Imagine Dragons Ben McKee
On Top of the World
Local Forestvillian Turned International Rock Star
By Aleta Copestakes
When you grow up in a small town like Forestville, you pretty much know EVERYONE. The people I’ve known most of my life are behind the counter at the coffee shop, in the bank making deposits, filling up at the gas station, or at the local bar on a Friday night. This is OUR town. Some of us leave, some of us stay, some of us return. The thing we will always have in common with each other is the sense of familiarity.
My classmates were relatively the same from Kindergarten through High School. I can look at old photographs and recall watching these dorky little kids become rude teenagers, then successful (or not) adults. Even if we aren’t friends now, I know more about them than they would probably feel comfortable admitting.
Most of us Forestvillian babies didn’t venture too far from home. But there were a few daring spirits who yearned to stretch their wings a bit wider than the rest of us, who saw great things in their future, or maybe were just following a foolish dream that led them far away.
One of my childhood friends did just that and has experienced a level of success far beyond any imaginable measure. I remember Ben McKee as a little boy, with bright blonde hair in a bowl cut. He was a bit of a goof, the class clown who always got better grades than I did. He dressed funny, had an awkward laugh, and an automatic reflex to make a silly face whenever a camera was pointed at him. He got along with everyone and was made even more popular because he had the coolest mom out of all of us.
In high school he was in band and I was in choir, so our paths crossed a lot. On occasion I would catch him strumming away on his bass in the music room. He was part of a group of boys we had grown up with who bonded through music and would play together on the weekends while the rest of us were at the football game.
As the natural progression of adulthood goes, we lose touch with the people we saw nearly every day for the last 12 years. But when Ben and I reunited via Facebook and I learned about his band Imagine Dragons, I decided to come to a show on their first-ever National Tour. They were playing in Denver, in a small bar called the Larimer Lounge. It was in the old industrial part of town in a sketchy neighborhood. Since the band was still relatively unknown, Ben got my friends and I on the guest list and spent some time catching up with me before the show. The room was barely half full, the opening bands were mediocre punk with whiny Emo undertones, so I was admittedly fearful that they were going to be terrible. But when they came on stage the energy in the audience immediately shifted. The excitement was palatable, and every single person there knew the words to every single song. I was astounded.
I have since seen two more Imagine Dragons shows, with my fourth coming this month. I can’t get enough of them, and I’m not too shy to admit that my daughter and I sing along (loudly) to their latest single Radioactive nearly every time we’re in the car.
Imagine Dragons has topped iTunes charts, had their first single It's Time go Platinum, appeared on every late-night talk show in the country, toured around the world, and sold out every single show they have played. Needless to say, Ben McKee is a legitimate Rock Star. It’s jaw-dropping to watch your childhood friend, born and raised in our tiny town, achieve fame and career success beyond his wildest dreams. Our entire community has an overwhelming sense of pride for his accomplishments and the hard work it took him to get where he is.
Stories like his aren’t common, and not many of us can say we’re friends with someone famous. But it is an honor that I cherish and I look forward to telling my grandchildren about Ben. Heroes come in many forms, and he is a hero in his own right for showing the next generation of Forestvillian babies that ANYTHING is possible and that it’s okay to dream big. Every once in a while, dreams do come true.
Here's a YouTube of Imagine Dragons on the David letterman Show on February 22, 2013 playing Radioactive - hey - Ben cut his hair short!
This is fun - On Top of the World - Live in Atlanta Georgia - amateur recording but you get the audience enthusiasm
Then again in Divan Du Monde, Paris - that's Ben on the right. This is the song that was performed by an elementary school choir at President Obama's inauguration
I really enjoy this version of It's Time from 2011 - it's one of my favorite versions - early on - acoustic
and check out this one - more than 16 million views since April 2012...It's Time..the polished version - amazing.