The truth is raw and real, and it is what Chris O’Dell has found to be of the utmost importance while working in the music industry.
O’Dell joined Arizona State University’s School of Letters and Sciences and ASU Project Humanities on Thursday to share stories of her own truths, experiences and addictions at the “Music, Truth and Substance Abuse” lecture.
The room held a diverse crowd of all ages — some young students and some older than O’Dell, who is 65.
O’Dell told stories of her career, a rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle spent working with artists and bands such as the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan and many more.
O’Dell also detailed the challenges of her battle with substance abuse and alcohol addiction, struggles she overcame in 1988.
Some older audience members remembered the era O’Dell was talking about.
“I don’t think she glorified it, and I don’t think she vilified it,” audience member Marianne Walden, 62, said. “She really told the truth and her truth.”
O’Dell was careful to not brag about her relationships with celebrities or rock stars. She spoke about them as they were — often referring to them by first name with a nonchalant attitude.
She partied with Mick Jagger, lived with George and Patty Harrison and engaged in deep conversations with Bob Dylan, but O’Dell wasn’t just some “super groupie” or the “grooviest groupie of the 60s” as some deemed her after she released her book, “Miss O’Dell: My Hard Days and Long Nights with The Beatles, The Stones, Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton and the Women They Loved.”
She served as an assistant and went on to manage tours for many bands, including Queen, Led Zeppelin, Eric Clapton, Santana, Leon Russell, and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.
O’Dell described the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle and said that she and her fellow rockers never felt they had a problem.
“When everything was fine, what’s the problem?” O’Dell asked.
It wasn’t until her son William was born that she began to take action against her addiction.
“I got out of music biz and got out of the using biz,” she said.
Now, her past has been transformed into a new lifestyle. O’Dell works as a substance abuse counselor in Tucson and said helping others with the same struggles she faced for many years helps her to stay sober.
She said her work in the music business was co-dependent with the artists; she had to focus on them.
“I’ve been living on other people’s islands for a while, and I think I’m going to go live on my own,” O’Dell said.
For O’Dell, living on her on island now means sobriety and a life of truth.
Cyndi DeBolt, a secondary education student, said she was pleasantly surprised by the experiences and passion O’Dell brought to the table.
“It was fantastic,” she said.
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