By Greta Lieske
“It’s better than a Grammy.”
That’s how songwriter and musician Richie Supa describes his ability to reach the recovery community in a significant way with his music.
Supa, who’s had a monumental music career starting back in the ‘70s with the launch of several albums under his own name, may be best known for writing with rock star greats such as Aerosmith, Bon Jovi’s Richie Sambora and Ozzy Osbourne — just to name a few. But to the recovery community, it’s a few particular songs that will always stand out.
Supa, who himself is in recovery, co-wrote Aerosmith’s 1993 song Amazing with longtime friend Steven Tyler. And it was two songs written not too many years ago that also gained two PRISM Awards for Supa in 2009 and 2011—In The Rooms and Last House on the Block.
“When Ron [Tannebaum, co-founder, CEO and president of In The Rooms] first told me they were setting up the website, I believe they had mentioned — in joking — that it would be great to write a song and at first I didn’t really act on it for quite awhile. It just kind of rattled around in my head,” Supa says of the start of In The Rooms.
In The Rooms, the website, is a social network for the global recovery community. It’s open to those in recovery, friends and family of someone in recovery and those with loved ones who are in need of help with alcoholism, drug addiction, prescription drug addiction, gambling addiction, eating disorders and more.
Supa says once he watched the website grow and “take shape” that’s when the song also began to take shape. It has since become an anthem of In The Rooms, and for many in recovery.
“It’s basically what the program has done for me. I redirected my life once I found the rooms,” Supa says of his song. “I wrote about how it changed my life, how I struggled for years with addiction, and finally found a door out of darkness into the light. I’m really proud of [the song].”
According the Supa, the song In The Rooms is a timeline of what his went through with his addiction struggle and recovery, similar to his song, Last House on the Block. But Last House on the Block is about the dark side of recovery, he says.
“A lot of people say Last House on the Block reminds them of when they were down and out — it’s their bottom. Where In The Rooms talks about walking from the dark side into the light.”
As far as the ‘90s song Amazing, Supa says he and Tyler had no idea it would become the recovery anthem it has. They knew it was going to touch a lot of people, but not to the extent Supa has seen and experienced.
“I’ve received hundreds, hundreds and hundreds of letters over the years from people who, for example, say they had a needle in their arm and were going to shoot heroin, but then they heard the song on the radio, so they put the needle down and went to a meeting. Just hundreds of things that. It’s pretty amazing stuff.”
And Supa says the iconic first line of Amazing came to him during a moment he didn’t expect.
“I was at a meeting … one night and they were throwing this ball up in the air. Whoever caught it had to share and this girl caught the ball and she had a day clean and she said, ‘All my life I kept the right ones out and let the wrong ones in.’ And I went, ‘What did you say?’”
He wrote it down, called Steven Tyler, read him the line and flew out the L.A. to finish the song.
“And the song ended up being all about recovery. That was a cool thing that happened,” Supa says.
Aside from the PRISM Awards and acknowledgement, Supa says best reward he receives from his work is knowing that he’s helping his own community — that he’s supporting people in his own way.
“The greatest reward for a songwriter is to know that you’ve touched another human’s emotions. Because that’s what you try to do when you pick up a pen.”