A series of little decisions. That's how it happened. No grandiose plans. I wasn't thinking big. Small, small steps. Each individual move just seemed like the right thing to do. Easy.
I first met Richie Hass years ago at Spaceland in Silverlake. He was playing with Saccharine Trust, a seminal LA underground band. I'd heard Saccharine many times in the past, but this time was different. Saccharine didn't have Richie in the band before, and he played some mean vibraphone that night. He blew me away. We later played together off and on in other music projects. Richie was always amazing, always humble. No attitude. Hell of a guy.
Jump to the present, December 2006: This is when the seed was first planted for the benefit. Out of the blue I called Richie, I don't remember why. His wife Michelle answered the phone, out of breath, " Richie is in the hospital! He has multiple myeloma," I made her spell it out for me, "He's getting kicked out of the hospital tomorrow because he doesn't have insurance!" And that was it. The start of it all right there.
That night, I looked up multiple myeloma on the internet. Serious stuff. It was then that I found the International Myeloma Foundation website. I picked up Richie and Michelle at the hospital the next day, and took him to an overcrowded community hospital. A real nightmare. He bounced out of there too (I won't mention the names of these establishments.) He eventually ended up at the City of Hope, where he was able to get help for his condition.
In the meantime, I was at home emailing everybody to tell them about Richie. No one had heard about his disease. Everyone was in shock. Like me they all realized how much we take our good friends like Richie for granted..... how much we take our health for granted..... it could happen to anyone. The Big C.
I don't remember where the original idea came from. Suddenly we were all going to put on a concert to raise money. Just like Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney in one of those old movies. "Hey, I know how we can save your farm! We can put on a show in the barn! I can sing a little! And you can dance really swell! Your brother can make the sets...... we'll sell tickets!" Etc.
Friends of Richie at Safari Sam's
Since we are all musicians like Richie, of course it was a concert. More and more bands signed on to play. More and more musicians. Richie had been on the scene for a while, and everybody just loves the guy. By the time I started thinking about the schedule we had 16 bands! Whew! We were turning bands away before a month had gone by.
So we pulled it off. The F.O.R. Benefit happened. It was a success. From December 2006 to March 31st. A lot of stories in between there. A real life adventure. It begs the question. Was it worth it?
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These bands are Friends of Richie too
My answer: Damn right! What would have I been doing otherwise? Watching American Idol? We raised the awareness about multiple myeloma. Raised some money for the cause. Made a whole bunch of music. Hung out with good people. It doesn't get any better.
Arin from the IMF helping Scott auction off a guitar
I don't know how I ended up as point man for this benefit. Again. Little decisions, one by one, adding up. I couldn't have done it by myself. I had a lot of help. I could list a whole bunch of names like one of those boring Oscar speeches, but I won't. I'll make one exception. Suzanne Battaglia of the I.M.F. really helped me a lot. She went above and beyond the call of duty. Thanks Suzanne! (you can take out your earplugs now)....hee, hee...
Suzanne helping to raise myeloma awareness at FOR