Student finds fresh aspirations after battle with drugs

Heather Armas/Contributing Writer

William “Billy” Sergio is not like anyone; his experiences have given him a unique perspective on life and music. Sergio is presently a junior business major, minoring in marketing and the bassist for the band, Seizurely.

He was born in Santa Monica, California to an Italian father and Dominican mother. His father, who was known as the “King of Infomercials,” lost his company and money when Sergio was two years old.

It was then that his family moved to Miami. The move to Miami was a way of getting away from the crazy world of Hollywood and a way to get closer to family since Sergio’s mom’s great aunt lived in Miami.

At 21 years of age, Sergio has conquered demons that most people never learn to leave behind.

“I have always been an impressionable kid,” explained Sergio. “I grew up around television and movies that made hardcore drug use look okay.”

With this mindset, Sergio tried cocaine for the first time at the age of 14. As his addiction got worse, he was kicked out of Coral Gables Senior High School’s International Baccalaureate Magnet Program and started attending Southridge.
The expulsion was looked upon as just a phase that he was going through.

At his worst, Sergio was spending $200 on cocaine without a second thought. “My parents had and still have no idea about my additions. They knew something was wrong but never knew exactly what it was.”

“At the time, I knew I was dying and I was okay with that. I was 17 [and] the drugs were taking a heavy toll on me,” said Sergio. “I had nothing to look forward to; I was lost. My parents took me to therapy a few times but that did nothing; I didn’t want to speak to anyone about it. As an only child, I was pretty content that they [my parents] wouldn’t badger me about talking about my problem.”

At 17, Sergio bought himself a guitar; it was through music that he found a new light in life.

He gave up his addiction almost immediately.

“Music has always been my passion but with no self confidence, it was easier to turn to drugs than to pick up an instrument. Music is what truly saved my life and I have no problem letting people know that,” said Sergio.

For two years, he went on to study under the bass player of the Bee Gees, Matt Bonelli, whom he credits for learning how to be a good bass player in such a short amount of time.

He can also play the piano and the guitar but chooses to play the bass above all other instruments. “I chose electric bass because the strings were bigger and everyone plays guitar. Plus you cannot pop and slap on a guitar,” Sergio said.

Sergio’s list of influences include: George Clinton, Herbie Hancock, Chuck Mangione, Marcus Miller and many others. “I’m stuck in the seventies because I can’t bring myself to find music from today’s day and age that I like. Music today is horrible; even the Red Hot Chili Peppers sound washed up now.”

Now, Sergio is a student at Miami Dade College with an associate degree in music.

He is currently working on finishing his bachelor’s degree while also trying to get his band’s name out there. Seizurely, which is a Jazz/Funk/Fusion band, is gaining a following though playing gigs all over South Florida.
“My most recent gig was at Black Point Marina. We will be playing there again on Sept. 21. Good music is music people can make love to,” said Sergio. “That’s something I hope people find in my music.”

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