Founder, Partner, Lead Drummer, Renowned Musician and Business Leader Moves Beyond the Music to Bring an International Perspective to the Foundation’s Board of Directors
By Jim Brown, Executive Editor, The Foundation News, Steadman-Philipon Research Institute Fall 2009
Although Larry Mullen describes himself as just a “street drummer,” he is, by the highest of standards, considerably more. As founder, partner, and lead drummer for one of the world’s most famous rock bands, U2, he has moved beyond entertainment to make a difference in the lives of people around the world.
This should not be a surprise to those who have followed the careers of Larry and his fellow U2 band members. This legendary group has a well-deserved record of using its high-profile platform to promote philanthropy, service, and social responsibility to a worldwide audience. Now he has added his voice to the mission of the Foundation as a member of its Board of Directors, the governing group he joined in 2007.
Why? “Three reasons,” explains Mullen. “Firstly, I have benefitted so much from the incredible, cutting-edge resources, expertise, and practices available here in Vail and I thought it important to share the news. Secondly, I feel strongly that this level of care should be available to everybody— celebrity and non-celebrity, sportsman and non-sportsman—all over the world. Lastly, the Foundation’s willingness to invest money and resources back into the community was probably the single biggest part of my signing on with the Board.”
Like other board members, athletes, and exercisers, Larry first became aware of the Clinic through injury. “I was having trouble playing due to a knee problem. I saw Dr. Muller-Wohlfahrt in Germany. He recommended surgery, and suggested that I have it done by surgeon Richard Steadman in Vail at the Clinic. I had been told that Dr. Steadman was a pioneer in his field and I was desperate and intrigued.”
The rest is history, but it is history still in the making. “I have already seen Dr. Steadman, Dr. Philippon, and Dr. Millett, among other physicians, as well as receptionists, lab technicians, imaging specialists, scientists, administrators—practically everyone in the building, and the way things are going with my body, I’ll probably meet the rest of them by the end of the year.”
“I’m a street drummer and I’ve physically abused — neglected may be a better word — my body for a long time, through bad posture, questionable technique, throwing myself around a stage, not eating or hydrating as I should have, and sitting too much. Almost all the things I do as part of my job are bad for my body. It’s not just the physical act of hitting things. Rock and roll is about freedom and escapism, it’s like running away to the circus. That’s okay for about 10 years, then bits start to fall off. I was not trained as an athlete, but I have to perform like one.”
His travel schedule is frenetic, exciting, and adds to the problem. The day before he made a stop in Vail to have a hamstring injury checked (and to give us this interview), he performed before 70,000 people at the new Dallas Cowboys football stadium. He left Vail and flew to Houston for another concert the next day. During the two weeks that followed, his schedule included dates in Phoenix; Los Angeles; Norman, Oklahoma; Las Vegas; Vancouver and New York, before performing in Berlin to finish the tour. Larry Mullen is not a member of a flier program; he IS a frequent flier program.
Confidence Based on Evidence
“That’s why Vail has become so important to me,” he says. “It’s a ‘one-stop-shop’ for anybody with sports-related injuries. I consider it an integral part of my maintenance and recovery. The doctors are willing to listen and are anxious to develop new ways to treat you and heal you quickly, based on their expertise and supported by the Foundation’s research. This is very important for me. What sets the Clinic and Foundation apart is the confidence the doctors, scientists, and staff members have in their own ability.”
Mullen now sees an opportunity to get this message out to the rest of the world. “Larry’s international viewpoint and expertise at branding and message delivery is invaluable to our Foundation,” says Mike Egan. “Larry agrees with our mission of taking our expertise and ability to educate around the world so that we can have a positive impact on the next generation.”
“We have an incredible resource here,” concludes Mullen. “I want to re-emphasize that this facility, its resources, the data it has amassed, and its educational programs are not exclusively for the privileged. It is available to all, and we should figure out ways to share this treasure with people in the rest of the world so that their quality of life can be improved.”
Dr’s. Steadman, Philippon and Millett Thanked in the “No Line on the Horizon” Album Credits (see page 19/23)