My life began in Zagreb, Croatia in 1964. I lived in a small town outside the city with my grandparents. It didn’t take long to discover the beautiful gift that God had given me. At the age of five I would sing along to the radio as loud as I possibly could. Until the age of six my older brother John and I lived with our grandparents. At that time my parents were in America trying to find a home. In 1970 they returned to Croatia and took us to America to live with them. We lived in Scarsdale, New York in an apartment upstairs from a doctor’s office. My dad worked across the street wiring the electricity for a new hospital. My brother and I played outside in the front yard while he checked up on us from the hospital windows while he worked. When I was seven, we moved to Greenwich, Connecticut into the ugliest house on the street.
Shortly after our arrival my brother John decided to learn to play guitar. I was right next to him, belting out all that I had inside of me. We played country music because that was the music my father liked. We were convinced everyone in America listened only to country music. We became pretty good. It wasn’t long until my father started to bring us around to perform at all of the Polish, Jewish, and Veterans clubs that he could find.
Soon after high school I attended college to major in mechanical engineering. I was in my second year of college sitting at my drawing table when it dawned on me, “What the fuck am I doing? I’m meant to be a singer”! With that, I picked up my books and threw them out of my second story window. I was then able to give all my attention to the music and the band. After completing a five song demo, Jimmy, my friend John, and I set out to Los Angeles to find a record deal. We had no contacts, nor did we have any idea what the procedure was for getting signed. I was going on pure faith.
Within a month we had a new manager and a record deal with MCA. We recorded our debut record, “STEELHEART”. The album sold over 1 million copies followed by a world tour. We then went on to record our second album, “Tangled In Reins”. After successful tours of Asia and Europe in 1992, the band flew home to tour the U.S. opening for “Great White”. On the last leg of the tour we were invited to perform one last show as the opening act for “Slaughter” at McNichols arena in Denver, Colorado on Halloween night. That night was the beginning of a long spiritual journey for me. While performing the song “Dancing in the Fire”, I climbed a lighting truss. It was improperly secured. I tried to evade the falling rig, but it struck me on the back of my head. It crushed me to the stage, face first. I broke my nose, cheekbone, jaw, twisted my spine and needed 28 stitches in the back of my head. I do not know how or where my strength came from but I stood up in front of 13,000 people and walked off the stage. I was rushed to the hospital and my manager put me on a plane the next day. Not only should I have died that night when the 1000-pound rig smashed me to the floor, but my brain should have exploded from being 30,000 feet up in the air. It wasn’t until I got home that the real pain began. For months the pain was so excruciating that the slightest movement of my head was maddening. “Steeheart” was over.
I lost a lot of precious memory and found myself in a continuous daze for three years after the accident. I would sometimes find myself driving in the middle of the night two hours away from my home and not realizing where I was or what I was doing. I was in a dream but no one else could see or understand it. The kept telling me, “you’re fine”. After two years I finally met a neurophysiologist who explained to me that I had “TBI”, Traumatic Brain Injury. It then took two more years of continuous concentration and focus to relearn and reprogram my mind. Throughout this struggle I was never reimbursed nor granted any financial compensation. I had lost my family, my home, and my money, but I had found myself.
In 1995, I put together a band which consisted of Kenny Kanowski, Vincent Melle, and Alex Macarovich. We recorded an album in England called “Wait”. It was the most difficult album to make. I was still somewhat in a daze during the recording. We called the album “Wait, because it took so damn long to win my freedom from the record company as well as from my manager, who was taking more than what belonged to him. After paying a large sum of money to both of them I was finally able to move on with my career and release the record two years later.
During the mixing of the album “Wait”, I had an awakening. I was sitting back in my chair with my feet on the console and my eyes closed, relaxing. Out of nowhere something came through me and jolted my soul. I looked over to my producer, Kit Woolen, and he asked me what was wrong. I could only reply with, “I just woke up”. The next chapter in my life had begun.
In 1997 went on a promotional tour of Asia in support of the album “Wait”. We performed twenty eight shows in thirty two days, in thirteen different countries. The tour mad a powerful impact with the title song, “Wait” reaching number 1 throughout Asia. We later proceeded back to Korea to perform two more shows at the Olympic stadium in Seoul, and at Kojo hall in Pusan. The tour was a great success. However the album never reached America or Europe because of the legalities. Now, after years later, I am proud to say that I have started my own record label called StillHard Records. The album “Wait” available to you here at steelheart.com.
Not long after returning from Asia, my mother passed away at the age of 56 after a long battle with Leukemia. A year later, my friend Frankie Daniels, who I call my brother, passed away from the same disease. They left me with an over whelming amount of love.
Shortly after Frankie’s death, I received a phone call from an old friend and producer of my second album Tom Werman. He asked me if I would be interested in performing the vocals for the movie, “Metal God”, which was later re-titled, Rock Star with Mark Wahlberg and Jennifer Aniston. I became the voice for Mark Wahlberg. I sang eight songs for the movie, one of which was “We All Die Young”, from the album “Wait. After completing the Rock Star project, I ventured into Europe for three months to pursue my interest in the techno-trance, electronic world. From the Love Parade in Berlin to the beautiful island of Ibiza, to the Bull Dogs of Amsterdam.
After my father’s death in September of 2003, I changed my name back to my birthright name, “Miljenko”, “Mili” Matijevic. I then found an empty warehouse in Charlottesville, Virginia and turned it into an extraordinary working space, “Steelheart Studios”.
I worked on my new album, “Good 2B Alive”, for almost three years. Everything that has happened in my life has prepared me for what I believe is to be my best work yet. I know that this is just the beginning. I have never felt more inspired and full of energy as I do now. Ideas are pouring out of me so fast I barely have time to put them all down. I am looking forward to sharing my visions with all of you.
From anger to peace, through pain to understanding, with patience to victory.
Miljenko has had the honor to share the stage with legends, Robby Krieger and Ray Manzerak of “THE DOORS” as the front man,filling the shoes of the late Jim Morrison. Performing throughout the world, Miljenko screams for his fans to stand up and shout… and to celebrate life.
Miljenko has also been working on a documentary titled “Good 2B Alive”. The story defines itself through specific trials and tribulations, yet celebrates the power of music and the unique talents of Miljenko Matijevic. “Good 2B Alive” will be using interviews from those closest to the story and by Miljenko himself, to weave interstitially amidst concert footage and from Miljenkos 2012 Good 2B Alive Tour in his hometown of Zagreb, Croatia.
Jointly led by Steelheart’s own Miljenko Matijevic and award winning filmmaker, Dana Altman of North Sea Films. “Good 2B Alive” has brought an extraordinary team of musicians, writers, and filmmakers together to reveal this one-of-a-kind story and event.
The rockumentary will be shot entirely in HD format; ensuring the acquisition of unprecedented interviews and high quality concert footage. The exterior Zagreb concert will be shot with multiple HD cameras to ensure high impact shots and maximize coverage of the performance and concert atmosphere. Live Broadcast rights will be awarded.
When you were going through the darkest years of your life was there an angel or woman who got you through it?
Unfortunately, I was alone through the dark times after my accident. I was bed ridden for months and in a daze for years.
I tried to reach out to my family, friends but they couldn’t see my reality clearly. My brother would say, he’s fine, just a Rock Star burnt from the touring and and a little knock on his head. I lost a lot of memory and time. I had to search to find me again and rebuild myself. This was a journey which I cannot describe in one paragraph. The one consistent thread I had through my life and during these times were what I call my spirits. Always with me and always speaking to me, guiding me. If I only listened to them more, I would probably be further ahead.
For the longest time it seemed as if I would take one step forward and three steps back. It was a challenge to walk through life being in a constant daze. Nevertheless I always kept my faith and my belief in me. I lost everything but I was alive! Sadly not long after, my mother passed away and my brother passed 8 months later, both from Leukemia. In my deepest darkest sorrow I found happiness and wrote the most positive song called “ Good 2B Alive”. Even though this journey has been difficult it has shown me so much beauty, love, vision, patience and understanding. I am lucky to be alive.
Where does your unstoppable drive come from?
My drive is my vision of who I am, my love for people, my music, my belief and faith in me.
Do you still draw from the pain of the past in your writing?
I draw from everything and everyone. Including myself and my past, as well as the present.
What is your greatest pleasure or escape from the touring culture while you are on the road?
Spending time with my girl and close friends. A glass of good wine, cook, eat, laugh and not think of anything but being present. I also love being on an island barefoot wondering without a care in my mind.
Do you have any familiar angels who help you through your demons today?
The same ones that have been with me since I was a child as well as my mother and my brother come to me quite often.
Are there any current music or film projects in the works that you can tell us about?
Are there any current music or film projects in the works that you can tell us about?
Yes, there are a couple of projects in the works.
One is a feature – Documentary film on my life. Keeping my faith and not giving up even though my world had crumbled. Directed By: Dana Altman.
We also have another Documentary film “Through Worlds Of Star Dust”. We filmed the making of my latest album. This documentary shows what it takes to record an album in todays world from the beginning to the end. The ups the downs and the unexpected.
2018, what can your fans expect from you, Steelheart?
Great music, loving energy and always a fun time! Leave with a smile and feeling good.