Some truly memorable moments in a 36 year career…
These are just a few… Thanks to all who’ve made it memorable! – Jeff Albright
Every time I picked up the phone for my boss, Lee Solters, and it was Michael Jackson on the line. “Hi, it’s Michael for Lee.” As cool as it was crazy… “If Michael calls, get me no matter where I am,” said Lee. That, truly, meant anywhere. Ironically, Lee passes away the same year as Michael. I had the opportunity to meet both Tito and Jermaine in early 2010 and express my condolences in person regarding Michael’s passing.
While working for Lee, I handle the press room at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena where Michael Jackson (during the Bad World Tour) is presented a proclamation from Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley declaring November (1988) as “Michael Jackson Month.” There are very few people that are larger than life. Michael was certainly one of them… Two months later, I actually get to see the show at the Sports Arena. I take a former Miss North Carolina and have excellent floor seats, only to have Magic Johnson stand directly in front of us.
The installation of the Frank Sinatra hotline at S/R/F. It was one phone that sat at reception next to the general switchboard. When the Chairman of the Board called, people moved… and they moved fast. Lee met Frank Sinatra at Caesars Palace in the mid-60’s (while handling the hotel) and represented him for more than two decades. Both were, simply put, one-of-a-kind classics.
Walking across Sunset Boulevard on May 18, 1995 with the Doors – Robby, Ray and John. My friend said, “Take a moment and realize… we just walked across Sunset Boulevard with the Doors.” We were coming from Isaac Tigrett’s office and heading to the House of Blues down Sunset for a live video conference using the new, groundbreaking, CUSeeMe technology. You could actually visually interact with fans as they ask you a question and The Doors were the first band to do it… And how do I remember the specific date? It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. I brought the idea to the band and had been working on it for a few months. I invited all of the local media and many responded they would be there… CNN, E! Entertainment, Entertainment Tonight and others… it promised to be a big success. None of the major national media outlets showed up and I went into panic mode as we were awaiting their arrival… I got on my (rather large) cell phone and immediately started making calls to the assignment desks. CNN, who had confirmed, informed me that Elizabeth Montgomery had passed away and Alexander Godunov had been found dead at the nearby Shoreham Towers, which was just a stone’s throw from the House of Blues. We, ultimately, had one or two local network affiliates in attendance along with VH1 and some print outlets including The Hollywood Reporter but the national outlets covered the passing of Montgomery and Godunov. A stunning turn of events and a bit of a PR nightmare. Just prior to going online with fans in the Foundation Room (which was, ultimately, a success), Robby, Ray and John tell me not to worry about the day-of-event coverage… So much work went into this… On the back balcony, Ray further elaborates, “It happens,” then proceeds to tell me a pertinent and memorable story from 1968. I’ll never forget the words of encouragement. Working with the Doors for quite a few years (and manager Danny Sugerman) was easily one of my career highlights. Years later, I discover the press release regarding the event and see that it was initially slated for Wednesday, May 17, but a VP at HOB couldn’t accommodate that date and we changed it to Thursday, May 18, just a week prior to the event. As they say, “timing is everything.” On Wednesday, June 7, we give it another shot, conducting a video chat with a company called America Online, one of the early pioneers of the Internet. Also at the HOB, it goes well and receives a good amount of press including CNN. Going to Pere Lachaise to visit Morrison’s grave site in April 2016 was a surreal experience.
Meeting Cheap Trick for the very first time at the Pat Sajak Show/CBS Studios/1989. I grew up in, arguably, the best era of music — the 60’s and 70’s — and, while in high school, Cheap Trick was undeniably one of my favorites. They had a string of great albums with In Color in ’77, Heaven Tonight and Live at Budokan in ’78 and Dream Police in ’79. I was “all in” and still remember my friend, Rob Schwan, asking, “Have you heard the new Dream Police album?” then throwing me the keys to his Toyota Celica so I could go take a listen at lunch time in the CHS parking lot. By the late eighties, I had already met a few well-known artists but finally meeting the Trick in person was something straight out of a movie. Long story short, Rick and I had already spoken via phone late one night and he arranged for me to come to the taping of the show. There I was, when they turned into the hallway after the taping and started walking my way. A memorable moment. I never sang or played an instrument but, if I could (outside of, perhaps, Plant and Page or Jagger and Richards), I would want to be Robin Zander and Rick Nielsen. It was short but such a thrill. I would talk to both quite a few times over the years but never had a chance to represent the band, itself. But thanks to a candid phone call in the early-mid 90’s from then manager, Ken Adamany, I completely understood and accepted my fate. I love the Fast Times at Ridgemont High scene… “Can you honestly tell me you forgot? Forgot the magnetism of Robin Zander, or the charisma of Rick Nielsen?” Great stuff. I’ve seen them more times than I’ve seen any other band… So glad they finally got inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2016.
Speaking of the illustrious Rock Hall, here’s hoping the ever-so-deserving, yet apparently overlooked, Foreigner, Bad Company, Peter Frampton, REO Speedwagon and, maybe even, Styx, get in. Are there two better rock singers on the face of the Earth than Lou Gramm and Paul Rodgers? I think not… Frampton, REO and Styx rocked with the best of ’em. While I’m aware of some of the politics involved, this honor is long overdue for all five… A glaring omission.
Meeting Bruce Springsteen backstage at the Grammy Awards in 1995, while coordinating television press for the show. Ironically, several members of the media ask me to introduce them to “The Boss” as if I know him personally… Thanks to our client – longtime E Street Band guitarist Nils Lofgren – I’m able to take my daughter to one of the Working On a Dream shows on her 12th birthday in April, 2009.
Going to Vice President Gore’s residence (United States Naval Observatory in Washington D.C.) with client Herbie Hancock and other music notables while in town for a Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz event. While having drinks and eating appetizers, Tipper Gore leans over the balcony telling us she’ll be down soon and to enjoy ourselves in the meantime…
Escorting Barbra Streisand to the play Hurlyburly featuring Sean Penn at the Westwood Playhouse. I quickly find myself pictured with Barbra and her son, Jason, in various tabloids. The Star wrongly refers to me as a “stagehand.” I don’t get to meet Sean Penn, but I do get to meet Ron Silver, Charlie Sheen and Danny Aiello. A few weeks later, I see Danny Aiello at the 20th Century Fox Studios commissary. He introduces me to Bruce Willis who is sitting at his table.
Standing next to Stevie Wonder while Herbie Hancock received his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (September 1994). I was truly surrounded by musical greatness.
Being a part of the Rock To The Rescue (and Volunteers for America) 9/11 benefit concert conceived by Tommy Shaw of Styx and Kevin Cronin of REO Speedwagon… at my suggestion, part of the proceeds go to my friend’s sister and her family of four boys who had lost their dad in the 9/11 World Trade Center tragedy. I meet one of the boys at the Continental Airlines Arena/New Jersey concert. I will never forget it.
Robby Krieger, Vince Neil and Brian Setzer perform at our wedding in October 1995. Robby performs Doors classics “Light My Fire” and “Riders on The Storm” with Setzer performing “Rock This Town” and “Brand New Cadillac.” Vince joins Brian on “Wild Thing.” Kelsey Grammer gives us a Cuisinart. A wonderful wedding.
Attending Vince Neil’s wedding at L’Orangerie and sitting at the family table with his dad and son (5/28/2000). My wife and I had a great time. We had known Heidi Mark (bride) for more than five years (as she came with Vince to our wedding) and she was the coolest of the cool. Nikki Sixx was the Best Man at the wedding.
Going to Ray Manzarek’s house on Rodeo Drive just prior to a television interview that I had set up. He played “Light My Fire” on his keyboards as the two of us talked about the history of The Doors. He was truly one of the most articulate and well-spoken musicians I have ever had the pleasure to work with… From the moment he heard Jim Morrison recite the lyrics to what would become “Moonlight Drive” on Venice Beach until his final days, he was all about The Doors. RIP Ray. We miss you.
The Doors of the 21st Century show at the California Speedway in Fontana, California on June 9, 2002. Such a memorable show and I wish someone had taped the entire concert. Ian Astbury was excellent, as I knew he would be… He was a huge fan of The Doors. One night at the Whisky A Go-Go, a few years earlier, Ian had hoped to join Robby and Ray on stage at the Whisky’s 35th Anniversary party. Ian and I practiced the lyrics to “Peace Frog” together in the rafters but, due to a lengthy set by Johnny Rivers (read: the wonderful Nancy Sinatra not too happy), the night went overtime and Ian didn’t get a chance to hit the stage. Memorable. Going back to the Speedway gig, Stewart Copeland was superb. Robby and Ray, of course, genius, as always. I took my daughter to the show… she was only five. They played “Five to One” (with some disturbing war-scene images on the big screens) and I had to cover her eyes for a moment. We sat side-stage the whole show. Would love to see the footage of this show emerge some day!
U2 giving me not just two, but six tickets to any show I wanted to attend… all incredible shows by one incredible band. The first time I saw U2? Opening up for the J. Geils Band at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena on March 27, 1982. I slept overnight at the local Sears Ticketron at Fallbrook Square in Canoga Park, CA. My tickets were dead center, first row, on the aisle… behind the stage! It was like looking at it all from the band’s perspective. Amazing. Working on the Barry Fey documentary and watching “U2 Live at Red Rocks: Under a Blood Red Sky” during the campaign was great fun.
Attending Kelsey’s engagement party at his house in Agoura… NBC’s Warren Littlefield gives Kelsey a ribbon-wrapped red Dodge Viper as a gift from the network, which Kelsey eventually crashes… Thankfully, he was okay. My wife and I dance next to Kasey Kasem and his wife during Kool and the Gang’s “Celebrate.” Funny stuff. Kasey RIP.
Stephen Pearcy and Warren Demartini of RATT perform at my 30th birthday party in 1992 at Andy Pearlman Studios in Marina del Rey… 100 people were invited but 250 show up… Introduced by my friend, DJ Tawn Mastrey, I get up and sing Cheap Trick’s “Surrender” with the house band, leaving no doubt as to why I don’t have my own band. Due to excessive noise, the police arrive and ask questions… when they find out it’s RATT, they park the car, roll down the windows and begin to rock with the masses.
A year earlier, Tawn, who was a prominent DJ at KQLZ-FM “Pirate Radio” in Los Angeles, introduced me to Bill Gazzarri — “the Godfather of Rock ‘n’ Roll — at his club, Gazzarri’s, on the Sunset Strip, which was just down the street from my office (9039 and 8730 Sunset Boulevard, respectively). Of course, he had his signature hat on… one of a kind. Tawn and Bill, RIP.
It should never be forgotten how much fun this era was… the Strip was happening in the late eighties and early nineties. G N’ R, Motley Crue, Ratt, L.A. Guns, Faster Pussycat, Warrant, Poison, Slaughter, Kik Tracee, Bang Tango and others. The Warrant “Cherry Pie” album launch party thrown by Columbia Records in 1990 was a blast as was the “Say Cheese” party I coordinated for RATT at the Golden Monkey in Santa Monica. Later that year was the 5th Anniversary Party for the Cathouse at the Hollywood Palladium. I handled Riki Rachtman at the time and did the press for the event. Backstage was a scene… Traci Lords, Ice T, Dave Mustaine, Scott Ian and others. I watched some of the show from the balcony standing next to Keanu Reeves. It rocked.
Meeting Paul Newman at Tower Records in Woodland Hills, California while picking up gift bags for Vince Neil’s golf tournament. He was alone… no entourage. Other than the employees, we were the only two in the entire store. When I told him that I was once the assistant for his longtime publicist Warren Cowan, he welcomed me. We pondered the classical and jazz CDs for a moment and talked about car racing. Both Paul and Warren passed away in the same year and we proudly support Paul’s Hole in the Wall Gang Camp (www.holeinthewallgang.org).
My first entertainment industry experiences at Rogers & Cowan in 1983. At 21, it was all exciting. Every day was a new experience. Celebrities like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Priscilla Presley, Jaclyn Smith, Sherman Hemsley, Julio Iglesias, Barbara Carrera and others would just be wandering the hallways on any given day. One moment, I’d be picking up Danny Kaye or Joan Van Ark and the next I’d be delivering packages to Sean Connery, Rod Stewart and Gene Kelly. At night, I’d be at functions with George Burns on one side of me and the Beach Boys on the other side. It was all a bit surreal at the time. Special thanks to Bonnie Fleming, Alan Nierob, Sandy Friedman, Michael Binkow, Sarah McMullen, Nancy Sullivan, Ramon Hervey II, Paul Bloch (RIP) and, of course Warren (RIP), who were all supportive from the very beginning.
Pitching Steven Spielberg with an idea in the mid-90’s and getting an immediate call back from his office… “Steven Spielberg’s office on line one.” For someone not directly affiliated with the movie industry, this was pretty cool. A few years later, my friend meets him in line while waiting to see a movie at the Cinerama Dome in Hollywood. Real people.
Being a part of Rogers & Cowan’s signing of Duran Duran shortly after I became an intern in 1983. I happened to be in the right place at the right time when one of the major account executives (who had just received a call) asks, “Does anyone know anything about Duran Duran?” They had a bit of a buzz in the States and I inform all as to that fact, along with touting the band’s immense popularity. R&C gets the account and works on the re-released Rio album and that year’s Seven and the Ragged Tiger. Almost 30 years later, they perform at the London 2012 Summer Olympics.
Going to Fort Benning, Georgia with Queensryche… They perform in front of the troops during their American Soldier Tour in May 2009. We get to take a ride in an M1A1 Abrams tank and an M2 Bradley tank and have an opportunity to meet the troops. An unforgettable experience. A special thanks to all who have served and currently serve…
Meeting David Bowie… I came into work early one morning and while working at my desk/cubicle, my associate said, “Jeff, I’d like you to meet someone.” I didn’t look up right away so she asked again… I look up and there’s David Bowie leaning over my cubicle. To this day, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars remains one of my favorite albums of all-time. Starman, RIP.
Breakfast with Peter Frampton at the Sunset Marquis… I hear “Show Me The Way” on KLOS-FM a few minutes after our breakfast while driving on Sunset Boulevard. Felt like the summer of ’76!
Breakfast with the Stray Cats in Miami in the early 90s. Clients at the time, we went to Miami for an album launch performance for Choo Choo Hot Fish. I meet Joe Walsh for the first time at their show and would go on to work with that decade.
Lunch with clients Eric Burdon, Ric Ocasek, Paul Kantner and Brad Delp, all on separate occasions. Ric, Paul and Brad, RIP. Ric and I were seated at the center table on the patio of the then-popular Columbia Bar & Grill at the corner of Sunset and Gower (circa ’95). Talk about the center of attention. During my lunch with Brad in the early 90’s, I become speechless for a moment, then say, “It just hit me that I’m having lunch with Brad Delp.” He laughed. A terrific singer and a wonderful person (gone too soon). Who didn’t love Boston?
Having lunch with Spirit’s Randy California at Sagebrush Cantina in December of ’96. He was excited about his new music and we talked about it for a few hours. He subsequently sent me all sorts of good stuff… CD’s, a few “Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus” t-shirts, an autographed poster and a really nice letter. We planned to get together again right after the holidays and his trip to Hawaii. He went to Hawaii and never came back, drowning off the coast of Molokai on January 2nd, saving his twelve year old son in a rip current. Tragically gone too soon at the age of 45.
Dinners with clients Rob Halford, The Fixx and Lynyrd Skynyrd (Johnny Van Zant, Leon Wilkeson and Rickey Medlocke). While having dinner at Musso and Frank Grill in Hollywood with the guys from Skynyrd, the waiter asks Rickey to put on a long-sleeved shirt before dining… true story.
Lynyrd Skynyrd bassist Leon Wilkeson telling me his story and memories of the tragic plane crash in 1977. Not something I would bring up, but I was definitely all ears when Leon began to talk about it… We were having a drink in the bar at the Universal Hilton after a show at the Universal Amphitheatre (August 1997). Leon suffered serious injuries but, of course, survived… he sat next to Steve Gaines on the plane who didn’t make it…
The elevator ride with Diamond Dave… The plane ride with Weird Al… The car ride with Mick Fleetwood… The van ride with Felix Cavaliere.
Hanging out with The Who’s John Entwistle upstairs at the Rainbow Bar and Grill on Sunset.
Dress rehearsals, sound checks and intimate performances… from Van Halen, Fleetwood Mac, Tom Petty and Pat Benatar to The Kinks, The Ventures, The Guess Who and The Doors of the 21st Century… On stage, side stage, or just a few feet away, all were truly spectacular.
Saying hi to Madonna, Michael Hutchence of INXS and Chris Farley all in the same night at a Grammy party at Chasen’s in Beverly Hills. We attend the Grammys and after party with Herbie Hancock. Speaking of Madonna, sure nice to see my friend from high school, Donna De Lory, become one of Madonna’s longtime back-up singers. She moved to Nashville with her family the year I graduated and we lost touch. The next time I saw her was on stage with Madonna in the 1991 documentary, Truth or Dare. She made it.
Saying hi to Johnny Cash at the Country Music Awards at the Universal Amphitheatre while representing Dwight Yoakam. Garth Brooks comes up and introduces himself shortly thereafter, as does Vince Gill. Class acts… all of them. The next day, I write a short handwritten note (remember the old days?) to Johnny’s agent, Marty Klein at A.P.A., who brings up my letter in a large staff meeting, telling all in attendance how wonderful it is, and that everyone should get in the habit of writing personal notes. My good friend, Bret Steinberg (now at CAA), calls to tell me about the accolades. Pretty special.
Meeting George Clooney, Anthony Edwards and Cameron Diaz all on the same day at the Long Beach Grand Prix (Vince Neil, my client, was in the race). My wife – who never asks for a photo — takes a picture with George. I get home only to find out that the roll of film in the camera had already been shot. My wife forgives but doesn’t forget… Years later, I see George at the Studio City Golf Course driving range and tell him of the incident… he offers to retake the photo.
Attending Motley Crue’s induction into Guitar Center Hollywood’s RockWalk and Fleetwood Mac’s taping of The Dance at Warner Brothers Studios in the same week (May 1997).
Hanging with Mike Tyson for the day while at the Las Vegas Hilton for the Julio Cesar Chavez / Jose Luis Ramirez fight (1988). Mike – growing a bit tiresome of the photo opportunities – says, “What are you, the publicist?” He laughs while I momentarily fear for my life. I fly over to the event with Chevy Chase, Dennis Hopper, Josh Brolin and Paul Rodiguez among others. I meet the legendary Muhammad Ali on the same day.
Escorting Cynthia Plaster Caster and “Miss Pamela” Des Barres to the premiere screening of The Banger Sisters at The Grove in Los Angeles. I meet Goldie Hawn after the movie, then end up meeting Kate Hudson, Chris Robinson of The Black Crowes and Geoffrey Rush at the after party.
John Ritter, myself, and a handful of others look hysterically for a restroom at the “Greenacres” / Harold Lloyd Estate in Beverly Hills that supposedly has 26 bathrooms during a Michael Dukakis presidential fundraiser. Lee Solters and I were there with Barbra Streisand.
At a private celebrity golf tournament at Lake Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks, California (that we did PR for…), I say hi to Bill Murray, Joe Pesci, Andy Garcia, Stephen Stills and Wayne Gretzky (who’s as nice and casual as one would imagine). I see Jack Nicholson but don’t bother him. Someone asks Bill Murray for an autograph… He says, “Aren’t you even going to say hi first?” and walks away. It was classic.
Meeting Ozzy Osbourne… He was coming into the office for a day of interviews in conjunction with the No More Tears project. There I was, standing at the urinal of the office bathroom when the door opens and Ozzy walks up beside me and says hello.
Hanging out with client Sam Kinison… he once made me laugh so hard at the Comedy Store on Sunset that I thought I tore stomach muscles… Other times he made me laugh so hard that I just couldn’t breathe. There was no one like Sam. RIP.
Seeing Roger Waters of Pink Floyd perform solo at Irvine Meadows / Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre in 2000… I had sixteen $20 bills in my hand for my friend and our wives only to be told by management at the box office that “Roger has taken care of your tickets and you’re up front (fourth row on the aisle).” During the tour, he signs a guitar for me, which now graces the entry of our house. It’s the only signed guitar that I own.
Being within arm’s length of Jennifer Aniston, Brad Pitt and Mark Wahlberg at the premiere of the movie, Rock Star. The movie theater in Westwood gets overloaded and the Fire Marshall keeps many of us from entering. Gene Simmons literally tries to pull Robby Krieger (the only member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in attendance) into the lobby past the Marshall but we’re told to go to the overflow theatre down the street. We do so, but the lower brass at Warner Bros. still can’t find a seat for Robby (and won’t allow me to ask anyone to give up their seat), so he and his wife, Lynn, end up going home. In a gesture of pure class, Fred Durst of Limp Bizkit — who tells my wife she has “the most beautiful eyes I’ve ever seen” — offers us his four seats after hearing of the incident. Unfortunately, Robby and Lynn had already left.
Running into Quentin Tarantino at the Laurel Canyon newsstand shortly after Pulp Fiction is released in ’94. Robby Krieger and I eventually go to a midnight showing in New York City. Still one of my favorite movies of all-time… Can’t believe September 2019 marked the 25th anniversary of its release. In January of 2012, I was invited by Nokie Edwards and his wife Judy, to go with them to the set of “Django Unchained” at the Melody Ranch in Santa Clarita, California (near my old ‘hood) but couldn’t extend my NAMM/California trip for two days. Don’t ask me why… I don’t know… I’m a huge fan of Tarantino’s and regret not going to this very day.
Taking my parents to see Styx at The Greek Theatre in August of 1996 (a “Hot August Night” – a little Neil Diamond reference here). I was a fan of the band’s while growing up and ultimately working with them was a labor of love. I had gotten my parents tickets before to a variety of shows (including Michael Jackson) but this one was a little more personal… like a “Maybe I made it” moment. The Greek set me up with great VIP parking but, while we were on the list to get into the lot, we weren’t given a rear view mirror placard. We came out after the show only to find that our car had been towed. The Greek gladly paid for the ticket. I, personally, thought it was a great show (with Kansas) but remember that the L.A. Times review wasn’t as favorable. At another Styx show at the Greek Theatre, Tommy and wife Jeanne introduce me to their friend, actress Angie Dickinson, who came to the show. I escort her to her car. Sometimes, it’s good to be me. This was one of them.
Unexpectedly meeting Joe Strummer of The Clash… I was at Universal Studios Hollywood covering a radio station interview with then clients Joe Walsh and Brian Setzer. While walking down the CityWalk corridor, I look behind me and see Joe Strummer with his family. “Aren’t you Joe Strummer?” “I am, indeed,” he said. He wasn’t there for anything else, other than taking his family out. He was good friends with Brian and was ecstatic to hear he was there…
Watching my nine-year-old son being led to center stage by Mark Volman (The Turtles featuring Flo & Eddie) for the encore performance at a Happy Together 2012 show. If you can’t have fun with Mark, Howard Kaylan, Micky Dolenz and the others on this tour (which has included Mark Lindsay, Chuck Negron, The Buckinghams) then you don’t know how to have fun. Great show. Great guys. A year or two later, I take my son to a special Happy Together performance for an AARP convention and realize that we’re standing with three pretty cool Gary’s… Lewis, Puckett and U.S. Bonds.
Any concert with my wife and kids!
I’ve always made a point of trying to make Rock and Roll memories for my family and friends over the years. For years I’ve thought, “You never know how much longer some of these artists are going to tour and we should see them every chance we get…” Some of my biggest highlights have been taking my kids to see the bands I grew up listening to… both have been to over 50 concerts. On her 11th birthday, my daughter went to see one of her favorite bands at the time, Panic! at the Disco (Honda Civic Tour). They sang “Happy Birthday” to her and signed a poster of their Rolling Stone cover… On her 12th birthday, I took her to see Springsteen and she hung out backstage. My son has met and taken pictures with such legendary rockers as Alice Cooper, ZZ Top, Robin Zander and Rick Nielsen of Cheap Trick, Joe Walsh, Dave Mason, Paul Rodgers, Lou Gramm, Pat Benatar, Patrick Simmons/The Doobie Brothers, Rik Emmett/Triumph and Lonnie Jordan/WAR. And he’s still in high school… Life’s all about memories and we’ve enjoyed and appreciated each and every moment.
Seeing and meeting the legendary Bobby Keys on the Rock Legends Cruise II… hands down, my favorite sax player of all time. I’ve been to a few hundred concerts in my lifetime (300+?) and this show was absolutely magical. There were other well-known artists performing on the ship that night and only a few dozen showed up for Bobby’s show. They missed out. Bobby Keys and The Suffering Bastards (Dan Baird, Chark Kinsolving, Michael Webb, Robert Kearns and Brad Pemberton) were spectacular and my wife and I enjoyed it from right in front of the stage. We still think it was one of the best moments in our music-filled lives. If I could have any band play at my party, these were the guys… they were that good. “The Letter,” “What is Life,” “Whatever Gets You Thru the Night” and numerous Rolling Stones songs such as “Live with Me,” “Brown Sugar,” “Bitch” and “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking”… Hit after hit after hit. Bobby, you were one of a kind. RIP.
My son walking off the stage with Alice Cooper after his show on the Rock Legends III Cruise in 2015. My son had met Alice the year earlier while on tour and became a huge fan. Shortly after meeting Alice for the first time, he was watching something on TV and I asked what… “Super Duper Alice Cooper,” he responded. He was 11 at the time. On RLC III, Alice did the usual great show in the big ballroom and we all rocked out to “School’s Out” and other songs. When he performed the deck show a night or two later, he told my son to come back right after (the finale) “School’s Out” and say hello. He did. Alice grabbed his hand and they walked off stage together. I said to Alice, “You are to him what John Lennon was to you.” What a moment.
Seeing Lynyrd Skynyrd on their “Last of the Street Survivors Farewell Tour” at Ameris Bank Amphitheatre in September of 2019. I’d worked with the band for quite a few years in the mid-90’s through early 2000’s but hadn’t seen a show in ages. The show, itself, was one of the best I’ve seen them do but what made it truly special was saying hello to Johnny, Dale, Rickey and Michael after all these years. We were on our way to our seats from backstage and I told my son to wait a second for Gary Rossington to emerge. We leaned up against the wall in a dark hallway when the door opened and Gary came out with his guitar tech, signature hat and all. It was something straight out of a movie and we’ll never forget it. Of course, the band played “Freebird” and my son got to see it live. An epic show.
Just being in the presence of music royalty… I’m so fortunate to have worked with or have met most of my rock heroes.
I should’ve said hi to Ringo when I had the chance… and I should’ve gone to see the Led Zeppelin performance at the O2 Arena in London in December, 2007! I had tickets. Thankfully, a good friend enjoyed my ticket and had a great time.
The above, of course, only represents the memories that are “fit to print.”
In retrospect, I wish I could’ve lived more in the moment and taken it all in.
Those were the days my friend, we thought they’d never end… but they did… and they were memorable!
“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” – John Lennon
“Your ballroom days are over, baby.” – The Doors (“Five to One”)
(Although who’s to say that I won’t run into Robert Plant, Keith Richards, Roger Waters, Roger Daltrey or Steven Tyler somewhere down the road!)
REMEMBERING PHYLLIS DILLER, ANDY WILLIAMS, DICK CLARK & JIM RISSMILLER
At the age of 18, just prior to my first year in college, I got a job working at a new restaurant in Westlake Village, California owned by Phyllis Diller called Philli Dilli Chili. I was the cook along with Phyllis’ son-in-law, Marv. Her daughter, Stephanie, managed the restaurant. You’d be hard pressed to find a nicer, more genuine, person than Phyllis. She was as kind as she was funny. We kept in touch a few times since, and I’m glad that our paths crossed. She was a legend and a pioneer in comedy. She will be missed.
I was also saddened to hear about the passing of Andy Williams. While working at Rogers & Cowan in late 1983, I was sent to Andy’s studio to have him record a promotional spot for the 1984 Olympic Gold Coins. I was there less than an hour. Months later, in the summer of ’84, I see him driving his black Rolls-Royce convertible in Malibu making a left turn in front of me at an intersection. I shout out, “Hey Andy!” expecting maybe a brief courtesy wave. Instead, he sees me and shouts back, “Hey Jeff!” I was stunned… The girl I was with said, “Wasn’t that Andy Williams?” Why, yes, it was… My mom and dad were big fans and I was honored to meet Andy. I remember sitting in front of the TV as a young kid and watching his variety show. I enjoy hearing his songs around Christmas and will always remember that day at the beach. He was cool.
In the early 90’s, I received an invitation from Dick Clark to join him for hors d’oeuvres at Le Dome restaurant on Sunset. It was a small gathering of about a dozen prominent music publicists in an intimate setting. Dick wanted to meet all of us and talk about the current state of the music business and where we thought it was heading. There was a reason he was legendary and this is proof… What a class act.
As a kid growing up in southern California in the 70’s, I would check out the Calendar section of the L.A. Times every Sunday to see the major concert announcements. It was all about Wolf & Rissmiller, Avalon Attractions and the Universal Amphitheatre. When I saw shows at the fabulous Forum and L.A. Sports Arena, this guy would often emerge from the tunnel next to the stage. He was the coolest of the cool. It was Jim Rissmiller. I remember thinking, “I want to be that guy.” He was everywhere you wanted to be… When I was in college, I would frequent Wolf & Rissmiller’s Country Club in Reseda. Shortly after I graduated, Jim taught a music and concert-business class at UCLA and I was one of the students… more like a disciple. It was such an honor and pleasure to finally meet him and spend some time with him. I got an “A” on my final and I still have it 30 years later. In the mid-90’s, I taught the class on the music business at UCLA and wish I was able to thank him for the inspiration. He brought music to the masses that resulted in many screams and many smiles. Jim passed in April 2019 at the young age of 76. Well done, my friend. Rest in peace.