Musicians of all types gathered at the Westin LAX Sept. 13-15 to support a good cause: St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, which is dedicated to curing cancer in children. They have already pushed the cancer survival rate from 20% to 80%, all the while making sure the families never receive a bill.
The show was founded by Corky Byer in 2012. Byer was living in his car as a teen when a woman knocked on his window and gave him a job interview on the spot. As a way of responding to that act of kindness, he started the autograph show as a way to “pay it forward.” Being sold at the show were autographs by musicians such as Richie Ramone (The Ramones), Mackenzie Phillips (New Mamas and the Papas), and Neil Turbin (Anthrax). For an additional price one could get a photo taken with their favorite musician. Dick Wagner (Alice Cooper) also wrote a song being sung by the artists entitled If I Had the Time (I Could Change the World.) The musicians laid down the tracks in the studio and sang it together for the first time at the VIP party Saturday night. Admission to the VIP party was another donation to help the cause.
Nadir D’Priest (London), and Chris Sanders (Knight Fury) sat together signing autographs and expressing how happy they were to help. Lonn Friend [former editor of RIP magazine] signed pictures knighting fans, “The Queen/King of Rock and Roll.” Janis Joplin’s band Big Brother and the Holding Company talked of Janis and her presence. “She never had the best hair or body, but her presence…” Pamela Des Barres, the famous rock ‘n roll groupie, was touting her books I’m With the Band and Let’s Spend the Night Together for $25-$75 a piece. When asked if she had some great stories she coyly said, “it’s all in the books.” Lynyrd Skynyrd drummer Artimus Pyle was another noted musician who played at the VIP concert Saturday night. He says it is a tribute to Skynyrd, and he is so thankful to the fans for getting them into the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame. Other bands performing that night included Black Oak Arkansas, Missing Persons, Skynyrd Reloaded, and Battle of the Bands winner Still Standing.
In addition to the autographs and photos, Roger Epperson, a specialist in music industry memorabilia, was selling items such as a bike ridden by Freddie Mercury, a statue from Madonna’s Blond Ambition tour, Janet Jackson’s oriental rugs, and multiple signed backstage passes. Metal Babe Mayhem, a self-described “rock ‘n roll lifestyle company,” was selling unique T-shirts and accessories. And, artist John Hoyt had some very interesting pieces of guitars in 3-D art that truly had to been seen to be believed.
Tommy Tutone stayed busy on his computer between signings–perhaps emailing Jenny? The Angels, singers of My Boyfriend’s Back, were really happy and friendly. Black Oak Arkansas were all smiles joking with each other and recounting stories of old shows and interviews. Lead singer “Jim Dandy” Mangrum joked, “My mama raised me right,” as his band mate Rickie Lee Reynolds chimed in, “It was your daddy!”
One fan talked of how excited she was to meet Ted Neeley of Jesus Christ Superstar fame. “The best part was knowing he met his wife on the movie, and now he was at the show with his wife and kids.”
Dave Ellefson of Megadeth was a big draw. “It’s good to see friends, and raise money for St. Jude’s, which is the whole purpose.” Ellefson is currently on a world tour with Megadeth. He thought it was a good time to help while the band was on the tip of fan’s tongues. In addition to his work with Megadeth, he also has a new book entitled My Life with Deth. Former band mate Nick Menza was also signing autographs and promoting his book My Mega Life: My Countdown to Resurrection, a book of government conspiracies, alien cover-ups, as well as a chapter on the band. Menza also has a cymbal line, Soultone Cymbals, which has cymbals etched with custom designs such as the Medusa, flames, and stars. When asked about his relationship with Megadeth, Menza said, “there may be a reunion. Dave says not, but I put the ball in his court. It’s all in the book.”
W.A.S.P. guitarist Chris Holmes was a presence at the convention wearing a jean jacket with a big middle finger on the back. He was talking about his dislike for New York bands, his love of Jimi Hendrix, and his dream of one day being onstage with a bunch of pranksters like him. Holmes even found himself star struck in the presence of Grand Funk Railroad’s Mark Farner.
Everyone involved with the event was happy to socialize with their friends, and happy to support a good cause. Although the event did not draw a multitude of fans, hopefully, with time, the Rock ‘n Roll Autograph Show will be a big hit.
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