Inside look into Rock Fantasy Camp
An overwhelming and exciting week in Las Vegas for the first Rock n Roll Fantasy Camp at the MGM Grand hotel finally over and I am catching my breath. Of course I had to come back to a mini stock market crash which will put the willies into anyone who has savings accounts… however, Rock and Roll never sleeps!
The week started with an arrival at the hotel on Tuesday night and a late snack dinner with my friend Richie Kotzen, who was one of the counselors with me.
Wednesday morning we all met at the new Rehearsal facility, called Harmon, that has been built by David Fishof and the Rock Camp. It has about 12 rehearsal rooms and a stage. Each room is fully equipped with back line gear and each has a computer recording DAW (digital audio workstation) with gear by Roland and Sonar – very nice! We listened to David’s opening remarks and I met my Camper Band assigned to me; Paul and Dan on guitar, Loren on bass, Mayer on drums and Myka on vocals.
Straight off to work and a very busy schedule; my band had signed up for the recording package and I was to take them into a full recording studio and spend a day producing an original song. We had to come up with that song in addition to learning songs to play with our featured guests and those to be played at the final night concert.
That morning my old buddy Vince Neil came to visit us and we played “Rock’n’Roll” with him. For those who don’t know, I became friends with Vince waaaay back in about 1984 and remained close through all of the Ozzy years and after. We would frequently jam to raise money for charities and when he first left Motley Crue in 1992 he asked me to help him put a band together and I co-wrote his first solo album “Exposed” It was great to see him again!
That night was the opening counselor show at the Tabu nightclub. We had all run through some cool songs to be played that night for the Campers. I sang “Bad Company” and played bass with Richie on “All Along the Watchtower” and “Fooled Around and Fell in Love”. Mark Farner was amazing and Kudos to Rod Morgenstein who played drums for all the set and sounded phenomenal!
By the next morning we had not really come up with anything so I pulled an idea that I had and started writing lyrics and getting the band rehearsed – we were working on the floor of the Casino in what is now referred to as the “Fishbowls” – two studios that operate entirely on headphones, just like a proper rehearsal environment. People outside can look through the windows and see what is taking place. Once we got back to Harmon we had Zakk Wylde about to arrive any minute and the pressure was building to get all our songs done. The band wanted to play “Mr Crowley” but of course we had no keyboard player for the intro. Quickly I came up with a guitar and bass arrangement for the intro, a la Brian May. Zakk was blown away!
We never played it like that with Ozzy and I got the sense that his wheels were spinning. It was a great Jam with Zakk and Paul playing the solos in unison note for note! That night our band, now called Sexy Vague-Ass and all the other bands re-played their tracks with Zakk live at the Rouge bar at the MGM for all and the public – it was crowded and LOUD !
Friday was the day that each band got to spend much quality time with the great Gene Simmons. Gene is one of the most gracious people and gave his time, experience and advice to each and every camper. He showed everyone bass licks, vocal tricks and gave an insight into his writing for KISS. My band jammed “Shout it out Loud” and Gene and I shared vocals. Such a great jam! He gave everyone signed copies of his new book “KISS FAQ” He also personally signed a copy to my beautiful wife, Jennifer who had come out for a few days! …we love Gene!
Saturday I took the band into the Palms Studio that is owned by Pat Thrall. We had a great day recording the original song that is now called “RockCamp”. Everyone played great particularly Mayer, the drummer who nailed the track like any pro in 2 or 3 takes. We got into the bass and guitar overdubs and were doing the vocals when Sebastian Bach shows up. He loves the track and wants to sing backgrounds on its. We set him up and it was a cool thing to see my band tripping on Baz singing over their tracks!
Last day is the day of our concert and everyone is preparing for the final night. Appearances, performances, lyrics and parts learned. We were the one but last band and my guys did a great job. Bassist Loren held down the bottom end, Mayer was fantastic as usual, Dan brought his southern style of rock rhythm guitar and Paul shredded his metal chops through “Mr Crowley” “Rebel Yell” “Rock Camp” and “Ain’t Talking Bout Love”, whole singer Myka entertained the crowd with his unique comedic intros between songs. Finally the Counselors all took the stage for a short set of favorites; Kip Winger, Lita Ford, John Moyer, Kane Roberts, Rudy Sarzo, Teddy ZigZag, Bruce Kulick, Rod, Dave Rosenthal, Richie… did I leave anybody out?
And so that brought us to the end of another terrific Camp. It kind of sad at the end; the comedown is a bit like the end of a tour 🙁
Jen went to see Madonna playing at the MGM that night with Mayer’s family. I would have liked to have seen her, but I was all music’d out. Apparently the show was great but she took the opportunity to go off on a political rant and single out people in the audience. I cannot imagine why someone would do that; with this country the most polarized I have ever seen it shouldn’t we be using music to try to connect and bridge people rather than alienating and losing half your audience? Anyway… beats me.
I went to a sit down dinner courtesy of our camper friends, Ben and Sarah; the first peaceful and proper meal for me of the whole time, seeing as I had been so occupied with my councilor duties. We had a great night, counselors, Kip Winger and Rod Morgenstein, Courtney, Beth and Erin from RockCamp and many other friends.
I finally made it to bed… tired and gratified with the whole week. Thank you to my band, thank you to the RockCamp team, to all the hard working crew guys and to David Fishof. We have a fantastic home here at the MGM Grand and I am looking forward to the next Camp in February; I am scheduled to be doing the Alice Cooper Camp – see YOU there!