WISDOM: A PORTRAIT SERIES
S H E P G O R D O N
TALENT MANAGER + PRODUCER
Photograph by Damian Weilers
I. I don’t really think about wisdom. I think about compassion. I think about doing the right thing. Wisdom is usually a word someone uses to describe themselves when they’re trying to convince someone else that they know something. There are certain words that scare me: wisdom, and best. I mean, I think there are very wise men. His Holiness the Dalai Lama is a very wise man, but that’s not the first word I would use for him. That’s way down the scale. My criteria are sort of different: living a good life, being compassionate, helping people, and working to the best of your ability. I think it’s important, especially for young people on their journey, to have mentors and idols. If wisdom is a word that leads them to work for mentors, that’s fine. But I think maybe experience more than wisdom. I don’t know. It’s just a word that doesn’t necessarily fit in my wheelhouse.
II. I think that being of service leads to happiness. That was where my mentors led by example. Mr. Vergé served everyone. I try to serve everyone. Do whatever makes them happy. By serving them and making them happy, I think that’s a way to make yourself happier. But nobody’s always happy. Life is tough. You’ve got to embrace the downs as well as the ups.
III. It’s very rare that you give a person an opportunity to have a win win situation where they don’t want that. What they don’t want is win lose. If it doesn’t cost you anything, if you can figure out a way where you make money by helping other people, that’s a nice win win situation. A great example is the show we just did with The Hollywood Vampires playing Rockin’ Rio. It’s very expensive to get to Rio. We’re only doing one show. We wanted to get publicity, and we like to do good stuff. There’s a company called Starkey Hearing Aids Foundation, and we arranged with them for 200 deaf people to be in the hotel the afternoon of the show in Rio. Johnny and Alice and Amber fitted them for hearing aids. They heard for the first time in their life. We got the use of the airplane to take them to the concert, so our transportation expenses were gone. We got a moment in life that nobody will ever forget. We had 16-month-old to 93-year-old people who have never heard, crying and hugging us. Remarkable humans. We played a great concert, and then we came home. We got one billion hits off Johnny and Amber putting in hearing aids. So we got amazing press, a free ride down, and Starkey Foundation and Hearing Aids got a great bang for their dollar. It’s a billion people. We felt like we actually had a reason for us to go down and play the show. Plenty of people will now hear sound. That’s a win win win win win. If you direct your energies into trying to do that all the time, it’s not tough to do. That’s what I’ve always learned. I’ve always tried to do the compassionate act. Choose the win win.
IV. I’m very happy to see cannabis about to be legalized. I think it’s a crime to put people in jail for this. It’s a tool that’s really helped me. I think of cannabis in two ways. One is medicinally as a miracle drug. I’ve seen what it’s done for kids with spasms and people who couldn’t eat when they had cancer treatment. I see it as a less harmful crutch in the recreational area. I view it for myself as a crutch. I think life is a tough journey, and I’ve always used crutches for my whole life, for me mostly marijuana. There were times it was cigarettes, there were times it was blow, there were times it was eating. I’m sure I have some kind of self worth issues. With marijuana I go to sleep, and I don’t hurt anybody else. Creatively, it opened my brain. So I think for both sides of it there’s great value.
V. Joseph Campbell talks in his writing about following your bliss. He gives a practical way of doing it. He says go into a room for fifteen or twenty minutes a day, shut the lights, have no noise, and do what makes you happy. If screaming at the top of your lungs makes you happy, great. If listening to music, if doing nothing, if reading a book, if standing on your head, take twenty minutes and go do something that makes you happy. Follow your bliss. And sooner or later, you’ll start to figure out what makes you happy. That’s what led me to cooking.
VI. We need to talk more about how we treat each other and how we can help real artists. As music managers, we need to find a way for real artists to get to an audience without the filters.