It was an affluent suburb, part of the San Fernando Valley that would give rise to the stereotype of the Valley Girl.But manicured nails and lawns were not the way of the world in the Eberts' home. In 1887, a child was born in Germany to a Polish count and an Irish-American singer who had met in Monte Carlo.When Carl's own son, Michael, was about 13, the family moved to the United States.Michael Ebert shared his father's love of classical music but also studied gestalt therapy at Esalen, the controversial California-based retreat centre and institute.When he wasn't working, I'd go up there to draw and one day the music he was playing, Beethoven I think, delivered to me the idea of life and death. A love of hip-hop from the age of seven and a penchant for drugs as he hit his teens would lead to a breakdown in Alex's relationship with his father.Isolated from k parental influence, his heroin addiction would begin in earnest.The affair was illicit, and the child, Carl, was handed over for adoption to a family called Ebert.The boy became an actor, then a theatre director, before sealing his place in opera history by artistically directing the inaugural Glyndebourne festival.
"My dad would be doing therapy in his office upstairs and I'd hear screaming, because they'd be role-playing and he'd be acting as his patient's father and they'd get upset and hit him and all this stuff. I tapped my dad on the shoulder and asked him if I was going to die and he said, 'Yeah.'" A few years later, such knowledge would begin to take its toll.In the 1960s and 1970s, Esalen was part of the Human Potential Movement, which believed, to oversimplify, that society benefits if the inner self is freely expressed.To this day you can see Michael Ebert, shot on Super 8, freely expressing his inner self at the start of the video to Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros' "Desert Song" on You Tube.Addicted to heroin and disillusioned with the music business, there was only one thing left for this scion of musical royalty to do: reinvent himself as a messianic figure called Edward Sharpe and spread the word of hope through music, mischief and mayhem There are times in every man's life appropriate to the contemplation of death and Beethoven, but five years old is probably not one of them.
Alexander Ebert – who performs under the name Edward Sharpe and whose friends call him Alex – was growing up in the Sherman Oaks district of Los Angeles.He was by this time making music in a band called Ima Robot and learning some important lessons about the music industry.