Wanna hear something hilarious?

This memory just occurred to me, and still haunts me a little.

When I was in my mid-20s, back in the early 90s, I met Stu Phillips, who composed the original theme for the 1970s TV show Battlestar Galactica and also, I think, the theme for Quincy, ME, a 1980s show.

Stu Phillips listened to my music and told me I was basically a no-talent and should quit music and find something else to do.

This was terribly discouraging, and probably did contribute to my lifetime on-again, off-again relationship with music. I wish I had been more constant through the years, as I am now. But life happens. I can laugh about it now, but that still stings.

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Ouch! That was… not a very nice thing to say, to put it in a polite way.

Also terribly uninformed. “Talent” is basically BS. To the extent it even exists by any useful definition, it’s just raw material. What matters is the hard, focused work you put into getting good at something that you’re passionate about.


Heh, I bet we all met that someone who told us we are mediocre and nevergonnabe.

When I was 16 y.o. I played drums in a rock band and we were finalists in a local talent show that was broadcasted on the TV. It really was a huge thing for me, since our band started getting attention. Anyway, we were at the TV studio to shoot something for a TV show while a renown composer, old “gentleman” approached me and told “Boy, you hear that (music playing in the background)? That’s G major. You are never going to be like me! Between me and you, there are 2 trains wagons of books, you hear that. You are never going to be like me!” and slapped me softly on the cheek as if I was his son. Good things is that my Karate mindset stopped me from ripping his guts out for being so rude and aggressive.That happened in front of my bandmates and I’m sure he picked me in a random manner. He was also drunk, I assume.

Fast forward 15 or more years, I am now enjoying producer/composer life and I’ve long forgotten about this ignorant fool, no matter how “big” he is.

Don’t let people discourage you! Walk your way in the path of music and let no one interfere! Art is divine and no human can judge you!


Yeah, I don’t think Stu Phillips actually used the word “no-talent,” but he in so many words encouraged me to give it up.

It’s so sad to hear that this incident had such a downer effect on your musical life. This is why it is so incredibly important to surround yourself with encouraging, motivating, helpful and most importantly “empathic and understanding” people. Because then, a few nay-sayers and complainers will not matter that much any more.

In a way, that is why I created this community. As I want to create that amazing atmosphere that feeds our creative minds and pushes everyone’s spirit upwards! :slight_smile:


Yikes! But congrats on brushing yourself off and carrying on with music - for so many people, a comment like that would have ended any relationship they had with music.

Dealing with rejection is one thing, but dealing with actual criticism from someone I assume you admired / respected is another thing altogether.

Glad you’re able to laugh about it now!


He wasn’t like one of my heroes, but his words certainly had power with me. At the time I wasn’t trying to score films. I wanted to be a singer-songwriter.

If today I were told to give it up by John Williams or Alan Silvestri, I would be knocked out cold. Not sure how I’d handle that.

That wasn’t the first time I’d been told to give up a creative pursuit. I had a creative writing professor in college tell me I was too unimaginative to succeed as a fiction writer and I should seek a less creative field. That devastated me and I never wrote fiction again, but I had another professor who was familiar with my writing who picked me up and told me she was wrong and that I had great talent she simply hadn’t been awake enough to see. So that helped.

Man, teachers have to be careful with their words! I think maybe I’ve had some bad luck with discouraging teachers, which has affected me for years.

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When I was in high school my tech teacher told me “I would not make it in electronics” …I hold intellectual property rights on advanced DSP systems for military applications …I send him my picture receiving my technical innovation award and captioned it “thanks for your support”… I was 23 years old…I built my first radio receiver from scratch at 12 …


Omg I love this

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We’ve all had a kick in the teeth at some point … it drives us harder to be better…

I wish it always had that effect on me. I think I’m more Sensitive than most. I have had to learn to force myself to get back up and keep going after a kick in the teeth. Bouncing back is not my natural instinct, unfortunately.
But I do think grit can be learned and practiced, with commitment

Everett, my daughter is at a major engineering university … in one program unknown to them the mid term exam was actually set up for failure. Everybody crashed on this exam… it was deliberately done as the majority of students had never experienced failure… the objective was to see how well they could emotionally recover …dirty trick but a good lesson to learn

That would reveal who naturally recovers.

But as I say above, some need to be taught grit. I didn’t learn it until I was in my 40s.

When I was working the DSP project … One of the main engineering firms that pretty much wrote the bible sent a rep from their military division to see what we were trying to accomplish… NATO … we were told that it “could not be done” , they had “looked at it before”, there was “no practical application even if the technology worked” …guess what … you now have GPS …!!


It’s sometimes hard to go against the flow especially when other people who hold credentials and an ego say it can’t be done …my bosses were very supportive …

Years ago I got to go and see the band "Kansas they had a hit single called “dust in the wind” … I was a fairly accomplished guitar player at that point …I was happy with my skill set and thought my guitar skills had been moving along pretty good … We went to see Kansas and I was totally amazed at the technical precision and skill the violinist had …then he switched to guitar … The guy was like Eddie van Halen on steroids … he was better on guitar then violin. I was emotionally crushed watching him play flawlessly and effortlessly things I had struggled with …I was crippled and put my guitar in the closet for a month and walked away from it …