I remember an interview with John Lennon where he mentioned that he was always so nervous before going onstage that he usually threw up. I think it ran in Playboy. It made me feel good because I had always been so very frightened of walking out onto a stage, too. The fact that a hero of mine shared this fear seemed to validate my feelings. I just assumed that it was something of a professional liability. You know, just a sign that it all really matters. The very first time that I played a show it was with my pals, the Tropics. Buddy Pendergrass turned to me as we started out and asked, "Are you nervous?"
When I nodded he replied, "Don't worry. As soon as you make your first mistake and you realize that nobody has stopped dancing, you'll be okay."
That probably kept my fears to something manageable for years.
In Europe, Germany I think, it just all went away one day. I've never been anxious about it since. I gotta tell you, this is better. I don't know what happened. Trying to make sense of it I suppose that an awareness came over me; this is it. It's not going to be better or worse, this is just it. Don't misunderstand me. Every show is important to me. I want to tear the house down every night. I want to break hearts and make folks cry. I'm dying to make 'em laugh and to have a good time. It would be thrilling to think that I really touched a heart once or twice over all these years. This really is just what I do, though. It's not gonna get much better or worse than this.