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The Magic of Music and Recovery

Updated: Jan 7, 2023



As we are well into the holiday season, I thought I'd take this opportunity to remind us of those who may be struggling in life at this time. There are so many people without food, shelter, family and/or loved ones, all over the planet. Some are struggling with illness, poverty, loneliness, and all kinds of addiction. And for those musicians who are struggling with addiction, there is Passenger. A recovery program started in the Mid West that helps touring musicians and their crew stay clean, whilst on the road in unfamiliar cities.


If you read my story on Smokey Robinson you would have been introduced to my friend, Christopher Tait. A working musician living in Motown town, Detroit. He's a musician with many accolades under his belt. His band, Electric Six, has had two top ten hits, he's played on Top of the Pops (a popular UK music show). He's recorded at Abbey Road Studios. And his band has played Glastonbury, Coachella and Lollapalooza. Electric Six has also received awards from Q and Kerrang magazines to name but a few of Chris's musical achievements. He knows what life can be like on the road, touring with a band, and struggling to stay clean. One of his biggest achievements has been staying sober since 2011.


Chris was raised in Detroit, Michigan. Then he moved to LA for a time working as a freelance curator for Apple Music, he moved back to Detroit with his wife, two dogs, and they now have a new baby, Clara. Chris and I chat weekly, and the other day we had a nice long talk about the recovery program he created in Detroit. Before this conversation I never realized how challenging it would be for musicians on the road to stay away from the things they may crave most, drugs and alcohol. They're faced with people in the band or crew partying all the time. Post show, many ending the night in a bar or a green room with as many drugs or drink as they would ever want. It would be near impossible for someone who wanted to remain clean and sober to be living this way. So Chris and Passenger provides a clean way. Meetings, programs and even a clean green room to chill when the gig ends.


When Chris got sober in 2011, in 2016 he then formed a non profit recovery program called, Passenger (named from the Iggy Pop song). Passenger gives support to those people in the music biz on the road that reach out for help. The Passenger recovery program started in Detroit and the UK, because in these two places there was virtually no recovery programs easily accessible for those who are in need. So Chris filled the void. And now Passenger is far reaching, as its online. Since the pandemic and so much is on zoom, its opened the doors to helping many more people on a very global scale. Passengers' primary purpose is to support all who wish to achieve or maintain recovery. Passenger embraces all faiths, creeds, colors and walks of life. So no one is turned away.


Chris was describing how Passenger has personally helped many. When we think of touring musicians we think of party people who when they finish their gigs in unfamiliar cities happen to end up in a bar or dressing room with a bounty of booze, and drugs at their fingertips. Chris answers calls from those musicians on the road, who chose not to be surrounded with their addictions. They chose to be picked up from the bar or club post show to have a safe, clean space to chill. He answers calls from crew and artists that need to not be in these environments. When I say he answers their calls....he literally answers their calls, and picks them up and takes them back to the Passenger premises and they hang out in their "clean green room" (which I refer to as 'Sanctuary'), with non alcoholic beverages, snacks and serenity. They find an island of safety and comfort by not being surrounded with the temptations that comes with fighting the cravings of addiction. And as you can imagine, its a big problem being on the road in the music industry. He even has futons all over the place and has put people up and given them a little respite from being surrounded with the temptations and the possibility of relapsing. Staying clean and sober is difficult at the best of times. But when you're surrounded with the temptations that you're trying so desperately to avoid, its living on a fine line daily of being tripped up, with the possibility of relapsing. How wonderful and amazing that a place like this exists. Not dissimilar from being at a Xmas or Thanksgiving dinner with family all drinking in front of you, if alcohol is your poison!


The pandemic has given the world a method in which to delve into programs to keep one on the right path in the way of sobriety. There are now zoom rooms all times of the day or night, that you can virtually attend as long as you have wifi and a device. Passenger in Detroit takes it one step further by physically being there for the struggling musician in an unfamiliar city. Providing a safe place to 'be' with the positive re-enforcements needed to keep clean and sober. And in the music industry where its so easy to relapse, this is such an incredibly important achievement.


In the last few years many celebrities are 'coming out' and talking about their addictions. Personal horror stories from Mathew Perry, Macklemore, Russell Brand, Anthony Hopkins, Nicky Sixx, Lawrence Tolhurst (The Cure), and so many more. In the past we've also lost so many in the music business to drink and drugs. To name but a few....Amy Winehouse, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Elvis Presley, Keith Moon, Taylor Hawkins, Kurt Cobain, Derby Crash, Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston.....etc etc etc, the list is endless.


I wish there were more places like Passenger sprinkled around the planet for musicians to have a safe place to hang whilst on the road...but we seem to be moving in the right direction at least. If you'd like to reach out to them, please do - PassengerRecovery@gmail.com. Or contact them by phone at: (313) 288-0062. Or if you are experiencing an emergency, you can call the Common Ground crisis hotline: (800) 231-1127. They have listings for AA, Refuge Recovery, NA, NAMI, Music Cares, and other meetings at, https://passengerrecovery.com/online-meeting/

There are articles and links to audio/video shares for recovery and mindfulness, as well as partners in other towns who are here to help. And plenty of other resources at: https://passengerrecovery.com/resource/ Another great place that I love is, Refuge Recovery World Services: https://www.refugerecovery.org Created by Noah Levine, Refuge Recovery adds meditiation to the mix of growth, healing and sobriety. Its gentle, kind and even fun!


If you need help or advice please reach out to Passenger and they'll help you. And if they cant for any reason, they'll point you in the right direction, (313) 288-0062.


You dont have to be an addict or an alcoholic to seek help. You can simply love and care for one and seek recovery for yourself. Does a parent, sibling, partner, friend, lover, or child, have a drinking problem or an addiction of some kind? Are you a people pleaser and want so badly to help them? Living and/or loving an addict can have a plethora of problems. You simply cant and shouldn't do it alone. If you love someone that is affected by alcoholism or any kind of addiction there are so may wonderful organizations that you can reach out to for help and guidance. You cant fix them. They have to do it. You can only fix yourself. "You cant control their addiction, you cant cure it, you cant change it and you didnt cause it." "Every being is responsible for their own actions!"


For the 'helper' (I'll call the non addict that just wants the best for their loved one)...There are 12 step programs such as, Alanon, AA, NA, Music Cares, ACA and others. There are also wonderful gentle (non 12 step) Buddhist led organizations such as, Refuge Recovery, and Dharma Punx. They include meditation in every meeting. Which can be a godsend to some. None of these organizations are affiliated with any religions, sect or politics. All are free to attend. And the path, can be a mind blowing, beautiful life changing, healing journey. Offering a strong support system, when you dont know what is happening to your loved one and your world may be imploding, there is help! The communities and fellowship you can receive and be a part of, in any of these organizations can be your own life support to a healthier, happier you. None of us are perfect, and all of us can use help in this bumpy road we call life. The communities in these organizations can help one navigate this journey a lot better with others supporting and lighting the way. Its much softer than doing it alone and without guidance. Once you reach out for help on your journey, whether you're an addict or merely someone who loves an addict, you can find healing, growth, spirituality and so much love and support. Instead of walking in the dark to find your way, "let the truth of love be lighted". And I feel the light can be provided by the fellowship in these loving organizations.

Whatever your struggles are, please seek help. You have no idea how much healing can be done. One never graduates from recovery of any kind. Its a life long journey that I wish for everyone. The healing that comes from it is positively mind blowing. And the people you meet along the way are such amazing humans that have overcome immense difficulties all stemming from dysfunctional childhoods of varying types and issues. Please be kind and loving to each other this and every holiday season. Someone you know may be struggling at that family dinner table or post gig, with their own internal demons on this path called life. Be kind, forgiving and charitable, and always always love each other... LIFE IS SHORT! ❤️




I've asked Chris to send me a few photos, (below). The first is a gig they played at Shepherds Bush Empire in London 2019. Then, Electric Six playing Glastonbury, Hamtramck Labor Day Festival 2022, Artists in Recovery panel - National Recovery Month 2022, Shepherd's Bush London 2019, Milk/Moscow/2018, Belle Ghoul/Webster Hall/Patti Smith NYE.




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Fantastic article, Cheryl!

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