Remembering; All I had (and still have) was ambition, a stubborn, straight plan “A” ambition. Drive. Discipline. One vision. “Today marks 25 years since my very first live performance.”
As far as early 1983, I was 11 years old, watching the likes of Michael Jackson, Simon Le Bon (Duran Duran), Limahl (Kajagoogoo) dominating the MTV networks and teen bop magazines, I knew right there and then, I wanted to become one of them: a performer! I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life in show business and the entertainment world.
You see, I had a very ‘rich’ upbringing; I’m an open minded individual, very European in nature, of Tunisian origins. I think like an American and I was born and raised in Germany, what more can you ask for? Yes, I am very fortunate, a true bon vivant and I consider myself above all, a ‘World Citizen’. I had a very rich upbringing you know. Not meaning money, just culturally speaking. Music is my religion, it was all around me growing up, and it’s the basis in my life, from which everything else spun-off (creatively speaking). Growing up between two different cultures, Europe and Africa, going through nine schools and having all of that at my disposal. The 1970s and 80s in particular helped shape my musical journey and understanding of arts. I grew up listening to the likes of Abba, Kraftwerk, Chic, Japan, Roxy Music, Queen, Boney M and later in the 80s; Duran Duran, Kajagoogoo, Michael Jackson and many more. When I was living in Tunisia for 6 years, my Uncles (I got 5 of them) introduced me to Motown, Soul music and funk, artists like The Temptations, The Commodores and Stevie Wonder, also Earth Wind and Fire, Kool & The Gang, James Brown, Miriam Makeba and to French chanson, like Jacques Brel, Charles Aznavour, Edith Piaf etc. As I got older, I discovered Classical, Opera, Jazz, Swing and other genres. I was very fortunate to have had that musical education (experience.)
But back to 1983 (especially the years from 1982 and 1985, to be precise that decided it all for me)… the birth of the idea, that I wanna be an “artist”, there was NO plan “B”, only “A”. Traveling between two continents at the time, I never gave up on that idea.
From 1983, until 1989, I’ve always tried to figure out how to start, how to get into show business, a band? (although I was in about 3 of them) seemed complicated to me, to deal with the “others”, I guess I’ve been always a solo type of guy. And then by late 1987, Michael Jackson releases “Bad”, some of my friends, and family, especially my mother, told me you have a Michael Jackson look, you move like him… you sound like him. At first I thought they must be joking, but then I started really thinking about it… can it be? So I started practicing “secretly” for hours, days, months… First time I’ve noticed myself: “Holy Crap, I sound like Michael Jackson!”, was with the song “Say Say Say”.
It was until 1989, where I finally transitioned from a fan, to a “performer”. I was ready, ready to do that big step, stepping into the stage that is!
Encouraged by one of my high school-mates, Selim Gökduman, a fellow musician and Turkish saz player (who at the time already was performing in shows & events, invited me to do a 20 minute set). So I made my stage debut TODAY 25 YEARS AGO (on October 14, 1989) at a Turkish Event, in front of an audience of 580 in Lübeck Hansestadt, Germany. My parents were out of town, they didn’t know, and I didn’t tell them, afraid they wouldn’t approve. 580 people in the audience, and my two little sisters in the front row. I performed for the very first time, my heart was pounding, my emotions ran high, I was a nervous wreck, scared, yet electrified… But I was ready for this. I performed as Michael Jackson:
“Greatest Hits” medley (wanna be startin’ somethin’, billie jean, bad, can you feel it, i want you back),
“Man in the Mirror”,
and “Thriller” (I even had a wolf mask).
I wore ankle length black Pants (my Dad’s, and he was shorter than me, which was perfect for the pants), a silvery shoulder pad Jacket (my Mom’s), white v-cut t shirt, and a yellow satin shirt + plus all the accessories (hat, white glove). My hair was similar to the Thriller era, not too long, not too short… Yes “Jheri curls” too!!! I was down to every detail. (There’s a VHS video floating of this major moment of my life in my archives somewhere).
Some people say that certain events change ones life forever. I had a handful of those over the years, and I think I had one of those moments in the year 1989, on October 14th. The evening that changed everything for me, it changed my life, the feedback from the audience was incredible, overwhelming and encouraging at the same time. That gig lead to another gig, and another gig, and many more after that… two years of countless gigging later in 1991, I made another leap… my TELEVISION debut, I never looked back. I knew ‘THIS IS IT’ (no pun intended), and it felt so good and addicting. The journey that started TODAY 25 years ago, took me all around through thick, and thin, success and flops, ups and downs, more rejections than acceptance, through school parties, to mall gigs, weddings parties, tailgate parties on parking-lots, to press & media events, race car events, promotional events of any kind, sporting events, performing in front of 5 (YES 5 PEOPLE) to 10 to 100 to 1000 to 16.000 to 50.000 to millions via TV, to club & fashion events, to radio shows, to television, to theaters, to arenas, to football stadiums, to collaboration with major artists and independent no-names, AND to finally meeting MICHAEL JACKSON himself many times.
Dreams do come true. All I had (and still have) was ambition, a stubborn, straight plan “A” ambition. Drive. Discipline. One vision.
My journey so far had become big, bigger, huge, HUMONGOUS and went AROUND THE WORLD and back. I have seen it all… I really have! And yes, my parents found out, approved and even gave me their blessings & thumbs up, by the time I was on TV and in the newspapers, they knew I was dead serious with this. I am fortunate. I am privileged to have had this AWESOME journey. I regret nothing. I can’t say whether I was lucky or not, maybe… maybe not, I don’t believe much in luck, but I know it was hard work, believing in myself (when no one did), sheering for myself (when no one did).
Here I am TODAY.. living in Los Angeles, California, 25 years (to the day) after my stage debut in hometown Lübeck, Germany, my parents are no longer with me, I have a family of my own, I’m an independent ‘artist’ with my own company based in LA and ties to Sony Music, still a working “artist” (with a big ‘Joker’ grin, the grin of happiness)… writing you this as I’m preparing my next music release later this month of October, putting the final touches on the cover design, wrapping post-production on my latest music video, and working on two movies at the same time. Yep, life is pretty good.
My Special Thanks to Michael Jackson, Simon Le Bon, and Limahl… AND the countless people who came and gone since October 14th, 1989. Thank You Selim Gökduman. Thank You, to each one of you who gave his/ her support of the years, you do mean everything to me. Thank you.
Now, If You’ll Excuse Me, it’s time for Champagne. #Celebration is in order tonight (just like it’s 1989). Stay tuned, the Journey continues… Cheers
Peace & love,
Slim Khezri, October 14th, 2014