Two key moments in Troy Michael’s life led him to have an unrelenting passion for music. The first was the moment he saw “Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park” around Halloween 1978. The second was when a young Troy was diagnosed with severe asthma, which caused his childhood to become radically different.
As the years went on, Troy’s health worsened; he needed a kidney transplant at age 15. Seeking solace, he immersed himself in music. In fact, he candidly remembers watching countless hours of MTV (when MTV was actually cool) and waiting anxiously for the latest issues of Rolling Stone, Spin, Metal Edge, Hit Parade, and Kerrang to hit the shelves. Troy even took up guitar in the sixth grade after seeing Def Leopard’s “Photograph” video on MTV. Needless to say, music has shaped Troy’s life.
With dreams of becoming the next guitar god, like his idol George Lynch of Dokken, Troy hung out at the local indie CD store, and soon it became his second home. He would constantly ask for a job, and after 10 years of persistence, he scored a weekend gig selling music. Following that, Troy moved on to working weekdays at a local “mall chain store,” where he would eventually become the assistant manager. Even when the music industry started to change, and locally-owned stores went the way of the dinosaurs, Troy still managed to find another job at an indie CD store on the University of Illinois campus. It was at this time that he also started to indulge his passion for writing.
A late bloomer, Troy’s career didn’t really take off until he hit 30. Fed up with what editors told him he could and couldn’t write about, Troy decided to start his own publication, which not only covered bigger name artists but also catered to fledging indie bands that needed to get their names out there.
Around the same time, Troy’s vision started to fail due to a rare retina condition, and he was diagnosed as a diabetic. But he kept pushing forward to live his dream of working in the music industry.
Innocent Words Magazine, Troy’s baby, was launched in February of 2002, celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2012, and published its 100th issue in September of 2015. Having moved from a print to an online-only publication, Innocent Words continues to thrive to this day, and Troy still has the same passion for music he did back in 1978.
Now, Troy Michael is charting new territory as an author in his debut memoir “Music—The Common Healer.” The book chronicles Troy’s journey through the music industry from selling music to writing about it and publishing a magazine, all while trying to take care of his health. He has interviewed more than 300 artists during his time as publisher and writer at Innocent Words, including some of the biggest names in music (Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top, Stone Gossard of Pearl Jam, Phil Collen of Def Leppard, Nancy Wilson of Heart, Steve Vai, and Butch Vig, to name a few), and he has survived as an independent publisher in an industry that has gone through major changes since Innocent Words’ inception.
“Music – The Common Healer” also captures Troy’s survival spirit as he has battled asthma, a kidney transplant, become legally blind, and fights to overcome diabetes. Troy has stared death in the face on more than one occasion, and as he has fought these life-altering health issues, he has had one common thread to keep him moving forward—music.
It is safe to say that music has saved Troy’s life on more than one occasion, and it is all here in his touching, passionate, funny, and at times, heartbreaking, memoir.
The goal for this book is simple – help people who are overcoming adversity and let them know that they are not alone, and that music can help you get through the tough times.