Billboard: Run-DMC’s Darryl McDaniels Says Sarah McLachlan’s ‘Angel’ Saved His Life

by Colin Stutz

In his life, Run-DMC’s Darryl “DMC” McDaniels was touched by an angel. Sarah McLachlan’s “Angel,” to be exact.

In his new memoir, Ten Ways Not to Commit Suicide, McDaniels explains a period of his life when he was battling depression and how that hit ’90s ballad — which he first heard during a cab ride — helped stave off his suicidal thoughts.

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“I was probably at my suicidal worst in 1997 during a two-week-long tour in Japan. The only song I listened to then was a soft-pop ballad by Sarah McLachlan called ‘Angel,'” McDaniels writes in an excerpt first published by People. “I cannot overemphasize how important that song was to me in the midst of my depression. ‘Angel’ kept me serene even when every fiber of my person was screaming for me to lose it [and] made me believe that I could soldier through.”

McDaniels was sober at the time after struggling with alcohol addiction but found himself amidst an identity crisis when he lost his voice due to a thread condition and was dealing with inner-band conflicts.

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“Whatever my hesitations about suicide, I sometimes think I would have done the deed easily if it weren’t for that record,” McDaniels continues. “I thought long and hard about killing myself every day in Japan. I tricked myself into thinking that my family might be better off without me. I considered jumping out of a window. I thought about going to a hardware store to buy poison to ingest. I thought about putting a gun to my temple. Whenever I’d listen to ‘Angel,’ though, I always managed to make my way back from the brink.

“It would be too simple to say that song got rid of all my negative feelings. it couldn’t rid me of the wounds. ‘Angel’ was like a life preserver tossed to me during a storm. It didn’t pull me out of the water, but it did help me stay afloat until other help came along.”

McDaniels actually met McLachlan that year at Clive Davis’ annual pre-Grammys party and introduced himself to the Canadian singer-songwriter, praising her singing and thanking her for helping him battle those suicidal thoughts. Years later, McDaniels met McLachlan again and the two recorded an updated cover of Harry Chapin’s “Cat’s in the Cradle,” an important step in McDaniels’ recovery process. During that session, they discovered they had something in common as well, that they were both adopted — an issue McDaniels had struggled with for years. The song, “Just Like Me,” was released in 2006 as a tribute to foster children.

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Darryl “DMC” McDaniels, author of Ten Ways Not to Commit Suicide @ Madison Library – Downtown Branch

A Room of One’s Own and the WI Book Festival are delighted to welcome Darryl “DMC” McDaniels for a reading from his inspiring new memoir, Ten Ways Not to Commit Suicide! This event will be held at Madison Central Library on the 3rd floor. Please note, the book description below and presentation discuss depression and suicidal thoughts.

In this surprising and moving memoir, the legendary rap star and cofounder of Run D.M.C. keeps it a hundred percent, speaking out about his battle with depression and overcoming suicidal thoughts—one of the most devastating yet little known health issues plaguing the black community today.

As one third of the legendary rap group Run D.M.C., Darryl “DMC” McDaniels—aka Legendary MC, The Devastating Mic Controller, and the King of Rock—had it all: talent, money, fame, prestige. While hitting #1 on the Billboard charts was exhilarating, the group’s success soon became overwhelming. A creative guy who enjoyed being at home alone or with his family, DMC turned to alcohol to numb himself, a retreat that became an addiction. For years, he went through the motions.

But in 1997, when intoxication could no longer keep the pain at bay, he plunged into severe depression and became suicidal. He wasn’t alone. During the same period, suicide became the number three leading cause of death among black people—a health crisis that continues to this day.

Event address:
201 W Mifflin St
Madison, WI 53703-2218

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Guardian: DMC from Run-DMC: ‘I snorted and guzzled through almost every day’

Music is a cutthroat, disrespectful, low-life, motherfucking, crab-ass, lyin’, deceivin’, stab-you-in-the-back type of business, and that’s just the good part of it!” Darryl “DMC” McDaniels laughs (perhaps channeling Hunter S Thompson’s famous line about the record business). We’re discussing the Devastating Mic Controller’s autobiography Ten Ways Not to Kill Yourself, which he has also forcefully voiced as an audiobook.

It is a raw, revealing memoir which bleeds like a stab wound. “I’m an addict,” writes DMC, the man who rhymed so enduringly about the crack epidemic onMary, Mary. “For most of my early life, I smoked and snorted and guzzled my way through almost every day.”

Lowering his booming voice a little, he adds: “If your soul is not right with what you’re doing, you will fall apart, like I did.”

When Eminem inducted Run-DMC into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2009, the second hip-hop group to make it after Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, he called them “something tough. Something dangerous. Something beautiful and something unique. They were the first movie stars of rap … they are the Beatles”.

“That’s crazy,” DMC tells me, friendly and loquacious, sitting in his New Jersey home. “Busta Rhymes said, ‘Run-DMC didn’t change music, they changed everything’.”

DMC, Joe “Run” Simmons and their DJ Jason “Jam Master Jay” Mizell were hip-hop’s first superstars. Between 1983 and 1988 the albums Run-DMC, King of Rock, Raising Hell and Tougher Than Leather unleashed classic tracks such as Hard Times, It’s Tricky, Proud to Be Black, Mary, Mary, and Walk This Way. (Later highlights include Ghostbusters and Bounce.) “Run-DMC were so exciting live,” Jurassic 5’s Chali 2na told me.

Despite all Run-DMC’s success, after Tougher Than Leather DMC collapsed into alcoholism, depression and OCD, as he increasingly lost his voice to spasmodic dysphonia, in which the larynx spasms during speech. For years, he recalls, he suffered suicidal thoughts. He had rising creative and personal conflicts with producer Russell Simmons, Jay and, especially, Run (“anal as hell”). His childhood friendship with Run degenerated into a dysfunctional business relationship. DMC felt hustled by Run’s pastor E Bernard Jordan. By 1997, he “avoided Run like a virus”. In Japan later that year, hawking remixes (one of which, Jason Nevins’s take on It’s Like That, was nevertheless an international smash, selling 5m copies), DMC “felt used, pimped and dirty … Milk this cow till there’s powdered music coming out the udders.”

When Ice-T asked Run how it was being top of the rap game, Run famously recalled an epiphany on excess – consuming the best of everything: presidential suites, women and drugs: “The ho’s knocking at the door. Rolling Stone’s behind the ho … I’m fuckin’ out of control.” DMC demurs: “I was never on it like him … Run and Jay smoked more weed than a Rastafarian god could grow.”

Around 2002 things came to a head when Jay was murdered in his Hollis recording studio, DMC discovered he was adopted, and his father died. Despite a serious bout of alcohol-induced pancreatitis years earlier, DMC surrendered to industrial-scale drinking, downing “case of 40s every day”. He had a fridge in his SUV. Even when walking anywhere, a guy in his crew carried around beer in a portable chiller.

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Huffington Post: Run-DMC Member Opens Up About His Battle With Mental Illness

Brennan Williams
Pop Culture Editor, The Huffington Post

Darryl “DMC” McDaniels is back with a new memoir, Ten Ways Not to Commit Suicide, which delves into a seemingly unlikely topic: mental health issues. But for the Run DMC co-founder, it’s a topic he knows all too well.

The book, which picks up where his 2001 autobiography King of Rock left off, describes what his life has been like since the 2003 murder of group mate Jam Master Jay. Most notably the memoir goes into the emotional effects of the search for his birth mother, which ultimately sent the hip-hop pioneer into a downward spiral of alcoholism and depression.

The New York native credits his decision to seek professional help in 2004 as one of the “best things” a man – specifically black men ― can do for himself.

“When I went to therapy I realized something that most men – I don’t care what race, creed, or color you are, but especially black men – I realized that therapy isn’t ‘soft’,” he told The Huffington Post. “My saying is, ‘Therapy is gangsta.’ It actually empowered me. It allowed me to say things that I thought about, but I would never want to hear myself say those things.”

Mental illness affects approximately 43.8 million American adults each year, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Black Americans are 20 percent more likely to experience serious mental health problems, including depression and suicide, than the general population.

For DMC, sharing his history with mental illness is his way of trying to help others dealing with similar issues.

“If you don’t discuss your mental health and therapy we will keep having this unnecessary cycle of us missing signals, signs and opportunities to eradicate the mental conditions that is brought on because of a continuation of a repeated cycle,” he said. “And we miss the chance to fully diagnose and treat the individuals who have mental health problems. So it’s important that people talk about it.”

“Ten Ways Not Commit Suicide” is now available at book stores and digital retailers.

If you — or someone you know — needs help, please call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. If you are outside of the U.S., please visit the International Association for Suicide Prevention for a database of international resources.

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Ebony Magazine: [Black Mental Health Awareness Month] Darryl McDaniels Talks Suicide


Hip-hop didn’t save Darryl “D.M.C.”’ McDaniels’ life; it damn near killed him.
On stage, Darryl McDaniels of the hip-hop trailblazing trio Run-DMC, had an energy and confidence that defied gravity. Draped in gold chains with a fresh pair of white untied Adidas, DMC’s lyrics led a generation into hip-hop, a budding music genre that would later influence global culture.
But off stage, he was a man with demons.
Depression is a sneaky son of a b***h. Sometimes, it is a slow, undiagnosed realization that comes when a person is at their ugliest, or never at all. For Darryl, his depression was trapped between his personal happiness and other people’s expectations.
In his memoir, Ten Ways Not to Commit Suicide, Darryl writes, “My introduction to hip-hop – the very thing that would one day make me rich and famous – came as a result of me giving up something I loved for someone else’s desires.”
Depression doesn’t always give the benefit of self-awareness, which makes the downward spiral even more dangerous to those who suffer from its grip. Darryl didn’t know what to call what he was experiencing; he just wanted to make people happy.
“I didn’t know it at the time. It was easy for me to create, but something deep down inside me silently was looking for other people’s approval and acceptance. Hip-hop made me feel accepted with the down crowd and with the in crowd. It made me feel legitimate,” said Darryl.
Before Run-DMC, Darryl was a catholic school comic book geek from Queens, New York. In his book, Darryl notes that, “comics were an escape, a way to make myself feel strong and invincible rather than like the quiet little four-eyed nerd I essentially was.”
Darryl’s first love was comics. Hip-hop came second. His older brother, Alfred, introduced him to turntables and sound systems. Darryl even leveraged his comic book collection in order to raise money for brand new turntables for his older brother, in what he describes as one of the first instances of pleasing other people at his own expense.
But it wouldn’t be until his junior year of high school when he grew closer the Run that Darryl fell madly in love with hip-hop.
“Hip-hop [became] my new haven, another alternative reality that I could slip into and pretend to be somebody, anybody, other than the quiet kid who got straight A’s at Saint Pascal’s,” Darryl said in his book.
Rather it was comic books or hip-hop, Darryl’s passion was an escape, a crutch precluding him from chasing his personal happiness. The spotlight and stage of hip-hop provided an audience to witness Darryl’s escape from reality.
In his first on stage performance as part of Run-DMC, Darryl remembered being so drunk to the point where he didn’t recall performing at all.
“That [rhyming] was my private, make-believe play thing. Like I don’t do that in front of people. Hip-hop to me was play time. So, when he [Run] put me in his first show, I knew I needed some courage and the alcohol would give me some courage,” said Darryl.
Darryl, together with Joseph Simmons [Run] and Jason William Mizell [Jam Master Jay], would go on to make hip-hop history in 1984 with their groundbreaking self-titled debut album Run-DMC. The LP was the first rap album to sell more than half a million copies.
The group would continue its legacy with their third album, Raising Hell, the first hip-hop album to go triple platinum, with three million records sold in 1986.
“It’s tricky to rock a rhyme, to rock a rhyme that’s right on time. It’s tricky…it’s tricky, tricky, tricky, tricky” became the chant of an emerging culture of hip-hop lovers.
But Darryl’s success on the charts didn’t translate over to his personal happiness. He felt unheard in the group and that his untapped creativity was overlooked by Run and Jay.
“Many of my years in Run-DMC were spent feeling like an unneeded third wheel. After our first album, my role in the group steadily diminished. I still recorded, but Run and Jay had little use for any of my creative ideas,” wrote Darryl in his memoir.
Darryl turned to alcohol to hide his emotions, which soon developed into a full out addiction. His drinking only intensified with every successive album. By the time Run-DMC dropped their fifth album, Back From Hell in 1990, Darryl was drinking entire twelve-bottle cases of malt liquor a day, which led to acute pancreatitis, an inflammation of the pancreas. After a month and a half in the hospital and not being able to ingest solid foods, Darryl had two choices – don’t drink and live, or drink and die.
Darryl chose to live.

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People: How Confronting Addiction and Depression and Finding His Birth Mom Saved Run-DMC’s Darryl McDaniels from Committing Suicide


Most know Darryl “DMC” McDaniels for his sick rhymes, hip-hop legacy in groundbreaking group Run-DMC and placement in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame – but his rock star life was riddled with demons.

Growing Pains: A Tough Transition to Stardom
Growing up in a middle-class family in Queens, New York, McDaniels – a comic book nerd who took up deejaying on his brother’s turntable as a preteen – started rapping for fun with friend Joseph “Run” Simmons as a kid. A shy guy, McDaniels started drinking young, turning to malt liquor (Olde English 800 was a go-to) for a confidence booster. By 15, he was dependent on booze to get onstage to perform.

After high school, McDaniels started college at New York’s St. John University. But when he, Simmons and Jason “Jazz Master Jay” Mizell started performing as Run-DMC, their tracks (first “It’s Like That,” then “Sucker M.C.’s”) took off in 1983 – and so did McDaniels’ alcoholism.

“I started from drinking a 40[-ounce bottle Olde English 800] throughout the day, right before I would go on stage,” McDaniels, now 52 – who discusses his struggles in his new memoir, Ten Ways Not to Commit Suicide, out July 5 – tells PEOPLE.

“But I had more money, so I didn’t have to go buy bottles of beer: I could just buy a case. So that’s when it got obsessive. It got to the point where it was five 40s before I went onstage, but it still didn’t take effect.”

As Run-DMC’s fame grew, so did McDaniels’ struggles. Though he’d written much of the trio’s early tracks, he says Simmons and Mizell didn’t respect his creative input shortly after they broke out.

“When I look back, it all started when I was looking for my confidence,” he says. “I didn’t need alcohol when I was 12 years old, sitting in my bedroom writing just rhymes in my notebooks: it was fun; there was no pressure of, ‘Man, I gotta write this rhyme. I hope it’ll sell.’ When you have expectations, that destroys.”

McDaniels said pressure from his band-mates, label and himself pushed him to drink more and more, and by 1991, he was drinking a case of Olde English 40s a day. Until he ended up in the hospital with acute pancreatitis.

“I was in the hospital for like a month and a half, with everything entered [through the] vein because I couldn’t take anything orally,” he says of his stay, where doctors told him: “‘Miraculously, you don’t have cirrhosis of the liver, but your pancreas is bruised and battered, but it’s still functioning. You’ve got two choices: Drink and die, or not drink and live.'”

After that, McDaniels quit cold turkey. He knew, “if I drink that, I die.”

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12 things to know about Danny Aiello: Hustler to Lorenzo’s headliner

By Rob Bailey |

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Danny Aiello has a 320-page memoir out with an epic title: “I Only Know Who I am When I am Somebody Else: My Life on the Street, On the Stage, and in the Movies”(Gallery Books).

Lotta words for a lotta life.

Thought you already knew this Oscar-nominated actor? Well, turns out he just “backed” into a four-decade career in Hollywood and on Broadway.

“It must be something I was more or less destined to do,” the 81-year-old first-time author told me recently. “The reason being, I didn’t voluntarily leave one life for another; it just so happened to be that way.”

Oh, and don’t expect a tawdry tell-all: “My book is not ‘Daddy Dearest.’ I didn’t know him well enough to dislike him, and my mother never once talked badly about him. I’ve seen so many people killing their relatives in books, but I love most everybody. There’s a little bit of stuff in there about a Scorsese and Lauren Bacall in there (chuckles), but not too much.”

The main takeaway from his compelling tale: This veteran entertainer is, well, a lot of people. A family man — and tough guy. An elected official — and a pool hustler. An every man — and a unique talent.

“It was out of necessity — I wasn’t Walter Mitty or Zelig,”  Aiello said, in his smoky, soft-spoken voice. “I was just a guy that something happened to, so I couldn’t do one thing anymore and I had to find something else to do.”

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Poetry SLAM! with Darryl McDaniels of Run DMC

Wayne Public Library Releases Calendar of Young Adult Activities for April

Rockette Experience; Chess; Poetry SLAM!; Money Smart Young Adults; CommuniTeens Meeting.


Event Date: 4/18/2015
Event Time: 2 – approximately 4 p.m.
In celebration of National Poetry Month, middle & high school students will recite their own original work of poetry. This special event with be emceed by the legendary Darryl McDaniels of the hip-hop group Run DMC. Young Adults will recite their poetic expressions. Three winners will be chosen. First prize is DMC’s newest comic book, personalized & autographed for the winner; Second prize is a pair of DMC Adidas Shell-toe sneakers, personalized & autographed; Third prize is a DMC T-shirt, personalized & autographed. After the recitations and selection of winners, there will be a brief Q & A with our Master of Ceremonies.

Online registration to attend as part of the audience is required due to limited seating, starting Monday, April 6 and open to kids in grades 6-12. Students interested in performing must be confirmed in advance. Any questions, contact Eleana Cordova

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Actor Danny Aiello at Maplewood’s Words Bookstore March 19


The beloved, Oscar-nominated actor Danny Aiello will be at Words Bookstore in Maplewood on Thursday, March 19 at 7:30 p.m., signing copies of his memoir, “I Only Know Who I Am When I Am Somebody Else.”

Aiello’s “big-hearted memoir reveals a man of passion, integrity, and guts–and lays bare one of the most unlikely success stories ever told,” according to Words’ website.

Here is more on Aiello and his book, which can be purchased here:

Daniel Louis “Danny” Aiello is an American actor who has appeared in numerous motion pictures. Film credits include Once Upon a Time in America, Ruby, The Godfather: Part II, Moonstruck, Léon: The Professional, The Purple Rose of Cairo, Two Days in the Valley, Once Around and Dinner Rush. Aiello had a pivotal role in the 1989 Spike Lee film Do the Right Thing as Salvatore “Sal” Frangione, the pizzeria owner, which earned him a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.

Danny Aiello admits that he backed into his acting career by mistake. That’s easy to see when you begin at the beginning: Raised by his loving and fiercely resilient mother in the tenements of Manhattan and the South Bronx, and forever haunted by the death of his infant brother, Danny struggled early on to define who he was and who he could be. Shoeshine boy, numbers runner, and pool hustler were among the first identities he tried on. After getting into trouble on the streets, he enlisted in the army at seventeen, served in Germany, and was honorably discharged. Later, as an unemployed high school dropout raising a family of his own, Danny was burdened with serious depression by the time he landed a job as a bouncer at a Hell’s Kitchen comedy club. Taking to the stage in the wee hours to belt out standards, Danny Aiello found his voice and his purpose: He was born to act. Performing in converted churches and touring companies led to supporting roles in such films as The Godfather: Part II and Moonstruck, and an Oscar nomination for his role as the embattled Salvatore in Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing. For a guy who had never set foot in an acting class, this was supreme validation for being an outsider who followed his heart.

In a raw and real chronicle of his gritty urban past, Danny Aiello looks back with appreciation, amusement, and frank disbelief at his unconventional road to success. He offers candid observations on working with luminary directors Francis Ford Coppola, Woody Allen, and Robert Altman, among others, and a vast roster of actors, including Robert De Niro, Paul Newman, Madonna, Cher, and Lauren Bacall. He opens up about friends he loved, friends he lost, and the professional relationships that weren’t meant to be. Above all, Danny Aiello imparts a life lesson straight out of his own experience to anyone who’s ever felt like an outsider: It’s never too late to become who you want to be, to find happiness and fulfillment, and to embrace the winding road to get there.

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Hamill: Danny Aiello tells it like it is in memoir ‘I Only Know Who I Am When I Am Somebody Else’


Danny Aiello’s memoir details his life on the street in Manhattan and the Bronx and on the stage at the Improv. The Oscar-nominated actor also mentions his work with legendary directors, which never included Martin Scorsese.

Danny Aiello’s memories race across the pages of his new book like the cops are in pursuit.

The actor did a lot of running from the police growing up in Manhattan’s West Side and the South Bronx, making money shining shoes, running numbers, shooting pool and even robbing safes.

“My father was rarely around,” Aiello says. “So I was raised with my three sisters by my wonderful mother, Frances, who never badmouthed my absentee father. I did things I’m not proud of to bring money into the house.”

Maybe the pages turn so fast because Aiello has spent a lifetime running from himself, which inspired the title, “I Only Know Who I Am When I Am Somebody Else.”

“I joined the Army in 1951 to fight in Korea after being investigated for a murder I didn’t commit,” he says. “They sent me to Germany, where I basically played baseball for 28 months after the Army learned I’d been scouted by the New York Giants. Baseball would play a big role in my life.”

Aiello came home, married Sandy Cohen, his wife of 61 years, and worked as a baggage handler at the Greyhound bus terminal in Manhattan.

“I graduated to the job of announcing buses on the PA system,” he says. “It was my first public performance. Then I became a bus drivers union leader, and after work I often went to the nearby Improvisation comedy club run by Budd Friedman — before I got fired for calling a wildcat strike.”

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