Thirty years after wowing the world as a child prodigy guitarist, Nathan Cavaleri has opened up about the challenges of life after childhood fame.
“He’s been through the wringer early in life, through life and death, through fame and less fame.”
– Ash Grunwald, musician.
As a boy, Cavaleri, now 38, jammed with Mark Knopfler from Dire Straits, toured with BB King and did the rounds of the US talk show circuit.
“Having that type of attention as a kid has both inspired and haunted me,”
– he told the ABC’s Australian Story program.
“There was a time when I thought I would never perform again.”
At age five, Nathan was diagnosed with leukemia. He spent long periods in Sydney Children’s Hospital where he found the best way to escape the pain and stress of treatment was to practise his guitar.
The Starlight Foundation took the Cavaleri family to London for Nathan to meet his guitar hero Knopfler.
Nathan then became a familiar face on TV shows such as Hey Hey It’s Saturday, whose long-time host Daryl Somers introduces this episode of Australian Story.
Cavaleri toured with Jimmy Barnes and performed in the United States with blues legends including BB King, Etta James and Bonnie Rait. He had a role in a Disney movie, Camp Nowhere, and even appeared in an episode of Baywatch.
It was a glamorous life of hotels and limousines for a few years but Cavaleri reveals he became embarrassed by his notoriety as a teenager.
Anxiety attacks linked to unresolved issues over his childhood cancer ultimately stopped him performing.
But now, he’s back. He has reclaimed his name and, for the first time since he signed with Michael Jackson’s record label as a 12-year-old, has released an album.
Producer: Ben Cheshire