THE BLOG
01/21/2014 04:42 pm ET | Updated Mar 23, 2014

My Brother the Rock Star

Pali Rao via Getty Images

The backstage passes get the fans stirred up.

"How did you get that?" they ask. Or even,"Who are you?" or "Why do you get to go backstage?"

I usually say, "Well, the lead guitarist is an old friend," and the yearning in their eyes deepens.

But he's not "the lead guitarist" to me. He is an old friend. We go back over 40 years, the rock star and me--and he shall remain nameless. Sorry. This isn't about that guy onstage. It's about the man I know.

We met at the beginning of his career and mine. I had just signed on as a rock critic and features reporter for the Chicago Sun Times. His career was on the brink of taking off into the proverbial stratosphere -- but we didn't know that yet.

And we bonded the moment we met. Don't get it twisted -- he's been married the whole time. And I was immensely fond of his beautiful wife -- a stunning pair they are. And fiercely devoted to each other.

In fact, since his wife suffered a massive brain hemorrhage a few years ago, he has been a tireless caretaker, flying home every chance he gets to be part of her recovery team. When he talks about the progress she's made, the love lights up his eyes. And I am again reminded that it's the man, not the "rock god" onstage, who impresses me most.

We are children of Chicago's South Side. He attended the almost entirely black high school I would have gone to if my parents hadn't decided, like most of the black middle class of that era, to move away from the inner city. And we both have that unique South Side swagger -- working class heroes, our parents and relations. And we're damned proud of it.

He and his band mates took that work ethic, and the swagger, to the stage. And it catapulted them to stardom, as the saying goes. I put it into my writing. And it got me to the Sun Times and into magazines worldwide.

But we lost touch for a very long time after I pulled out of the fast lane, feeling way too close to a serious "crash and burn." People still ask me how I could walk away from such a "glamorous" career. It's impossible to explain it fully.

So here's the Cliff Notes version: The newspaper was in turmoil and so was I. So when the love of my life got a job offer he couldn't refuse, I packed up and moved to the wild Southwest with him. And never looked back.

Until I saw my "brother" on VH1, with the "new" band while channel surfing one night about five years ago.

I was mesmerized.

He still looked like that kid I met back in the 70's. And his new band literally rocked the house -- the walls shook. And I teared up. And went to Google up a contact address.

The reunion took place in a most unlikely venue -- a gorgeous Native American-owned casino resort of the kind many bands of that era play between stadium gigs. The band was even better in person than on TV, and the fans stood up and even on their seats the whole time.

In fact, toward the end, the fans in back climbed over those seats to get closer to the stage, They have very demonstrative fans -- fans of all ages, not just Boomers, who still fill massive stadiums, too. Astounding, their "staying power."

After that show, we hugged the stuffing out of each other and picked up right where we'd left off. And we've been in touch and meeting regularly ever since.

I sometimes take my daughter along -- he loves that. She's about the age I was when he and I first met. And sometimes I think he sees me when he's looking at her. And those lights go on in his eyes. So lovely.

This time, in fact, he played the casino that her Hopi ancestry -- on her father's side -- allowed her to work for. And after hearing about some problems she'd been having there -- petty, envious co-workers -- he had a little talk with her about that.

And after the show, with a few of those co-workers looking on, he came out with the rest of the band to meet with me and friends and relations of other band members. In fact, we sat right out in the middle of the venue for an hour or more to give them a good look at her there schmoozing with the band they'd just worked for.

And then her "uncle" handed her a fist full of picks to hand out when she went back to work the next day. And I saw the lights go on in her eyes.

He sees the wonderful woman she's becoming -- the woman they pick on out of envy and insecurity. And in that moment, she saw that wonderful woman, too.

And the love rocks on.

Still want the name of that rock star? Cynthia Dagnal-Myron's book of essays, 'The Keka Collection,' can be purchased on Amazon.com.

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