Wesley Geer is a professional guitar player, songwriter, recording artist, and producer who signed his first record deal with Jive Records with the band he founded, Hed PE. Wes toured the world for nearly a decade, the band sold over 1 million records worldwide, and their music was featured on MTV and radio stations, as well as having numerous placements in popular feature films, TV, and video games.
Unknown to most people at the time, while Wes was masterminding and leading his band to their first-ever record deal, he was a full-blown drug addict, using alcohol, methamphetamines, and other drugs daily, for years. Despite his efforts to quell his addiction and control this progressive disease, things continually got worse. After nearly a decade of touring the world with the biggest names in rock, Wes realized his life was imploding. He finally stepped back in 2003 for a “lifestyle change” that ultimately landed him in rehab in 2004. There, he learned the tools for recovery and latched onto the stories of others who had overcome their addictions—people who were far down a deadly hole but somehow got sober and achieved great things.
The following years found Wes as an instructor at Fusion Academy and Learning Center, an alternative school where he taught music to sixth through twelfth graders. Students who had struggled in traditional academic settings often succeeded in Fusion’s adaptive, one-on-one learning environment, where Wes would write and play songs with one student at a time. His love of teaching blossomed as he noticed that the students’ level of engagement and buy-in were much greater than in a typical music lesson: they were transformed with hope and self-esteem.
In 2010, Wes decided he wanted to get back into music and started praying and meditating on what that would look like. Not long after, and only because he was sober, he was offered the gig as a guitarist with the legendary rock band Korn. He traveled the world with the multi-platinum stars, performing in more than 40 countries and appearing in numerous live televised and studio recording sessions.
In 2012, wanting to create something that could help people who struggled the same way he had, Wes founded Rock to Recovery (R2R), a nonprofit organization designed to provide the cathartic, uplifting, healing experience of connectivity through music for people in various treatment and recovery programs.
It’s a therapy Geer himself turned to after years of abusing drugs and alcohol. He recalls that, during his stay in rehab, music was his “most intimate friend” during his darkest days, allowing him to cope with the roller coaster of emotions that consumed his early days in treatment.
“I remember being so raw, newly sober,” Wes says. “I picked up my guitar and I just started strumming, and that simple act of strumming a few chords had an impact on me like never before.”
Rock to Recovery, with Wes and his staff of nine fellow sober musicians, now partners with over 60 treatment programs across Los Angeles, Orange, and San Diego counties, providing nearly 400 sessions each month to at-risk youth, wounded warriors, and others struggling with addiction, mental health, and eating disorders.
On March 3, 2017, in an appreciation of the work Wes and Rock to Recovery do with the Air Force Wounded Warrior Program, the USAF Thunderbirds offered him a ride in an F-16 fighter jet—a privilege few people ever get.
In Wes’s own words, “No gig has been more enjoyable, no high better, than the work we get to do with Rock to Recovery.”
Interviewed by Winn Claybaugh, this real-life rock star shares his personal story of “sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll” that led to full-blown addiction and eventual recovery. Through his Rock to Recovery organization, Wes now combines his gifts of music and recovery to give back and help others.