Read Honestly: My Life and Stryper Revealed Online
Authors: Michael Sweet,Dave Rose,Doug Van Pelt
Tags: #Chuck617, #Kickass.to
© Big3 Records 2014
Michael Sweet, in this—his first autobiography—chronicles his life as the founding member, songwriter, singer, and guitarist of the pioneering rock band Stryper. As the first Christian band to see chart-topping MTV ™ airplay, Sweet gives an honest and moving account of the unexpected highs and lows throughout his often tumultuous path to success. The victories, as well as the failures, are all documented here as he takes the reader on an incredibly insightful journey through his life. Having sold almost 12 million albums worldwide and landed on countless Billboard ™ charts, Michael Sweet continues to enjoy a successful career in music. This revealing memoir shares the sometimes seemingly insurmountable challenges he has faced to reach this place in life. Michael is a husband and a father of two and he currently resides in Cape Cod, Massachusetts.
A note from Michael:
I wrote this book based primarily on my personal experiences and observations throughout my life. I drew from my archives and memorabilia, as evidenced by the old photographs within the book. In some cases, I may not have recalled a specific conversation exactly as it occurred, word-for-word, but I have provided the substance of the conversations and events as accurately as possible, based on my personal first-hand observations and recollections. The purpose behind what's written in this book is to tell the story of my life, from my perspective, as I best recall it. My intentions are not to offend or demean anyone, but to give you, the reader, a journey through my mind and heart to better understand what I've gone through and how I've gotten through it. I'm a man who speaks openly and often with that comes the risk of upsetting a few people along the way. I care deeply for my friends and fans around the world and please know that this is an opportunity for me to take you all into my soul and in the process, share a little bit of it with you. I ask you humbly to read with an open mind and an open heart. I also want to personally thank each and every person mentioned throughout this book, as they are the ones who have helped to shape me into the man and the artist that I am today. Each one of them has been instrumental to my development and to the life lessons that I’ve tried to impart upon myself. Saying "thank you" will never fully express the depths of my gratitude. So, grab a cup of coffee, find a comfortable chair and let's start this journey.....
I would like to thank everyone who helped make this book a reality: My wife Lisa, my daughter Ellena and my son Mikey, Bill Edwards and Marc Offenbach along with everyone at Big3, Dave Rose and Doug Van Pelt, Curtis Booker, John Booker, David McCreary, Richard Hughes, Nigel Skeet (family photo credit), Tina Enos, Paul Stevenson at Bookmasters, Brian Mayes and Kevin Chiaramonte, Jeff Wollschlager, and of course Robert, Oz, and Tim and the amazing fans and friends we have around the world. Without you there would be no story to tell. Thank you all ~ M
I want to dedicate this book to my wife Lisa, my son Michael and my daughter Ellena. Playing in a band often separates you from the ones you love. The time away recording, touring, rehearsing, writing, and doing everything else associated with a band often takes precedence over what matters most. It’s been a difficult task for me to balance being a husband and father with leading a successful band.
I look back on the years that have passed, and I think to myself, “Was I a good dad or did I fail as a father? Am I a good husband or am I a failure?” Fortunately, I took the opportunity to spend more time with my kids during my down time, yet I missed out on so many moments during their childhood that I wish I could build a time machine and set it for 1987 and have another go at being a dad, a better dad.
Often enough I neglect my wife Lisa and put many things above her and our relationship. I’m not proud of this. In fact, I’m ashamed. I continually ask God for focus and wisdom and maybe someday the light will go on and I’ll figure it all out.
We can’t travel back in time, but we can change who we are and how we relate to others. Despite our choices in life and how they have shaped us, we all have the opportunity to change how we make use of our time, how we prioritize, and how we treat those that God has blessed us with.
Our wives, our children, our family, our friends—they are our legacy. After we’re gone, they continue to wave the flag and fight our fight. I couldn’t be more proud than to have Lisa, Michael and Ellena waving mine.
I love all of you, more than I can ever show.......
By Manager, Dave Rose
“That Jesus Dude”
The year was 1986. I was a freshman in college and laying the ground work to attend my very first concert. I was flat broke so like any good college freshman I asked my dad for the ticket money. And like any good dad, he didn’t give it to me. But he did say that if I would clean out the garage, he would give me an old stereo that was in there.
So I did and got $25 for it at the local pawn shop. That was enough money for a ticket and gas for me and three other friends to pile into a car and drive five hours to hear Stryper in concert. I didn’t catch one of the Bibles tossed into the audience, but I believe I slightly injured the church lady who scrambled for one at the same time I did.
I remember the long drive back from that concert—we certainly didn’t have enough money for a hotel—and I recall saying to one of my friends, “That is what I want to do for a living.” I didn’t necessarily want to work
Stryper. That idea was, of course, way too far-fetched. No way could I ever work with a band of that caliber, but I just knew I wanted to be in music—somehow, some way. The feeling Stryper gave me at that concert was one I never wanted to let go of. And I didn’t.
Fast-forward to 2001. Since my days of selling stereos at seedy pawn shops to get concert money, I had built a successful artist management company, Deep South Entertainment. Over the years we handled the careers of greats like Bruce Hornsby, Little Feat, Marcy Playground, Allison Moorer, Parmalee, and Vienna Teng. But Stryper remained my passion. So one day that year I decided to research what my old heroes had been up to since their unceremonious break-up in 1991. I knew Michael had put out some solo records, and I just assumed that, out of the four guys in the band, he would be the most approachable. On the Internet, he had a website but listed no email address. He did however list a PO Box for correspondence. I wrote him a letter and mailed it to him. In that letter I basically explained who I was, that I was a fan, and that I would like to help him with anything he needed.
A few days later I experienced the most surreal moment when our receptionist rang my desk and said, “You have Michael Sweet on line 3.”
“You have got to be kidding,”
I thought to myself.
“He actually received the letter? And read it? And is now calling me?”
We proceeded to talk about music and life for what felt like hours, but in reality was only about 20 minutes. A few weeks later I went to see him perform a solo show in Charlotte, North Carolina. We continued to stay in touch after that. I knew he was a little gun-shy of music business folks based on his past. So we took it slowly, but we began to develop a good rapport. We had about a two year “courtship” before we decided to enter into any sort of formal agreement.
It was now fall of 2002 and we had continued to talk seriously over the past couple of years about working together. I had even flown to Cape Cod to meet with him to discuss music and his career. We met for a simple lunch at Applebee’s and that day could be considered the beginning of our working relationship.
As we were laying out the ground rules, as managers and artists often do in the early stages, I distinctly recall him saying one thing that resonated deeply. On several occasions he said,
Dave, I’d like for us to work together, but I should tell you, I will never play in Stryper again.” Yet, later that year Stryper, with Michael included, embarked on a 7-week nationwide tour. It was their first tour together with all original members since their break-up in 1991.
I couldn’t believe I was involved in reuniting the band that had meant so much to me over the years—that for all practical purposes was the reason I wanted to be in the music business.
What made Michael change his mind and decide to do a Stryper tour? To this day, I’m not really sure. I wouldn’t say that I pressured him. I don’t believe I did, although I’m sure I was nudging in that direction. But no amount of nudging can make Michael change his mind. It had to be something else that persuaded him. Perhaps he just felt it was the right time. Whatever it was, I wasn’t going to question it.
When we started working together, it was with the intent of releasing some solo material. That material coalesced into
, the first Stryper studio album since
Against the Law
. However, Michael had it in his heart that he wanted to be a solo artist, not because he didn’t like Stryper, although there was definitely some deep-rooted pain associated with the band, but because he just wanted to be his own person and make a name for himself outside of
. His longing for a solo career had less to do with his feelings about
and more about his basic human instinct to prove to himself that he could stand on his own two feet.
As an experienced professional in the “new” music business of 2003, I knew solo work could be a very difficult path. Although I remained supportive of his solo endeavors, as I still do, I explained that the quickest path to gaining the attention of the world would be to tour with Stryper. It would be the most direct way to let Stryper fans know that he was alive and well, and sounding better than ever.
That 2003 tour was a success. And it gave birth to the live album
7 Weeks, Live in America
that would find its way onto three Billboard charts (Internet, Independent, and Christian), debuting at #4 on the Billboard Internet Chart.
That tour, which started as a one-time only engagement with no promises of a future, turned into a record deal with Big3 Records, which led to subsequent tours and albums. Stryper was back together.
Reuniting a band, who for all practical purposes had not been a proper business since 1991, required a lot of work. We had to completely re-build. We formed new corporations and hired lawyers, booking agents, accountants, and crew-members. The band didn’t have a single Stryper T-shirt available for sale when we started the process. But day-by-day we laid the ground work to rebuild the business of Stryper.
I would spend the next several years getting to know the band that at one point were my childhood musical icons. I’ve come to know and love them all, but of the four I am the closest with Michael.
Michael is the hardest working of the bunch. He never stops pushing himself, and the band, to improve. When tour time approaches he hits the treadmill, he rehearses, and he practices his voice and instrument. He is truly working 365 days a year. That is probably why I gravitated toward him early on in my working relationship with the band. I understood his way of thinking and the lifestyle that accompanies it.
That said, his quest for perfection has often been the catalyst for my rising blood pressure and a few new grey hairs. He has postponed video shoots because he felt the band was not at their best. He has cancelled interviews because it would strain his voice and thus sacrifice the show. And in his mind, the show was, and is, THE most important thing. He will ask me to make demands on promoters that I may view as unreasonable, but that he views as necessary in order to put on the best show possible for the fans.
He’s a perfectionist in every sense of the word. And sometimes that doesn’t jive with the business world or, more specifically, me. I have to deal with the potential repercussions of a cancelled interview or an angry promoter, but in Michael’s mind, that’s what it takes to give the fans the show they deserve.
I don’t always agree with Michael, but I
understand him, and I certainly always respect him.
I’ve been working with Michael since 2003 and consider him to be a true friend. I had the honor of delivering a toast at Michael and Lisa’s wedding. We’ve been through a lot of ups and downs together, personally and professionally.