While we were waiting for The Doors' guitarist Robby Krieger to take the stage at the Whisky a Go Go in West Hollywood on March 26, my buddy, who had already had more than enough to drink, asked if I thought he should get another beer. After I replied, "What would Jim Morrison do?," of course he got himself a beer.
Krieger was the headliner for the second annual Rock Against MS show, a rock-and-roll fantasy concert extravaganza whose goal was to raise awareness and money for the fight against multiple sclerosis. The show was put together by L.A. publicist Nancy Sayle, who responded to her own diagnosis of MS by calling on her friends in the music business to help fight the disease.
Krieger's band consisted of Phil Chen on bass (best known for his work on Jeff Beck's Blow By Blow album), the great Kenny Aronoff on drums, Kit Potamkin on keyboards and Dave Brock, who sounded and even looked a bit like Morrison, on vocals. Their half-hour set consisted of the classics "Break On Through," "Love Me Two Times," "Roadhouse Blues," "Riders on the Storm" and "Light My Fire."
You might know that The Doors were once the house band for the Whisky a Go Go, and it was a rare treat to see Krieger back at the legendary venue, now celebrating its 50th year of operation. Krieger recalled those days when Brock was complaining about the monitor mix, pointing out that "back in the '60s, we didn't even have monitors."
Krieger's set was one of many highlights of the evening. Another was witnessing half of The Runaways — Cherie Currie and Lita Ford — sharing vocals on "Cherry Bomb" and "Queens of Noise." Of course, The Runaways also graced the stage of the Whisky many times back in the day.
Ford also sang Thin Lizzy's "Jailbreak," The Rolling Stones' "Jumpin' Jack Flash" and her own "Kiss Me Deadly," fronting a band that included Steve Stevens on guitar. This was after Ford was presented with Guitar Player Magazine's Certified Legend award, making her the first "girl in the club." Currie gave a moving introduction of Ford, saying that "I knew then [when they were bandmates in The Runaways], even though I was a child, that I was in the presence of a legend."
Speaking of Stevens, who is best known for his guitar work with Billy Idol, he killed it with covers of Deep Purple's "Highway Star" and Led Zeppelin's "Dazed and Confused," with Franky Perez on vocals.
In fact, there were a huge number of outstanding covers over the course of the evening: Other highlights included The Who's "Won't Get Fooled Again" performed by Gilby Clarke, James LoMenzo and Stephen Perkins, with Clarke doing a cool approximation of the synth parts on guitar; Black Sabbath's "War Pigs" sung by Chas West; Rainbow's "Long Live Rock and Roll" sung by Joe Retta; The Beatles' "Come Together" and Sweet's "Fox on the Run" sung by Jeff Scott Soto; and Bruce Kulick playing early Kiss songs "Deuce" and "Parasite," originally recorded before his tenure in that band. Also cool was Jack Russell's Great White playing their hits "Rock Me" and "Once Bitten, Twice Shy."
The show kicked off with a tribute to Dimebag Darrell by Nick Bowcott, a set of covers of Tom Petty and Johnny Cash songs by the band Petty Cash (get it?), and Gretchen Bonaduce singing Blondie's "One Way or Another," Pat Benatar's "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" and "I Love Rock and Roll," best known from (former Runaway) Joan Jett.
If you're wondering how all this music could possibly fit into one evening, the show continued virtually nonstop for more than five hours.
And it must be mentioned that many other musicians in addition to the ones mentioned above contributed to the show, including, I'd like to think, the spirit of Morrison, all joining together to Rock Against MS!
— Jeff Moehlis is a Noozhawk contributing writer and a professor of mechanical engineering at UC Santa Barbara. Upcoming show recommendations, advice from musicians, interviews and more are available on his web site, music-illuminati.com. The opinions expressed are his own.