Why People Think I am Rich

July 13th, 2012 Posted in Uncategorized

Today’s post is going to be radically honest and a bit controversial.

Every since I moved away from my parent’s home in Houston, TX I have noticed something fascinating over the years. I have especially noticed this when people meet my parents. I do not come from a wealthy family by any means. I grew up in a middle class family where my parents scratched and clawed and saved everything they had to send me and my sister to college.

We had paper routes, collected newspapers, aluminum cans and I could count the times we went out to eat as children on one hand.

Ask my sister, we always went camping, participated in free piano lessons at the park and my childhood was very loving and supportive but definitely not one of any thing remotely extravagant.

Due to this fact that my parents denied themselves everything so that me and my sister could have a better life I learned the value of hard work first hand. My first love was art and I excelled at it. My self portrait I painted in middle school went all the way to win 1st place in New York and I was awarded a full scholarship to The Glassel School of Art in Houston, TX.

This was an honor because my family would not have near the resources to send me to a school this expensive and prestigious.

It was in The theater district of downtown Houston right next the the DeMenil museum and the The Museum of Fine Art. Overnight I was exposed to a different demographic of friends and mentors at this school. I became fascinated with Salvador Dali and read everything I could find about him. I learned how he rejected the idea of the “starving artist” and the limiting beliefs of so many that they could never flourish from their art. He believed in business and opulence and living grandiosely and to the fullest. He became my first role model. He was even friends with Alice Cooper and Maxwell Maltz. How cool is that?

When I got to college I will never forget my first girlfriend and my Jewish buddy meeting my parents for the first time. They saw my dad’s old 1980’s Toyota Forerunner that was far from anything that I guess they assumed my parent’s would drive. I remember both of them saying “Eric, I thought your parent’s were rich” Loving my Mom and Dad as much as I do and never having thought about it their statement at the time bothered me. My dad is 84 years young and the whole time I have known him in my life he has driven 3 vehicles. A Chevrolet Pickup he drove for 20 years, A Chevy Blazer he drove for 10 and his Toyota Forerunner he has with over 250,000 miles on it. That’s it three vehicles all bought with cash. My beloved Crown Victoria which I have driven for 12 years has 239,000 miles on it.

I wonder where I learned that from?

I remember a local musician and computer repair guy stating to me once while at my house “Yeah you and your buddy Trey sure know how to spend money. I have seen the extravagant parties you throw. It must be nice to be a trust fund baby” I was offended by that and still am. I lost any respect I had for him after that due to one simple fact. He does not know how to live. I know how to live and If I have $80 cash to my name and I go to a steakhouse and the best rib eye on the menu is $69.95 I will order it. I will enjoy it and I will not scroll up and down the menu and get some lesser item that is cheaper just because I believe I do not deserve it. (Thank You Salvador Dali)

I remember years ago after there was a feature on me on the front page of the Denton Record Chronicle a local established guitar teacher wrote me a nice letter. We ended up getting together for a beer and he asked me “How much are you charging for lessons” I told him and he was shocked. He had 20 years experience on me and was charging half of what I charged. I told him that he should charge more as he was selling himself short. I still am way more expensive than any one in my region for private study. Why? It’s simple; I value my time and you should too. It might cost more to study with me but it comes with a guarantee that you have my undivided focus and attention on you and I have a network and “who list” that is simply priceless. You can get in 4 lessons with me confidence that would take 2-3 years in most programs. Ask anyone who has ever studied with me. The results speak for themselves.

This get’s me to something that I thought about yesterday. For over 15 years I have been attending the improvised performances of a local musician named Paul Slavens. I have had more fun and found more joy in his performances than almost anything I have come across in the entertainment business. I have brought friends to his shows from Montreal, France, Japan and Czech Republic. The way his show works is you give him a song title and whatever money you think the song is worth and Paul and his band make up the tune on the spot. This makes for an interesting dynamic as depending on the crowd and the level of drinking going on as well as myriad factors the show takes on a life of it’s own. I can’t tell you how many times I have walked into his performances and there are a bunch of passive cheap folks in the audience giving these lame $2-3 dollar songs and the energy at the gig will start limp. Because I love what he does and I realize that money is simply just energy I always encourage me and my friends to pitch in and up the energy. Me and Big Dog and Eric Delegard will start pitching $20 tunes and the room takes on a whole new level. I can’t tell you how many times I have went to that gig with $160 bucks or so cash in my pocket and went home broke. I don’t care I have a great time and I can create more energy (money) the next day and that’s the way to live.

A good friend of mine recently related to me that my name came up during a conversation with Paul and some disparaging remarks came up about “Oh Yeah, Eric Keyes” he’s rich and must be nice blah blah blah” sound familiar?

Anyone that reads this blog knows I do not give a shit what anyone thinks about me as I know who I am and what I am about and most importantly where I come from. I am not text book rich yet (“yet” being the key word) but well on my way and I can look back at the last 2 years and I am so proud of all that I have accomplished.

Paul does not truly know me and I understand that. I like him a lot and will reach out to him and we can can solve any of the limiting beliefs he has about me over a few beers. I am probably the most misunderstood person I know. Why? It’s very simple, I know how to live.

He said some nice things about me a few months ago when I got the Beardo’s all riled up with an honest blog about apathy in the music business.

I have a great friend and mentor in businessman Jim Gardner, I was relating to him a few years ago all these myriad stories about people thinking I am rich and then meeting my parents and seeing my background and them not being able to understand. Jim looked me right in the eye and said

“Eric, the reason people think you are rich is because you are, you know how to live”

Jim is a man of few words and it was so enlightening to hear it put that simple. People think because I am in music I must have some “trust fund” of other pipe dream to do what I do. Sorry folks, can’t help you there. It’s called passion, desire and pure hard work. I learned it from my parent’s who are the hardest working people I know. I just found out my Mom is Jewish. I am so proud I always knew it. I do not believe the music business is hard.

I believe all business is hard work. That’s why I work so hard at it. Owning your own hot dog stand is hard. I have way more respect for someone who owns their own hot dog stand than I do for a sheep that sit’s in a cubicle bitching all day about a job they hate.

That’s why I invite anyone who has the foolish belief that I have been handed some kind of silver platter to come work with me and my assistant Melissa for a week. You will be exhausted and subjected to 15-16 hour days real quick. Melissa has an incredible work ethic. That’s why I call her Honey Badger. All of the rhino’s on my team are the same kind of folks. Racehorse Haynes is a self made man. So is Allan Holdsworth, Clint Strong, Rafe Foreman, Jim Gardner, John Aruzian and any other of the people I hang around including me.

I am not what I consider rich yet, but well on my way. I have a wealth of experience that I would put up against anyone and I am just getting started. Money is just energy and I have more energy than I know what to do with. So truthfully I AM RICH.

Much Love,


  1. 8 Responses to “Why People Think I am Rich”

  2. By Lisa V. on Jul 13, 2012

    yup, that Gardner guy is a pretty smart cookie… :)

  3. By Missy Ormand on Jul 13, 2012


    Love this post! So true….and that is why I fell in love with Steve! He has taught me how to live, truly LIVE, not just exist!

    Thanks for sharing! Hope you are well!


  4. By paul slavens on Jul 13, 2012

    Hey Eric. You are a mysterious man. And in many ways you come across as unorthodox and unusual. You always have. Big deal, just another freak in a town of freaks. Well, its a small town too, and eventually you get talked about no matter who you are, but if you are a semi-public figure, or a mysterious denizen, you might get more than your share. Add in that most of the talking is done drunk and eventually something will probably get back to you that you dont like. Sorry if you heard something attributed to me that you were hurt by. Its a good rule of thumb to shut up about things you dont know about. I dont follow that rule so good. I dont know that much about you, and thats for sure. But I do know that you have always been supportive of me, friendly to me and a wonderful host. If I paid you back by insulting you, I am sorry.

  5. By Eric on Jul 14, 2012

    Hey Paul, thanks for writing back. I just wanted to reach out to you directly because I dig your style and I realize that people can and will say just about anything. It’s like Holdsworth says “No one ever talks about you when you are not doing anything”. It”s funny your name comes up a lot when I am in public conversation as well. I always considered you one of the mavens of the music circle in our small town. Women tend to talk to me about you a lot. Which is a good thing. Chick’s dig you :-)
    I just thought it would be good if we got to know each other. I hear the thing get back to me about me supposedly being rich and since i come from the background I do it’s a sensitive issue for me in many ways. I believe in living life to the fullest. That’s why I used to throw those crazy sushi parties. I never had the money to do it. I would just work like crazy and make it happen. It was such a lesson in life to see how those little sushi parties grew into Kei’s restaurant which ironically I can hardly afford to go to now :-)
    No feelings hurt here I just wanted to be real with you as you seem like someone worth getting to know better. I also love to laugh and you have created levels of laughter in me and my friends life that are simply unforgettable. There are a lot of slackers and creme puffs who live their lives from fear and I have been pissing them off since I was a kid. So I have just surrendered to that. I am in Houston for my Mom’s birthday I look forward to catching your show when I get back. Let’s get the beers as well.
    Cheers :-)

  6. By Jim McNeely on Jul 14, 2012

    Great post! You are a good guitar teacher, and you lead a great and interesting life. It makes me miss Denton, although I love living in the pacific northwest. Bellingham reminds me of Denton a bit. I’m glad I got to know you for a few years.

  7. By Heather on Jul 14, 2012

    After 16 years of knowing you I must say that in spite of the knowledge of a person that comes with that amount of time, I still love ya! On a serious note, I’ve always been on the receiving end of your generous heart and good nature, and I’m sure you’ve probably influenced me when I was younger as much as my brothers did. It definitely reflects in my musical tastes! lol! Unfortunately, people will say stuff, and I think that how it’s handled by both parties afterward is what makes the difference. I know I’m glad to have you as part of my family, as I know John and Eileen are (or as I call them, Ma and the Old Man ;-) ) as every time any of us gets the chance to take a visit with you we come away with loveliest memories. Screw the small town politics and know that there are a LOT of people out there who love you. And for God’s sake don’t ever change.

  8. By Celia Milner on Jul 16, 2012

    Hi – I am Eric’s cousin. My mother, his dad and my other uncle were raised in a VERY middle class family. Our grandfather was a mechanic and grandmother an “ahead of her time” do it yourselfer. They raised 3 kids during the depression and “made do” with what they had. Our families were and are strong, proud and hardworking. Our vacations were camping & fishing trips to Matagorda or family trips to Refugio and Goliad to visit Great Aunts & Uncles. We had family “get togethers” that consisted of southern food, home made ice cream and watermelon. Simple, but good. Eric, keep living your dream, you are comfortable in your skin so don’t worry about what people think. I have to deal with the “rich” thing too – it was all self made by hard work, sacrifice and perseverance ~ no “lucky sperm club” here! Several of us in our generation have come too close to death – so yes, live life to its fullest and roll with it. Glad you are recuperating and getting stronger. Big hug cuz. Celia

  9. By Ernie Mansfield on Jul 16, 2012

    Eric, you ARE RICH!! Just like Jim Garner says. And, as my guru Steve Chandler says, “Who cares what people think?” I am SO glad that you are recovering from the shooting, and I wish you well. It is SWEET that Paul Slavens wrote to you in this blog, that is precious. AND, what a concept, Paul! The making-up a song,,, I love it!! Of course, I have seen that before in improv theatre, but the tipping idea,, so great!! Thanks, guys, for making my day!

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