Show Features Foreigner, Styx and Don Felder
BY JEFF CLARK
When the Soundtrack of Summer tour rolls into Tuscaloosa May 29, it brings with it a classic rock ‘who’s who,’ with combined record sales of 250 million, only slightly less than the entire population of Indonesia. Featuring Foreigner, Styx and former member of the Eagles and solo artist Don Felder, it’s the biggest bang for the buck with tickets still available for only $25.
The tour kicked off May 16 in Oklahoma City and was named one of Rolling Stone’s “Hottest Tours 2014.” The show promises to deliver sets big on the hits, which include “Hot Blooded” (Foreigner), “Too Much Time On My Hands” (Styx) and a song Felder co-wrote with Don Henley and Glenn Frey called “Hotel California.” The packaging of that many hits into one night has proven to be a hit in its own right as tickets to the Tuscaloosa show are selling quickly.
“We have sold 3200 tickets,” said Tuscaloosa Amphitheater Manager Wendy Riggs. “Package tours are usually set up by the artists like we have seen in the past Kelly Clarkson/The Fray, ZZ Top/Lynyrd Skynyrd. They seem to be more frequent in the past couple of years.”
Jeff Pilson was a member of the rock band Dokken before playing with DIO for several years. Pilson is currently celebrating 10 years as the bassist in Foreigner, a job he said he received on a recommendation from drummer Jason Bonham.
“In the year 2000, I did a movie with Jason Bonham called ‘Rock Star,’ Pilson said. “We got along well and Jason was working with (Foreigner guitarist) Mick Jones. He convinced Mick that he should put Foreigner back together. So they called me up and we got together and the chemistry was great and I’ve been a member ever since. From the first time I head ‘It Feels Like The First Time,’ I became a fan.”
As the Soundtrack of Summer tour prepares to hit amphitheaters across the county, Pilson said he is looking forward to touring with the likes of Styx and Felder.
“The presales have been amazing and the ‘Soundtrack of Summer’ companion CD is doing well at WalMart,” Pilson said. “This is the first time we’ve toured with both Don Felder and Styx. We’ve toured with Styx before, but we’ve never toured with Don. We’re really looking forward to this whole tour. We have played with Styx before, but there’s something about this tour that seems to be really exciting and I think part of it is Don being there. And I think part of it is the stars aligning right for us this time because it looks like it’s going to be a huge success.
“You can sort of feel when there is magic in the air with things and this tour feels like one of those tours. There’s just something about it that’s really capturing everyone’s excitement and what more can you ask for as a rock band than to get people excited? It’s going to be a good summer, I can just feel it.”
Foreigner has had 10 multi-platinum (sales exceeding 1,000,000 copies) albums and 16 top 30 hit songs. Pilson said the band has no problem keeping audiences on their feet.
“Almost every show we play, the audience is in to and that’s because of these extremely familiar songs,” he said. “They’re songs that people love and we try to perform them the best that we can. Just watching people’s reactions every night is pretty stellar.”
I Want To Know What Love Is
One of Foreigner’s biggest hits will receive special treatment when the tour hits Tuscaloosa. The gospel-tinged “I Want To Know What Love Is,” which was the band’s first number one hit, will be performed with some very special guests – the Holy Spirit Catholic School Choir.
“This is such a great opportunity for our students,” said choir director Annie McClendon. “Holy Spirit is a Catholic school in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. We have enrollment right around 500 students in grades preschool through 12. I have been teaching music, choir, and drama at Holy Spirit for the past 10 years. I have been able to grow my program so much due to the generosity of the Tuscaloosa community and the belief in my program by the parents of the students I’ve taught. Every year I do a fundraiser that enables me to do a musical, a play, and to provide the needs for my music classroom. Every year it grows more and more.”
According to McClendon, she began to use classic rock in the classroom, particularly with her fourth-grade students.
“About two months ago I began working on classic rock with the fourth-graders,” she said. “They are big fans of Journey, and they chose the song ‘Don’t Stop Believing’for our annual spring sing, which was held last week. Our fourth-grade teacher, Debbie Brinster, informed me of a contest where our students would have a chance to sing with the band Foreigner at their May 29 concert at the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater. The students were already familiar with the band and their music. It took one short afternoon of practice and one recording sent to John Lapan, who works with the band, as well as 106.9, the Eagle, out of Birmingham.”
McClendon said she was excited when she found out her students had won, but she had to keep it a secret for a few days.
“I received a phone call from the band last Friday giving us the good news,” McClendon said. “I had to keep it a secret all weekend. I told the teachers and first thing in the morning yesterday we announced it over the PA for the school. There’s actual footage of the students and they were overjoyed. Several cried, several screamed, some even did jumping jacks! I cannot wait to sing on stage with the band. In addition, we are receiving a $500 grant for use in a music program. Our students are going to get to sing along with Foreigner during the chorus of ‘I Want To Know What Love Is’ next Thursday night. We will be walking around before the show helping to sell Foreigner’s ‘Greatest Hits’ CDs to the crowd to raise money for the Grammy Foundation, which provides grants to students and schools to keep their music programs alive.”
The Best Of Times
After 16 years on the road with Styx, vocalist/keyboardist Lawrence Gowan said he, too, is excited about the summer tour with Felder and Foreigner.
“I think this is the best tour we’ve done,” Gowan said. “To this point, it’s been just tremendous. To have a triple bill like this with Don Felder of the Eagles playing all of those great Eagles songs and Foreigner, obviously I don’t have to say anything but they are really playing at a high level after touring for the past two years, and Styx, we have a whole new stage and a new video accompaniment that goes along with the show. The entire show is nearly four hours long and there’s not one song you won’t hear the audience singing along with. We just feel justified in how strongly we felt back in January when we started putting this tour together. The whole first week, everything was pretty much sold out.”
Gowan said the tour marks the first time his band has toured with Felder and the spirit of friendly competition helps keep things interesting on a nightly basis.
“We want to make sure we aren’t letting anyone down, so we have to check out the other bands to see how strong they are,” Gowan said with a laugh. “We have to make sure we’re up to that level and they are doing the same with us. We’re all working together on this.”
As of press time, tickets are still available for the Tuscaloosa show.
“We’re looking forward to Tuscaloosa on the 29th for sure,” Gowan said. “We think everyone is going to have a great time for sure. People are loving live classic rock shows more and more every year.”