It can be a long journey with seemingly no end in sight. And eventually, you either make a living or die trying.
Scott Sturgeon has been playing music since he was 12, but the road he’s traveled was a winding one, rife with trials and tribulations.
However, he’s still going strong. His music has changed drastically over the years, but the musician’s blood still courses through his veins, possibly stronger now than ever.
“I was grounded a lot when I was a kid,” Sturgeon recalled with a laugh. “And we had a baby grand piano, and I was never allowed to leave the house, so I always levitated to that thing.
“My mom showed me how to play one song, and it was kind of on from there.
“I took one piano lesson and that was it. And I was like, this ain’t for me. What you’re trying to teach me isn’t for me.”
So Sturgeon eventually picked up a guitar, but it was the ’80s hair metal bands that first offered inspiration to the budding musician.
“One of my brother’s best friends was a guitar player, and he was the guy. When I watched him play, I wanted to be like that guy.
“And I blame him for doing it,” Sturgeon laughed. “I blame him for me playing guitar.”
And that friend taught him the basic B, C, D chords that would set the guitarist off in to the world to hone his skills.
“It’s one of those natural evolutions from there, really. I would just listen and figure out more chords and I played for about 10 years like that.
“I never really went out in public. For years I just sat in my room and tried to figure it out.
“I went through a lot of guitars doing that.
But country music still hadn’t called on him. It was the thrashing distortion that beckoned him at first and for about three years he played in a heavy metal band called Revolution of Knowledge.
“We toured a little bit in Texas. It just killed my voice so I was kind of done with it.”
Revolution of Knowledge recorded a bit and just as their songs were beginning to pick up some traction, Sturgeon left the band.
But it was for more reasons than just his voice growing hoarse.
He was about to be a father to twin boys.
“And that’s when I decided I couldn’t juggle three things at one time.
“So I quit the heavy metal band and tried to become this average person. Just have a job, take your kids to daycare. I raised them for the first two years of their lives. When I went back to work again, I just wanted to be an average guy.”
So Sturgeon got rid of most of his equipment and settled in to full-time fatherhood. He figured he had woken from his dream of making music.
“I kind of just lost the drive. Lost the will to do it. And in that time it softened me up, being a dad. It changed my perspective on a lot of things.”
But as any true calling, it always has you on speed dial, so Sturgeon eventually went back to doing one of the only things he felt he knew.
“I started up this little thing called the Six String Mafia back at home. We did that for about three months. We played beer joints here and there.
“Then after I broke that deal up, I went upstairs and I wrote the “East Texas Dirt Road Song.”
His first country song.
And though he had been playing for nearly two decades, it was that song that set it all off for the Sturgeon most of us know now.
“I just played beer joints and ALS benefits and stuff like that because it made me feel good.”
And during the benefit shows he played, he noticed people were responding and sending him out to new venues to play and broaden his fan base.
And a chance encounter with a fan began to set things in motion for a bigger, badder, more focused Sturgeon.
“He asked to buy a CD and I told him I didn’t have a CD and he asked why. I told him because that’s a lot of money, and he said, ‘I’ll buy it for you if you just go record.”
So Sturgeon, not really taking the offer seriously, would chat with the man over the next few months who kept insisting Sturgeon get a quote for a recording session. So, to humor the man, he did.
“And it was $5,000 to do five songs. I called him up and asked if he was sitting down and he said ‘Yup’. I told him it was $5,000 and he said, ‘Who do I make the check out to?’”
“So the five-song EP kind of blew up. I honestly probably wouldn’t even be playing today had I not met that guy. I would’ve already wore myself down and just thought nothing was going to happen.”
And now Sturgeon is mere weeks from recording his full length album following his just released EP “Summertime.”
He’s been writing like a madman and already has 40 songs for his 10-song album, so it may not be long after we get another Sturgeon release.
But for now, he’s in a place he finally feels he belongs – touring all over Texas and playing the songs he wrote and gathering new fans along the way.
“My grandpa died in 2001. And his dying words to me as he was lying in bed, out of nowhere, he said, ‘You’re the music man. Go make your music.’
“And for years I never knew what that meant. For the first couple of years I thought it meant just go and play whatever music I wanted to play.
“I’d go out and play heavy metal. That was music to me, I didn’t know any better.
“It all started making sense to me when I came back to writing.
“This is what I think I was supposed to be doing. People ask me about my age and why did I start so late. I didn’t just start. It just took me this long to write these songs.
“I couldn’t have written any of these songs three years ago. Three years ago I didn’t have anything to say.
“Now for some reason the voices won’t stop.”
Paul Gonzales is the entertainment writer at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 116, or at thescene@mySouTex.com.