it exactly that. Like he
sat down and he played back.Well, this is the guy, and
then they played the songs and hedidn't play any of the parts. He
didn't get to get, you know, love it, I mean not that
you got it. So Wow,Peter Keys, Leonard skynyard's keyboard player,
sharing this story from wow, thedarkness, all the way into the light,
into the VORTEXA radness. What agreat journey that was. I really
appreciate your time and you share withyour life with everybody. Well, Hey,
been thank you for the opportunity,west I really appreciate it because this
is a big part of my recoveryin my daily life, you know,
like we're here, we're here tocarry message into help those we were still
suffering, man, because it sucksbeing in that dark place and it's super
awesome being the vortex of radnit.There's just no comparison. Yeah, there's
no comparison. So thank you,Peter Keys. I appreciate you. This
has been rocked your recovery radio.I'm your host, West Gear, also
brought to you by kx Ninety ThreeFive FM and new Vista Behavioral Health.
If you're looking for help, it'sout there. Open your mouth asked for
help. The whole world of peoplewho want to help you. We're out.
Thanks. Thank you, my brother. Good