Danny Liston: Nevermore to Roam
By Mia Evans
The 700 Club
It was in the early 1970s when Danny Liston, his brother Pat and their friend, Max Baker, started a band named Mama’s Pride. It didn’t take long for the little known band from St. Louis to make a name for themselves and sign with Atlantic Records. Danny Liston was living his dream.
Mia Evans of The 700 Club talked with Danny and his wife, Pam:
Danny: We were guys from south St. Louis. My brother and I were raised by a single mother. All of a sudden, we went from nothing to huge mansions and limousines, and everything was at our disposal. I mean, you had to be careful what you asked for, because it would happen.
As the band’s success grew, so did the temptations.
Danny: The whole sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll - head first into it. My main drug was alcohol. I loved cocaine. But if I had to choose between a bottle and a vial of coke, I‘d always go with the booze.
Behind the music and substance abuse, lay a deeper struggle.
Danny: The only time I was happy was when I was performing. But, I remember on the last song of the set, just being like, ‘I don’t want this song to end because I know it’s going to happen -- the minute the song ends and the minute I walk off this stage, it’s going to be waiting for me. And I’m going to go right back into that depression, right back into that anxiety, right back into that -- I mean I just lost hope.
Atlantic Records dropped the band after only two albums. Eventually Mama’s Pride broke up. Danny settled down and married his longtime girlfriend, Pam. He lost his passion for music and headed in a new direction. He started a painting company, and later he and Pam opened up a restaurant outside St. Louis, called Seamus McDaniels. But Danny’s old habits followed close behind.
Mia: Your dad suffered from alcoholism and it lead to his death. Were you ever afraid the same thing would happen to you?
Danny: Not initially. It’s strange, when I look back on it, that I never thought that was the problem. I thought the anxiety was the problem. I thought the booze was the solution.
Pam knew otherwise.
Pam: He was drinking too much and coming home too late. I was carrying most of the workload and things like that, and I would fight with everything I had. I could fight for a long time to make this marriage work and to make our kids have a father, what I thought was normal.
Danny: It was a challenge for her. But I figured she knew what she was getting when she married me.
Pam: And I remember crying out to God saying, ‘I can’t do this anymore. I’m so tired, Lord. I just can’t do this anymore.’ And I perceived deep inside of me a voice said ‘It’s about time.’ And I understood that He wanted me to let go. I was the one in the way and He wanted me to trust Him and I did.
Instead of fighting with Danny over his addiction, Pam began praying for her husband.
Pam: It became what I was supposed to do, as his wife, not to ever let him go.
Danny: And all of a sudden I would have these overwhelming needs to hear about God. It would soothe my spirit and I knew it was a result of my wife praying.
Danny finally reached out for help to beat his addiction.
Danny: I always said I didn’t want to die on my boys the way my dad died on me. And I told God, ‘God, I don’t see the way out’. I mean, the only way I saw out was dying and I said, ‘I don’t know what to do. I’m scared.’
That night Danny attended church with his wife and the pastor had a surprising message.
Danny: He said, ‘One of you in this group prayed about your drug and alcohol addiction, and you told God you don’t see a way out. But he wants you to know, if you trust him with your life, He’ll show you the way out.’ I remember standing there and it was like 60 million watts of light, just because I thought everybody knows it’s me.
It wasn’t long before Danny became a Christian. He dove into the Bible. He says god gave him the power to turn his life around. Today Danny is clean and sober.
Danny: It’s been 21 years. I stepped over into God’s plan for my life. Literally, I’ve seen the bumper stickers that say, ‘I didn’t quit I surrendered.’ I’d always think, ‘that’s kind of clever.’ No that’s real. I totally surrendered my life.
Pam: When I see my husband now, there isn’t any chains on him. He’s free. Thank you Jesus. Oh, my God, thank you Jesus.
Danny: God has restored my marriage. He gave me a woman who saw something in me when I didn’t see anything in myself. She saw me through His eyes.
Danny also returned to his first love -- music. Mama's Pride reunited in 1992, and they still get together for reunion shows. Danny just released a solo project called 'no other name.' Through his music, he shares the hope of God’s transforming love.
Mia: Do you feel like you’re reliving your dream?
Danny: I am reliving my dream. I’m living proof that God can make old things new. You know, He’s taken the dreams that I thought I’d blown because of my substance abuse and brought them to new life. God’s grace, God’s mercy -- are so much bigger than we can comprehend. God loved me as screwed up as I had been, as many selfish things I had done. But that’s how good God is, He’ll take you as you are.
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