Mike McAlpine is an award winning writer with many awards under his belt. I met Mike thirty years ago while performing live shows at The Ugly Stink in Portland, Oregon. At that time, I didn’t know who Mike McAlpine was. Since that time I have become familiar with Mike’s work, including his five album long “Love This House” project with longtime friend and band mate Scott Weiland. Mike and I have since gone on numerous tours together, performed at various venues around the country, and have become friends.
I first learned of Mike McAlpine through a song title from a song by The Rolling Stones, which was called,”Red Hot Chili Peppers.” The song lyrics suggested something about a groupie who took advantage of a group who wasn’t real. A groupie who wore the clothes; drank the beer; frequented the strip joints; and did the drugs. It was a drug den like atmosphere. It wasn’t far from the truth about the lifestyle these people (band members and crew) lived. Mike, who is still married today, is telling his version of how it really went down; which to me is a great story to hear about.
Mike’s description of the lifestyle he grew up in is interesting. He grew up on a north west coast in what was then considered to be rural Oregon. Oregon is famous for it’s scenic beauty, and beautiful wild life. Mike grew up near Astoria, OR, right where the popular Rose Garden lies, and went on to live for several years in Portland, OR, a city famous for it’s liberal political views and thriving music scene. This is where he got the idea for creating The Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Mike’s first writing experience came as a teen trying to get his words out. His first published piece was a song called “Reelin’ in the Years.” After some time, he moved to Los Angeles and joined the band War, which was one of the biggest names in the world at that point. Mike would go on to write for a number of artists including Jodie Foster, and David Lee Roth.
In the mid 90’s, Mike was diagnosed with cancer, which is why he was forced to give up the acting career. He wanted to focus on fighting this disease, and remain active in his community. His wife, also a singer, gave him all the encouragement he needed. She wrote him many letters, which helped him deal with the depression that came with his diagnosis.
While the focus of this book is Mike’s personal story, you can also glean some great lessons from reading through it. For instance, did you know that most successful musicians from the rock era spent much of their time at home? Did you know Melvyn Bragg said that home is where the heart is? I don’t know anyone who believes that the arts are strictly left-brain activity, but if you do, by reading this book, then you might change your mind.