Even though Grateful Dead guitarist Bob Weir has been performing for 57 years, he admitted in a new Guitar World interview to still getting stage fright. He also revealed that bandmate Jerry Garcia had the same crippling fear, arguing that it could have led to his death after years of a stage-fright triggered heroin addiction. Other musicians known for this phobia include Carly Simon, Barbra Streisand, Katy Perry, Rihanna, Rod Stewart, Ozzy Osbourne, Eddie Van, Luciano Pavarotti, Renee Fleming, Andrea Bocelli and Vladimir Horowitz.
When people who earn a living entertaining the public are frightened to death about taking the stage, it goes to show just how paralyzing the experience can be. Stage fright will afflict nearly everyone at some point. Whether you’re giving a speech in front of a class, or presenting to a work team, or even in your living room at an event reciting something in front of family and friends, it can be nerve racking and one of the most terrifying experiences in your life. Many people actually fear public speaking more than death itself! It’s the anticipation of what might transpire that’s the painstaking part. In a nutshell: fear of failure.
What so many of us fail to recognize is that it’s a figment of our imagination. For someone like Bob Weir who has performed for millions, it’s still what he called “a torture chamber.” Once on stage, however, he’s finally able to relax, let those worries fade away and simply play music. Others can overcome this affliction by joining an organization like Toastmasters or engage in deep breathing exercises to help relax. Whatever techniques are used, just realize that getting up in front of others represents a great opportunity to transcend limits, build confidence and experience personal growth.