Few artists in Hollywood history have enjoyed careers as long and expansive as Corey Feldman’s. The well-known celebrity started doing commercials at the age of three, including for McDonald’s. He later became a child star with movies like the lost boys, The Goonies, and support me. He voiced Donatello in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film. He was a teen idol, gracing the covers of many magazines. And he was famous friends with Michael Jackson. But that doesn’t mean his life was lavish and glorious all the time, in fact, far from it. Feldman has been embroiled in controversy throughout his illustrious career, whether claiming abuse or facing accusations of it.
Now, however, he is starting a new chapter. He has a mantra: Discover, collect and discard. He talks about surrendering things to God. And underscoring all of this work is Feldman’s reprieve role as a songwriter. Lately he’s released several new singles, shared plans for a new six-disc box set and announced a 20+ stop tour from August to September. For someone who has lived a tumultuous life with ups and downs, Feldman is ready for what lies ahead. But it all starts with his very first love: music.
“I was raised in a musical family,” Feldman, 50, told the American songwriter. “Music has always been in the foreground. Playing was a secondary thought.
Feldman’s father, Robert, played in the band Strawberry Alarm Clock as well as cover bands at places like amusement parks, including Magic Mountain in California. And his sister was Musketeer at the Mickey Mouse Club. So between these examples, music and songs were everywhere. He was around rehearsals, musical performances. In fact, he says, when he was three years old, because he couldn’t read at the time (like all three-year-olds), his mother prepared him for acting auditions by putting him in a room and telling him to memorize a song “forward and backward”. He learned Beatles songs. He also watched older relatives play the piano, and his elderly aunt taught him songs on the instrument. Feldman’s grandmother, who helped raise him, also had an old record player (the kind you rolled up) and a record that resonated with him: Bill Haley & His Comets, which he knew from the show, Happy Days.
“I really connected to that,” Feldman says.
He remembers seeing Buddy Holly, he remembers falling in love with KISS when he was seven years old. He loved their acting. He began holding “mock gigs” with friends in his front yard, bringing pots and pans and wooden sticks for the drums. He made sketch tapes and had musical interludes. He loved “Weird Al” and his parody songs. And he loved Michael Jackson. He wanted to emulate the King of Pop and Feldman soon became known for his ability to dance like him, relatively speaking, even performing at age 12 in front of 40,000 people one day at the Rose Bowl in Los Angeles.
“I immediately got a lot of attention,” Feldman says. “I was going to children’s parties or Hollywood-type parties. ‘Billie Jean’ would come and someone would say, ‘Oh, he dances like Michael.’ Someone was throwing a hat at me and everyone was circling around me.
While Feldman loved the attention and recognition for his musical abilities, he knew impersonating Jackson was not a means to an end. So eventually he started writing his own songs. The first song he remembers writing and recording (albeit a little crudely) in earnest was a song called “Runaway”. He was working on the lost boys at the time. He shot a short music video, dressed in black. At the time, he didn’t know the meaning of the title, which now appears on his box set. But looking at it now, he knows what the song meant. He didn’t want to do what he was doing at the time. He wanted to run away.
“I imagined myself on the run,” he says. “Like, I have to get out of this situation.”
But as Feldman grew into a star of epic proportions in the ’80s and ’90s, he kept his love of music mostly under wraps. Back then, he said, unlike now where every Disney kid star gets a recording deal to try and be a crossover hit in movies and music was “frowned upon,” says- he. But as fate would have it, keeping that side of his creative life quiet might have been the best thing for him. He was not co-opted. Although Feldman says it was his “greatest desire” to be a musician and play for people, he didn’t. It was instead relegated to glossy magazines and movie marquees.
“I would become a teenage star,” he says.
Talking with Feldman about Jackson is a tricky subject. He has been linked to the pop star for nefarious reasons. The famous Jackson was accused of sexually assaulting minors and many asked Feldman if he too had been raped, to which he gave varying answers. Above all, however, he honors his relationship with Jackson. Today, he talks about it fondly. In fact, he recalls once sitting down with the mega-famous musician and sharing a song he wrote with Jackson. Both were in Palm Springs, Feldman said. They didn’t talk about music often — Feldman didn’t want to be one of those people asking Jackson for things, especially help in the business. He says he wanted to keep their friendship just for that: friendly, not commercial. But he played her a song – “What’s Up With Youth?” – and then Jackson said, “Corey, that’s a number one hit.” Later, Feldman performed the song for Howard Stern (see below), who mostly ridiculed him for it. Listening to the song now, it’s impossible not to hear Jackson’s influence on Feldman’s musicianship: the quick delivery of lyrics, the biting lines.
“Michael said, ‘This song can go number one,'” Feldman said. “He said, ‘I’m going to enter it into [head of CBS records executive] Tommy Mottola’s office right now. I guarantee you can achieve number one success with this. And I said, ‘Thank you, Mike, I really appreciate that. But I have to say no.
Feldman says he turned down Jackson’s help because he didn’t want to feel like he was using him. But the fact that Jackson liked it was enough. Looking back, one wonders if Feldman was trying to save his musical side from the scrutiny and dangers he faced in his life as an actor. Maybe the music needed to be protected, protected in a way that his playing no longer could. Be careful what you wish for, there may be no escape if you get what you want. Today, Feldman’s top recent releases, like his song “Comeback King,” are also pop hits in the vein of Jackson. He knows this can lead to finger pointing. But he also knows that his music is not for everyone. Instead, it’s for those who resonate with it.
“A percentage of people will come to the shows to make jokes about it,” Feldman said. “But there are also so many devoted fans who love what I do and appreciate it very deeply, telling me all the time that the songs saved my life.”
Throughout his life, Feldman was part of various groups. He released pop music, rock music, acoustic ballads. He’s been in sexy groups with scantily clad women. He was solo and in rock bands. He had ups and downs. He also had drug problems and periods of sobriety and faith. Now, a few years away from stardom, he just cares about producing good songs – songs he can respect – and playing them for the people they care about. During the recent COVID-19 pandemic, he spent a lot of time in Jamaica and wrote song after song, amassing some 18 tracks. These songs are on his new album, love left 2which is a continuation of the disc, love on the left, which he dropped in 1992. To date, he has a handful of record releases in his discography, which now includes the new box set. At some point, the first love on the left sat in boxes in his garage, some 1,000 copies, and he “couldn’t give them away”. Now there is a demand and he sells them.
“I always knew I wanted to keep making music for the rest of my life,” he says, “whether someone buys it or not. It was never about money or success. It’s just about doing what my heart told me was right. It’s a healthy process for me.
During his time as a successful actor, he offered his songs for soundtracks. It is these and other rediscovered and newly written tracks that appear in the six-disc set. He remixed and remastered old tracks. He returned to archives and documents that had been dormant for decades. He is experiencing a personal musical renaissance. The kind he always wished he could. The next step ? He hopes to tour Europe and possibly Asia or Australia, hoping to add dates to the series of shows he has coming up. It’s the next step in a rocky career that has seen stops and starts for a variety of reasons, some good and some bad. But, says Feldman, he is determined to keep going.
“Music moves the soul,” he says. “I believe music at its very root is derived to lift our spirits. To teach us, move us and bring us together. It’s a union. A marriage. When you find people who like the same music as you, there’s an instant connection.
COREY FELDMAN TOUR DATES:
August 17 – The Marquee -Tempe, AZ
August 18 – Rail Club Live
August 20 – Santa Carla Summer Weekend – San Antonio, TX
August 21 – Santa Carla Summer – San Antonio, TX
August 24 – King of Clubs – Columbus, OH
August 25 – Piere Entertainment Center – Fort. Wayne, IL
August 26 – Brauer House – Lombard, Illinois
August 27 – Hobart Art Theater – Hobart, IN
August 28 – Token Lounge – Westland, MI
August 30 – Hard Rock – Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
September 1 – Granite State Music Hall – Laconia, NH
September 2 – The Stafford Palace Theater – Stafford Springs, CT
September 3 – Reverb – Reading, PA
September 4 – Colony – Woodstock, NY
September 6 – Capital Arts Center – Bowling Green, KY
September 7 – Headliners Music Hall – Louisville, KY
September 8 – Wildey Theater – Edwardsville, Illinois
September 9 – Hard Rock Casino – Sioux City, IA
September 10 – The Venue – Denver, CO
September 11 – Liquid Joe’s – Salt Lake City, UT
September 13 – The Coach House – San Juan Capistrano, CA
September 14 – Goldfield Trading Post – Sacramento, CA
September 16 – The Canyon – Montclair, CA
September 17 – The Canyon – Agoura Hills, CA
September 18 – The Canyon – Santa Clarita, CA
picture by Manfred Baumann / Hello new home