Two weeks after the Carl Wilson Tribute occurred, I got a call from the owner of The Roxy/ Rainbow Bar & Grill asking me to produce the 35th anniversary week long event (to benefit Multiple Sclerosis) at another club they owned on the Sunset Strip --- the legendary Whisky A Go Go. This was based on the triumph at The Roxy of which they were quite impressed. I was flattered and honored by this offer. I accepted.
I began work on November 14, 1998 with only two months to pull it all together. I was given a beautiful office at The Whisky which overlooked The Strip. To make a long story short, it was one of the most intense experiences of my life. I planned to have the shows recorded, videotaped and broadcast on the Internet. It was an extremely ambitious project and one which I consider a success, even though I had to go into battle every day to get things done. After 8 days of performances and twenty four acts later, I left The Whisky completely spent. I had been beat up (figuratively speaking) pretty good by some of the more temperamental artists, aggressive managers and even some of the management at The Whisky. I had learned a new appreciation for that other job of mine --- that of being a musician who simply shows up for the gig, plays his parts and leaves. For the time being, I wanted no more part in being a Producer/Promoter.
The Whisky shows had ended around the second week in January 1999 and I was all set to enjoy some time off. After all, I had devoted almost nine months of my life exclusively to The Roxy and The Whisky events. That's when I received a package from Betty Collignon with detailed plans for yet another Carl Wilson event for 1999.
I explained to Betty that I really couldn't take on another commitment right now. The Beach Boys Family & Friends had now formed (as a result of their "debut" at The Roxy), we had already started to rehearse and we were planning on touring. I had other projects in the works too --- such as bringing the Carl Wilson limited edition Rickenbacker project to completion, assembling my collection of memorabilia which I wanted to make available to the public, and continuing to maintain my video business. I wished her great success with her new plans but declined from taking on the responsibility that I had in the past.
One of the first things Jonah and Justyn wanted to do for this event was to create The Carl Wilson Foundation. They also wanted to make the event more accessible to the public by keeping the ticket price affordable ($35). Performers would be limited to family members only. They felt this would enhance the feeling of casual intimacy and familiarity for everyone. The acts would be: The Honeys, In Bloom, The Wilsons, Ricci Martin, and Billy Hinsche.
A site at the lovely Calamigos Ranch in the Malibu Hills had been chosen for the primary event which would include the walk, auction and concert. The area was called The Grove and resembled a medium sized park. It had picnic facilities, a softball diamond, a volleyball court, swimming pool and lots of room. Most important, it had a nice vibe.
Jason Raphalian was hired as the stage/production manager. He is also an old friend and former employee of The Beach Boys touring staff. He determined that we would need a stage with dimensions of approximately 26' X 18' to accommodate all the microphones, amplifiers, drums, percussion, keyboards and talent. We would also need a small drum riser to sit atop the main stage. He decided to place the stage under a grove of trees which would protect the performers and equipment from any direct sunlight. It would also serve as an informal back stage area for the performers and family members since it was adjacent to a row of picnic tables.
"Surprise guests" were also promised on the Carl Wilson Walk Against Cancer website. I thought it would be very cool if I could get my old pal Desi Arnaz, Jr. to participate in the event as he had done last year when we sang a duet at The Roxy. This year we could incorporate Ricci Martin into the act, thus creating Ricci, Desi & Billy. The idea of forming a trio was something that we had talked about in the past and we all agreed that this would be a perfect opportunity to give our first public performance. All we needed was a band!
I thought it was logical to use some of the members of The Beach Boys Family & Friends band in addition to a few more people. The band would be Bobby Figueroa (drums/vocals), Craig Copeland (lead guitar/vocals), Jeff Foskett (guitar/vocals), Jimmy Pou (guitar/vocals), Wayne Tweed (bass), Ricci (keyboard/vocals), Desi (percussion/drums/vocals) and me (keyboard/guitar/vocals). The set would consist of Dino, Desi & Billy material as well as one of Ricci's songs. We would rehearse in Boulder City, Nevada where Desi had just purchased a beautiful, newly renovated theater. We would also be the "house band" for The Honeys and The Wilsons.
I hoped that some of the principal members of The Beach Boys Family & Friends might attend the event. This would add yet another bonus to the lineup of artists and would be a real treat for the fans.
In Bloom would rehearse on their own and The Wilsons didn't really need any formal rehearsals but The Honeys needed some time to prepare. They decided on doing two songs from their catalogue which were written by Brian Wilson. They were both really cute songs --- "The One You Can't Have" and "He's A Doll". Marilyn sent me a cassette copy of both songs which I then charted for the house band to learn. I also made audio tapes for all the band members. Prior to the show we had an informal rehearsal at Ginger Blake's house along with her cousins Marilyn and Diane. I played the piano while the ladies worked out their parts. They gave me a vocal part to sing and said that I was now the fourth Honey!
Updated on January 3, 2001 This page is maintained by the web team.