How Denver blues royalty the Hornbuckles overcame heroin addiction and estrangement

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He says he was letting down his brother -- bassist and singer Brian -- and whoever else was in his path. "And I would hit these bottoms, and they all kind of looked the same," Hornbuckle adds. "I made these firm resolutions: 'Okay, I'm going to do it this time.' I'm fortunate, because I always had people in my corner that were willing to help, most notably my mom."

Hornbuckle had tried to clean up more than once, but, he says, he would get so uncomfortable in his own skin that the only solution he knew of was to start up again.

"You know, that was the only solution besides putting a bullet in my brain," he says. "I wasn't entirely ready to do any work required to manage a chronic condition, a progressive and deadly illness. So I don't know if that clicked in my head that that's what I had."

A few years ago, Hornbuckle found himself at a sober house in Los Angeles's San Fernando Valley, and he ended up managing the place for two years. It was there that he started writing songs on a cheap acoustic guitar, and where, by happenstance, he met up with keyboardist Alex Baker. Baker does soundtrack work for Universal Pictures and had toured as keyboardist with Atlanta-based funk-rock band Mother's Finest, a band that Hornbuckle's father had turned him on to: Some of the first songs the younger Hornbuckle learned to play were Mother's Finest songs.

Hornbuckle played a few new tunes he'd written for Baker, and soon the two were collaborating on songs without any idea of making an album.

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Jon Solomon writes about music and nightlife for Westword, where he's been the Clubs Editor since 2006.
Contact: Jon Solomon