Wednesday, September 14, 2011

RJ McDonnell, Senior Tweener, Fulfills a Lifelong Dream

R.J. McDonnell
Sometimes attaining senior status means finding the time to reconnect with an unrequited passion. For the past few years I’ve been at that awkward age I call Senior Tweener. I have adult children, but haven’t attained grandparent status yet. Instead of attending sports events and dance recitals, I actually had time to pursue an old dream.

Ever since elementary school I wanted to be a rock musician. During my high school years I helped out with a garage band down the street from my home, and picked up mini-guitar lessons during their breaks. I joined my first band in my freshman year at Penn State, and in 1980 I moved to San Diego to pursue music as a career.

But life doesn’t always go as planned. A few months after my move, I was in an accident that shattered my left wrist. After 23 months of casts, braces, bone graft surgery, and rehab, I couldn’t play guitar for more than 15 minutes without severe stabbing pains. Over the next five years I tried everything, and finally resigned myself to the fact that the dream was over.

L-R, Robbie Walsh, RJ McDonnell

Twenty-five years later I visited a guitar collector friend and told him my story. He found me a Fender guitar that was exceptionally easy to fret. In 2007, at the age of 53, I enrolled in lessons at a local music studio, and rekindled my passion in the process. Last month I recorded my first commercial song, playing with Robbie Walsh, a lead guitarist who toured extensively with Noel Redding of The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Chubby Checker and Jethro Tull.

The song is called The Concert Killer, and is the soundtrack to a mystery novel trailer. You can hear it at It’s never too late to make dreams come true.

RJ McDonnell


  1. Welcome RJ,
    I went over to listen. Great job on your song.
    Have a great time at the Spunky Seniors Blog.

    Morgan Mandel

  2. How wonderful you had a chance to revisit your love of music. That video was great.

    Wishing you the best,


  3. So glad you were able to reconnect with your passion for music. Loved the song.

  4. That's awesome! We should never let go of our dreams. They may be postponed some but if we really want it, we'll get it! Good for you RJ!


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