My life began in Zagreb, Croatia in 1964. I lived in a small town outside the city with my grandparents. It didn’t take long to discover the beautiful gift that God had given me. At the age of five I would sing along to the radio as loud as I possibly could. Until the age of six my older brother John and I lived with our grandparents. At that time my parents were in America trying to find a home. In 1970 my parents came to Croatia and took us to America to live with them. We lived in Scarsdale, N.Y. in an apartment upstairs from a doctor’s office. My Dad worked across the street wiring the electricity for a new hospital. My brother and I used to play outside in the front yard while he checked up on us from the hospital windows while he worked. When I was seven, we moved to Greenwich, Connecticut into the ugliest house on the street. Shortly after our arrival my brother John decided to learn to play guitar, and I was right next to him belting out all that I had inside of me. We played country music because that was the music my father liked. We were convinced everyone in America listened only to country music. We became pretty good, and it wasn’t long until my father started to bring us around to all the Polish, Jewish, and Veterans clubs that he could find to have us perform.
At the age of nine I started singing in the church choir. Then, at the age of eleven I discovered Led Zeppelin and my whole life changed. Life became increasingly difficult. My brother and I loved this kind of music, but our father would not stand for it. There was a constant battle for the freedom to pursue our destiny. At the age of thirteen we formed a band called “Teazer” and performed Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and original songs. It wasn’t long before a producer named Morgan Walker showed interest in us. Before we knew what was going on we were rehearsing in New York City, working on songs to make our first record. However it fell apart before our dream was realized.
At the age of fifteen, I joined a band called “The Mission” with the leader of the band named Elliot Lewis, (who later became a member of “The Average White Band”). I left that band with studio and writing experience under my belt. Shortly after, I received a phone call from a gentleman named Don Stroh. Don was the owner of Showcase Studios, a rehearsal complex in Norwalk Ct. He had seen me perform in a night club with “The Mission’. He told me that he strongly believed that I belonged with one of the bands that rehearsed in his studio. I agreed to check them out. At the age of sixteen I joined up with James Ward, Chris Risola, and Jack Wilkinson, “Red Alert” was formed. Jack was eventually replaced by John Fowler, we also added a rhythm guitar player Frank DeCostanzo to form a five-piece. Right after high school I attended college to major in mechanical engineering. I was in my second year of college sitting at my drawing table when it dawned on me- “What the fuck am I doing”? I’m meant to be a singer! With that I picked up my books and threw them out my second story window. I then was able to give all my attention to the music and the band. After completing a five song demo, Jimmy my friend John and I set out to Los Angles to get a record deal. We had no contacts nor did we have any idea what the procedure was to getting signed. I was going on pure faith and big guyunes. Within a month we had a new manager and a record deal with MCA. We recorded our debut record “STEELHEART”. The album sold over a million copies, followed by a world tour. We then went on to record a second album, “Tangled in Reins.” After successful tours of Asia and Europe the band flew home to tour the U.S. in support of the band “Great White.” On the last leg of the tour we were invited to perform one last show as the opening act for the band “Slaughter” at McNichols arena in Denver Colorado on Halloween night. That night was the beginning of a long spiritual journey for me. While performing the song “Dancing in the Fire” I climbed a lighting truss not knowing it was improperly secured. I tried to evade the falling rig, but it struck me on the back of my head just before I could get out of its way, crushing me to the stage face first. I broke my nose, cheekbone, jaw, twisted my spine and needed 28 stitches in the back of my head. I do not know how or where my strength came from but I stood up in front of 13,000 people and walked off stage. I was immediately taken to the hospital. My manager put me on a plane the next day. Not only should I have died that night when the 1000-pound rig smashed me to the floor but my brain should have exploded from being 30,000 feet up in the air. It wasn’t until I got home that the real pain began. For months the pain was so excruciating that the slightest movement of my head was maddening. “Steelheart” was over.
Lost a lot of precious memory and found myself in a continuous daze for three years after the accident. I would sometimes find myself driving in the middle of the night two hours away from my and home not realizing what I was doing. I was in a dream, but no one else could see or understand it. They kept telling me “you’re fine”. After two years I finally met a neurophysiologist who explained to me that I had “TBI”, Traumatic Brain Injury. It then took two more years of continuous concentration and focus to relearn and reprogram my mind. Throughout this struggle I was never reimbursed nor granted any financial compensation. I had lost my family, my home, and my money, but I had found myself.
In 1995, I put together a band, which consisted of Kenny Kanowski, Vincent Melle, and Alex Macarovich. We recorded an album in England called “Wait.” I must say it was the most difficult album to make. I was still somewhat in a daze during the recording. We called the album “Wait” because it took so damn long to win my freedom from the record company as well as from my manager, who was taking more than what belonged to him. After paying a large sum of money to both of them I was finally able to move on with my career and release the record two years later.
During the mixing of the album “Wait” I had an awakening. I was sitting back in my chair with my feet on the console and my eyes closed relaxing. Out of no where something came through me and jolted my soul. I looked over to my producer, Kit Woolven, and he asked me what was wrong. I could only reply with, “I just woke up.” The next chapter had begun.
We went on a promotional tour of Asia in support of the album “Wait”. We performed twenty eight shows in thirty two days in 13 different countries. The tour made a powerful impact with the title song “Wait” reaching number 1 in many Asian countries. We later proceeded back to Korea to perform two more shows at the Olympic stadium in Seoul, and at Kojo Hall in Pusan. The tour was a great success. However the album never reached America or Europe because of legalities. Now, after years later I am proud to say that I have started my own record company called StillHard Records, with the album “Wait” available to you here at Steelheart.com.
Not long after returning from Asia, my mother passed away at the age of 56 from a long battle with Leukemia. A year later my friend Frankie Daniels, who I call my brother, passed away from the same disease. They left me with an overwhelming amount of love and I believe sent me a beautiful blue-eyed angel whom I love and hold very dear (A true Hollywood romance to be told at a later date).
Shortly after Frankie’s death, I received a phone call from an old friend and producer of my second album Tom Werman. He asked me if I would be interested in performing the vocals for the movie “Metal God” which was later re-titled Rock Star. I became the voice for Mark Wahlberg. I sang eight songs for the movie, one of which was “We All Die Young” from the album “Wait”.
After completing the Rock Star project I ventured into Europe for three months to pursue my interest in the techno-trance electronic world. From the Love Parade in Berlin to the beautiful island of Ibiza, to the Bull Dogs of Amsterdam.
For the next couple of years I tried to put a band together and record a new album. Unfortunately when ever I came close, something slowed me down and delayed the project. After my father’s death in September of 2003, I have changed my name back to my birthright name “Miljenko”, “Mili” Matijevic. I then found an empty where house in Charlottesville Virginia and turned it into an extraordinary working space “SteelHeart Studios”. For almost three years I worked on my new album “GOOD 2B ALIVE” Everything that has happened in my life has prepared me for what I believe is to be my best work yet, and I know that this is just the beginning. I have never felt more inspired and full of energy as I do now. Ideas are pouring out of me so fast I barely have time to put them all down. I am looking forward to sharing my vision with all of you.
From anger to peace, through pain to understanding, with patience to victory.