Paul Stanley and Lita Ford 'Lick it Up' for Rock 'n' Roll Fantasy Camp -- Video
In a small rehearsal space on the fringes of North Hollywood, a band is working hard. Feeling their way several times through the Bo Diddley staple, 'Road Runner,' they're finally getting comfortable with each other. Then the band's leader decides to crack the whip.
She stops the band and issues a few orders. "You, come in harder after the first verse," she tells one of the two drummers. "And you," she tells the singer, "I want you to start singing up around here," before hitting the note she wants him to tackle.
The singer has a suggestion after that. "Tonight, I'm thinking of ripping my jacket off and kind of throwing it at a certain point." The boss thinks about it. "Okay," she says. "Do that."
Just another band rehearsal? Not really. The two drummers, two guitarists, bass player and vocalist, have just met a few days earlier. And the bandleader? The woman whose playing styles is as distinctive as her blonde hair and striking good looks: Lita Ford.
Welcome to Rock 'n' Roll Fantasy Camp, where average, everyday people can live out their rock and roll dreams in the span of just a few days.
The brainchild of producer David Fishof, this is the camp's 14th year.
With years of experience producing rock tours throughout the world, Fishof first got the idea for the camp as a way to give music fans the opportunity to see their rock dreams become reality by learning from some of the most influential artists in the industry. That dream first crystallized in 1997 and over the years, he has delivered some of the world's top rockers to mentor, teach, perform and just plain hang out with fans.
For this most recent edition, Paul Stanley from KISS served as head counselor and was joined by Ford, Vinny Appice, Nils Lofgren, Rudy Sarzo, Bruce Kulick, and a host of other industry heavyweights.
Fishof told Noisecreep that for him, the best part of the experience is the looks on the camper's faces. "We get to make dreams come true," said the effusive impresario, "We get to connect fans with their rock and roll heroes. But the rockers get a lot out of it, too, believe me. They love the camaraderie, they love sharing stories and they love being part of something that brings true joy to people."
Fishof, who just exudes optimism and good will, also has a good time. "I'm not a musician but I love music," he said. "So for me, I get to experience the thrills, too. And we've grown our franchise into something where we can really help people, as well. We've got corporate programs now where the rockers can adapt their advice into leadership seminars and more – the power of rock of roll can live well beyond the concert hall or recoding studio."
True, but back in the rehearsal hall, getting the song right is all that matters. Later that night, the band (dubbed 'Honkin' On Bobo' after the Aerosmith album title) will be playing a three-song set at the Playboy mansion along with the dozen-or-so other bands made up of campers and led by a celebrity musician counselor.
And in just moments, Paul Stanley will be coming in to run through the KISS classic, 'Lick it Up' (Stanley was to join each band that night onstage for a tune and this is the one 'Honkin' On Bobo' chose).
Guitarist Chuck Baum, a billboard sales exec from Palm Springs, conferred with Ford on some chord changes and after hammering the tune out a few times, the door to the room swung open and in sauntered Stanley.
After sharing some advice on the night's gig ("Don't look like you're rehearsing – go out and PLAY like you mean it or they'll eat you alive"), Stanley also signed autographs, chatted with the band and then strapped on his guitar to play 'Lick it Up.'
With Ford on backing vocals, the band tore it up. Vocalist Stan Thompson Jr. seemed inspired having "the Starchild" just inches away, crunching out those anthemic chords. At the end of the song, Stanley, who seemed pleases with the performance, said "I'd love to thank the guy that wrote that song – oh wait, it was me."
After posing for a few photos, Stanley moved on to the next rehearsal space down the hall to play counselor once more. But Ford was not done cracking the whip. "Come on guys, we still have some work to do," she said strapping her axe back on cranking through another version of 'Road Runner.'
It's hard to imagine the feeling the band had playing with Stanley, and as far as Ford goes, they are thrilled that the she was assigned to them.
"Everyone here is phenomenal," Baum said. "But Lita? I don't know. We got really lucky. She's worked us into shape in jut a few days. She's incredible. She's got us all ready for tonight."
Within hours, the bands will be whisked from the hotel to the Playboy mansion for a tour, drinks and dinner, and of course the show. But in this moment, it's about fine tuning and getting the performance honed. "This is serious stuff," Ford tells the band. "There will be a lot of people there tonight a lot of names. Let's do 'Road Runner.' Again."
Next up – the grand finale concert