Lukas Rossi identifies with Fortune's plight
TORONTO - Cast aside by INXS and apparently destitute, J.D. Fortune still has a friend in fellow "Rock Star" winner Lukas Rossi.
Fortune, who shot to stardom when he won the television reality contest "Rock Star: INXS" in 2005 and became the new frontman for the Aussie rock group, recently told "Entertainment Tonight Canada" that his bandmates ditched him at a Hong Kong airport after a 23-month tour, leaving him to live out of a truck.
A representative for the band later denied Fortune's claims and said he had planned on tapping the Toronto singer for a future project but had "no reason to call him now."
Rossi, a fellow Torontonian who won the next season's contest and fronted a band called Supernova, said he feels for Fortune.
"For a guy to kind of like put his entire life into reviving a band that once was, and then kind of get dumped off like yesterday's garbage, is a little much to take," Rossi told The Canadian Press in a telephone interview from his home in California. "Especially considering they toured together for a couple years, I'm sure they bonded a little more than a handshake."
Fortune, who spent much of his childhood in New Glasgow, N.S., made headlines when he auditioned for "Rock Star," saying that he'd recently been sleeping in his car and panhandling to raise cash to feed his dog.
In the "ET Canada" interview, Fortune admitted to heavy cocaine use while on tour, which may have played a role in his ouster.
Rossi, who invited Fortune to stay at his house through his blog, won the right to sing in a band that included Jason Newsted, Tommy Lee and Gilby Clarke. Though Rossi says he and Lee still write together sometimes, the group was effectively disbanded at the conclusion of their world tour.
Though Rossi considers the show and the subsequent tour "probably the best time of (his) life," he understands why Fortune struggled with drugs.
"When everything is given to you, it's kind of a vicious circle, you kind of think it's the thing to do," said Rossi, who has said he also had problems with drugs. "It's just hard to keep balance in a world that's so fast and crazy.
"I mean, women and you name it is given to you for free. It's just like a movie, man. The cliche. If you don't keep your eye on the ball (and) your best foot forward, it's very, very easy to fall off track and lose yourself."
On the other hand, Rossi, who's preparing a solo record under his own name for release this fall, says he doesn't blame the "reality television machine." Ultimately, he says, it's up to the artist to make the most of the opportunity.
"When it's all said and done you better have your game in check -- your own music, and your own dreams," he said. "You've got to take from it what you can. It's not a free ride, you've got to work hard every single day."
And his advice for Fortune?
"Keep in mind what you auditioned for the show in the first place for," he said. "Keep writing music and be honest to your fans and just love the music, man. And that'll take you as far as you need to go."