Maynard James Keenan, Rock n’ Roll Legend
It’s not often you run across a human being as well rounded as Maynard James Keenan. You might know him as the lead singer for multi-platinum and Grammy Award winning rock bands, “Tool” and/or “A Perfect Circle.” Or maybe you have had dinner at his restaurant or enjoyed a glass of wine from one of his well renowned Arizona wineries. From Grammy Award winning musician, actor, record producer, singer, songwriter, entrepreneur, winemaking connoisseur to a well noted philanthropist- Kennan’s thought-provoking lyrics coupled with his cryptic yet fascinating persona make him one of the most interesting and respected celebrity figures today.
Maynard was born in Ravenna, Ohio as the only child to a Baptist family on April 17, 1964. His father was a High school teacher and wrestling coach and his mother made a living selling soap. His parents were divorced in 1968 and in addition to other misfortunes; Maynard spent much of his youth reveling within his genius trying to establish his own self-identity. He graduated High School in 1982; in an effort to have the G.I. bill fund his education-Maynard joined the US Army.
Maynard had his eyes set on attending Kendall College of Art and Design in Grand Rapids for some time, but instead the military life took a detour enlisting him as a forward observer. After training to direct artillery and mortar fire towards opposing enemies, MJK went on to study math and English at West Point. At West Point, Maynard wrestled, ran on the cross-country team and sang in the glee club. He was in the drivers seat to become an officer of the military and to graduate from one of the most reputable educational institutions in America, when Maynard realized he wanted something different. Upon completing his term in the service, Maynard went on to study art at Kendall College of Art and design, where he had previously envisioned himself. After living in Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Texas, his passion for making music led him out to Los Angeles where he eventually met up with future “Tool” band mate, Adam Jones. After hearing Maynard’s demos, Jones was captivated by Keenan’s vocals and insisted on forming a band. Maynard agreed and together they recruited Jones’ neighbor, drummer, Danny Carey and original bassist, Paul D’Amour (later replaced by Justin Chancellor). Together, these dudes began creating music that would later lead to a rise in fame and create one of the most die-hard, loyal fan bases of all time.
“People have to follow their hearts, and if their hearts lead them to WalMart, so be it.”
Fueled by Maynard’s dark and mystique psyche; Tool’s EP release Opiate and debut full-length album, Undertow helped both Tool and allowed heavy metal music to enter the mainstream market during a time when grunge and pop punk owned the charts. Tool’s first album, Undertow was eventually certified double platinum and has sold over 3 million copies in the US. In 1996, Tool released their second studio album, Aenima. Aenima was eighty minutes of short segues with Maynard once again sending heavy messages of personal evolution, and offering a reflective and provocative view into controversial subjects like religion, sex, drugs, life, and organization. With such eloquence, Maynard’s lyrics connected with millions of metal heads, intellectuals, rock fans, and even a few delinquents, lost looking for an affiliation. Aenima was certified triple platinum and the title track won the Grammy Award for Best Metal Performance in 1998. Tool would go on to achieve great success in the 1990s, winning multiple Grammy Awards and establishing a cult-like following that rock metal had never seen before. The band has sold tens of millions of records all over the world, reached the top spot on the Billboard charts, and has toured internationally for over a decade.
But Maynard didn’t stop here. After years of feeling smothered by the lights and glamour of Hollywood, Maynard decided he needed to get out of Los Angeles. He felt as if the Hollywood spotlight had made him lose touch with himself, his principles, and he set his aim on Arizona where he would later become a winemaker and owners of Merkin Vineyards and the associated winery, Caduceus Cellars, and hold partial ownership in Stronghold Vineyards. In 2008, Keenan invested in a vineyard with a partner, and later founded Caduceus Cellars near his home in Arizona. His personal vineyard produced the first wine from its own grown grapes in 2009. He chose to name the Cabernet Sauvignon after his late mother, Judith, who had died in 2003. She was a steady inspiration in his life, and served as inspiration for the title of Tool’s last album, 10,000 Days, which signified roughly the amount of time she struggled after an aneurysm. Later that year, Maynard also made his major motion picture debut in the 2009 film, “Crank: High Voltage.”
Keenan has also used his fame as a medium to raise money and help others in need. He has countless donations and including performances or by contributing album sales to combat social injustices such as rape, incest, and child labor. In 2005, Keenan joined the living members of the band Alice in Chains to perform at a benefit for the tsunami victims of Southeast Asia. In 2013, he donated two platinum records he earned with Tool and A Perfect Circle to the Oklahoma Animal Resource Center. The records were signed and auctioned to raise money for the center that was damaged among the summer’s tornadoes.
Today, Maynard is often considered elliptical and social recluse. But, who’s to judge someone after creating Grammy Award winning music, art, and award winning red wine? From day one, Maynard James Keenan has always been outspoken regarding his political, religious and social philosophies. Although his ideologies and musical creations do not resonate with all; Maynard lives a life guided by strict principles and philosophies that allow him to live a consciously competent life in which he has used to create and give back to those in need. As an already accomplished artist, philanthropist and entrepreneur, we can hardly predict his next move. Whatever it is, we know it’s going to be the bomb dot com.