CRASH!: Five Pillars of a Successful Life

What is Success?

Success is difficult to define, simply because everybody defines it differently. Some people use external measures like material possessions, or achievement in their fields, while others focus more on relationships, being the best they can be, and other internal benchmarks.

Back when I wanted to become a “successful” drummer, I consciously framed a very specific objective: to become a first-call, A-list drummer playing with a top music act in Nashville, Tennessee. That’s a pretty specific goal! And, as you may suspect, it was, and still is, a difficult one to achieve. But I did achieve it, and a LOT (and I mean a LOT) of people come to Nashville trying to do what I did. So when people asked me HOW I did it, I understood that I was in a position to help others navigate my ridiculously competitive world, and even better, that this was now a new goal I had.

CRASH!-ing Through Life

When I deconstructed HOW I became successful, I saw that I had unconsciously, but consistently, followed five different but interconnected dimensions that had helped me achieve success as I had defined it. And I was able to label these dimensions in a way that related to drummers, by creating the acronym CRASH!, because the “Crash” cymbal is one of the two large cymbals you’ll see fronting pretty much every drum set in the world.

The CRASH! Acronym stands for Commitment, Relationships, Attitude, Skills, and Hunger. And it has grown from a template to teach drummers about what it takes to make a living as a musician, into something universally applicable to almost any area of life: Business, Athletics, Love, to name just a few.

So, no matter where you are in life, or what aspect of your life you want to improve, or develop more fully, CRASH! offers a practical guide for achieving that improvement, and that success, in the way that YOU define it.


Make a commitment to your beliefs and goals, and shout that commitment from a mountaintop. Make yourself accountable to your goals, both to yourself, and to others, and stand by your words by letting the world see your beliefs though your actions.

Have the courage to “dream big.” If you’ve got the talent and the commitment to work hard, and believe you deserve success, then you have what it takes to grab your dreams by the throat and make them come true.


Everybody knows that relationships are essential to success, right? But most people don’t know how to create successful relationships. Nor do they understand the true time and effort that goes into them. When you’re trying to create relationships that will help YOU improve yourself, you risk developing a mercenary mindset: “I need to get introduced to A, because he/she can help me get B.”

There are three pieces of actionable advice I give about relationships:

1) Successful relationships are formed when YOU GIVE to THEM, not the other way around. ALWAYS think about what you can do to help the other person, not what they can do to help you, even if they seem far above you right now. Trust me, you can always find a way to help another human being.

2) Birds of a feather flock together. Surround yourself with positive people who feel and act in ways similar to you. Form lifelong, sincere, honest and mutually beneficial relationships, both online, and in person, with such people!

3) Don’t be a dick. I mean, really. Places like Nashville and L.A. are full of people who have “made it,” but who are horrible to other people. Not everyone you meet will be someone who can help your career. Regardless, treat them with respect and compassion. You really aren’t any better than them.


If you engage in your commitment and relationships as I’ve described above, you will by default develop a more constructive attitude. And, with the right attitude, it becomes easier to frame your commitment and your relationships in the ways described above!

Your attitude is the one thing people will always remember about you. People will always remember how you treated them and how you made them feel.

Even more importantly, your attitude is also about how you treat yourself. How do you encourage yourself, how do you speak to yourself inside your own head? What permission do you give yourself to try certain things, or set limits to prevent you from doing so?


Each day we have a new opportunity to sharpen our skills. These skills can be physical, mental, or business related. Raw talent can be found anywhere, but it’s the people that take the time to develop their talents, and use them to help make a difference, who become the real champions and rock stars. I spent countless hours developing my drumming skills. There was simply no substitute for the long, hard time this skill development took.

The Skill dimension is also where you can ground yourself. If you are only a casual drummer in your Saturday night rock band, you aren’t going to come to Nashville and get folks to pay attention. If, on the other hand, you drum your socks off for 5 hours a day, you might get your shot.


You should always have a hunger that burns inside, to connect you firmly to your dreams and goals, and to help you share them with the world.

Your hunger is not only a fire, but also an emptiness, which drives a desire for more than what you have now. Hunger is crucial, not only to igniting the other dimensions, but for fuelling them along your journey. Be careful, because your hunger, once satisfied, can lead to complacency. That is why, now I’ve achieved the goal I shared earlier, that I am now “hungry” for newer worlds to conquer.

And it’s because of CRASH! that I’ll make those dreams come true as well.

Rich Redmond has worked with numerous “A-list” musical artists, and is currently the drummer for Jason Aldean. He provides edutainment seminars to musical and business audiences, where he presents the “CRASH!” system in an unforgettable live format. His upcoming book, “A CRASH course For Success” is currently in publication, and expected in 2017.


This article originally appeared in MODERN DRUMMER “CRASH Series” – December 2012

This article focuses on the fifth and final portion of “CRASH” Concept for Success. “CRASH” is an acronym which stands for” Commitment, Relationships, Attitude, Skill, and Hunger. These five global concepts can be used by anyone from any walk of life to use to attract success to their lives. If you are a regular reader of this magazine, you are probably looking for any insight on how to improve your drumming and career prospects. These concepts are perfect for helping you achieve that goal. You can find out more at:

Nashville has been my home for over ten years now. I guess that officially makes me a “Nashvillian”. When I first arrived in town, I was literally, hungry. The pursuit of my dream of drumming success left me with credit cards maxed out from Ramen Noodle and Balance Bar purchases. It was a leaner time, but it was a special time. I was feverishly and enthusiastically working to make my dreams a reality. I had a burning hunger for success that led me to Nashville from Dallas, Texas.

After graduating from The University of North Texas in Denton, Texas with a Masters of Music Education (with a specialization in percussion), I moved into the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex to freelance, save a bit of money and make plans for my next big move. Was I going to carve out my future in New York, Los Angeles or Nashville? It didn’t matter, because I was starving to play my instrument at a higher level. I wanted to play on records that people could buy at Sound Warehouse, hear myself on the radio, make music videos, perhaps travel the world on someone else’s dime and be part of the crazy culture that is the world! music business. My bags were packed for sunny Los Angeles when I received a call to audition for a major label recording artist in Nashville. Two other auditions for major label artists followed. Airline tickets, rental cars, and hotel expenses all went on an expanding credit card bill. I was willing to do whatever it took to take my career to the next level. Bills could always be paid, but it was my time to make this happen now. I was hungry. You know that feeling you get in your stomach, when you realize you have been working hard all day long and haven’t eaten? That was the feeling I had burning in my heart. I wanted it.

The don’t call them starving artists for nothing. You can minimize the starvation process by saving some money and doing some detailed research about exactly what you want to do and where you want to be. I didn’t do the research about how Nashville worked. I didn’t even know many people before I moved there. I was operating on pure desire, blind faith in myself and a burning hunger to taste success. Even if I was still playing clubs, pick up gigs, honky tonks, weddings, free demo sessions and showcases when I got to Nashville, I was doing it in a place where there was no “glass ceiling”. There were endless possibilities for career advancement. In Nashville, I Descendants could get that “Big Gig”.

I kept physical hunger from getting the best of me by waiting tables, substitute teaching and taking every gig that came within my path. It was a very exciting time in my life! When you are in the battle of bringing your life’s dreams to fruition, it is a time of endless possibilities, massive setbacks and countless victories. It’s impossible to succeed at anything without failing many times. Learn from your setbacks and use them to fuel future victories…and don’t forget to celebrate every little victory! My early years in Nashville were the era of the pager. A good drummer pal of mine (whose name will remain nameless to save him from embarrassment) and I used to pull off the side of the road in search of pay phones to return pages from potential employers. It was like Christmas morning every time that thing starting buzzing. Most of the time it was just our mothers calling to check on us. (Ha!) However, sometimes the page went something like this: “Hey Rich. I got your number from John Smith. Are you available to play from 10 pm-2:30 am on Monday night for $40 and free beer?” The answer was always yes, until I start getting pages like this: “Rich, Paul gave me your number and said you might be cheap jerseys available to head to Korea, and Japan for a month. Back line gear, comfortable travel and accommodations. Meals provided. Tons of great sightseeing. Interested?” I said “Yes” before I even found out what it paid. It ended up also being a good paying job. Patience and persistence paid off! I stayed in the game and the gig offers kept getting better and better.

My father always told me that cream always rises. It’s a scientific fact. YOU are the cream, you just have to be patient. I played every gig that came my way like it was the last time I would every play (and still do), and word got around. The calls (and pages) kept getting more fruitful. I waited it out and it paid off. I can even remember playing pick up gigs until 3 a.m., getting home by 4, getting 2 hours sleep and being in front of a class room full of kindergartners as a substitute teacher at 7 a.m. That’s commitment, that’s hunger.

I always like to share the story of how many of the artists I have played with over the years became successful (or didn’t). It has never been easy for wholesale mlb jerseys an artist to break through the masses, get cheap mlb jerseys heard, get recognized, and even more difficult to become a ‘star’. I career journey of a music superstar I know personally went something like this: Cut a record on a shoe string budget that produced a breakthrough single that fights it’s way up the charts over the course of a year. Artist hires a close knit band of brothers that plays every bar and music venue in the country. Artist tours in a van and then a second hand bus, showering at YMCA’s and nibbling on backstage vegetable trays for years. The band opens for every band in the business with smiles on their faces. Artist builds their fan base one performance at a time and makes the transition into becoming a top tier headliner. “It” happened for this artist because of the collective hunger and hard work of a team of people on stage and behind the scenes. EVERYONE was hungry.

I make it wholesale nfl jerseys a point to study the habits and actions of successful people from many different fields and businesses. I have noticed a very common denominator for individuals and companies that achieve a high level of success and notoriety. At a certain point, things become comfortable, people take things for granted, they lose the spark and the quality of their work starts to decline. Don’t let this happen to YOU! The entities that continue to push themselves hard and look to consistently reinvent themselves, develop new skill sets and create new product lines are the ones that survive and continue to thrive. I have also noticed that people greatly respect individuals or companies that never rest on past accomplishments. When you fan the flames of hunger and keep pushing, you will be rewarded with new and exciting opportunities. In other words, you get back what you put in. The lesson here is: Stay hungry!

Musicians that I respect and model myself after are the ones that sound and look like they are literally playing for their supper. No matter what stage of their career they are in, they are hungry. They want it. They are one with the Muse. The only way to feed their hunger is to always play at the top of their game. They play like it’s the last time they will ever pick up their instrument! Respect.

I hold dear to my heart the feeling of playing my first blue sparkle snare drum and bass drum combo I got in 1977. It was magic. When I finally got my first 5 piece cherry red pro level drums, I was ecstatic. I practiced to records and worked out slow to fast Bonhamesque hand and foot combinations everyday after school. I was hungry to get good, play with bands, improve…rock n’ roll! Gigantic thank to Mom and Dad for putting up with the decibels for years. Fast forward many years. Recording studios, rehearsal halls, tour buses, hotels and back stage areas have come and gone. They could all easily run together, but they don’t. I’m making sure that I drink it in, express and truly feel gratitude and stay hungry.

When I think of hunger, I think of inspirational cinematic characters like Rocky Balboa. I think of the students DATA from the film “Stand and Deliver”. I think of Tom Hanks in “Castaway”. To me, the word HUNGER conjures up positive images of someone passionately, purposefully and relentlessly pursuing a dream. What is your dream and are you willing to go hungry for it? These are important questions to ask and even more important to answer. You know that cream on the top of your favorite coffee house latte? That can be YOU.

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