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Happy Birthday, Maynard James Keenan!

Today, April 17th, might be one of the most important days for the prog metal society since it is both the birthday of MJK of Tool, A Perfect Circle and Mikael Akerfeldt of Opeth. While being one of the most interesting characters in music history, Maynard has been influencing musicians from Justin Bieber to Soen since the release of his first record with Tool, Undertow in 1993.

You may question how he manages to handle so many successful projects in his life, while we wouldn’t even handle one of them. He is an actor, a successful winemaker, an artist that doesn’t repeat himself-even tough he has 3 world-wide known bands. He is such an example for a Renaissance person for the modern world.

Well, he explains his success with his love of “doing something”. He states that he does everything that he likes, he sets his goal in his mind and achieves those goals with a big effort. His love of work caused him to be one of the intellectuals in our society that would create this amount of legacy with such deepness. He knows and constantly talks about how an artist stays relevant with the current society’s intellectual, emotional and communal needs-while not losing one’s creative juice. He didn’t lose himself in fame, continued creating what he wanted to express what he felt and what he saw. He took time to understand and reflect on the things that mattered to him and progressed to his goal. He is the person that we are lucky to take have an example to be productive while not getting lost in the speed of life and appreciating it to its roots.

James Herbert Keenan was born into a Southern Baptist family in Ravenna, Ohio, on April 17, 1964, as the only child of Judith Marie and Michael Loren Keenan. He is of Irish and Italian descent. When his parents divorced in 1968, his father moved to Scottville, Michigan and Keenan would only see him about once a year for the next 12 years. But after his mother got paralyzed, he started to live with his father-which he recalls as the “best decision” that he has ever made.

Keenan joined the United States Army, with the intention of having the G.I. Bill fund his dream of attending art school. After serving at the army, he got into Kendall College of Art and Design in Grand Rapids, Michigan and studied interior design and set decoration. But his passion for music has led him to play in several bands as a vocalist and bassist. However, his life completely changed after meeting with Adam Jones-whom he would later on form Tool in 1990.

His lyrics vary from philosophy, human psychology to hypocrisy in society-to connect with the audience within a deeper manner. His music has always been self-revealing and reflector of one’s own emotions-basically self and existential realization. While being this relevant, his music is still special to the individual’s own experience. Even these still doesn’t make sense to you, let his words explain the “how” itself: “The idea is, if I can’t heal from my art, then how can you heal?”

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