How Old Is “Old Enough” To Go On The Road?

Ozzy Osbourne bassist Blasko recalls his (dangerous) early days

By Jon Liebman
Photo: Carlos Varela
November 1, 2018

This week, we published a fun interview with longtime Ozzy Osbourne bassist Rob “Blasko” Nicholson. Having grown up with metal music in his blood, Blasko describes his DNA as 51% Black Sabbath, 49% Motörhead.

During the conversation, Blasko recounted some of his earliest days on the road with a rock band, a young teenager thousands of miles from home. In those days, mind you, there was no email, no texting, no Facebook messaging… and no way to even contact your parents. “There was no connection to the outside world,” Blasko recalls, citing dangerous conditions, sleeping on floors, etc. “We were on our own little mobile island.” A profound, potentially scary experience for kids – and their parents! I couldn’t help but think of some of the more extreme cases of young kids hitting the road, including the Jackson 5 and the Osmonds (in two very different environments!), and later Britney Spears, Justin Bieber, Taylor Swift, etc.

I’ve interviewed several other bass players who began their initial exposure to show business at very early ages. Josh Paul, for one, was only 7 years old when he was featured as the young drummer in Don Henley’s “The Boys of Summer” video. Victor Wooten, mentored by his older brothers, began his performing career at age 3. Tom Kennedy, still very much a kid at the time, found himself holding down the bass duties for the likes of Freddie Hubbard, James Moody, Nat Adderley, Sonny Stitt and Stan Kenton. And Brad Russell, who at age 7, was singing in the Detroit club circuit in a band with his older brothers. “Little Brad” is what they called him. We even wrote a news story about Robert Trujillo’s son, Tye, filling in for Fieldy on a tour with Korn. Tye was 12 at the time.

With today’s technology, social media, etc., are kids today hipper than they were a generation ago? I’ll never forget when my son came up to me, back when he was about 8 or 9, and asked me, “Dad, have you ever heard of Yngwie Malmsteen?” I still haven’t fully recovered.

It’s a new world. Knowledge and hipness in kids are good things, as long as they’re put to good use, and with proper guidance. It’ll be interesting to see what becomes of today’s young guns. They have a very different view of the world than we did, oftentimes even more so than their older brothers and sisters. Let’s hope we raised them right.

Want to share a thought about young kids hitting the big-time music scene? Feel free to leave a comment.

In the meantime, check out my interview with Blasko here.

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