District News

Benny Mardones rocks Canajoharie High School with message of perseverance

A veteran rock ‘n’ roll star told Canajoharie High School students that in life they must be able to handle being told “no.” And when the answer is “yes,” they need to be prepared to take advantage of the opportunity.

Benny Mardones, whose signature hit “Into the Night” skyrocketed him to the top of the music charts in 1980 and again in 1989, visited Canajoharie High School Thursday, Dec. 1. He spoke in the school auditorium relating to students his experience exploding into fame after 14 years of hard work in the music industry. He also spoke about succumbing to drug addiction, his battle to overcome Parkinson’s disease and the resurrection of his career in Upstate New York.

“As you go into life to follow your dreams, you’re going to be told ‘no’ a lot. You’ve got to be able to handle the no’s,” Mardones told the students. “I’ve heard more no’s than yes’s but I took advantage of the yes’s and I expect you to do the same.”

Mardones’ hit “Into the Night,” which still today is one of the most played numbers on the radio, has been the theme song for two Canajoharie High School proms in the last 30 years. When Canajoharie technology teacher Dwayne Heroth heard Mardones was headlining at the Turning Stone Casino Friday, Dec. 2, he called the musician’s management and the rocker agreed to speak with the students about his life and career.

Mardones’ appearance was one of the high school’s Student Teacher Activity Rally (STAR) activities of the year. Each year, the STAR program organizes activities surrounding a theme. This year’s theme is “Stay Humble, Work Hard and Be Kind.”

Mardones spoke about his work in the music industry and his professional and personal relationships with notable musicians such as Roy Orbison, Bruce Springteen and Jon Bon Jovi. His rise to fame, he said, came with pitfalls. He said he was recused from his $1,000 a day drug habit by friends when he moved to Syracuse.

“If it wasn’t for Central New York, I’d be dead. I’d be six feet under,” he said.

The musician also spoke briefly about his 16-year fight with Parkinson’s disease, which doesn’t stop him from touring and performing.

In closing, Mardones, who received more than one standing ovation during his appearance, encouraged students to pursue their dreams.

“Follow your dreams because this is still a country where you can make your dreams come true,” Mardones said.

Captions: Top: Benny Mardones speaks from the stage in the Canajoharie High School auditorium Thursday, Dec. 1. Middle: Canajoharie High School technology teacher Dwayne Heroth presents Mr. Mardones with a “Stay Humble, Work Hard and Be Kind” t-shirt. Bottom: Students pose with Mr. Mardones following his appearance.