Like me, you probably went to rock concerts as a kid and fantasized about being onstage, with thousands of cheering fans hanging onto your every word, your every note.
Being a rock star was always a top-of-the-list childhood fantasy.
And it was just that, a fantasy. You likely abandoned those dreams early and settled into reality. But deep down, you always wondered: What if I had taken the chance?
Five of us Fairfax County 40-somethings did. Half a lifetime later.
And I guess you could say we’re “almost famous.”
As we begin our fourth year on the local bar-benefit-pool party circuit, our rock and roll cover band, Second Wind, is experiencing a surprising level of success, and living the rock- n’ roll dream, as it stands in the suburbs anyway.
We may not fill massive arenas, but we’ve found plenty of die-hard fans at standing-room-only shows at local bars like Fat Tuesday’s, outdoor venues like Fairfax Corner and a plum slot at the big Celebrate Fairfax Festival, plus neighborhood pools, backyard parties and soon, even a rooftop gig at the Army/Navy Country Club. And it’s not slowing down.
No, we’re not touring the world, making millions and living a life of utter debauchery. But we are learning music and playing it live for people, who cheer and dance, and hey, sometimes we even get paid. Like a few others out there who are our age and have also made it work, our rock and roll fantasy has come true.
But why now? I mean, we have more responsibilities, less free time (the five of us combined have 13 kids), and wives we can’t afford to alienate by embarking on some time-consuming folly. Why would a bunch of successful professionals take a chance and plunge into something like this now?
Clearly, we all have a major “thing” for rock and roll, and a couple of us were musicians in our youth and wanted to see if we still had the chops. But other reasons, well they’re pretty personal.
“I suppose there are two subconscious things going on here,” says John Nicholas, 44, an AOL manager and guitar/harp player who founded the band. “One is certainly the ‘midlife crisis’ thing. The other is that, on some level, I want to prove I can do stuff like this, in spite of being in a wheelchair. That probably drives me more than I know.” John uses a wheelchair as a result of an accident he had in college.
“Without a doubt, playing in a band is some of the best therapy on earth,” says drummer and Kings Glen Elementary principal Sam Elson, 41. “As happy as I am at home and work, it’s always great to escape into the band.”
For me, a 47 year-old TV executive and now lead singer, it’s definitely personal. After losing both my parents in 2004, the grief and healing prompted me to take a chance I might not have taken before.
My mom, an actress herself, would have been thrilled with me taking the stage like she did. I had never sung in a band before this, so it became a personal quest to see if I could do it. And I did it. It seems everyone has taken some life lessons away from this midlife rock dream.
“It’s brought me some real growth in ability and confidence,” says lead guitarist and rocket scientist (honest!) Bob McClelland, 43. “And the confidence part may also be helping me in the workplace.”

“If it were to end today, I’d be content with the whole experience,” says bassist and government contractor Dan Stephan, 42. “I would love it if I could inspire my two daughters to cultivate a musical passion of their own.”
Elson says, “My wife describes me as a ‘changed man’ since joining Second Wind. I’m assuming she means that in a positive way.”
So if you see some older guys rocking out in your neighborhood bar or in a nearby backyard or community pool, stop in, it just might be someone like you, or someone you know — a 40-something whose rock and roll fantasies finally came true.



  1. Kevin Stevens Says:

    I`m sorry I just found Your Site,and for Replying so late.Like You guys,I`m at that stage (42),when it is time to get out and play AGAIN.I did the whole Band thing for many years.Until,I just couldn`t take the Other Band Members Alcohol and Drug Problems anymore,I`ve been sober and clean since FOREVER.So,I walked away and bought a Resonator and a Slide and never looked back.I mean that is what it is all about with me,The Blues.But,now I`m recovering from a major back Surgery,the result of being rear-ended in New Jersey in Sept. 2008.So,being layed up for 14 months has really Re-Sparked the Idea of playing out again.Thanks for Your Stories,very inspiring.

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