Tad Donley

Had a rough time with my Dad as a kid. Messed me up. Jealous of my Mom’s love. Most of the time, he was alright, but the first 12 years… low self-esteem, confusion, hurt, guilt, shame. Had to swallow my feelings. Had trouble with confrontation. Was never my own “little man” running around. Engrained. Since I was 2 years old, it was obvious – music. Bought the forty-fives. Fats Domino, Neil Sedaka… and then The Beatles! Last day of 6th grade, I performed my first 2 original songs to a packed school auditorium – cheering! I was on my way. When I was 15, 16, and 17, we lived in a million-dollar mansion in Hong Kong overlooking the ocean. Two servants and a chauffeur. Dignitaries – famous people – actors! would stay the night. My parents’ rapture to newfound fame left my brother and I free to do as we wish… to get away. Smoked cigarettes and drank alcohol like our parents. Pot. Pills. …after school. Party’d in the clubs downtown in Wan Chai. But kept writing songs – learning on my own how to play guitar.
Instead of encouraging me and backing me up, Dad told me I wasn’t good enough. Just like Johnny Cash’s father – who was the only performer my dad liked! Is that irony or what?
Houston. In 79, I DJ’d at Cardi’s. dance clubs, Country/Western, Marriot. Led to Performing six nights a week for several years with THE KIDS. Back to the clubs. In 87, Mike Heinicke and I formed the band, VENUS – performing only my original songs.
One guy introduced me to crack. All it took was three times one week… I was ruthlessly hooked throughout the whole band’s tenure. I should have died many, many times, but someone “higher” HAD to have kept me alive! Throughout those four years, no one knew. I was so lonely. But on the outside, VENUS – with my music – became the band to see! We headlined. No band dared to play after us. Even a national act! Performed at the famous Rockafellers. Neil Young, Stephen Stills – only the great ones played there. (The movie: “VENUS – THE ASYLUM CONCERT, AUGUST 31, 1992”) Finally, in late 1992, the addiction left me broke, no car, no home – walked out of a motel room on a sunny day in south Houston, overlooking the shore waves. Nowhere to go. Shook my head – looked up to the sky… and said, “Ok, God. You got me where you want me. I have to ask you for help.” In a flash!, I knew. Get a ride from the family leaving next to me, stay the night with one friend, and get into The Shoulders, a Christian-based recovery center. I quit the band. Narcissistic, emotionally numb, mercilessly addicted to crack – like a stiff, dead dog lying on a dark, cold street. No one could get through. Only God… barely! I knew it was God, but I still resented him. He had to show me he was not like my dad. Part of the journey. He never gave up. Orchestrated the whole thing. When each problem reared up, the solution appeared instantly! Amazing! Learned to erase thousands of bad tapes and replaced them with “Jesus loves me and accepts me just the way I am, and I’m OK.” It really worked! What used to anger me only prompted a smile and peace.

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