courtesy Shore Fire Media – Jane’s Addiction guitarist Dave Navarro shares a few tips with Rock ’N’ Roll Fantasy Camp campers.
Out on the road with Ringo Starr And His All-Starr Band in 1989, something happened that changed music producer David Fishof’s life. Backstage on the fourth night of the tour, Nils Lofgren and Clarence Clemons came over to Fishof and told him they were quitting the tour because Joe Walsh and Levon Helm were having a fight. When Fishof walked in, Walsh and Helm were screaming and pushing one another. Helm then took a beer bottle and broke it on his road case and stabbed Walsh, who started bleeding profusely.
Fishof had just mortgaged his home to finance the tour, leading to visions of the house “going down the river” entering his head. It turns out the band had set up Fishof as a practical joke.
“I walked away and said to myself, ‘Wow, these guys are nuts,’ but I realize how much fun these guys have,” Fishof explains in the documentary “Rock Camp: The Movie.” “And that’s how I came up with the idea of Rock ’N’ Roll Fantasy Camp. What if I could give this to people, to a fan, to enjoy and see what it’s like to be with all these rockstars?”
The first Rock ’N’ Roll Fantasy Camp was held in 1997, giving fans the chance to spend several days performing with and learning from their heroes. Since then, over 5,000 people have attended 69 camps. “Rock Camp: The Movie,” released in January, tells stories of the effect the camp has had on attendees like Bill Meinhardt and his teenage son Blake, bringing the father and son closer together and giving Blake, who has autism, confidence. The camp has also meant a lot to the rock star counselors – which have included Alice Cooper, Roger Daltrey, Sammy Hagar, Joe Perry, Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, Nancy Wilson and more.
With COVID restrictions preventing in-person gatherings during the pandemic, the Fantasy Camp pivoted online with Master Classes. Rock Camp is returning Nov. 11-14 in Hollywood, Fla., with a lineup topped by Dave Mustaine of Megadeth, Richie Faulkner of Judas Priest, Nicko McBrain of Iron Maiden, and Steve Morse of Deep Purple and Dixie Dregs. On the final night of the event, campers will get the chance to take the stage with Morse at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino.
Rock ’N’ Roll Fantasy Camp is incorporating the online component by offering master classes ahead of the in-person camp via Zoom to help attendees feel prepared to rock out. Attendees will also have the opportunity to Zoom with their rock star mentor seven to 10 days ahead of camp to discuss the songs they want to play and the setlist for the live performance. Registration for Rock ’N’ Roll Fantasy Camp is open now at RockCamp.com.
Pollstar recently caught up with Rock Camp founder/producer Fishof to learn more.
courtesy Shore Fire Media – Producer David Fishof,
founder of Rock ’N’ Roll Fantasy Camp
Pollstar: You got Roger Daltrey to participate in the Rock Camp after asking who he’d love to jam with and promising to get Levon Helm on board. What was it like getting other musicians involved?
David Fishof: I did an interview with Adam Carolla last week and all he wanted to know was who told me to F off. I have to tell you that, yes, many artists told me to F off in the beginning, “They’d never play with an amateur. I’ll never meet these people.” And, you know, this is all prior to artists doing meet and greets. Artists never did meet and greets. And you’re not only asking artists to meet these people, but you’re asking them to meet and jam with them. So, I had two strikes against me. But I tried to convince people and tell them that it would be a great experience.
Roger came in and he got to do the camp and meet these people. And then he turned to me and said, “Where are these people performing?” And I said, “They’re getting ready for a show live at The Bottom Line. He said, “I want to sing a song with each one of them.” And that’s really what made the camp. When Roger did the camp, it really gave me so much publicity. And then he says, “I’m going to help you.” And he introduced me to Brian Wilson.
Once Roger Daltrey did it, everyone said it must be cool. And the more people that I got to do it, they would tell their friends this is really cool. And what I love the most about the film is the rockers talking about it. Sammy Hagar saying, “It reminds me of how lucky I am.” I remember Nancy Wilson said, “When we first started playing music, it [was] about the music and then once we became successful it became about lawyers, agents, managers and we forget about the music.” And the one thing about this camp is it’s pure music. If you do the camp, you’re doing it because you really want to give back. And I guarantee every musician who does this will get something out of it.
courtesy Shore Fire Media – Campers at Rock ’N’ Roll Fantasy Camp
perform live on stage with Paul Stanley of KISS
What’s next for Rock Camp?
I’m looking forward to reopening camp in November in Florida. My goal is to open up more camps around the world. I’m hoping that by next summer as this film gets more popular that we can eventually be an opening act. I want to go on tour with a major rock band. About 12 years ago, I went to Irving Azoff and I asked him if I could have the open slot for a Def Leppard / Journey tour in Columbus, Ohio. And he allowed my bands to open.
I want to do one-day camps where people come in the morning and they get mentored and can do one song each on the stage prior to a show in an amphitheater because from 5:30 to seven o’clock that stage is empty. I want these people to get to jam and do one song on the main stage. I can bring in 80 to 100 people to participate and those 80 to 100 people will buy 30 to 50 tickets. I can add 3,000 to 5,000 [tickets] to anyone’s tour, which will increase the Three P’s, as they call it: popcorn, parking and pop.
Are there any bands you haven’t worked with that you’d love to see as counselors at Rock Camp?
I hope these managers of younger bands can see it … They would be surprised a lot of these bands have fans on Wall Street and just everywhere. I want to get the Green Days and the Weezers and the Fallout Boys. Members of those bands would be awesome. And I want to open up to the country world.
When I was starting in the business, no one did meet and greets, no one wanted to meet these people. Even I didn’t want to. I remember going to camp one day and saying, “I worked with a Beatle, a Monkee, an Animal, a Turtle. I used to keep all my artists away from you. And now, I love you people.”