The 7th Annual Rock Against MS Benefit Concert and Awards Show happened Saturday, March 30, at the historic downtown Los Angeles Palace Theater, with the help of comedian hosts Hal Sparks (Zero1, Talk Soup) and Debra Wilson (MADtv) along with a special performance by Marky Ramone’s Blitzkrieg featuring Greg Hetson (Circle Jerks/Bad Religion) and a host of other supporters, performers and volunteers who offered their time to help bring awareness and educate the public about Multiple Sclerosis (MS), while raising money to build the first, of many, MS resource centers called The Rock House.
Nancy B. Sayle, former publicist to some of the biggest names in rock and MS sufferer herself, once again took on the gargantuan task of producing a star-studded concert and event supported by her many friends in and out of the music business. Having been diagnosed with primary progressive MS she knows first-hand what this disease can do to the body and mind and so through support and an undying dedication Sayle is building a place where people with MS can go, free of charge, to get the needed support, comfort and healing.
This year’s event started with the “orange carpet” arrivals with celebrities walking the carpet while media took photos and conducted interviews. Some of the attendees at the step and repeat this year included Andy Dick (comedian), Tiffany (80s pop icon), Naomi Grossman (American Horror Story), Kevin Davitian (Borat), Wendy Starland (Music/Producer), Christy McGinity Gibel and Todd Gibel (Little Women), Gretchen Bonaduce (Re-inventing Bonaduce), Christine Devine (KTTV Fox 11) and many more.
There was a silent auction which included a Steve Vai signed signature guitar, a kiosk selling t-shirts and other memorabilia in the lobby along with local radio station supporter KLOS and the prize patrol. Attendees could partake in a full-bar and food and there was a VIP lounge and after party for VIPs, performers, where guests who donated were lucky enough to mingle with the stars. On stage, Hal Sparks and Debra Wilson took turns as hosts of the event, introducing the musical acts and educating the audience about the progressive disease.
With near capacity attendance this year’s concert was about artists we lost and their music: Vinnie Paul (Pantera), Aretha Franklin, Pat Torpey (Mr Big), Matt “Guitar” Murphy (The Blues Brothers), Yvonne Staples, Delores O’Riordan (The Cranberries), Ed King (Lynryd Skynryd), Fast Eddie Clarke (Motorhead), DJ Fontana (Elvis Presley), and Alan Longmuir (Bay City Rollers). Performers appearing on stage, volunteered their time and talents and included Ace Von Johnson (Faster Pussycat), Michael Devin (Whitesnake), Phil Buckman (Fuel), Marq Torien (Bulletboys), Kiko Loueiro (Megadeth), Howie Simon (Winger), Ben White, Matt Starr (Mr. Big), Kudisan Kai (Chaka Khan/Elton John), Sean McNabb (Quiet Riot, Dokken), Jesse Blaze Snider, Sonia Harley, Nicki Tedesco, Ira Black (I Am Morbid), Sam Bam Koltun (GabrieLa), Patrick Stone (Budderside), Johnny Martin (LA Guns), Bill Burr (comedian) and backup singers, dubbed, The Big Sexy. Additionally, visual artist Norton Wisdom performed live art created on stage during the show. Headlining act this year, Marky Ramone’s Blitzkrieg was more than a treat, it was the only LA appearance of the band, and Marky Ramone flew his entire band out for the event.
The highlight of the show was the presentation of the Richard Pryor Platinum People Awards. Sayle presented the awards to those who’ve dedicated their time and talent over the past 7 year and in honor of their dedication and efforts were presented with a framed, engraved platinum record. The recipients this year were Ace Von Johnson, Michael Devin, Marq Torien, Ira Black, and backup singers Lisa Margaroli and Lisa Foreman. During the awards ceremony, Hal Sparks, Debra Wilson and the crew surprised Sayle with a birthday treat and signed memorabilia along with a rousing rendition of the “Happy Birthday” song”, and the noticeably moved Sayle was rendered speechless as she fought back tears.
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