I’ve just returned from my first holiday in USA! Having grown up as a fan of hard rock music it was exciting to visit the home of a lot of my favourite bands. Los Angeles obviously being the home of bands like Guns N Roses, Motley Crue and Van Halen to name just a few, I was very excited to finally see places like the Whiskey A Go Go, the Rainbow Bar and Grill and the Roxy.
First impression of LA was that it was old and there were a lot of homeless people. But then you had the polar opposite shiny new and neon lights with a lot of tourist traffic (we stayed just off of Hollywood Boulevard. I’d probably built the place up so much from thinking/imagining the place over the years that it took me a few days to really grow to love the place.
The Chinese Theater, a place for many a red carpet event was decked out for the Godzilla movie which was cool but I was hoping to see and get a photo with the original statue as featured in a classic KISS photo, oh well! We did a Celebrity Home tourist tour which was a fun way to see a bit more of LA.
We initially spent only a couple of days in this part of LA before heading Downtown where we would catch the Musicares MAP Fund Benefit event honouring Ozzy Osbourne and Jeff Greenberg at Club Nokia . What an amazing night! We got to check out the red carpet first featuring the likes of Ozzy and Kelly, Rob and Kirk from Metallica, Beth Hart, Keb Mo, Sonny Mayo (Ugly Kid Joe/Sevendust), Steve O, Dave Navarro… the list goes on.
It was awesome to hear the stories related to the night, the battles with addiction be it drink, drugs… whatever and how this program helps these artists. Then there was the performances… I’d heard Beth Harts name a lot but had never heard or seen her before and wow, what a talent! She did an amazing cover of Sabbath’s “Changes” which gave me goose bumps. Keb Mo was just incredible, what a voice and talent – definitely want to hear more of his work. Metallica pulled out a surprise acoustic covers set which was a privilege to witness. One of my favorite Ozzy songs is Diary Of A Madman and it was very cool to hear Metallica perform it. Finally Ozzy took to the stage and performed a great set of classics with Dave Navarro on guitar followed by an encore with Slash on guitar. The way the venue was laid out the front sections was all seated tables and couches with Kelly and Jack Osbourne right near the front. It was so funny to see Ozzy cheekily throw a bucket of water on them.
And I just have to say thanks again to Sonny Mayo who came looking for us after the red carpet. I’d just seen him perform with Ugly Kid Joe in Australia and mentioned it to him as he headed for the red carpet. He said he’d come and say hello, get a photo but got whisked backstage I guess from there. We finally caught up after the show and he was genuinely happy that he got to see us. We had a great chat. Also just as cool was Gilby Clarke who was so patient taking photos with fans after the event. It’s always great when your heroes are so cool.
Next stop was Disney and this place is truly magical. I didn’t get it straight away but when I did I got it big time and I’m hooked. We had a few special moments there which will remain with me forever and I was just really impressed with the quality and upkeep of the place. Can’t wait to go back!
From there we went to Vegas and that place is just insane! I drove there for the first time on the other side of the road… stressful but I did it. There is just so much to see in Vegas, I just didn’t know where to start. We spent some time by the pool at the Venetian… right next to the TAO pool. It looked like spring break in there, I was stunned… I just thought that kind of scene was just for TV, it’s real?!
We did the Neon Boneyard, home to a lot of the classic Vegas signs. Very cool stuff run by non-profit organisation. Very professional and informative tour well worth checking out.
My favorite part of my Vegas trip was going to the KISS Mini Golf course. I’ve been a big KISS fan since age 4 so it was a lot of fun to visit this place with KISS tunes spinning the whole time, memorabilia galore and a glowing, rocking fun mini golf course. Just like Disney I was a kid again and loved every moment of it. I thought this place could be cheesy and I guess it was but in an awesome way. The crew there made us feel very welcome, Mr Blackwell put on 4 tracks from Kiss Symphony since I was from Australia which was a nice touch. He later took me and my friend Rob into the VIP area to have a look around which was fantastic. Then came the store… I could resist and bought a pair of Paul Stanley platform boots 😉 They look soooo cool.
Although it was nerve wracking it was cool doing the drive between Anaheim, Vegas, San Diego and LA and seeing the classic locations and signs. Route 66, Sunset Strip… even 101 North – a Tomahawk song. So many great songs inspired by this part of the world, I just love it. Maybe I’ll write my own California inspired song now.
When we returned to LA for the end of our trip the Chinese Theater looked different again, this time a red carpet event was being set up for the new Drew Barrymore/Adam Sandler movie “Blended”. It’s just amazing that this size event just seems to happen every other day (or perhaps we were lucky!). I must say it was very exciting and cool to see such legends in close proximity.
That night we went to the Rainbow Bar and Grill for a few drinks. There’s so much history in this place and there’s some amazing photos that tell some of the tale. I definitely need to spend more time here next time but for our brief visit it was cool to finally have a real feel for where these legends spent allot of their time.
At the end of our trip we finally got to visit a few of the places on my “must see” list. We went to Amoeba Music which is insanely big, I was hoping to grab some Richie Kotzen CD’s but alas, there was none… I did however grab The Winery Dogs on vinyl which was nice.
Then we swung past Guitar Center and checked out the hand prints out the front. Amazing to place my hands where Frank Zappa had been, and even though I’ve met Steve Vai a few times it was cool to place my hands in his print. It’s amazing the size difference of his left hand, I’d heard the rumors but it was obvious in these prints the difference. I think he said he willed them to be bigger, I guess it worked!
Well that is a very brief run down of the more music inspried look at our 2 week holiday, had an amazing time and can’t wait to do it all again – we really have so much more to explore!