Sharing the Stage: Rick Springfield

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Ruben Velasco & Rick Springfield 2014

The rock-and-roll industry might be cut-throat in some respects, but it is also a world of great love and loyalty. Few things demonstrate that as beautifully as this benefit concert Rick Springfield organized to support his long-time friend and guitar technician, Ruben Velasco.

[I better jump in here and tell you that I assume *everyone* knows who Rick Springfield is. If you think you don’t, look up his “Jessie’s Girl” video on youtube and you will likely find yourself going, “Oh yeah… I remember that song…” If that doesn’t trigger it for you, well… then you were probably born after 1990 and there’s no hope in getting you up to speed. Hahaha. Seriously though, how to summarize? Rick is a talented Australian singer, writer and instrumentalist who starred in soap operas and made some award-winning, catchy music in the 80s, and he is still rocking hard today. He’s very cool!]

r4r.jpgIn 2014, Ruben (Rick’s guitar tech) was diagnosed with stage four cancer, a devastating diagnosis for anyone, made even more tragic by the fact that he was only 39 years old. Rick responded right away by putting together an all-star group of musicians and special guests to rock the House of Blues on Sunset Strip in Los Angeles, on August 20, 2014. The lineup included Kenny Aronoff, Bruce Kulick, Gilby Clarke, James Lomenzo, John 5, and Elliot Easton.

The goal was to raise money to help Ruben fight this disease. In addition to ticket sales for the event, donations came in through an auction, in which fans could bid for guitars signed by artists like Kiss, Weezer and Sammy Hagar, and an autographed pair of Rick’s Converse shoes. There is a lot of great info about the show and the auction, including a detailed review of the concert itself, here at screamermagazine.com, if you’d like to know more.

eerockforruben.jpgElliot took the stage with Rick for two songs. They played The Cars’ classic, “Good Times Roll” and did a cover of The Beatles’ “We Can Work It Out.” I’ve added the links at the end of the article. Both performances are terrific, and a blast to watch.

(As a side note, a quick search of youtube (rock for ruben rocket ride) will pull up a fun cover of Kiss’s “Rocket Ride” — Ruben’s favorite song.)

The photo below is of Elliot with the members of Rick’s band, taken on August 19, 2014, during rehearsals for the concert. Ruben is second from the left (retrieved from Rick Springfield’s facebook page).10518707_10152682513501812_3449425247068630057_n.jpg

All of the proceeds from the August 20, 2014, concert went to Ruben’s medical bills. Sadly, Ruben passed away on May 31, 2016, but Rick continued to raise money for Ruben’s favorite charity, the Fur & Feather Animal Sanctuary. The more I discovered about Rick’s efforts, the more my heart filled with respect and happiness. Check this out:

Rick toured in the summer of 2016 and offered a unique opportunity for fans to honor Ruben’s legacy: In each of 28 stops on the tour, a fan could purchase the privilege of joining the crew in Ruben’s stead as an ‘honorary guitar tech.’ This meant that each lucky duck would get to attend the pre-show soundcheck, hang out on the stage and hand Rick his guitars during the show… and personally receive an autographed guitar from Rick himself. A once in a lifetime experience, for sure!

This second fundraiser was also a great success, resulting in over $35,000 (after expenses) being donated to the Sanctuary.  Read this article from Rick’s website to find out how the animal shelter used the money.

I was already a big fan of Rick’s before I heard about this story; what a delight to get a peek into his character and his devotion to his friends. Rick continues to tour, playing both full band and acoustic shows. His official website has all the info you need to track him down and catch one of his amazing shows.

Timeline perspective: this concert took place about two weeks after the release of The Empty Hearts’ first album.

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Sharing the Stage: Bobbie Eakes

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Bobbie Eakes and Elliot Easton, November 8, 2013

If you were a fan of the television soaps anytime between 1990 and 2011 you are probably familiar with the beautiful face and dramatic talents of Bobbie Eakes. She played memorable roles on both The Bold and The Beautiful and All My Children, earning several nominations for Daytime Emmy and Soap Opera Digest awards.

As talented as is she is on-screen, she is also an accomplished singer and stage performer. In fact, she moved to California in order to pursue a future in music. Throughout her acting career she made a sprinkling of albums, performed with other artists, and hosted shows on a country music television channel.

Not long after she left All My Children, Bobbie was encouraged to headline her own show by her longtime co-star and fellow vocalist Jeff Trachta, and she jumped back into her first true love: singing.  She played a one-night-only performance at the Annenberg Theater in Palm Springs on November 8, 2013.

She described the show, called “Turn the Page,” in a 2013 interview with Soaps In-Depth: “It’ll be a big visual and audio retrospective of my musical tastes interwoven with a sort of history and background of me, who I am, where I came from. I’ll talk about the pageants in Georgia, coming to LA… and I can’t ignore the 21 years I spent in soap operas! It’s going to be a lot of fun.”

The show also included a special guest: her good friend, Elliot Easton!

Elliot joined Bobbie onstage while she belted out the bluesy classic, “I’m a Woman.” The two clearly had a great time on stage together, and both gave strong, elegant performances. I love this footage! Enjoy it for yourself by clicking the link below.

These days you can find Bobbie acting in the soap opera web series called Tainted Dreams. She lives in Palm Springs, California, where I believe she co-owns a gym and also runs a boutique called Studio BE.

Timeline perspective: This performance took place about 6 months after the CD release of Elliot’s ‘Tiki Gods’ project, and almost a year before the release of The Empty Hearts’ first album.

 

On the “Golden” Screen

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Elliot Easton & Whoopi Goldberg on the set of Disney’s Golden Dreams, 2001

In 2001, The Walt Disney Company opened its Disney California Adventure Park in Anaheim, California. Unlike the original Disneyland park, this extension was themed after the history and culture of the state of California, and was intended to appeal to adults. As one of the featured attractions for this new park, Disney created a short documentary to be played in the on-site theater. It ran from opening day, February 8, 2001, until it’s final public screening on September 7, 2008.

Whoopi Goldberg starred in the role of Califia, Queen of California. As the narrator, she walks the audience through the major historical milestones of the growing state, from the presence of the earliest native people to the technological dreams of Steve Jobs. I’ll post a link to the complete 23 minute film below… are you wondering why yet?

Well, get this:

Though he is not listed anywhere in the IMDb credits for the film, I read this little gem in Martin Guitar’s “Sounding Board” newsletter, dated January 2001, describing Elliot’s role in the production.

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How crazy-cool is that? How I would have loved to hear him ‘barrage her with Beatles ballads until she swooned’ — lucky lady! Elliot says of the experience, “Whoopi wasn’t in a great mood that day so I started serenading her with all kinds of folkie stuff, Beatles songs, oldies, whatever. She got into to it, singing all the words and was starting to cheer up. The director saw that I put her in a good mood, so they put me up front all day in a two shot with Whoopi Goldberg! Originally I was just gonna be sitting under a tree, pickin’ guitar. She also proposed to me that day. I politely demurred.”

Oh well, at least we get to see him doing his thing, all hippied out. I have a feeling he enjoyed his little part in this, short though it was. See his clip here:

Click here to watch the full-length Disney film: