Music is a powerful thing, with the ability to make us cry, smile and recover from trauma. No one knows the healing power of music more than musician Tom Cridland. Elton John’s songs have helped him overcome a life-threatening alcohol addiction. He now makes hosts a podcast that has featured many famous guests including Annie Lennox, Sir Cliff Richard and Kevin Bacon. Tom also makes his own music. His song, Falling Off The Rails, caught the attention of Grammy nominated Philadelphia Soul group, The Stylistics and he was invited to tour with the group. And to mark Elton John’s last tour, Tom is touring every US state playing his cover songs. Below, Tom talks about how music helped him beat addiction and his life as a musician.
Tell me about your struggle with addiction and how music helped you overcome it.
I got addicted to binge drinking. I couldn’t have just one pint. Boozing sessions would turn into weeks on end of partying, blowing money and making enemies wherever I went. I nearly died on several occasions due to excessive alcohol intake and also due to accidents and being attacked violently in my vulnerable state. Before meeting my girlfriend I also had some encounters that were rather regrettable. Music has been my therapy and way of making up for the void that no partying left in my life. Melodies are more than enough to get me through the day and focusing on learning to play, write, record and perform has meant that I have something else to channel my restlessness into.
What in particular is special about Elton John’s music? Are there any other artists that inspire you?
The thing that is special about Elton’s music is the contribution of his band – Nigel Olsson, Dee Murray and Davey Johnstone are the ones that make these classic records like Goodbye Yellow Brick Road sound the way they do. They sorely deserve an induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and it is disgraceful, in my view, that management haven’t pushed for this. The list of artists that inspire me is too long to mention! I absolutely love the classic LPs produced by Mutt Lange, such as AC/DC, Def Leppard and Shania Twain. The Bee Gees. All the Philadelphia Soul stuff like The Stylistics. And the best record of the last 10 years in my opinion which is Silk Sonic.
From where do you draw inspiration when writing your own songs?
I write largely about things that have happened to me in my life and then draw inspiration sonically from my favourite recording artists. Since learning piano in lockdown my songwriting has changed and I am looking forward to making my first record playing this instrument.
You are covering every US state with your tour this year. What is day to day life like while touring?
I love life on the road. I am always interested in seeing the local sights and trying the fantastic American food. I love meeting the people in this wonderful country who are so kind. And best of all I tour with my manager and girlfriend of 12 years, Deborah, so home is whenever we are together.
Your podcast has had many famous guests. What have been some of your most memorable guests?
My favourite guest has been my friend, Nigel Olsson. I also loved speaking to Don McLean who has been on the show three times. Other great episodes were recording with David Crosby at his home, with Smokey Robinson backstage, with Verdine White and Chance the Rapper in Los Angeles, David Guetta in Paris and I always love chatting to Donnie Vincent, who has been on twice.
Can you offer advice to other aspiring musicians?
I would advise establishing realistic sources of income before embarking on a career in music, particularly as a recording artist. And do not go into music if you’re faint of heart, it is a challenging industry and with chew you up and spit you out if you think it’s going to be easy.
Visit Tom’s website for his story, podcast, videos, tour information and more.