I’ve knocked around the entertainment industry for a while, and it has left me with some interesting stories.
Early in my career, I worked on campaigns for artists like Janet Jackson, Bryan Adams, and Sting. Always a fan of hard rock and heavy metal, I really enjoyed working on the marketing pitches for Extreme and Crowbar.
Currently, I handle publicity for Steven Adler, who burst to fame establishing Guns N’ Roses’ signature drumbeats. Slash and Izzy Stradlin both have praised Steven as the driving force in the GNR sound.
I’m lucky because in addition to being one of Rolling Stone Magazine’s greatest drummers of all time, Steven is one of the nicest guys in the entertainment industry.
Not to mention, Steven’s all-star rock brigade consists of some of the world’s best musicians. Ari Kamin reaches new heights with every performance with his incredible vocals, the incomparable Michael Thomas and Alistair James slice the air on guitar, and rock-solid Cristian Sturba pounds out the bass line with maximum authority. I also have to give a special shout-out to tour manager Steve Sprite – who is the best in the business bar none.
Recently I attended the Bands in the Sand music festival at 3D Sideouts Sports Tavern in Island Lake, a little bit outside of Chicago in the northwest suburbs. It’s a fantastic venue. Sideouts has great food, an incredible staff, and they host spectacular entertainment.
I was specifically going to Sideouts to meet up with metal pioneers Quiet Riot. They were the first heavy metal band to have a Number 1 album on the Billboard charts. That album, Metal Health, featured the hits Metal Health (Bang Your Head), Cum on Feel the Noize, and Love’s a Bitch.
Quiet Riot is still a spectacular band. Rudy Sarzo is an absolute master on the bass. Alex Grossi is one of the premier guitar virtuosos in rock, Johnny Kelly destroys the drums with majestic power and glory, and Jizzy Pearl completely ignites the air with his fiery vocals. To put it simply, they are magnificent.
Opening the show was Janet Gardner, the former lead singer for Vixen. Janet is a class act and it’s great to see her still thrilling audiences along with her versatile guitarist husband Justin James.
Sharing top billing with Quiet Riot was Sebastian Bach, the former lead singer of Skid Row. He fronted the band from 1987 to 1996, and has gone on to a very successful solo career as both a singer and as an actor.
Here’s where the story takes a left turn.
I was scheduled to go backstage after the Quiet Riot set to talk to Alex, Rudy, Johnny, and Jizzo. And, what a set is was! The band sounds just as good live as they do on recordings, and they are mesmerizing on stage.
However, there was a bit of a mix-up. Instead of ending up in the Quiet Riot dressing room, I was accidentally brought to see Sebastian Bach. Obviously, both Baz and I were a little confused, but also both saw the humor in it.
This was the first meeting for Sebastian and myself, although we’ve operated in the same circles for decades. I have to say, in person, he is just as outgoing and ready to rock as he always comes across in interviews.
I have long contended that Sebastian Bach has one of the most exquisite voices in heavy metal, and the fact is, he still delivers. His show at Sideouts as a part of the 2023 Bands in the Sand Festival was musically phenomenal.
In addition to his amazing career in rock n’ roll, Sebastian was able to parlay his success into a career as a Broadway performer. He starred on Broadway in productions of Jekyll & Hyde and The Rocky Horror Show
I truly wish I could have seen him in Jekyll & Hyde. It is one of my favorite musicals and the bootleg recordings I’ve heard of Baz singing the score are incredible.
I can relate to Sebastian. I got my start in entertainment as an actor, and I still make occasional film and stage appearances.
I was approached about going to Broadway on a few occasions including taking over for Adam Pascal in RENT and headlining in the role of Danny Zuko in a revival of Grease! Although the timing wasn’t right to latch on to either of those opportunities, I was scheduled to make my Broadway debut as Elvis-inspired rockstar Conrad Birdie in a 2005 revival of Bye Bye Birdie for producer Barry Weissler. However, to everyone’s disappointment, the production was scrapped.
After his success in Jekyll & Hyde and The Rocky Horror Show, Sebastian was signed to star in a new national tour of the Andrew Lloyd Webber/Tim Rice rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar. Adding to the legitimacy of the tour, the legendary Carl Anderson co-starred as Judas. Anderson had starred in the role in the original Broadway company and in the 1973 Norman Jewison film adaptation that earned him a Golden Globe nomination.
Sebastian was well-received in the role. But, that’s to be expected. He is widely known for his staggeringly impressive rock vocals – the key to this particular show.
When Sebastian left the tour, I was approached to take over the role of Jesus. This was when I was still young and beautiful and had long golden locks flowing down my back. Sebastian is a giant, so he even though I’m just under six-foot he is still taller than I am. But, we had the same general look – pretty boy with long blonde hair.
Maybe if I hadn’t traveled the country in other roles before, I would have been more eager to do the Jesus Christ Superstar tour. Living out of a hotel room for the next year just wasn’t a big selling point to me at the time. The very talented Eric Kunze ended up accepting the role.
Given that we both operate in the music industry and in the acting community, I always figured Sebastian and I would meet someday. I just never expected it to be in Island Lake, Illinois. That’s the funny part about the road, interesting things happen. As long as you leave yourself open to the unexpected, life can be fun.
For example, long before I worked with Woody Harrelson on the film EDtv, I first met him years earlier in a chance encounter in a bar on the Kentucky/Illinois border. It is probably the last place you’d expect to meet a Hollwyood A-list star. He was a blast though. We performed a rendition of Jail House Rock together with a local band called The Jungle Dogs.
For the Bands in the Sand Festival, Sebastian and his band put on a great show. He stopped from time to time to refelct to the audience about his first visit to Chicago with Skid Row opening for Bon Jovi. I didn’t live in Chicago at that time, but I did see that tour in another part of the country. Nobody had ever heard of Skid Row before the concert, but afterwards, they were all anyone could talk about.
Jumping back to the present, the Bands in the Sand event was remarkable. If anything, Sebastian’s voice has gotten even more golden over the years.
In addition to Sebastian Bach tantalizing the audience with his extraordinary voice, Janet Garnder was a welcome delight, and Quiet Riot just plain blew the doors off the place.
You never know what kind of stories you’re going to end up with when you’re on the road in the rock n’ roll world, but it’s an industry filled with good people putting on great shows.
It may have been by accident, but I’m glad I got a chance to see what kind of guy Sebastian is in person. It’s one more story from the road.
If you get a chance to see Sebastian Bach, Janet Gardner, or Quiet Riot, I suggest you take it. Like Steven Adler, these are artists who are still performing at a top-tier level. Don’t miss your chance to rock out while witnessing history.
Big thanks to 3D Sideouts in Island Lake, IL – it’s a multi-acre indoor and outdoor playground for food, fun, and festivities with scrumptious dining and fabulous entertainment. Visit: www.3Dsideouts.com.
Peace. Love. Trust.
Rikki Lee Travolta
Check out the Life and Times review of Quiet Riot live in concert:
Check out this additional Life and Times “Tales from the Road” story:
For more information on Sebastian Bach visit: www.SebastianBach.com.
For more information on Quiet Riot visit: www.QuietRiot.band
For more information on Janet Gardner visit: www.JanetGardnerMusic.com
For more information on Steven Adler visit the Official Steven Adler Facebook Page.
Please help spread the word about Life and Times by sharing this article on your social media of choice.
Don’t miss a review, feature story, news item, or editorial – Get every new Life and Times story delivered directly to your email!