Rockin' on the River might be a bit of an understatement when John Fogerty, Joan Jett and Don Felder take the stage Saturday, March 14 at the Laughlin Event Center.
It could be a high-octane trip back in time where artists dared to be different and great music emerged because of it.
More than likely, the evening will be a musical force of nature when these rock giants converge to create a powerful storm of classic hits and lightning-fast guitar slaying magnified by all the amped up energy that just has to break free.
Laughlin is in for a rare treat.
John Fogerty doesn't really need an introduction. With a career that spans more than 50 years, he is one of the most influential musicians in rock history. With his storytelling lyrics and signature voice, he created the soundtrack of a generation.
As co-founder of Creedence Clearwater Revival, the group’s chief musical architect, songwriter, and as a solo artist, Fogerty’s works rank as some of the most influential in American music history.
John Fogerty’s fervent vocals and modernized rockabilly songs, built on his classic guitar riffs, made CCR the preeminent American singles band of the late '60s and early '70s. Fogerty didn't have to hang out on the banks of the Mississippi to come up with his signature three-chord sound of swamp rock. He only had to listen to the ideas in his head and to the music that was easily available around him in Berkeley, California.
The area was a melting pot of different musical genres of solid blues, real country western and Top 40 radio stations. But the voice, however, was one of a kind. He didn't have to be a pretty singer, to be a powerful singer who could dig deep for each and every lyric. His edge was front and center and he became a balladeer of the times.
As the writer, singer and producer of numerous classic hits including "Born on the Bayou," "Green River," "Proud Mary," and "Bad Moon Rising," Fogerty has been honored as one of the 100 Greatest Guitarists, 100 Greatest Songwriters, and 100 Greatest Singers by Rolling Stone. Earning induction to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Songwriters Hall of Fame, and Baseball Hall of Fame, he is also a New York Times best-selling author for his memoir, Fortunate Son: My Life, My Music.
After Fogerty and CCR parted ways in 1972, he moved on to solo pursuits, which attracted the most attention. His 1985’s Centerfield, went to the top of the charts and the title track is frequently played on classic rock radio, in baseball-related films and at baseball games to this day. It also included the Top 10 hit “The Old Man Down The Road.”
Fogerty recorded the successful Blue Moon Swamp in 1997, which also won the Grammy for best rock album. He was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1998. He was named to the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2005.
He continues to work on new material, but his active tour schedule means his live shows are what new memories are made of.
It makes perfect sense that Joan Jett and the Blackhearts are part of the latest Harley Quinn Birds of Prey movie soundtrack. Who better to represent girl power than someone like Jett who's been doing things her own way since the very beginning?
When she was a young girl herself (all of 15 years of age), she started her first band, The Runaways.
Later, when she formed The Blackhearts, she was turned down by every record company in the world. Since taking no for an answer wasn't even a possibility, Jett said to herself 'if they won't let me play with their ball, I'll go get a ball of my own', so she started her own indie label.
Once again, she proved she had the talent and the determination to carve her own path, leaving industry suits to collectively scratch their heads and explain to their higher-ups why they missed the boat on making millions of dollars on this emerging super star.
Jett became the first woman to start her own rock label, Blackheart Records, which is a fine thing. But what is even finer is that it was a success. She released hits that created eight platinum and gold albums and nine Top 40 singles, including the classics "Bad Reputation," "I Love Rock 'N' Roll," "I Hate Myself For Loving You," and "Crimson and Clover."
Over the years, Jett's music has become a permanent force in mainstream culture — her music has been part of TV shows (including an unlikely spot on NBC's "Sunday Night Football") and films, including the monster hit film, "Shrek." In September 2019, Jett joined forces with Carrie Underwood for a "rock redo" of Jett's "I Hate Myself for Loving You," which was turned into "Waiting All Day for Sunday Night," performed together for NFL's 100th birthday, with an accompanying video.
Jett's story was told in the 2010 film "The Runaways" based on (lead singer of The Runaways) Cherie Currie's book Neon Angel. Jett served as an executive producer on the film.
There has always been more to Joan Jett than hit records. She is an avid animal rights activist and an avid supporter of American military personnel.
Joan Jett was honored as the first female recipient of the Golden God award of Revolver Magazine. Jett was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2015 and she received the Clio Music Lifetime Achievement Award at the 60th Annual Clio Awards.
Don Felder's career as one of the top guitarists in the world has come full circle in many ways.
He taught a scrawny teenaged blonde kid by the name of Tom Petty to play guitar in a music store in Gainesville, Florida, in the '60s. In turn, Felder learned how to play slide guitar in the '70s from Duane Allman. That skill earned his admission into the already popular California band, The Eagles, as their lead guitarist for 27 years. He came up with the idea of using the double-headed "monster" guitar on "Hotel California," (a song which Felder co-wrote) from watching Chet Atkins. Not only did the song become a signature hit for the Eagles, that guitar became iconic for Felder. Anywhere he goes, all he has to do is bring it on stage and everyone in the audience knows what's coming next.
From student to teacher, from observer to active participant, Felder continues to evolve and incorporate everything he learns and sees into a career that has sustained him all his life and what a hell of a ride it has been. But the roller coaster hasn't come to a complete stop just yet.
Along the way, Felder has earned respect from pretty much every musician in the rock world — fellow guitarists, bass players, drummers, vocalists and more.
So when he produced, wrote and released his latest solo album American Rock 'N' Roll last year and asked a bunch of his friends to be part of it, everyone said yes. But instead of creating one super group to play on all the material, he customized each artist to a specific song.
"On American Rock 'N' Roll, there's a rock song I wrote called 'Rock You' and I wanted it to have a big stadium rock anthem feel to it, so I got Sammy Hagar to sing a duet and we'd trade off on vocals, Joe Satriani added his lightning-fast incredible technique of a thousand notes per second on guitar, and trying to keep up with Sammy and Joe, oh boy, what a challenge," Felder told the Laughlin entertainer. "On this record I had a cast of guitar players, from Peter Frampton to Slash, they're all different and they all have their own styles and experiences, and that's the way things have to be to me. I couldn't put every player on the same song, because it would have ended up with the wrong people playing the wrong songs. That's the beauty of producing my record, I could select artists because I know how everyone sounds and who would give the appropriate performance. Steve Porcaro on keyboards is so relaxed, yet Chad Smith of the Chili Peppers is the most aggressive gorilla drummer. It's wonderful to have the ability to select the right player for each song to give it their unique insight and appropriate musicianship for that song.
"I wanted to have people come in and light it up," he added. "My goal was to play with them and have a good time. It was a ball."
With all the influences in Felder's life — from B.B. King to Miles Davis — he took what he learned from each of them and incorporated it into creating his own voice on his musical weapon of choice.
"The beauty of having starved on the streets of New York City and learning about jazz and its melodic principals and the spontaneity it inspired, I could walk into a studio with nothing written out or structured, and play music out of thin air," he said. "I would just start playing. If I'm in the middle of recording, I very rarely listen to what's current. I don't want to be influenced by someone current, I'd rather listen to stuff I'm doing, listen to what's coming through me, not target sounds I like. If I don't like something, it goes into digital heaven, it's where all the mistakes go."
It's because of his experience of watching Miles Davis and his careful choice of picking the right notes, as well as his time with the Eagles, that made Felder a stickler for getting things exactly right. While Glen Campbell believed if he played really fast, no one would notice the mistakes, Felder thinks mistakes are unacceptable.
"I may be the only one that cares about a performance being refined and on point," he said. "I learned that being a member of the Eagles, where everything was perfectly in tune and in time. They would go through every track and note of every person on a recording to make sure there were no glitches, no humming, no imperfections. They believed those things shouldn't be on a professional record and I adopted that approach to my recording process. So I can't put out something less than the best."
That approach also shows up in Felder's live shows, too.
"Sometimes I would love to break free and just play a song the way I feel it, and the hardest thing is to play note-for-note perfect," he added. "Fans of the music know if a particular riff is solid or flat, if I've bended a note a little more than I should. People know if you sing the wrong verse, so I have to really be on point every single time I'm on stage because people expect the same quality of presentation after decades of listening to those records."
Felder's career coming full circle is an accomplishment that means the most to him.
"When I first packed up to leave Gainesville and move to New York City, I put everything I owned into one suitcase, grabbed my guitar and I had $300 in my pocket, which didn't go very far," he laughed. "The first thing I did, I went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. We didn't have anything like that in Gainesville. I was there the entire day, from the time the doors opened until they kicked me out at 7 p.m.
"I wandered around the whole place and saw Egyptian pieces, oil paintings, sculptures, all this incredible art and I was so moved by all of it," he said. "Then to be back there 50 years later and my guitar is hanging on the wall, means the world to me.
"The head curator happened to be sitting in the audience of a show I was doing with Steve Miller at a place called The Beacon," he explained. "When I brought out the white double-neck, the audience knew what was coming next, and they were going nuts. He noticed the connection of the artist and the music, and the audience and the instrument — people recognized the instrument before it was played and they knew the song it was connected to.
"So he contacted the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and my guitar became part of a collection that includes the guitar Jimi Hendrix played the "Star Spangled Banner" on at Woodstock, guitars from Eric Clapton, the Everly Brothers, B.B. King, Chuck Berry, the Beatles, the Who, and to have my instrument along with them it's highly personal," he added. "It's the most flattering and most rewarding accomplishment after 50 years of starving."