If you mention even just the name of the revered, respected and gleefully enjoyed rock and roll collaboration experience, the now 25-year-and-still-going-strong Rock And Roll Fantasy Camp, the first instinct for many is to think that the bulk of the joy that is created at each four-day camp session is felt mostly by the campers.
Ya know, those who pay to come learn about the world of rock star level music and who get to play and bond with some of the greatest rockers ever, often even coming away from the experience with fresh dreams and new goals. You’d think that these largely everyday people — many of whom were young musicians at one point in their lives but then other priorities took hold — you’d think they were the ones who get the most out of what has become a lauded and coveted world of unforgettable musical experiences for those who get to feel at least for a while what it’s like to collaborate with and learn from longtime successful rock stars. You’d think they’d get the most out of it, right?
Well, think again. If you ask David Fishof, the longtime entertainment agent and tour producer who founded Rock And Roll Fantasy Camp in 1996 who joins Steve Houk on Living On Music this Monday at 7, he’ll wholeheartedly agree with almost every rock star who has served as a “counselor” at his camp — that there’s as much sheer joy and positive collaboration for these epic rock stars as there is for those who come to learn from and play their classic music with them.
“You know, you don’t realize the life effect that it has on these rock stars to do the Camp,” said Fishof, whose pre-Camp career spans 40 plus years and includes working with music and entertainment giants like Ringo Starr — Fishof created the concept for Starr’s successful All-Starr band tours — as well as NFL QB Phil Simms, The Monkees, Joe Walsh, Levon Helm and dozens more. “And also why they keep coming back, because they also get something tangible and real out if it. I asked Nick Mason from Pink Floyd to stay for a couple hours and he ends up staying for four days, and then he writes about the experience in GQ Magazine. Slash did the same thing, checked in for a few hours, stayed the whole four days. And many others did the same. So many of the longtime musicians who come and experience it say in many ways that it was a life changing time for them.”
The Who’s Roger Daltrey, a mainstay of Rock and Roll Fantasy Camp and one of Fishof’s first big rock star counselors, was recently on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon to help promote the recently released Rock and Roll Fantasy Camp documentary by Academy award-winning director Doug Blush called Rock Camp, which features Fishof and Daltrey along with a slew of major rock stars along with the campers they played with in a telling and fun chronicle of the 25 years of the Camp’s solos, choruses and friendships. Daltrey told Fallon why he felt something special every time he served at the Camp.
“What it did for me was remind of all the reasons why I did this in the first place, why I made a life in music,” said Daltrey. “We did it because we were young and having so much fun, and we were just fans of music. We’d do anything just to play music. I was with people [at the camp] with varying abilities of playing, some of them are extremely good, some are, well, extremely bad, and it makes it fun. It’s good to be reminded of where you started.”
Jack Bruce of Cream also feels it’s a great experience for him and his fellow legends, and for the simplest reasons. “You’re just here to have a great time,” said Bruce. “You can offer advice, but personally I don’t think this is the place for that. This is really the place to try to just inspire people with a vibe, ya know.”
As for the campers, Fishof does feel that his Camp provides them with something very useful and infintely special that they can take away from the experience, and even capitalize on. People like Laura Roppé, who is in a clip on Monday’s show talking song lyrics with rock star Meatloaf, and who felt her four days at the Camp inspired her so much that she not only wrote a book about her post-cancer time there, but it even caused her to shift gears in life, follow her lifelong passion for writing, and become an internationally known best-selling author under her pen name Lauren Rowe.
“I think what we give them is the chance to take this dream away with them, you know, what they learned in the camp, and it’s incredible, they tell me so often afterwards that they did this, they did that, they made records, one guy opened a music school and has over a thousand students. They become better people. I get probably three or four emails each day from people who are so thankful because they did this after, or they did that, and it made their life better. And it was the Camp gave them the inspiration.”