By: AnnMarie Scaramuzzino
David Fishof is not a rock star.
He’s been on tour with Ringo Starr and his All-Starr Band, The Turtles and Herman’s Hermits. He’s shared some laughs with Roger Daltrey, and he’s been pranked by the likes of Levon Helm and Joe Walsh.
David helped bring about the 20th anniversary of The Monkees, has had the time of his life on stage at Radio City Music Hall and has partied at the Playboy Mansion. He’s hung out with Ace Frehley, Paul Stanley, Lemmy Kilmister, Bret Michaels, Sammy Hagar and many, many others.
No, David Fishof is not a rock star. But he is a Rock and Roll legend.
From his start promoting small acts in the Catskill Mountains in the ‘70s to booking and touring with some of Rock and Roll’s biggest names, David Fishof has led a very interesting life, and he’s put his experiences to good use in his new book, Rock Your Business: What You and Your Company Can Learn from the Business of Rock and Roll.
Rock Your Business tells the story of Fishof’s beginnings in the entertainment industry in New York and outlines his career as a sports and music agent, promoter, tour producer, and perhaps his most accomplished role to date: founder of the Rock and Roll Fantasy Camp.
In the book, Fishof describes how he developed the idea for the camp and gives readers tips and tricks on how he was able to realize his dream, all while providing colorful commentary on his experiences of rubbing elbows with some of the biggest rock stars in the world.
Back in the late ‘80s, he approached iconic Beatles drummer Ringo Starr with the idea of a headlining tour, featuring Starr backed by a band of some of Rock and Roll’s finest. Starr conceded, revealing that he had been looking to get back out on the road for a while, and Ringo Starr and His All-Starr Band was born.
The earliest incarnation of the All-Starr Band included none other than Joe Walsh, Levon Helm and the late Clarence Clemons, and while on tour with the group in 1989, Fishof found himself in a somewhat sticky situation.
“After the fourth show, Levon Helm and Joe Walsh were in a fight,” Fishof recalls. “The late Clarence Clemons said to me, ‘You’d better come here and break this thing up.’ And I go downstairs and I find Joe Walsh with a knife and blood on his hands and Levon Helm with a glass bottle, and they’re fighting over songs. And I walk in there and I’m screaming ‘Are you guys a bunch of babies?!’ And they both turned around and stuck their tongues out at me.”
“So when I saw the fun that they were having, I said, ‘This is Rock and Roll Fantasy Camp,’ and that’s where I got the idea from.”
Besides the potential of being able to have some fun with rock’s most notable names, David Fishof realized from his own experiences that fans and business owners could also learn from these artists.
“I got to travel with these amazing musicians and just to be around them and to learn from them…it was just quite a great experience,” Fishof tells us. “I wanted to give the experience to the fans because I thought, ‘Wow, these people are so creative,’ and if you could be around them, you could learn a lot from them.”
By touring with Ringo and his All-Starr Band, the Monkees and the Turtles, Fishof came to know a great deal of different artists, so when it came time to put his dream of a Rock Camp into action in 1997, he used these contacts to his advantage.
The first Rock Camp took place in Florida, and Fishof brought Clarence Clemons, Nils Lofgren, Mike Love of the Beach Boys and Leslie West of Mountain on as “counselors,” which garnered a lot of media attention for the event.
Despite the big-name rockers, the 1997 camp only had about 24 attendees, and Fishof considered it a failure of sorts. Three years later, after many inquiries and requests for another installment, he was able to secure the legendary Roger Daltrey as a counselor and decided to give it another try.
6,000 campers and several years later, Rock Camp has exceeded expectations and hosted the likes of Jeff Beck, Lita Ford, Steven Tyler, Sammy Hagar, Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, members of Def Leppard, Yes, and more. And while the campers are clearly inspired to play and write with these rock stars, Fishof says that the admiration is definitely mutual.
“I think that the rockers love it because it reminds them of what it was like when they first started,” Fishof explains. “The musicians get excited because they see it’s all about the music. They come to camp, they see the campers really working hard to make a song happen and to create music and to be in a band, and that’s really what inspires them.”
Rock and Roll Fantasy Camp, which found a permanent home at the MGM Grand Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas last year, offers several different experiences for campers.
The first are the “Destination Camps,” which last three-to-five days and partner groups of similarly skilled campers up with Rock Star counselors to write and record an original song.The campers later get to perform their song on stage in front of their family and friends at a major venue.
Another is “Rock Camp 101,” which is a two-day experience for adults at a beginner’s level where attendees can get a crash course in the instrument of their choice by attending master classes and Q&A sessions with artists.
There is also the “Rock Star for a Day” experience, where musicians can come in to the Rock Camp studios located next to the MGM Grand to jam and record with bands like Guns N’ Roses, Aerosmith, KISS, Whitesnake and others.
Finally, Fishof and his team offer “Corporate Camps,” where companies come in and work with their co-workers to write a song about their business, which they then perform on stage with a band of all-star rockers, a practice that inspired his latest book, Rock Your Business.
“My goal is to reach out to corporate America and for them to use the lessons that I’ve learned and that these rock stars have learned – to keep their longevity,” Fishof explains. “Everybody really wants to be a rock star and here’s an opportunity – you can share the stage and write with a rock star and you’re writing about your company, so the excitement really translates to bringing passion and helping your company succeed.”
Clearly maintaining his own passion, David Fishof’s vision for the Rock Camps has continued to grow, and in 2010, the camp was featured as a television show on VH1 Classic for two seasons, with a potential new installment currently in the works.
There are also several exciting Destination Camps on the horizon, including a Fab Four Fantasy Camp with the Beatles’ cover band The Fab Faux in October, a camp with Rock’s Rhythm Masters Leland Sklar, Waddy Watchel, Russ Kunkel and Danny Kortchmar in November and the first-ever heavy metal camp with Judas Priest, Zakk Wylde and Geoff Tate slated for 2014.
David Fishof has certainly fulfilled his life’s dream with the Rock and Roll Fantasy Camp, and his road to success is outlined throughout Rock Your Business. When asked what advice he would give to others pursuing their own dreams, he responded, “Luck is where preparation meets opportunity,” before once again drawing comparisons to the Rock and Roll industry.
“People look at these musicians and they see Steve Vai and Joe Satriani and Joe Walsh at camp and I think they’re realizing that these musicians really play for hours and hours and they’re passionate about it and they love it,” Fishof said. “If you continue to do that with anything you do in life, you’re going to be successful.”
To find out more about Rock and Roll Fantasy Camp, click here, and for more stories and advice from David Fishof, pick up a copy Rock Your Business: What You and Your Company Can Learn from the Business of Rock and Roll, which is available now on Amazon.
More on David Fishof can be found at www.DavidFishofPresents.com.