On September 10th, 2001, I was at Madison Square Garden watching the Prince Of Pop live performance at his “The Michael Jackson: 30th Anniversary Celebration”. Twenty years and a day later I am chatting with Michael Jackson’s close friend Howard Bloom (here), as he explains to me the missing parts to the MJ puzzle who was, according to Bloom, in no way a pedophile, but rather an easy to misunderstand man child with a disposition so fragile and gentle that the accusations baffled him and left him on a downward spiral that took his life twelve years ago.
Howard and I are at Rumi, a club space on West 28th Street, to join SohoJohnny and a cast of ultra-glam fashion folk, EDM popsters and super hard rockers for a night of remembrance of those we’ve lost and celebration of who we are, in aid of SohoJohnny’s Let Me Help charity foundation. It is the sort of night that found you dazzled by some of the most beautiful women on the planet, yes, models and popstars, but just about every woman you saw, regardless of age, looking beautiful and free after the horrors of the past eighteen months. It is the sort of night where Randy Edelman tells you he doesn’t think his spot in the line-up will go well, “it’s not my audience”. Back up a second, THAT’S RANDY EDELMAN!!! He not only composed countless scores for movies from “Ghostbusters II” to “The Whole Nine Yards”, and beyond. Who not only wrote for The Carpenters (a mythic duo now) but names that blaze through the Hot 100: Agnetha Fältskog (one of the A’s in Abba); BING CROSBY!!!; Kool and the Gang; Shirley Bassey; Blood Sweat and Tears and and and… but also had a hit he didn’t compose with one of the top pop tracks ever,”Concrete And Clay”… I told him that he would kill it and I’ll tell you how Randy’s set went a little later.
For me, Howard and Randy are the definition of brushes with greatness, they are both masters.
I arrived at Rumi early, SohoJohnny is a close friend and I was invited to check out the soundcheck and that meant being in awe of Charlie Z who sat behind his drum set and directed the traffic, as he did all night long, performing during the majority of sets and also his own power drill late night encapsulation.
The rehearsal was a blast with Jon Butcher, Rocky Kramer and the skateboard punk rocker herself in an evening gown, Michelle Shocked. Then it was off to the Red Carpet already in progress…
It is a testament to SohoJohnny, practising the empathy and compassion he is well known for, that he stayed on the Red Carpet for 90 minutes, until every single person who waited had their opportunity in the limelight, if you look to the right of the picture you will see Eileen Shapiro (here), the PR woman and rock journalist and an important part of the Team that assisted Soho in putting this night together. She was sitting next to me during the Shitty Princess EDM set, trying to get a breather, when a man tried to drag her on the dancefloor. “No,” she said and then repeated. He left off and she turned to me, shook her head, and noted “I have no idea who he is…” Ah, to be Eileen at a night of a thousand stars.
The evening began with an accent on rock, Joey Belladonna of Anthrax’s Jimi Hendrix inspired “The Star Spangled Banner” followed by Jon Butcher’s original and also big hit “Some Kind Of Wonderful” and on to the Soho and Kim show with a rousing “We Are Family”. Suddenly we were rolling and the acts were on stage fast and furious and Adam Hawk And The Metal Hawks, a heavy metal band supremo in AC/DC tee-shirts and one of the highlights of the evening and Felipe Rose (the Native American in the Village People) performing YMCA, kept us moving.
Billy Hess sang Elvis Presley’s “If I Can Dream”; DRMAGDN roared through “We Will Rock You” and then Soho quieted the place down as 22 year old Aro Rose paid tribute in song to her mother, who died in the WTC attack, and Soho parsed the lines in maternal loss as his mother died from Covid-19 in 2020, before the confetti blast at the end of the evening Aro would return to pay tribute to Johnny’s Mom with a cover of her favorite song, “All Is Found” from “Frozen 2”.
I promised I’d get back to Randy Edelman and back we are, Randy decided to put a geographical spin on the evening. Mixing excerpts from his movie scores with a major hit song and ending with a huge number written by his wife and brother-in-law. Starting with his first hit song, recorded by Barry Manilow, “Weekend In New England” followed by excerpts from “Gettysburg”, “My Cousin Vinny”, the theme to “Macgyver”, his latest single, the Covid farewell “Comin’ out the other side” and finally his wife and brother-in-law RJ (who sadly passed two months ago) “Put A Little Love In Your Heart”. I’m not much of a guy for anthems, from “That’s What Friends Are For” to “We Are The World” I’ve remained stoically unimpressed but everything Jackie De Shannon has ever done is great and this deserves a place of honor along with the Bacharach-David “What The World Needs Now (Is Love)” -both late 60s smash. Perhaps needless to add, the set couldn’t have gone better and after it I pulled Randy on the success and he said (wait for it) “I did it for you”. I think the word here is mensch, and while he is not paying me for my advice here it is free: many years ago I caught Randy Newman’s movie themes solo tour where he interloped his pop hits and shared stories, Randy is one of the few people who could pull off the same type of tour.
Kulick slam dunked his two songs, climbing on to the bar for the second song “Just Be Friends,” later he would note “I had to get their attention” and mission accomplished, April Rose Gabrielli’s “Do You” is currently trending on Shazam to the surprise of no one and will be her calling card this year at least; The Voice star Manny Cabo, reeling from the hurricane that put his studio underwater still managed to shrug it off for “Crazy”, new Tribeca Records signing Kreesha Turner has the best pipes of the evening.
Avalona, in a glittery and lovely jumpsuit, starts the move towards EDM and Queeny King, who is all backstory all the time and here is a titbit, she is married to Greg and Cher’s son Elijah Allman, was a blast of energy for an evening that didn’t need one and as for EDM DJ, Los Angeles’ Shitty Princess with dancers in front of it and Shitty Princess in a lampshade behind the turntable, was a lesson in dropping the bass till Queeny joined it, first a capella when the soundsystem went AWOL and then for a loud singalong to its hit with belter Katie Welch’s “Something In The Water” .
DRMAGDN performed a drum bashing set of ear bleeding power sources, and then it was nearly over except for “Don’t Stop Believing” and the confetti blast.
The entire evening was a complete success, four hours of unbridled energy that functioned as the true return, everything the We Love NYC: The Homecoming Concert The Great Lawn promised but failed to deliver. Congratulations to all, and especially Johnny himself, who has proven once again that when it comes to live entertainment he is one of the greats, the man puts on shows you will never forget. Rumor has it that there is a Christmas concert in the works. I can’t wait.
Wanna get fucked up the ass? Get famous.
a form of personal jesus
something he learned from his legendary uncle
how little this list has in common with the prior ones
a disquieted sadness permeates
Someday they will match TM and AEG as one of the big three
The 2021 “Legends Of Vinyl’s “Gala Awards Night” New York DJs and Artists Hall Of Fame, Tuesday, September 14th, Reviewed
we will pass, disco will live on with lov
¿No preferirías tener el modelo de este año?
play around with the different stems
Live Review: SohoJohnny Presents The Let Me Help, Inc 9/11 Fashion and Music Celebrity Benefit Gala Concert @Rumi Event Space 9/11/21
The star studded, Red Carpet Let Me Help, Inc benefit was a celebration of New York City fashion week, as well as a tribute to the 20th anniversary of 9/11.