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MJK: The Man, The Myth, The Legend

Updated on June 16, 2017

Maynard James Keenan

Over the years, the band Tool has been my favorite band. Their unique progressive metal style music is full of complex sounds and crescendos and boisterous vocals that put this band above the rest for me. And their front man, MJK, has for decades been a musical genius. But as the years went by, and Maynard grew famous, he exposed the world to many other talents he had waiting to be explored. So I invite you today to get to know one of the most iconic names in music and take a journey to get to know this person a whole lot more.

A Breif History of MJK

Born in April 17, 1964 James Herbert Keenan graced the world with his presence. Originally from Ohio, Keenan moved around a lot and dove into many different ventures in beginning years of his life. He spent some years in Michigan after leaving his mom's place in Ohio due to several illnesses and a household that wasn't exactly the type Keenan felt comfortable in.

In High school, Keenan began to enjoy some physical activity when he joined the wrestling team. His dad was the coach and really inspired Keenan to join the team. After high school, Keenan decided he wanted to join the United States Army in hopes of being able to get a funded art school education. What inspired Keenan to join the Army was a comedic film known as Stripes which starred Bill Murray. Keenan began to show his intelligence when it came to planning out strategic battle plans while in the military. He also created the character "Maynard" which he would later on in life be known as. He would later attend West Point Prep School which opened up a few more areas for him to extract more of his talents.

He joined the wrestling team, glee club, cross country team and studied advanced English and Math courses. Instead of going further into the West Point educational program, Maynard decided to attend Kendall Art and Design which was located in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He began to excel in interior design and marketing strategies. With his love of pets, he decided to pack up and head out to Los Angeles in hopes to establish a very successful career in Interior Design located in pet stores. This move proved to be exactly what Maynard needed to start his highly successful music career and pave the way for many more successful endeavors.

The Beginning of Tool

After moving to Los Angeles, Maynard began to grow in his love for music. After landing a pretty decent career opportunity, Maynard decided that he wanted to create music. With a few potential music projects, Maynard was finally able to put the highly successful and Grammy winning band Tool together. Going into the Tool project, Maynard has specific ideas of what he wanted to express musically. He wanted the band to be unique and stand out above the rest, but to have a mysterious vibe to go along with the music.

After meeting drummer Danny Carrey and guitarist Adam Jones, Tool began to form. Bassist Paul D'Amour was finally the remaining missing piece to brought the four musicians together. D'Amour would later be replaced by bassist Justin Chancellor.

When the band finally got their break and were signed, Maynard wanted Tool to have most of the control and not have some record company sign them and completely change the direction and style the band had wanted to release. After attending several fancy dinners and partook in drinking many labels expensive booze, Tool decided to sign with Zoo record label where they were promised full control of the music.

Tool went on to record on EP Opiate, and four LP albums, Undertow, Aenima, Lateralus and 10,000 Days. Tool would go on to win two Grammy's for Aenima and Lateralus. Tool definitely revolutionized an unique and untouchable style of music that was like no other. They were not your typical mainstream rock band. They dared to be different. They dared to stand out.

The Next Two Music Projects

After many successful years of Tool, Maynard decided to explore more musically unique projects. He decided to become the lead singer for the band A Perfect Circle. Maynard felt by joining this project he could begin to venture out into a more melodic tone of vocals that are not normally found on a Tool album. He was able to also expand lyrically with A Perfect Circle. Maynard also had a comedic side to him. This lead way to his solo project Puscifer. Here he was able to not only create music that was different from his previous two bands, but also create characters to go along with some of the music from Puscifer. When it came to being creative, Maynard lacked no skills in doing so.

Have you heard of any of these bands?

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Wine Making

Over the years with the success of many musically popular bands, Maynard was able to tour the world. One of his pleasures in life was wine. Before Tool even formed, he was already satisfying his pallet with different flavors and styles of wine. Now that he has become a highly successful individual, Maynard decided he wanted to not only drink wine, but produce it.

After a few trips to Italy, Maynard discovered that wine making was in his genes. It's no wonder he had a specific pallet for wine. He found out that his grandparents and great-uncle were also wine makers in Italy. This pleased Maynard and inspired him to want to start the process of making delicious wines.

He decided Los Angeles was not the place to begin this wine making journey. He decided to move to Arizona. He would buy some land and try to do what many others said would be hard to do, grow grape vines. Sure there was some failure at first, but later on Maynard began to see success in all of his grunt work and hard efforts. Maynard is not one to let someone else do the work. He manned those vineyards with little help in the scorching desert heat. Maynard always believed in doing the work yourself. Here is a quote about his wine making and inspiration to begin this journey (the source is from Wikipedia):

I am standing on a metaphorical plateau. The view from here suggests that I/we still have many mountains to negotiate. It has already been a long journey. But the successes and failures have been in balance. Which would suggest that I/we have chosen the correct path. I hold in my hands the evidence to support this statement . . . With tears in my eyes, I present to you the very first 100 percent Arizona Caduceus wine. Nagual del Judith, named after my late mother, Judith Marie.

After many attempts, Maynard became a true and successful wine maker. He now owns Merkin Vineyards and Caduceus Cellars. Maynard has also paired many great dishes to go along with his wines at many local business in the surrounding area. Wine making has become one of his favorite passions and he still puts in the hard work without any signs of changing his role.

And Now An Author

If being musically successful and becoming a talented wine maker, Maynard decides to add one more attribute to his resume, an author. His book, A Perfect Union on Contrary Things, is a highly successful autobiography that I think many fans of Maynard were ready to get their hands on. Now with the release of his book, fans across the world are now able to get to know who exactly is this man who wore many disguises during his performances.

The book starts of with the history of the early days of life for Maynard. He tells the true life stories of what it was like to grow up. His premature adventures that molded him into becoming an efficacious individual. From there on you are taken along for a journey throughout Maynard's life and career.

This book is well worth a read. Even if you have no idea or are not a fan of the bands listed above. This book is beautifully written and full of interesting facts about an extremely talented person who inspires you to create something positive and do the work yourself. I enjoyed this book very much and got to learn a whole lot more about one of my favorite musicians.

In Summary

I have had the pleasure of seeing Tool live twice. Both times I saw them I was blow away from their performance. I didn't really get into Tool until the late 90's. I went to the first concert in 2001, and went out the next day and bought all of their albums they had released so far. Ever since then, Tool has remained one of my favorite bands. After reading the book Maynard released, it pushed Tool to my favorite band. I got more in-depth meaning behind many of the Tool lyrics and the inspiration behind them. I got to know Maynard as if he was my own best friend. I was unaware of the talent this man possessed and his ongoing message of creating something positive and doing the work yourself. Maynard is definitely one of a kind person. I cannot wait to see what will happen next in his career. I also cannot wait for the release of a new Tool and A Perfect Circle albums which are hopefully in the near future.


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