An army of bonafide rock stars descended on the Fonda Theatre in Hollywood, Thursday, May 12th, for a benefit concert and auction to raise money for the Adopt The Arts organization. The group co-founded by ex Guns N Roses drummer and philanthropist Matt Sorum and Abby Berman, is a Los Angeles-based charity. The organization works to preserve arts programs in U.S. public schools. To raise awareness, Adopt the Arts honors individuals who’ve had a major impact on music culture and who inspire young musicians to follow in their footsteps.
In an exclusive peek at the sound check before the show, it was apparent how immense the talent pool was on hand for the unique event. The two main music luminaries set to be honored at the event, Glenn Hughes and Robin Zander, traded ideas and lead vocals as the sound check progressed. In addition to being long-time supporters of Adopt The Arts, both singers had just recently been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Hughes was inducted with Deep Purple and Zander with Cheap Trick, making the occasion a double celebration
The fascinating sound check served dual purposes. While technicians tuned the equipment to near perfect audio output, the veteran musicians showed an astonishing ability to morph into a cohesive band, practicing perhaps for the first time together, their set list for the evening. Some musicians even played the parts for musicians who couldn’t make it to the sound check, like the truly iconic Black Sabbath bass player Geezer Butler. Butler was finishing up an appearance just a few miles away, at the Hollywood Palladium, making a historical announcement with Ozzy, members of Slipknot, and other heavy metal rockers. That occasion was the announcement of the one time Ozzfest and Knotfest combined, to be held in San Bernadino in September.
Lead singer of Slipknot, Corey Taylor was also in attendance at both events. He arrived at the red carpet event, preceding the Fonda concert, just in time to dart out in front of the other performers who has assembled for a group photograph. Recognizing some of the press photographers from the Palladium event, he shouted out “I just saw all you people”. I couldn’t help myself and shouted back, “I didn’t recognize you with a face,” since he was sans his trademark Slipknot mask. He smiled and retorted “Yeah right its strange to see I really do have a face”. Music fans who purchased VIP tickets were then allowed to mingle with the rockers on the red carpet and eat sumptuous appetizers for more than an hour.
The Fonda show was organized by Matt Sorum and actress Jane Lynch. The organization has helped maintain music programs in the Los Angeles United School District in recent years, especially in underprivileged neighborhoods, and the proceeds raised by the show and auction helped further the goals of the program. Sorum acted as the master of ceremonies proclaiming at the outset, “We’re starting in our own backyard here in Los Angeles, and we’ll continue to adopt schools across the nation. We believe that music and art are universal and necessary languages that unite us all, regardless of our backgrounds.” He then began to introduce a succession of musicians playing in no less than ten rotating lineups. The concert, with a break in the middle for an extended auction of rock memorabilia, all together lasted more than four hours.
In addition to Hughes, Zander and Sorum, musicians on hand included, Chad Smith (Red Hot Chili Peppers), Geezer Butler (Black Sabbath), Corey Taylor (Slipknot), Gilby Clarke (Guns N’ Roses), Billy Duffy (The Cult), Dean DeLeo and Robert DeLeo (Stone Temple Pilots), Steve Lukather (Toto), Franky Perez(Apocalyptica), Stevie Salas (Mick Jagger), Paul III (Tina Turner, Disreputable Few),Damon Fox (Big Elf and The Cult), and a surprise appearance by Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry.
After several opening rock covers and an ever changing line up, Hughes took over the lead vocal spot for an extended set. Sorum gave him a special award for long supporting the Adopt The Arts program and Hughes responded with a heart-felt speech. “I don’t have children but I have long supported this program, with my lovely wife, which is so important” He pointed to her in the front row of tables while thanking everyone for attending. He then proceeded to play some of his most classic songs, written with Deep Purple and other bands.
Despite recently having undergone double knee replacement surgery, the 63 year old rocker exhibited some truly astonishing vocal skills, hitting octaves that few young rock singers could duplicate. Hughes played a mini acoustic set on guitar and sang with impeccable vocals. He ended the set bringing back the band for a full rocking version of the Deep Purple classic “Smoke On The Water”.
Sorum staggered on stage at half time, to introduce an entertaining auctioneer, with an astonishing talent of rapid fire word-smithing. An extensive auction ensued, with an array of signed rock guitars and rock art pieces raising a fat chunk of change. At one point, a guitar signed by Slash fetched a top bid of $11,000.00. Then the auctioneer brought out a second one offering it up for the same price to a second bidder. But the biggest cash infusion came at the end of the auction when the CEO of Coffee Bean presented a check of $50,000.00 to the organization.
There were so many highlights, the second half of the concert it is hard to say what was the strongest performance. Corey Taylor notched up the excitement with his youthful energy and domineering stage presence. For many the next performance may have been the coup de gras, with a hair raising cover of the Black Sabbath song “Paranoid”. With Geezer on bass the band took the song into a new dimension. Even Sorum, got into the jam spirit, playing the end of the song standing up at hid drum kit.
Zander played the last set of the night leading the band in classic Cheap Trick anthems, like “Hello There,” “Surrender,” “Dream Police,” and “I Want You to Want Me.” He even played a mid-set solo performance of “The Flame,” on acoustic guitar.
The grand finale featured Zander and Hughes teaming up on an all-star version of “Come Together,” where they were joined by surprise guest Joe Perry, with Steve Lukather, Will Lee, and Gilby Clarke. After singing an impromptu “Happy Birthday” to Billy Duffy, they closed out the night with Led Zeppelin’s “Rock and Roll,” featuring dual drumming by Sorum and Chad Smith. They actually switched drum kits in the middle of the song. It was a great night for the rock performers and music fans in attendance, and for some lucky children in Los Angeles.
Glenn Hughes will be doing a solo tour this summer and Robin Zander will be touring with Cheap Trick.