Guitarists Dave Navarro (Jane’s Addiction) and Billy Morrison (Billy Idol) and an all-star band are gearing up for the third “ABOVE GROUND” benefit concert on December 20 at The Fonda Theatre in Hollywood, CA. After sitting out 2020 because of Covid, Navarro and Morrison will be joined by a diverse group of special guests including Billy Idol, Perry Farrell, Etty Lau Farrell, Corey Taylor, Taylor Hawkins, Mark McGrath, Steve Stevens, Franky Perez and others TBA in the coming weeks. Tickets go on sale Friday, October 22. Click here to watch NAVARRO and MORRISON discuss the event.
As with previous successful events in 2018 and 2019, this immersive evening of art and music with special guests will celebrate the vinyl album as an art form, with the performance of two seminal albums in their entirety, while at the same time raising awareness and funds for the treatment of mental health. Profits from the event will be donated to MusiCares®, the leading music charity that acts as a safety net for the music community. Navarro and Morrison talk about the event in a Q&A below.
“We are so grateful for Dave and Billy’s support of MusiCares with this incredible benefit concert, and for their continued support of our mission over the years,” said Laura Segura, Executive Director of MusiCares. “The proceeds from this event will help music professionals who need various kinds of support, from physical and mental health, addiction recovery, preventative clinics, and more.”
In 2018, Navarro and Morrison, with an array of special guests, performed Kings Of The Wild Frontier by Adam And The Ants and then The Velvet Underground & Nico by Lou Reed and The Velvet Underground. In 2019, it was David Bowie’s The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars and the Stooges’ self-titled debut album, on which the world was introduced to Iggy Pop. This year, they’ll be celebrating two more musically/culturally seismic albums: Lou Reed’s Transformer (1972) and Sex Pistol’s Never Mind The Bollocks, Here’s The Sex Pistols (1977) which continues their trend of featuring one American artist and one British artist.
ABOUT “ABOVE GROUND 3”
–How did Lou Reed’s Transformer album shape you musically and why do you feel the album still resonates in our culture? As one example of its impact, the smash hit “Walk On The Wild Side” introduced many to transgender people.
DAVE and BILLY: It’s exactly that for us–the realization and education of gender and fluidity, and all the imagery that went along with that in the 70’s. It’s an unnecessarily tough subject now, so imagine Lou Reed in the 70’s addressing sexuality and gender? A total groundbreaking album that tore some barriers down. Which is what we are trying to do with the subject of mental health and Above Ground.
–Can you talk about the effect Sex Pistol’s Never Mind The Bollocks, Here’s The Sex Pistols had on you and the effect it still can have on people discovering it for the first time, both musically and lyrically?
DAVE and BILLY: This album is it for both of us–the one that changed everything. When we heard this for the first time as kids, something shifted forever inside us. The sound of Steve Jones’ guitars and the intelligent anger from [Johnny] Rotten about things that actually resonated with us, even at that early age. The band released only one official album and were together initially for about 23 months. And 40+ years later, it still shakes the foundations when you play it. That says it all.
–The upcoming event continues your trend of choosing to perform an album by an American artist and one by a British artist. Can you talk about this?
DAVE and BILLY: Truthful answer? Absolutely not planned! But now that you say it, we think it’s a tradition we should continue!
–Each ABOVE GROUND event has been marked by unique special guests and musical pairings. Which highlights come to mind from the 2019 show?
DAVE and BILLY: Sharing the stage with the incredible energy that is Jack Black has to be a huge highlight for us. Also watching Billy Idol open the whole Stooges set with an incredibly powerful version of “1969” put a huge grin on our faces. And finally, when you play an album in its entirety, there is always a song that is…shall we say…challenging! So having Dave sit down, get intensely personal, and make “We Will Fall” from the Stooges album his own will stick in our minds forever!
–There can never be enough said about how addiction, accidental overdoses and suicide have impacted our society, including of course in the music world. And MusiCares® plays an important role in helping musicians with addiction problems. Can you talk about how pivotal a role the organization plays in the music world, including perhaps in ways the public may not be aware?
DAVE and BILLY: MusiCares has literally saved more than a few of our friends from dying. Their role cannot be overstated, and we have precious few organizations that actively step in to help people on the brink. On the frontline, finding and paying for beds in treatment, arranging therapy and counseling, and actually speaking up on a public level about the importance of mental health are all reasons why we continue to do what we can to draw attention to this subject.
MusiCares helps the humans behind music because music gives so much to the world. Offering preventive, emergency, and recovery programs, MusiCares is a safety net supporting the health and welfare of the music community. Founded by the Recording Academy in 1989 as a U.S. based 501(c)(3) charity, MusiCares safeguards the well-being of all music people through direct financial grant programs, networks of support resources, and tailored crisis relief efforts. For more information please visit: https://www.musicares.org/