Desmond Child – I’m driven for everything. And I love life and I want everything

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Surely you listen to his songs every day on the radio, no matter what station you put on. When we are talking about Desmond Child we are talking about a living legend of the music industry with six consecutive decades with No.1 hits! As you probably have noticed in our several interviews with him over the years, he loves Greece and he always said that he wanted to play a show in our country. Well, his dream is about to become reality in a few days as he will be performing at the legendary Herodium ancient theater and actually for a noble cause; the return of the Parthenon sculptures.

Even after so many interviews if you thought that you won’t hear something new, you are in for a few surprises. This time the composer reveals why he wasn’t wearing any shows in photoshoots, he tells the real story of “Livin’ On A Prayer” and he is spoiling a surprise on the setilist of the 27th of June show.

Below, you can read the whole interview, while in the video you can enjoy his reaction when he is given the magic bag, which contains several items connected to his career. “This is like the ghost of Christmas past” he commented about our “bag of tricks”…

Interview: Sakis Nikas, camera: Yiannis Dolas, editing/post production: OneManArmy

And… Action!

Rockpages.gr: So Desmond, welcome to Greece once again. I always told you that the time would come, that you would perform one concert in Greece. The time has come. How do you feel about it, especially for such a noble cause?

Desmond Child: Ι’m absolutely thrilled. Many friends have always said: “when are you going to come and play your songs in Greece”? And finally, I’m so thrilled. Phoebus came to the rescue and put this whole thing together with Spicy events. And I could not be happier. And especially because we have, you know, a special guest, also very close, George Lembesis who is going to be in the show. And he has been very helpful in putting this all together as well. So it’s been a community effort and I couldn’t be happier especially to be here for this very, very deep cause, which is the return of the Parthenon sculptures. I’m supposed to say “#reuniteparthenon”, but we all know that they belong here. This is their birthplace and this is where they should be. And I’m so glad to hear that talks are starting to happen, the doors are opening and so absolutely thrilled that Italy sent some pieces over couple of weeks ago.

The world is recognizing that when something is so important to a country, it’s part of their cultural heritage it should be taken seriously and really looked at. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with artwork from all over the world, being in museums where everyone can see, you know, but something that sacred is different. And you feel that about these sculptures. They’re made out of marble. And I always say, there’s a soul inside these marbles. You feel it.

Rockpages.gr: And I’m sure there were many who couldn’t make it. Would you like to tell a few names that couldn’t make it?

Desmond Child: Let’s talk about the ones that could make it. I don’t want to talk about those that are missing out on all the fun. I’m so absolutely thrilled that Alice Cooper is showing up. And, you know, we have such a great relationship. Our album, “Trash” has become a classic and the song “Poison” an all time classic song for all time. And also Bonnie Tyler, who I enjoyed so much working with. We worked on an album called “Hide Your Heart”. And that song I wrote with Paul Stanley and Holly Knight, and that was one of the most finest and most enjoyable albums I ever made. Because she’s such a great person and she’s one of the most prepared artists that I’ve ever worked with. She comes in with the songs memorized. Who does that? Usually artists will come with their scribbled lyrics and pieces of paper falling off and getting back on. And they’re reading the lyrics over here and it’s like the microphone is over here…. But she is such a professional that she knows the job of a singer, which is, first of all, you have to feel what you’re singing and you can’t be feeling what you’re singing if you’re reading it from a page. It’s impossible to do both things. So every note she sings, she’s feeling it. And if she’s feeling it, you’re feeling it.

Rockpages.gr: Speaking of Alice Cooper. Every single time that we’re doing an interview with Alice Cooper, he doesn’t fail to mention your importance in his career. So, are you going to work again with Alice? For a couple of songs maybe. What can you tell us about it?

Desmond Child: Well, we wrote a song last summer with Phoebus and Andreas Carlsson. And, you know, that song is hidden away for a special moment. We had written some songs with Bob Ezrin. “I’m Made of You”. That was a couple of albums back, Oh, I just love Alice. Whenever he comes to Nashville, he comes over for dinner and we get a chance to tell war stories and catch up on everything. And I hope that someday I’ll get a chance to write and produce with him again. Like, not just a song here and there.

Rockpages.gr: How about a whole album? “Trash” number two?

Desmond Child: Well, I said “Trash 2” and then he came on and he said, “stop talking trash”, because he was promoting the current album. So, I think that when you wish something, it always comes true. When you know you have it, you see it, it’s clear. I’m feeling it.

Rockpages.gr: Did you expect back then when you were writing “Livin’ On A Prayer” with Richie and Jon, that it would have such a huge impact?

Desmond Child: Well, you know, when you’re creating something, you’re in the moment. You know, you never know what’s going to happen. That song had a majesty, a kind of upward lift that just exuded hope. And at that time, Jon was thinking about making a more hard rock record. So when we wrote the song, he was a little bit… the song a bit sentimental. It’s a bit soft, and he said “I was hoping we could rock harder”. And Richie and I literally got on our hands and knees and begged him to record it. I mean, half joking, but half for real. Just record it! See what happens…

As soon as they started recording it… Magic! And everyone felt it, and there was no way of turning back. The song has a life of its own. It really does. So many people, so many generations know the song. Sometimes they don’t even know where the song came from or who the artist is. You know, that song is one of those. And it’s known all around the world. And it was so touching when the whole city of Chicago started singing, “Livin’ On A Prayer” through the windows to hear each other during COVID. That really touched my heart. And what I love about going to see Bon Jovi is that you’ll see people there from so many generations. You’ll see little babies on the shoulders, you know, with their head headphones on, and the parents are there rocking with their fists in the air. And then the grandparents are there. The great grandparents are there. Really old people, people of every color are there, you know, from all walks of life. And when they’re singing, “Livin’ on a Prayer”, which is always the last song, so no one can leave until they hear it. So, he’s keeping them there till midnight if necessary. No one will leave. And when they sing that song, they put on the lights. You can’t even hear the band playing it because everybody sings, screaming it out.

And so that’s when I stand there and I look around and I go: “Wow, they all know a song that I had something to do with”. And that’s a very profound feeling of pride. Let’s say all my songs are forgotten. That one won’t be forgotten. And you have dozens of songs that won’t be forgotten, of course. “Livin’ on a Prayer” may be at the top of the list, possibly. But then you have so many songs that it won’t be forgotten.

Rockpages.gr: I know that you’ve been working on your autobiography for quite some time. Tell us something about it.

Desmond Child: Yes. I’ve been working on it now for six years. It’s called “Livin’ on a Prayer: Big songs, Big Life” with David Ritz, my co-writer. And it has 100 pictures in it. It’s crazy because, you’re only supposed to have like 20 pictures in a book… It has 100 pictures. So as I’m telling the story, you see the picture. So you don’t have to wait till the middle of the book with the shiny pages. It’s all the way through illustrating the stories that I’m telling. And I’m very proud of it. This week we got our final draft. And, you know, as life goes on, more things happen. So I keep adding chapters. And so one of the last chapters is my experience of working with Barbra Streisand, which was a life lifelong goal of mine. And it’s a fantastic chapter. It’s every little detail of everything having to do with, you know, eating with her, working with her, what the room looked like. Everything is in it. So, I think people will enjoy the book. It’s a real journey. And you don’t even see the name “Bon Jovi” ‘till the middle of the book. Because, so many things happened before. It goes back and forth in time a little bit, but I’ve had a very big life and lately, maybe it’s because we’ve been rehearsing for the show and there’s one hit after the other.

And I was like: “Wow, I made it”. But when you’re like me… I always say, I wake up a loser and hope that when I get to bed at night, I’m a winner by the end of the day. Then, I start the next day a loser. Like, “what am I going to do?” “How am I going to make it today?” “Who do I have to call?” “Who do I have to email?” “Let’s finish that demo” “Let’s finish”. “Let’s keep going”. That’s the way it’s been for me, because I grew up very poor and my mother was a songwriter. She was a single mom and she supported me and my brother Fred. She was writing songs and poems, trying to make it in a business that was male dominated at that time, and especially in Latin music.

Rockpages.gr: If you had to use one word to describe yourself, which word would that be?

Desmond Child: Driven. I’m driven for everything. And I love life and I want everything. I want to taste the best food, drink the best wine. I have the most beautiful family. My husband and I have been together for 33 years and we’ve had the time of our lives.

I’m not one that that really saves money. I just spend it and live it. We just spend it to the last, because I want to live every second of my life the fullest I can. “Everybody, let’s go on a boat, let’s rent a boat. Let’s go”. Boom! It’s always been that way. And I love big dinners, you know, where everybody is contributing to the conversation. And that’s why I love Greece, because we sit at tables, sometimes it’s 50 people that you can barely see. The kids always sit on the other side playing chess. They play double boards with all their Greek friends, everybody standing around, you know, weighing in on what’s going on. And  the grown-ups are on the other side. That’s why, I love my life here. This is our 15th trip to Greece and we’re going to keep coming back. That’s why I feel so close to the Greek people, because we have a special family, but we’ve never experienced anything unpleasant. Maybe, if someone didn’t know or something the minute they meet us, Controversy over. And that’s how it should be. I think we’re very good ambassadors, you know, to the world coming from where we’re coming from.