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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Lyrics: Come Back Down

Come Back Down by Cap’n Swing

Oh if you ever come back down, if you ever come back down I want to come

Oh if you ever come back down, if you ever come back down I want to come

 

I was just spreading myself around, I was just feeling around now

And somewhere I had this Sunday notion that I was cold and you were roasting so I

Stabbed into the thick black air and then I grabbed until I felt your glare

I was meekly too mortified and you were sleekly trapped by suicide and you said

 

Oh if you ever come back down, if you ever come back down I want to come

Oh if you ever come back down, if you ever come back down I want to come

 

Ophelia, you’re a rush on the run now and I feel like I’m coming undone now

I’ve been chained to the left wing of thunder and you were trying to keep yourself down under

You were 13, and a blonde submarine, thirteen down in St. Augustine

Red light on a Saturday night and you were somewhat confused and a little bit used and you said

 

Oh if you ever come back down, if you ever come back down I want to come

Oh if you ever come back down, if you ever come back down I want to come

Come with you

 

Yeah yeah yeah

 

Out there like a hypnotized baby, out there in the womb of despair

Out there keep everywheres now now I said, out there trying to feel it all somehow

Out there in the dream trader’s vision I said, out there, trying to cop a decision

 

Out there, well they really don’t care at all

Out there, well they really don’t care at all

Out there, well they really don’t care at all

Out there, well they really don’t care at all

 

Oh if you ever come if you ever come back down I want to come with you with you

Oh if you ever come back down, if you ever come back down I want to come

 

Said oh, if you ever come back down

If you ever come back down

I want to come with you, want to come with you, come with you, come with you

Elliot said:

elliotparis“Hooks are not always limited to the music world as such, something every Madison Avenue advertising mogul knows all too well. Anything that can repeatedly grab your attention and hold it can be termed a hook. It’s a showmanship device, if nothing else, be it Liberace’s candelabra, Jimi Hendrix’ cunnilingual soloing or Dolly Parton’s hi-beams.” — Guitar World, December 1987

In the studio with Billy Sherwood!

Billy Sherwood is an accomplished multi-instrumentalist, engineer, producer, songwriter, and former bassist for the band Yes (among many other projects). In 2005, he organized a tribute to Pink Floyd’s album, The Wall. Billy gathered up a bunch of successful musical artists and had them cover each song from that iconic 1979 release, and put the results out on an album called Back Against the Wall. The roster of talent involved is highly impressive: Keith Emerson, Tommy Shaw, Aynsley Dunbar, Fee Waybill, Ronnie Montrose… the whole group is listed here on wikipedia. What a kick those recording sessions must have been, huh?

Elliot blistered the CD with his lead guitar playing on track #9 — a cover of “Young Lust,” with Glenn Hughes on vocals and a stellar band (bassist Tony Franklin, drummer Aynsley Dunbar, guitarist Bob Kulick, and Billy on keyboards). I’m not a huge Pink Floyd fan myself (don’t throw things at me!) but this is a great version of a cool song. Sending out a kiss of thanks to my dear friend Vanessa H for putting it on my radar!

Here is the cover version (a link to the original is below in case you want to compare).

Lyrics: Tools of Your Labor

Tools of Your Labor (written by Elliot Easton and Jules Shear; © Elektra/Asylum Records 1985)

Did your mother ever tell you to stay out of the street?

You’re going to end up just like your mother then: smooth, regretful and weak

The material you’ve been given may not be cut to such a fashionable length

You must look closely and develop its value; and its value lies all in it’s strength

 

The tools of your labor are sharp and strong (are you sleeping?)

The tools of your labor may be right or wrong (are you sleeping?)

You don’t have to be bitter or complain with a smirk

Just make the tools of your labor work

 

His life, if you believed him, was like a sack of novels all combined

He lived with four girls in a garage up in Shady Side so he can tune up and get his front end aligned

He’s left so many other homes bleeding, he often exchanges all the facts

And he claims to be a victim of perfection, now all he wants to do is relax

 

The tools of your labor are sharp and strong (are you sleeping?)

The tools of your labor may be right or wrong (are you sleeping?)

You don’t have to be bitter or complain with a smirk

Just make the tools of your labor work

 

You no more deserve your life than a child’s who sleeps in the streets

Who just stares at you, freezing; you just gotta compare your defeat

 

So goodnight and goodbye my sedentary friends, though your sleep will restless for you

‘Cause your dreams must all be earned and then that’s how dreams come true

 

The tools of your labor are sharp and strong (are you sleeping?)

The tools of your labor may be right or wrong (are you sleeping?)

You don’t have to be bitter or complain with a smirk

Just make the tools of your labor work

Elliot said:

elliotparis“I won’t travel or even go on a day trip without a guitar. Even if I don’t pick it up, if it’s not there, I go nuts. I have to at least know that it’s within arm’s reach.” — Guitar Player magazine, February 1986

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.