Rock to Recovery : Rick Barker

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I sit down with former Taylor Swift manager and all around good-doer Rick Barker: In Rick's words: I am the President and CEO of the Music Industry Blueprint in Nashville, TN. I’m a manager, entrepreneur, author, and consultant focusing on the recent changes in the music business. By sharing my experience and insider tips, I help my clients understand the music business and fast-track their steps to success. While those things describe my business life, the titles that I love the most are the ones that describe my personal life: Sober, Christian, Husband, and Father. I grew up in Alabama and was raised by my mom. Growing up with very little in way of money and resources, I developed a work ethic and learned to hustle at the age of 12. By the age of 14, I was helping my mom financially support my brothers and sister. I was not a fan of the traditional education system. I found myself doing just enough to get by in the classes that didn’t interest me, yet excelling in those that did. At the age of 17, my life changed dramatically when I moved to California to live with my dad. I got involved with the wrong crowd and ended up quitting high school. Later, I found myself addicted to drugs and living homeless on the streets of LA. On April 4 1989, after battling a cocaine addiction, I got on my knees and prayed that God would let me die. Yet, God had other plans for me. These plans included sobriety, pursuing my dream of being on the radio, marrying my wife (Jill), having two great children (Brianna and Logan), and one day meeting and managing Taylor Swift. All of these trials and tribulations influenced me to become the man I am today. My motto is “Your Past Does Not Define Your Future” and I am living proof of that. 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

Straw hut media. Yeah, herewe are back on rock to recovery brought
to you by KXFM radio and Strawhut media. I'm your host, West
Gear, and I always like tostart to show off by saying why are
we here? Well, right nowwe're talking about not just addction but mental
health and incredible stories of transformation.We have a time where we share these
stories and in so doing we helpothers realize they're not alone and we help
others find their way out of thedarkness, and not just to survive addiction
or mental health or whatever, talkingabout any given episode, cancer, etc.
But to realize that we can getinto what I like to call the
vortex of badness, where one humanshelping another human and then our recovery becomes
something way more incredible than we probablyever imagine. I know that's how it
has been for me and and allof our guests. So to call it
out right now, we are ata crazy time, you know, we
don't know when you're going to maybehear this. You can be hearing it
live right now on the radio orpicking up the PODCAST, but we've had,
obviously the death of George Floyd andall sorts of protests leading to looting
and and craziness, and this hasbeen also in conjunction with the covid pandemic
and quarantining. So that has ledme to this amazing gentleman who I'm now
doing my first zoom Internet based interviewwith. So it's cool I've gotten to
start connecting with people outside of California, people who don't necessarily drive down to
our physical location. So it broughtus together in the most beautiful way.
So I want to introduce somebody who'sprobably, by my research, best known
as Taylor Swift's former manager, butalso has done a lot of work in,
you know, helping others and lookslike personal coaching and all sorts of
cool stuff I've been finding on theInternet when I research you. So welcome
to the show, Mr Rick Barker. Thank you, man, it's a
pleasure being here. You know what'sinteresting, you were just talking about all
the different things going up in Nashville. We had the tornado, covid and
now the looting and the riots.We had it on our streets, I
mean watching it, where people tookwhat was supposed to be creating a solution,
which is what a protest should do. It should bring awareness, that
should create a solution and we allget back to love and each other.
And turned it into the problem,which was the riots and the looting.
So those people not even involved withthe protest said, okay, if all
the cops are over here, we'regoing to go up here. And we
just watched them walking down Broadway.If you've ever been to Nashville, that's
that stripping downtown where all the Honkytonks are, and they were just randomly
busting out windows and taking stuff forno apparent reason. And I know that
happened at the grove down there whereyou are, and it's just it's so
frustrating. It really is, becauseyou look at what happened to this man
and the tragedy of what happened,and now we're seeing all this other stuff.
And the people who had organized theprotests were like, though, these
aren't our people, we just wantto come here and say look, the
violence has to stop, the unnecessarytreatment of people has to stop, and
now this is turned into it.I'm like, holy cow, you know,
it's very sad, it really is, but my wife and I were
talking about it this morning. Ithink everyone's energy a so bottled up in
so many different ways, from beingtrapped in the house to losing jobs,
the unemployment rate, as you know, whatever the unemployment rate is right now,
it just kind of took its toll. It was kind of like that
perfect storm that came together. Ittruly is, and not as yours as
you're speaking to. It's the factthat it really clouds the overall message rights.
The irony for me is it showsthat you need to have police,
need to have a presence to keepsociety, you know, in some sort
of form of reasonable functioning. Youknow, yeah, and I was talking
you know, people get politically chargedin these conversations, go all over the
place and everybody names this is thecause and that's the cause. And I
like to remind people I've been therock concerts where, just because we didn't
get in on time, people startbreaking shit and Van on part of my
language s break we analyzing. Soit doesn't necessarily have to be a to
any greater cause or whatever. Peoplejust tend to get a little crazy sometimes
when they're frustrated and they can beanonymous and hide their misschif in a crowd.
So we have Balan. It's theminority, not the majority, which
is good. If it was themajority, we'd be in trouble, you
know, if it but it's theminority and there's always going to be someone
who uses something as an excuse tobe able to do something. I just,
like I said, I stay completely, I don't want to say I
stay completely out of it, becausemy look on things is that all lives
matter, you know, and ifyou see somebody doing something wrong, you
need to step up. And that'swhere I think a lot of this problem
is is those three other officers whoalso had guns, who also had authority,
let their partner do this while thebystanders were like, you're killing the
guy, you're killing the guy,and to see those other police officers who
have the ability to pull their friendoff, who have the ability to speak
up, that didn't. I thinkthat's what a lot of this is about
right now, is it's like,okay, we know the one cop is
guilty, but those other three arejust as guilty because they allowed it to
happen and they there who we putour trust in. And then it sucks
because when the police are trying,they're now like, lack of a better
term, they're like handcuffed because nowwhen there is problems, they have to
be careful about everything that they dobecause everything's being videotape. Those guys made
a massive, massive mistake and atotal poor misjudgment. But let these other
officers do their job. Let theseother officers protect the stores and protect people
from the vandalism and the things thatare going to cause more harm. But
it's just it's, like I said, it's just sucks because we see something
like that and it's like every coupleyears we need to be reminded. No,
we don't need to be reminded anymore. Every day you should love people,
period, every day. You shouldrespect people, period, and it's
just it seems that it always comesin at the wrong time, not that
there's ever a right time for it, but it always comes in at the
wrong time and it's like use yourheads, man. Common Sense is not
always common practice, and I meanit just it's frustrating because you're sitting there
watching to go in. Those otherthree guys could have easily pulled their partner
off that guy. And you know, I'm my stepfather is a retired police
officer and I tread very lightly aroundhim, but you know, I said
something that I saw because I usedto say people, okay, I've friends
and a lot of them go,you know, police and you know it's
easy to get in that mentality andwhatever, and it's like I would always
say, well, you know,most cops would give their life for you,
to protect you. They don't knowyou and that's their job and they
would give their whole life to dotheir job. And there's a few bad
apples. But then somebody, forthis Chris Rock piece. To me it
was just a meme, but Iwill give it to you in essence,
and it basically said, you know, I get it that being a cop
is an incredibly hard job. Weget that, but we can't be okay
with a few bad apples. It'snot like American Airlines can say, Hey,
all our pilots are great, butif and they land the plane,
but there's a few of them thatfly in the mountains. There are some
careers where you just can't allow forthat. And I kind of said that
to my stepfather afraid, and hegoes, you're a hundred percent right,
you know, this should not beallowed. And the little kind of you
know, saying that came to mindwhen I was meditating this morning was we
can't trust the police to police usif they can't police themselves. And I
really think that's that's the issue andthey have to do better at hope,
like you're saying, holding themselves toa decent standard. Yeah, and and
and a human humanitarian standard. Yeah, yeah, I mean it's just,
yeah, crazy, crazy, crazy, but we digress. We digress,
but hey, we had to talkabout you now. So I'm very thankful
for your time today and I wantto give a shout out to my man,
Phil a Kit Phil Bowguard, AkaNashville, who brought us together.
And Phil is a Guy I metin an endeavor to branch out of recovery
does with our therapeutic music program intoNashville. He's our guy the handles of
whole Nashville read region, and hebrought myself and yourself together. So this
is cool. So this is aboutyou. It's your big day where you
can let it all hang out.And so what we do in this podcast
typically is do you know what itwas like, what happened? It was
like now? And so what Ilike to ask people is where would they
start their story? We don't wantto blame our our past. You know
how our diction played out or howwe acted on our past, but oftentimes
it's very relevant. It's I'm curiouswhere you would start your story. Yeah,
so I I come from divorced parents. My Mom was married five times,
my dad was married five times.I'm getting ready to celebrate to twenty
anniversary, so we kind of brokethat cycle. But and my wife and
I met at an a meeting,which is even more coincidental, and she's
also sober. But for me it'slike I went to three different high schools
and I felt that I was whoevertook me in. I became a chamellion
to that group. So I wasborn in Northern California, raised in Alabama.
So my sophomore year the Christians andthe jocks took me in. So
I went to church and I playedsoccer. Junior year same exact thing,
and then senior year I got movedto Silmar, California to live with my
dad in the valley and the stonerstook me in. He had married a
lady that already had six kids.I had a I don't even want to
call a half brother, of brotherby marriage, who was about a year
younger than me that was just superexcited to go show his, you know,
new brother off with an accent,who came from Alabama and his nickname
was hesher Dave. So that kindof tells you a little bit about what
day. was into. And Istarted smoking weed and you know, and
I had started drinking a little bit, you know, sophomore junior year,
nothing crazy, but then all ofa sudden I got involved in this group.
But it's like I my buddies tookme to a strip bar for my
eighteen birthday. I was talking toone of the girls and you know the
ads right down there in north Hollywood. Man, right down there in north
Hollywood, went there on my eighteenbirthday. One of the girls came and
said, Oh my God, Ilove Your Voice. Would you announce my
set? Like sure, I cando with these guys are doing. So
I'm in there and I'm I'm justdoing my thing and next thing you know,
they offered me a job, andthis is in one thousand nine hundred
and eighty five or eighty six,and they offer me a job making five
hundred dollars a week cash, workingaround naked women, and I'm like,
I'm in what am I going todo? Graduate High School, go to
college and get a degree to maketwenty four thousand a year, or am
I going to live the life?So I went to my dad and I
said I got this great job offerand he's like son, no, no,
no, no. I said,what do I'm eighteen, I know
everything. I like that. Whatdo you know? You know, this
is what I want to do.I've always wanted to be a DJ.
That was my goal forever, wasto get on the radio. So he
said no, I said yes,I went down and did it. Started
dating one of the girls and sheshe was sure her. What's that?
Living with your parents at the time? I was yeah, so I got
away with me and my dad.He traveled out, he was a stunt
Massa. He was gone all thetime. So I'm still live with my
parents. I start working in theclub, started dating one of the girls
and she breaks up with me.Absolutely breaks my heart and I start drinking
a little bit more at that timeand then a guy comes up. He
says, look, if you wantthe pain to go away, said,
try some cocaine. So he handedme some cocaine and I tried it and
it just intensified the pain. Itdidn't make it go away. Says,
well, if we cook it andyou smoke it, trust me, it
will make everything you'll forget about her. And he was right. And I
lit up a crack pipe at thatpoint and I smoked it and I chase
that high the next four years andI went places that I would never wish
upon anyone. I did things that, you know, I'm not proud of.
Luckily, I did a lot ofthings that I can't remember. But
on April fourth, one thousand ninehundred and eighty nine, I had a
seven Grama Day addiction and I wasalso dealing to support the addiction and for
whatever reason, you know I'm dealing. I've got the cars, I've got
the money, I've got all thisstuff and for whatever reason on that particular
day, I walked and I sawmyself in front of a mirror and I
looked like death. I was,I mean I had long hair, my
bags under my eyes, face Sunkinin and I got on my knees and
I was like God, just letme go to sleep and not wake up.
I was too scared to put agun to my head. I had
guns, I had the ability toinject if I wanted to. I was
deathly afraid of needles. But Ijust, I said, since I found
Christ as a teenager, I figuredmaybe he was pissed off enough that if
I asked him to let me dieand I had done such bad things,
that he would just do that.For whatever reason. There were some other
plans that he had, and I'mnot here to put religion on anyone.
That just happens to be part ofmy story. But I woke up a
couple days later and at this timeI was living away from the house.
I disappeared for two and a halfyears. My Dad was running trade ads.
You know, Ricky, just comehome, no questions asked. Are
You alive? Just let us knowyou're alive, and and and I just
I didn't do anything. So Igot up, showered and I started walking
from studio city to Silmar and thewhole time I'm like maybe if I just
did half as much, maybe ifI didn't smoke it anymore, maybe if
I just snorted it, had alittle weed every now and then. And
I didn't feel I had a drinkingproblem because I used to have to drink
just so I could drive because Iwas so high. I had to kind
of level things out and I didn'tlike weed. So I walk. I
get to my dad's house and Iknock on the door and he opens the
door and he starts crying and Istart crying and I said, Dad,
I want to come home, andit's answer was no, and I'm like
wait on this twenty mile walk,that was not how I envisioned this whole
reunion happening and I'm like Dad,I'm like, look, I'll do better.
He said, look, I cannothave you and your addiction around the
family and he said look, hesaid. The only way this is going
to go down. He says,you need to go to meet and I
had been to some meetings because mystepbrother was already institutionalized at that point.
He had started doing acid and ittook him to really crazy places and I
knew about Aa and I knew aboutcocaine anonymous. Now I did not want
to go to cocaine anonymous because Ididn't need people just bragging. It seemed
like they're all people did was glorifywhat they did and everybody tried to one
up each other. Oh, youspoke seven grams, I spoke twenty seven
grams. Whatever be uside our Iknew the stories. I needed to go
here from the guy who lost everything, and for me I found that an
AA. I found that with thealcoholics, even though I didn't feel like
I had a drinking problem. Ineeded to hear hurt, I needed to
hear loss, I needed to hearall those things, and that's where I
got my first sponsor. Six monthslater, went and got my ged,
because I did quit high school sidea job. I was working at the
Strip bar. What I need tofinish high school for. So that kind
of was the start of where Ifirst met recovery. I wish I could
say you know, March seventeen,you know April four one thousand nineteen eighty
nine. I wish I could saywas my sobriety date. That said,
last day I ever touched drugs.My sobriety date is march seventeen, one
thousand nineteen ninety two, because Isoon came to realize that drugs and alcohol
or but a symptom. The problemis really me. So I had some
more humility that needed to come myway, including some jail time and being
arrested on the radio, which wecan get into more of that if you
want to, but like back upa second second. I think it's incredible.
Your father, you said he wasa stuntman and so he was in
film industry and he was putting adsin magazines at the time. I'm sure
we're in the newspapers and in twotrades, you know, just trying to
find me and ricky come home,Mike, and then you you hadn't spoke.
You didn't speak to him for overtwo years. Huh? Yeah,
two and a half years, andone of the things he said one time
before he says you know he said. The one thing I do spect is
that you never brought it into thehouse with us. We didn't have to
witness you going down this path,because they witnessed that with my step brother.
I was too embarrassed, but Ialso too you know, my dad
and I, from the time Iwas five to seventeen, I didn't talk
to my dad. I didn't knowreally how to get in touch with my
dad. My Mom and my dad. It was kind of separated. I
saw some things in Alabama I shouldn'tsee for my safety. They wanted to
move me to California. So herewas this opportunity for me to start fresh
with my father and drug ands,drugs and alcohol took that away from us.
I remember he walked in to anAA meeting one time and he's like
can I speak and I'm like,Oh crop, my dad's about to say
something. By this time I wasgoing to the meetings, I had a
copy commitment, I was really there. For whatever reason, he came in
and they said sure, he's notan egg. No, he's never done
a drug and his life. Wejust came in there to chime in a
man. Something made him want toget something off of his chest. So
he came in and he asked thisquestion, and this question changed me as
a person and had a drastic effecton that group and it. He said,
I've never drank, I've never no, I've never done a drug in
my life. I've never been addictedto any anything. But why has this
addiction taken everything away from me?Why is it depriving me from the opportunity
to be a dad? And that'smore in that Alan on space at that
point where he should have been askingthose questions, but it was the fact
that he said it in a meetingand it made me realize the effect that
my selfishness and my disease had onother people, right. So that's where
it started getting really interesting for me. I had a so much of our
story is similar. I was hidingout from my family and I don't think
I definitely didn't go two years withoutspeaking to him, but darn close.
And I was just because I wasashamed to be seen like that, because
my arm's a good lady. MyStepfather, of course, is the police
officer. I was hiding, youknow, and it's funny. I think
when I was personally hiding, soundslike this might have been how you felt
too. I didn't necessarily think likeOh, I'm hurting my mother. No,
you know, but like you haveto figure out their kids not tired
of for two years. They're kindof probably not having the best days well
and losing sleep and not knowing ifyou're alive or dead. And there was
no social media at the time.It's like there was no reaching out on
facebook as anybody seeing, you know, there was none of that stuff,
and and it was. It wasone of those things too, is it's
like I'm like, you know,I'm not hurting anybody. In matter of
fact, I was an entrepreneur.I worked at this Strip club. All
the hair bands from the s wouldgo up at my club and I'm like,
okay, they like girls and theylike drugs, I'll supply both.
So you know, I'm bringing strippersand drugs to the bachelor parties for some
very famous people and I'm they're allshowing up at my club because half the
girls that work for me or intheir videos. I mean it was like
this is cool, I'm just it'srock. It's only rock and rolling.
I like it, and it's likewe're all just but what's hurting anybody?
It's not. I'm not out stealingand I'm not out doing it's like,
but that's what happens when we livein our own disease as we get it's
the surroundings, it's the people aroundyou that are the ones being hurt.
Yeah, not necessarily. We maynot think we're hurting anyone. Oh,
we're hurting a lot of people,lots of people. Yeah, Yep.
So this is a great spot forus to get into the song. We
always play a song or two,actually couple songs. They kind of tie
into the different places of the story. So we asked that you pick us
on. That kind of takes youback to the energies and feelings of what
it was like when you're using andyou picked up November rained by guns n
roses. So that whole time framereally sticks with me. It's like it's
one of those things where I rememberbeing high at guns and roses shows.
I remember watching them before they gotsigned. I was working on that whole
sunset strip, that whole kind ofdeal. But when I got back,
so to back up, always wantto be on radio, got sober six
months in, got in internship atKiss FM and Los Angeles, then ended
up getting my first radio GIG InstannaBarbera, and that's where actually I was
at a raid the radio station thatI got arrested on, and we'll share
that story here in just a second. That's called an open loop. Yeah,
let's think it will do that atthe other side of November rain.
Yeah, so I used to endmy radio show every night. That was
kind of like my walkoff music.It was like I would wrap it up
every night and then I would goout drinking. It's like I wasn't doing
drugs anymore, so I figured hey, I never had a drinking problem,
I could go out drinking. Sothat was my song because it reminded me
of the bad days but also gotme pumped up to go make my new
memories and my new dreams. Andit was long enough for me to be
able to talk and say all mygoodbyes and still hit the post. So
November rain got you pumped up?It did, because it's like, as
I leave the thing, it's likeI sit there and it's like, because
for me, that cold November rainwas what I had got, you know
what I mean. So it's likeI saw that as kind of the going
away part. It's like, youknow, here's, here's all this drama
and all this stuff. Will Ino longer have that anymore? I beat
it, I survived it. NowI'm just going to go out and drink
with my buddies every night when Iget off the radio. Yeah, but
I had beaten everything else. Ihad gone through the cold November rain and
lived to tell it. It's verythe the way the song ends is like
pretty, it's it's not happy.It's like it's cut the instrumentation, but
that instrumentation, you know what Imean. It's like it's got that thing.
It's almost like Bill Collins in theair tonight. You know, it's
like it's got that dark side andin the whoop, you know, it's
like and and that's what music does, sometimes not necessarily lyrics, but that
that music, just because then thatorchestration comes in and everybody, I mean
it's people, will hear it's along times. That's a lot of people
have heard this song. So absolutely. So we're here with the amazing Rick
Barker telling his story throughs crack addictionand being a strip club Dj and days
on the radio anyhow. So thisis November rain by guns n roses on
K X FM radio. Will beright back into I can change and it's
hard again. Such a lot istrying to kill the baby when even pray.
This is West Gear with rock andrecovery and we're talking to the amazing
Rick Barker telling his story through crackaddiction and being a strip club Dj and
bringing the girls in the music.And you'RE ON KISS FM. Two.
I was an intern. Yeah,it kiss, I found. That's where
I got my start. Yeah,that's amazing. It's a great story.
So we thank you for sharing yourstory. And so where we were going
to pick up? I think you'regoing to talk about how you went into
a a a meeting, you gotexposed to recovery, but we left off
that you were drinking again. andOh yeah, so to get to the
drinking part. So when I gotoffered the job in radio, this was
great. I was about a yearsober. My sponsor said, listen,
when you get to Santa Barbara,find the a meeting. There's great recovery
there. I'd gone to some conferencesup in Santa Barbar for a conferences and
stuff that was really good recovery.Well, when I showed up, I
was twenty four years old, singleon the radio and a college town with
the colleges and I unfortunately I didn'tfind the a meetings. I found the
clubs and I, like I said, I never thought that I really had
a drinking problem. And then onenight I'm at the Mike Tyson Evander holy
field fight, I remember because hebit his ear off, and somebody offered
me a beer and without even thinkingabout it, I took it and I
drank it and I'm like, Ididn't think about here goes a year sobriety.
I didn't think about anything because Ihad gotten my mind had gone from
going to a couple meetings a dayand being actively involved to all of a
sudden trying to just control it.So it's like, Oh, I don't
have a crew, I don't needto go to a meeting kind of thing.
So I took it, no questionsasked. They handed me another one,
I drank it and then I'm like, Holy Crap, I got to
get to the radio station and ifyou've ever been to Santa Barbara, there's
a lot of one way streets inSanta Barbara and if you're new to the
town you may not know it.So I had almost turned down a one
way street, corrected, went downand the blue lights come on and I'm
right in front of the Alano Club, which is ironic because that's where the
a meetings take place, and I'mdoing my sobriety test right there and I
failed my first field sobriety test.I didn't make it to my shift at
the radio station. Woke up thenext morning, chalked it up as bad
luck and I ended up getting threeDu guys that month, so d guys
and thirty days I had the samecop pull me over twice. That's how
small of a town Santa Barbara wasand because I had gotten the first to
you. I now it was anymeasurable amount of alcohol in your system.
So I'm getting Duis for like pointsixes and nothing. I need just very
little amounts. But at that pointI thought to myself, I said,
okay, this is God telling methat if you continue to drink, you're
going to get so drunk someone's goingto offer you drugs and you're going to
take it again, because, remember, I knew I was a drug addict,
no questions at all. And Ialso started thinking, go you know
what, people, if drinking asn'ta problem, why do I keep getting
arrested? And I was to turnmyself in on March Seventeen, one thousand
nine hundred and ninety two for myfirst seventeen. It's a thirty day stent.
you only do seventeen. So Iplanned my last night of drinking the
night before that, and I evendid that wrong. You know, I'd
ordered a pizza in a twelve packand had a couple pieces in a beer
and I fell asleep and I wokeup the next day and turned myself in
and I have not had a drinksince that day. Now I wish I
could say that's where my story endsas far as going to jail, but
it does it because, once again, drugs and alcohol are justice symptom.
We are the problem. Rick wasthe problem. So I thought, and
you being in the in the industry, that there's so much philanthropy that we
do as bands, as Dj'SS,actors, actresses, whoever. I was
doing so much good. I'm thenumber one DJ in the morning drive.
I'm at all these great radio stations, and so I said, if I'm
not drinking and I'm not doing drugs, obviously I can drive. I'm not
going to get pulled over, eventhough I had a suspended license. And
I get pulled over three times drivingon a suspended license. One Night I'm
driving a drunk guy home. He'shanging out the window. COPS will be
over. I get the ticket.So I get the ankle bracelet a couple
times and then on the third timeI run into a judge that didn't think
as highly of me as I thoughtof me, and he's like look,
Rick, I don't care who youthink you are. No means no.
This isn't what you're supposed to do, and he sentence me to eleven months.
WHOA counted you. Now I'm incourt with the dude who sunk a
boat in the Santa Barbara Harbor.Would like a kilo of weed. He
only got six months. I'm gettingeleven months because the judge wants to make
an example out of me. Andwhat's interesting West, is that my radio
name and my real name were twocompletely different things. So my radio name,
and if anybody has anything in yourmouth, go ahead and swallow because
you may spit up on yourself.But my radio name was ricky Swab A
and, like I said, Ihad started in the s a whole little
joke there, but so no oneknew that Richard Barker and ricky swab a
were the same guy. Now inSanta Barbara it's and and when it came
time to turn myself in on thatday, I didn't do it. I
just magically, I guess, thoughtthat it would disappear. I'm like,
okay, this is it'll just aftera while. They'll forget about it,
they'll move on to someone else.So I'm playing in Celebrity Basketball Games with
the police department and the Fire Departmentwhile having a warrant out for my arrest
because it's the sheriffs department that issuesthe warrants, and no one knew that
ricky swab a and Richard Barker werethe same guy, except for a gentleman
by the name of Mark Ward.Now, Mark used to work at the
same rock radio station that I didbefore he was a share a few years
ago and we had a little forefathersday and we had talked and he kind
of knew my name. So oneday he walks in and he sees my
name on the warrant list and he'slike, why haven't you guys picked this
guy up? They're like, well, we don't know where to find him.
And he goes and he turns onthe radio and he goes. He's
there every morning. Oh my God. At the time I'm working at Kjee
in Santa Barbara, which is whereI first got turned onto corns music,
was the alternative rock station there.So one morning my buddy who's a cop,
he stops by every morning, wehave coffee together. He's in the
radio station with me and it's anit's October twenty five, as one thousand
nine hundred and ninety six, andall of a sudden I hear a walkie
talkie in the hall and it wasn'this, and my heart just kind of
sunk because I had the feeling becausewhen you have a warn out for your
arrest for six months and you're onthe radio every day and you're look at
your rear view mirror, you're likeconstantly thinking, because I knew whatever happened,
I wasn't getting out. Yeah,and there they were, served me
and arrest warrant, arrested me righton the radio and I was on air.
They gave me a chance to callsomebody in. I told everybody this
is going to be it for mefor a little while. It's like,
but here's what's crazy. I'm threeand a half year sober and I'm about
to go to jail. It's likeI'm like I am the knuckle head,
and that's where I tell people yourpast is not defined your future. I'm
living proof. But I avoided majorjail time with all the craziness that I
was doing. Now I'm three anda half year sober, going to jail,
and it wasn't until the next morningwhen the newspaper came out. It's
like Santa Barbara's number one DJ isarrested on charges up when you get arrested
for a warrant, they you haveto bail back out on all the original
charges. So it's like multiple offensesof drinking and driving and this to that,
and I'm like, I wasn't drinkingit. It's like when somebody took
my sobriety from me that it becameimportant. So I had one of the
guys like, I can't believe hedrank. You know I can't. But
and I'm in jail, I can'tdefend myself. Like I said, no
social media at this time. Itwasn't until someone else took my sobriety that
it became important. So I saidthis. I said, God, something
goods coming out of this one.I was smoking two packs of cigarettes a
day at the time. I saidif I can stay stopped while in here,
something will happen, and to I'mgoing to start attending meetings again inside
the jail, and I did,and that's where I met my sponsor.
But I tell people it was theworst best thing that ever happened to me
because inside a jail is you're allequal. You get humbled real quick.
Nobody cares that you are on theradio, nobody cares what you did.
Everyone's innocent. You know. It'sone of those situations where it wasn't until
my freedom and my sobriety was takenfrom me that all of a sudden it
mattered, and that's where life changedfor me into what it is that I've
been able to do today to helpget back. That's amazing. Yeah,
we talked a lot about self willin recovery and it's hard, I think,
if people are out there listening andthey're new and the first thing you
feel like you got to deal withis your drinking and or drugging. But
there's a saying is when you takea drunken horse thief and he stops drinking,
what are you got? You stillgot a horse thief. And the
concept that just when we stopped drinkingwe're going to magically transform and to these
perfect people it just isn't the caseand they stay the alcoholic is on disciplined
right. And then, I knowin my case, you know, count
came with a lot of ego thatI didn't even think I had. I
too drove on a suspended license.I'm thankfully I did not get caught the
cops. To not like people drivingon a suspended license. They get really
mad. I've had a few peoplego to jail on that. That are
my my dear friends. They saythe best drivers are those was suspended licenses,
but apparently didn't go so well foryou. No, no, I
even switched to a motorcycle that hada little busted light. It was always
a fix it ticket of some sortthat they would pull me over for.
And then, of course, obviously, if you better suspend the license,
you're not going to have insurance.So yeah, it just the hits kept
coming at that point. And whatwas interesting is after so I was there
for two months. Then I qualifiedfor Work Furlough, which means you could
leave from the jail part of theday to work and turn yourself in.
But I didn't have a job andthe radio station, the guy that I
had left, he came in andhe's like, Hey, I'll create this
job for you. So I rememberthey gave me a bicycle and I rode
down and my job. They wouldn'tlet me go on air. They did
not want me talking about what wasgoing on in the jail. So at
that time my job was I gotarrested. What I was arrested. I
was the number one DJ. Myjob was to make coffee and answer phones
for the number two best Dj's,Rinky swam a humbles, best five dollar
an hour job that I ever had. And then two more months went by
and I was eligible for sheriff's pearls. So I ended up. I spent
a Thanksgiving, I spent a Christmas. You know, I shared this with
my kids now, and you knowI had a friend pass away. Wasn't
able to attend their funeral. Onlyhad one person that visited me. Ever,
while I was in jail. Showedme who my true friends were.
It was one person. Everyone elseloved the guy on the radio. Everyone
else love the life of the party. But now, all of a sudden,
here I am. All of asudden I have no friends and I
was doing meetings, helping people learnto read. I was just doing everything
I could. It's like that.There was this new sense of humility.
I was starting to gain a lotof weight because you squit smoking, you
start eating a lot of raisinets.But I got offered the opportunity to get
sheriff's Pearl if I had a job. So I was offered a job.
I qualify and I'm going back onthe radio and I'm scared, because I
was scared when you're on the radioand the phone starts ringing. Santa Barbar's
a small town. I got whatI deserved, but I did not want
to be reminded of that. So, yeah, the bones ringing. The
first hour. I'm not answering thisown at all. So I'm afraid someone's
going to call him. Go Hey, am if you deserve it, you
punk at whatever they were. Iknew that they were just going to start
dam and me. So all ofa sudden I decided to answer it.
I pick up the phone and I'mlike, Katied, I was the radio
station call letters. It's still theretoday. And she says, is this
rick? I said yes, shesays High Rick. My name Cindy.
I said High Cindy. She said, first off, let me just say
you cost me a hundred dollars,and I'm like, how did I cost
you a hundred dollars? She saidhonestly, I said, with your ego,
there's no way that you would evergo back on the radio in this
town. Yeah, I thought youwould run, she said, and I'm
proud of you. Hung up thephone. Never talked to that woman again.
Never met her in person, butit was that thing that kind of
made me realize that now my storycould possibly help others and people could understand
that we're all going to make mistakesin our life. So I got really
active. First Call I made whenI got out was to my sponsor,
and this is a really interesting scenariothat played out. I think I thought
I'd call a girl, yet nowI didn't. I call my sponsor,
took me to his home. Theymade a home cook meal, met his
family and he said listen, hesaid. Didn't you used to play soccer?
I'm like yeah, he says,listen, my daughter they need a
coach right now. Well, andI said, he said, they're twelve
year old. The name of thehe said she. He said they've gone
through three couches is and the last. They've run off three coaches and the
last dad who agreed to help,throughout his back. There's only three games
left and they're called the Miss America's. That's what they think of themselves and
that's why they've run off these lastthree coaches. And what they didn't realize
is that I needed the Miss America'sas much as the Miss America's needed me.
For My self esteem, to feellike I was giving back. I'd
been a taker my whole entire life. Well, we ended up doing pretty
well. So the Miss America's.It was supposed to be a three game
commitment. We ended up going fromlast to third. We spent the whole
summer together. And then I getoffered a job to coach a girls high
school soccer team, not realizing thatthat was God preparing me for Taylor Swift.
Because, call it a blessing ora curse, I speak teenage female.
So I spent two years learning thedifference between a fourteen year old and
an eighteen year old. Females abouttwenty years. It's not for there's no
that's the highest of the highs orthe lowest of the lows. There is
no middle ground and for some reasonthey want you to feel they want to
feel like you're at least listening tothem, look at them when they talk
to you and things like that.So I spent this time with the girls
and everything was going great. CalledCoaching at the College. Everything's happening,
and then I get invited to Iget invited to start a country radio station.
Figured what the heck? I grewup in Alabama, knew who johnny
cash was. I would get tobe a program director. Now my wife
and I had just gotten married.I met my wife at a she had
shown up on her third, aroundher thirty birthday, because she didn't like
how she was starting to feel.Blackout. Drum. Yeah there. So
wait, let's pause right here andput in your song. They're going to
come back and because you're going totell us how you got into the Taylor
Swift Gig. Yeah, all inyour sobriety. This is perfect. All
right. So we are here withRick Barker, Aka Ricky Swam A.
He's now sober. He's going totell us how, some in sobriety,
you got the Taylor Swift Gig andhelp, you know, grow one of
the biggest international talents the world hasever seen. And so for your song
that had to do with your recovery. You pick lose yourself by EMINEM now
we don't have a ton of time, just real quick, one shot,
one opportunity. Would you take it? If that does it set up.
It's like the the way that songstarts. When I speak at events and
big two thousand, three thousand people, that's my walkout song. Right now.
That's the one. You had oneshot, what opportunity will pass you
by. Would you capture it?I mean that just is the essence.
And if you can't get a workout into that and want to go whoop
somebody's but I don't know what ayeah, and I feel like with recovery
for a lot of us, wehave to think like that. You may
never get another chance to have acouple days sober. Try. Here we
are. This is rock's recovery.I'm Wescuer with Rick Barker. This is
lose yourself by Eminem look, ifyou had one shot, one opportunity,
he sees everything you ever wanted.One moment, you capture. Let me
sleep. His palms are sweaty,kne's weak, harms are heavy, his
vomit on his sweater already. MomSpaghetti. He's nervous, but on the
surface he looks calming, ready toDrop Palms. But he keeps on forgetting
what he wrote down. The wholecrowd go so loud he opens his mouth
with the words won't come out.He's choking. How everybody's choking down.
The clocks run now times up over, back to reality. Oh, there
goes gravity. Oh, the goesrabbity choke. He's so bad, but
he won't give up Daddy's Heo.He won't have any. Knows his whole
back to these rooms. It don'tmatter. He's coping, he knows that.
But he's proke. He's so sadand he knows me. Goes back
to this mobile home. That's miness. His back to the lab. Begin
your the so rap city. Bettergo capture this moment. It Open.
Don't the music, the moment youwon't shot. Miss your chance to blow,
because ippolute lifetime. The music,the moment to hold it shot.
Miss your chance to blow, becauseippolute US one for the lifetime, escaping
through this hole. It is taping. This world is mine for the taking.
Make me king as we move towarda new world order. A normal
life was boring. The Super Saltimclose to post border. It only grows
hard on me. Brows hotter heblows. It's all over these it's all
on. It cost the Colt showshe's known as the globe writer. Only
Brown we knows. He's from father, from home. He's no father.
He goes home and Bailly knows hisown daughter. But holding nose because see
it goes to cold water. Mostdon't want them to M he's cold.
Products moved on. The next moveblows. He knows. Don't even so
daughter. So the soul properas tolland unfolds. I suppose it's so hard,
but the beat goes on that atthe music, the moment you shot.
Do not miss your chance to blowthe top of one for the lifetime.
The music the moon makes you wantshot. Not Miss your chance to
blow the top of the lifetime.Change with you. Call wage titus and
you forth like two logs cage.I was clean in the beginning. The
mood or change. I've been showedup and spit out and mood off stage,
but I kept priming to step brightenthe next sifer. Let's believe somebody's
paying the pie pipe on. Allthe pain inside amplified by the fact that
I can't get by with my nof five and I can't provide the right
type of life for my family becauseman, he's stands go buy diapers and
it's no movie, it is nomcdifer. This is my life and these
times are so hard and it's gettingeven on a trying to feed the water
my seed. Plus see this Anabeach mean being a Farlan, a Prima
Donna, Baby Mama drama screaming onto do much for me to want to
stay one of the damn a night. He's gotten to the point I'm like
a snail. I've got some formyour way to plot, hit up and
jail a shot. Success is myonly fails. Not Mama, love you,
but this trailer's got to go.I cannot go all the sailors like.
So here I go as my shotto be filming, because maybe the
music the moment you won't miss yourchance to blow. The music the moment,
you won't miss your chance to blow. This is rocked recovery. I'm
your host, West Gear. We'retalking with formerly known as Ricky Suave,
Rick Barker, who shared his storythrough being a strip club Dj to be
in the number one DJ and SantaBarbara and getting thrown in jail, doing
months in jail, getting sober,putting down the crack pipe. And now
somehow you found your way in yourmusic, took career to work with what
would become, through your work,one of the parties. I will her
work. I just happened to beyeah, I never what artist. Yeah,
yeah, not that she didn't doanything. Yeah, by the way,
which you go about we're talking aboutTaylor swift and I reached recently watched
her documentary and it's incredible and Ialready think, like probably many people,
she's incredibly beautiful, but her workethic and her personality and what she stands
for as an artist I am soattracted to in a spirit sense. And
it's funny because so many people loveI had it. I'm not I'm not
rich. I had a couple ofpeople this week, when I put my
opinion out there, go you're justa rich rock star. How dare you?
What do you know? And it'slike, first of all, I'm
not rich and we got a platform. It's so not to make it all
about Taylor Swift. I appreciate herwork, but also for you for being
here and sharing your story. Ithink it's important we all do that.
So to get to how I gotwith Taylor, when I started this country,
radio station record companies. Now we'reshowing up with artists, you know,
whining dining and doing all this stuff, and no whining for me.
It made it easy and they lovedit. It just meant I could have
more steak. But I started askinga lot of questions and one of the
things I realized was that artist howmuch money it cost artists and how much
debt they were going into by beingsigned to a label. And I said,
well, why don't we ever seehim play? And they were like,
well, and this is country artist. Let me preface that. They're
like, well, they don't haveenough material, and I'm like wait,
I come from the rock world.Bands, hour and a half, two
hours, three hours. I well, they had this one song. I'm
like, you signed somebody to amillion dollar deal that only had one song
and it's never really performed before,and they're like no, is it?
Well, what if I could createan opportunity for them to get paid and
play? So I created the firstever radio tour where artists got paid.
It was called the Nashville do youradio tour put me on the radar of
Scott More Chetta, who owned bigmachine records. He ends up calling and
offered me a job as a wreckradio promoter for his record company. He
offered me eighty five thousand dollars andhealth insurance, and my wife accepted the
job before I could, because Iwas working three jobs to try to make
seventy five Tho. We were payingfor our own health insurance. So accepted
that job. He ends up sendingme Taylor to teach her the radio business
and take her on this tour,and those thirty days kind of changed both
our lives. She wanted to learn, I wanted to teach. She was
sixteen at the time. I spoketeenage female. She I just told her.
I said Hey, if you're willingto do what no one else is
willing to do, we can getthe results no one else can. So
I did this while working for theradio station. They went applied try to
get picked up by a management company. Most of the management companies and Nashville
told them No. So one nightthe dad called and he's like, Hey,
what would you say if I toldyou Taylor wanted you to be our
manager? I said I'd say no. I didn't finish high school, I
didn't go to a Fancy Music BusinessCollege, I've never managed anyone before.
He said here, you know shetrust you. Believe in her. He
said the most important thing you havegoing for you, my friend, is
you're not afraid to ask for help. HMM, that he said. Most
people say not knowing is the weakness. Not Knowing and not being willing to
get the answers as the weakness.He says, you've helped all these other
artists through your tour, you haverelationships with the manager, you'll be okay.
So I agreed to go on boardwith her. Spent two years with
her. My last year I wasgone a hundred eighty seven days. I
would drive from Santa Barbara to Lacatch a plane, landed Nashville, catch
a tour bus. We would tourfor four days. I'd come back home
and at that time my daughter wasfor my son was too. I was
on salary, which never happens fora manager. That's why my books called
a hundred and fifty thou dollar musicdegree. That was my salary and at
two thousand and eight I would goto commission and I would have become an
instant millionaire. And I was like, okay, got it. What expense
is it going to go out inalimony and child support? Am I going
to end up divorced? are theirkids going to know their dad? I
grew up, though I never madedecisions about money, because we've ever had
it to make decisions about, andI decided that I never got into the
business to be a manager. Igot into business to be in radio.
I always wanted this is what Iwanted to do, but I had fallen
in love with the music business side. I wanted to help, but not
at the expense of the family.So I gave my notice. I walked
away from a million dollars and thenext thing you know, the street credibility
that I got Nashville for walking awayfrom the ship that was rising and choosing
the family opened up so many doors. I started consulting Sony Music and live
nation and I started making more moneywith less stress. And then, about
five years ago, I realized thatI could help more people because there wasn't
anyone who had had success as amanager in the digital age that was teaching
it. So I went all inon digital marketing and I stopped doing day
today management and now I help artistsall over the world through my online horses
and management program and every stage thatI get on I say to that.
I said guys, let me justsay this. I went from living homeless
on the streets, addicted to crackcocaine to helping launch one of the biggest
stars in the world. Your pastdoes not define your future. I am
living proof of that, and Isay that for two reasons. One,
someone may be willing to give upon themselves and to someone may be having
someone in their life that's struggling.Don't give up on them just yet.
You never know what's going to happento him. I'm the proof. I
love it. I love it andyou know, I didn't say this earlier
and I really wanted to. Alot of your story is about humility and
getting force fed humility and I thinkfor most people coming into recovery that is
one of the key and ingredients intolike am I going to accept outside input?
Am I going to learn, youknow, to let go of my
ego and be teachable? And youheard it when you had the humility force
Medu with the going to jail andthen how it came into play with the
whole Taylor swift thing and you gothired because of your humility and saying I
don't know. So I think outsidethere's always these underlying themes in these recovery
stories and I think what's funny iswhen people think about, you know,
especially with some of the bravado putin music videos of the baller and I'm
the rocks are. But what I'velearned time and again from people like Chester,
Lincoln Park and whatever, that thepeople who really crush it and successful
it's humility and a big heart isactually what makes you the most powerful.
That's what I always told Taylor.If you always are on the side a
humble and gracious you know the onlyyou you're going to be okay. And
and that's what I think too,is that too often, early on and
recovery, I don't suggest just shoutingeverything from the rooftops. You know,
it took me a while to getto that point, one that I didn't
care what other people thought to isthat I knew that my story, like
you mentioned earlier, West our platform, could help other folks. If someone's
not going to work with with me, but they're here's a funny thing.
They want to work with us becauseof our past, but sometimes they don't
want to work with us because ofour past. They want to pick and
choose, then I'm not the rightperson. I always tell people I'm like
Sushi. I'm an acquired taste.I'm not for everyone one I'm not going
to let you wallow in your crapI'm not going to let you talk about
circumstances. I've had tough the youknow, it's hard to trump jail,
poor wanting to die. You know, there's a lot of things that you
know. So I always tell peopleit's like, look, living that for
a second, but when you're readyto get out of it, come see
me. I'm a solution. It'sgot the problem. Guy. We all
know what the problem is. Iwant to find the solution for you.
I all have stories, we've allhad tragedy, but you know what,
you can live in it or youcan get out of it. I always
tell people you don't drown by fallingin the water, you drown by staying
there. Absolutely well, this hasbeen an amazing journey and I'm sitting here
listening to you thinking how, outin the world, so many people attached
the Taylor swift thing to define you, but actually you define yourself by being
an amazing person and getting sober andstopping the drowning right. So thanks for
sharing your story with us. Pleasure. Yeah, I'm I love this selfishly,
I love doing this because I getto have an hour chat with people
that I learned to care about andknow intimately. So what? I'm coming
to Nashville soon. I'm going toask you to come have lunch with me
and yes, please, hopefully wecan make that happen. This has been
rocked recovery with the amazing Rick Barker. We thank you for your time.
I'm your host West Gear, andif you're out there struggling and think like
you'll never see a light beautiful dayever again, just realize it can happen
for you to keep coming back.Thanks for listening. Good