In 1987 I was just 12 years old when Def Leppard released Hysteria. Twelve years old and in middle school is a time of big discovery for any young person. For me it was a difficult time. My parents were having problems and my Dad would come and go from our lives. Music provided a much needed escape. Like most young people in the 1980's I loved Madonna and Michael Jackson as well as Stevie Nicks because that's what my Mom listened to. By 1987 I had evolved to like Bon Jovi and Quiet Riot because that is what my friends were listening to. We would shoot hoops for hours listening to Living on a Prayer. Then Hysteria was released. It changed everything. This was a band I could really get into. I started buying the rock magazines and finding out anything I could about the band ( how did we survive without Google?). I would race home from school and watch MTV hoping to catch a video.
I went so far as to cut my hair into a fantastic mullet. I tore my jeans like Joe. Unlike most girls my age I wasn't lusting over the band, I wanted to be in a band and be just like them. My best friend Natasha and I had our stage names, mine was Arista Rockett (sorry Rikki, I thought that was just the coolest name so I had to steal it). In a time of family trial this was the ultimate form of escapism. I would use any item I could find to pretend to play drums. I begged my Mom and Dad for a drum set, a guitar, anything...it took a while but my Dad, who had been a musician and had even cut a few records, bought a brand new Fender Precision Bass. Not exactly what I wanted but I was happy to have access to anything at that point.
By the time I could save enough babysitting money it was near the end of the Hysteria tour and the second time coming through my area in Washington State. I was ecstatic to see Def Leppard play in the round in October 1988 at the Tacoma Dome. It was the last very night of the Hysteria Tour, what turned out to be guitarist Steve Clark's last show with the band. For me it was a dream come true! I was able to be on the floor and get close to the stage. My friend Natasha and I were on cloud nine for weeks talking about the show.
Life moved on, my parents eventually divorced and being a child of the Seattle area, grunge music took over. I never wavered in my love for Def Leppard but like most teenagers I wasn't going to flaunt it. In the coming years I never missed a tour if I could. I went and saw Lep play in the round again with new guiitarist Vivian Campbell in Seattle in 1992. By 1996 I'd just had my first baby and was then living near Dallas, Texas. My then husband heard that the band had a soccer game lined up before their concert so we went and were able to meet the band. I was young, just 21 years old and shy and was a mess meeting them. Back in those days I had a little 110 Kodak Camera and I was able to spend a few minuted chatting with the band. Phil was so nice that day and even held my 4 month old baby. Joe was great too. I still don't know how I made it through. I got into our car to go and was almost in tears.
The years went by. I had two more children. I moved around with my first husband who was in the military to California, Washington State and Virginia. I got divorced and remarried. I managed to see the band in ballparks, state fairs and any other venue in which I could catch them. By 2015 my kids were older and I was able to take my middle daughter to her first Def Leppard show. Def Leppard had begun a resurgence in popularity that made my heart sing. Since then I have shared the shows with both of my daughters. It was so much fun to take my oldest Cat to her first Lep show in Baltimore in 2017. Full circle from the soccer game 21 years before.
In the last few years I was able to take my Mom, Stepfather and sister to various Lep shows. The fan pages that exist through social media connect us, and I know I can pop into a show anywhere and know someone from the fan pages. It creates a family atmosphere at the shows. We look at the band as an extension of that family. I always wonder what the band thinks when they see people like me at multiple shows across the country. In 2018 I was able to catch 4 shows.
The first in Raleigh I did solo, except I knew about a dozen people once I got there. I also did my first meet and greet which I have previously written about. I then caught the Virginia Beach show which is where I usually go, as it is considered my home venue. My daughter Reagan went with me to that one. In the fall I headed home to Washington State and took my sister Lisa to the show at The Gorge. It was amazing. Two nights later Lisa and I took our parents to Vancouver. It's crazy, I know, but oh so much fun!
When the announcements were made that Def Leppard was a nominee for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Class of 2019 I knew I had to go. My travel in the last year to concerts was extensive but there was no way I wasn't going to go to New York. I booked my hotel the day the nomination came out. It took me a while to tell my husband who is more of a Todd Rundgren type fan that we were going. We were very disappointed that Todd didn't get in. Well, Def Leppard did get in so off we went to Brooklyn. Getting tickets was dicey and I was blessed to have help from some fellow fans getting our seats .
We set off for Brooklyn on Thursday morning March 28th. It took us just under seven hours to make the drive from our home in Virginia to Brooklyn, New York. We checked into our hotel and the fun began. My friends Janet from Washingon State and Kelpie from Colorado were staying at our same hotel. My husband Jay and I explored the area around our hotel in the Park Slope neighborhood and had a wonderful dinner at The Douglass. The next day we went to the Botanic Gardens to walk around and ran into someone Jay knew from Virginia. Small world.
At 5 pm we met up with a big group of Def Leppard fans in front of the Barclay's Center. My friend Karen runs the Def Leppard Die Hard Fan page on Facebook and she had organized this. Karen had a dress custom made from more than a dozen Def Leppard Shirts. It was stunning! Lorelei Shellist, who was Steve Clark's girlfriend for many years before his death came by with her amazing boyfriend Larry Baldauf. Lorelei is a supermodel in her own right as well as a clothing designer. She took photos with many fans and talked with so many of us.
Once inside the venue the party got underway. A group of us including Lorelei and Larry hung out at the bar near the entrance talking, laughing and taking photos. More reunions of friends from the many shows over the years. I help run a fan page for Vivian Campbell's side band Riverdogs and it is always amazing to me when strangers approach and ask me if I am the Riverdogs girl. I love that. We found our seats inside and it was fabulous. Amazingly our seats were right next to a group that belonged to Def Leppard. Steve Brown, the guitarist from Trixter was seated across the aisle from me. Steve is the go to guitarist for the band when life invades the fantasy. Steve filled in for Viv when he was undergoing cancer treatment a few years ago and again last May when Phil flew home to be with his wife Helen after she had complications during the birth of their son Jaxson. Next to him sat Phil's daughter Savannah and her mother who I had seen backstage at the show in Raleigh last year. As I was sitting there a present from a friend arrived at my seat, two of the official VIP programs. Needless to say, I felt like a celebrity in my section, with everyone around asking how I got the programs. I think my husband was proud to be with me as he told the lady next to him about what I do with the Riverdogs Fan Page. I do love my Riverdogs!
The show started and it was a pleasure to see Stevie Nicks perform with Don Henley. It was another night of listening to the music that is the soundtrack of my life. Def Leppard was the last performance of the night. I had so many friends that could not come so I decided to live stream the induction on the Riverdogs fan page. I made it though Brian May's speech and then the induction speech by Joe Elliott on behalf of the band. I don't think there was a dry eye in the house when Joe talked about Rick Allen.
The videos below are not mine as the Facebook live quality wasn't the best, but thanks to YouTube you can see the same footage as I had. Video Credits to their creators.
Def Leppard followed this with an ass kicking 4 song performance. True to form, Phil was without his shirt. I didn't go live for the performance, knowing this would be my last Lep concert for a while.
The night ended with Leppard performing with Brian May, Ian Hunter and others. They covered Mott the Hoople's "All the Young Dudes" I don't think I have ever seen the band smile so big as I did during that performance.
The night ended over 5 hours after it began. The next day we made the long drive back to Virginia. A whirlwind three days! It really was the rock and roll road trip of a lifetime. Congratulations to Def Leppard on their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Class of 2019! Thank you for being the soundtrack of my life.
To visit my Riverdogs Fan Page on Facebook click here
To visit Karen's Def Leppard Die Hard Fan Page on Facebook click here
In 1988 I was 13 years old. That year was a turning point in my family when my mother had enough of my father’s alcoholism. My father came and went from our home for much of 1988 (my parents finally divorced in 1991). My mother worked a job at our local country store to keep a roof over our heads and I babysat every weekend to earn money to buy the typical teenage things, including a CD player and the hot new CD’s that were coming out. Things my mother could not afford to buy me. These significant changes in our household meant I had to grow up, but I was still just a young teen filled with a desire to escape this reality. In the 1980's there was the ultimate teenage escape in the form of the music videos on MTV and in 1988 Def Leppard was the darling of MTV. These two together provided the perfect escape into a musically fueled fantasy world.
Back in 1983, as a child, I knew who Def Leppard was. My mother’s younger siblings were my babysitters and companions at my Grandparent’s house. I was raised on their music but was really to young to understand it. By 1988 EVERYBODY knew who Def Leppard was. I became more than just a fan. I became a fanatic. The highlight of each day was coming home from Junior High to watch Dial MTV to see if their video was #1. I devoured every magazine I could find. My mother, bless her, drove me around to every music store in two counties to try and find a Def Leppard shirt. My room became a shrine.
On October 27, 1988 I was able to see Def Leppard for the first time in concert, my first concert, ever. My Aunt Bonnie, who was just 23 years old, took me and my best friend Natasha to the Tacoma Dome in my home state of Washington. I had no idea that this was the very last night of the tour and what would eventually end up being guitarist Steve Clark’s last concert ever with the band. Getting tickets to this show was another life lesson in growing up as it was the first time I ever bought concert tickets. The 1988 Hysteria in the Round Tour was all about scoring those general admission tickets on the floor for the bargain price of $18.50. Back in those days you had just two ways to buy tickets: Over the phone or at a Ticketmaster Box Office. At 13 it was by phone for me. I still remember the Seattle Ticketmaster phone number 1-800-628-0888! It is etched in my memory forever! This was also the first time in my life I ever used a credit card. I had the cash on hand from working and had to pay my mom that day.
The concert solidified my love for the band. I was able to get pretty close to the stage and have a great time. I bought two shirts that night. A “Women” shirt and a tour shirt with all their photos on it. I lent the latter to a boyfriend at some point, never to be seen again. I still have the “Women” shirt which I wore this past year to meet the band.
I was never one of those girls who wanted to be one of the band members girlfriends, instead I wanted to BE a band member. I would turn the bass up and the treble down on the stereo so that I could hear the bass lines. I would dissect each song, picking out the multiple guitar parts. I went as far as to get my hair cut like Joe’s (yes, in a mullet) and I shredded my acid washed jeans, much to the chagrin of my mother. I played the part of Joe in a school lip sync competition (thank God it was before cell phone video!). They were my escape from a troubled teen-aged life.
I have pondered over the years why Def Leppard became “My” band. Now that I am nearly 44 years old I know the answer. They are real. They are authentic. They never pretend to be anything less than human, just like you and me. I think that at age 13 I could already relate to life not going as planned but still had hope that all would end well. I could relate to the perseverance of the band. I still do.
Over the years their music became the soundtrack of my life. We all cried together when Steve died. We cheered when Vivian joined the band. We continue to pray for Vivian and his fight with Cancer. We await each album with high expectations and we curse Ticketmaster when we can’t get our pre-sale codes to work for our yearly treks to see Def Leppard. I say we because there are many out there like me. Many who spent countless hours in their rooms listening to them, contemplating the complexities of life, when our biggest problems were school dances, getting our hair to stay up and getting concert tickets. Def Leppard has been there though my marriage and divorce, remarriage and raising my children. They were there when my father died at age 58. Their music always a familiar and soft place to turn to. We’ve raised our kids on their music and now we take them to their concerts.
Social Media and the internet have made the band more accessible and the fan pages connect us fans. We meet at shows and we cheer each other on when it comes to VIP experiences. We get excited when the band likes one of our posts. We share videos and are family. Not many bands achieve that level of dedicated fans. Me and many of my fellow fans will be front and center on March 29th to cheer our band on as the are inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
So, to Def Leppard I say “thank you” for being the soundtrack of my life! Congratulations on your induction to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame!
For my ninth rock n roll roadtrip of 2018 I splurged and bought a VIP Meet and Greet package with Def Leppard. I was going solo to this show so I thought, why not? Everyone knows what a huge Vivian Campbell fan I am and that I co-admin a Riverdogs Fanpage (www.facebook.com/groups/RiverdogsBand/). I have met Viv quite a few times but never have I done a fan meet and greet with Def Leppard even though I had met the band before. I am a member of a few fan pages and one of the questions that gets asked a lot is what is a meet and greet like? So in this post I am going to talk about my experience at the Def Leppard show in Raleigh, North Carolina on June 5, 2018.
I left for Raleigh mid morning driving an uneventful three hour and forty minutes from Virginia. I checked into my hotel and got changed. I had bought a pair of Chuck Taylor Converse with the Union Jack on them and also had my vintage Def Leppard "women" shirt that I had purchased at my first Def Leppard show in 1988 when I was just 13 years old. I arrived at the PNC Arena about 30 minutes before the scheduled meet and greet time, which was 4:45. I parked close by under a tree (it was a scorcher) and proceeded to tailgate with a couple who was seeing Def Leppard for the first time in over 35 years! At 4:35 I walked over to the appointed meeting place and got in line. It was well organized and they began to let us in early. One thing that you should know is that you have to have ID and be the purchaser on record to be able to pick up your meet and greet packages. After I got my swag bag, ticket to the show and lanyard pass, we were let into the lobby area where we were allowed to shop the merch. What I loved is that Def Leppard was doing soundcheck at this time. So, while we couldn't get a peek at them, we were able to hear them play. The VIP package included a set of vintage postcards, a luggage tag, a passport holder, a signed Hysteria poster and a large canvas tote. It was a lot of loot! And NO, you can't leave to take it to your car. Once you are in, you are in for the night!
After some time in the lobby listening to soundcheck, checking out the merch, meeting other fans and ordering beverages, we were let into the main floor of the arena in order to get group photos taken. This was fun and everyone was very excited. I would imagine that there were about 60-70 people who were doing the meet and greet at this show. They took about 15 people at a time up on the stage to take a photo in front of Rick Allen's Drum Kit. The first group photo was a serious pose and the other was a fun rock star pose! On the way down from the stage I managed to get a shot of Vivian's guitars in their case.
After the group photo we were led to an area in the back of the arena. This was the working part of the arena. I even caught a glimpse of Vivian Campbell's guitar tech Wolfie! While waiting backstage there was a raffle for all the VIP Meet and Greet people (we were all given a raffle ticket with our merch) and the winner was a lovely lady and her friend. They got to sit side stage for the first two songs of the show! The crowd was very excited and chatty while waiting. It was like a group of old friends who had come together for a visit! While in line I also saw Phil Collen's two youngest daughter's with their Mom hanging out backstage.
Both the PNC Arena and Def Leppard staff were amazing. There was a young man who was watching our purses and merch so that we didn't have to carry them into the photo. He was funny and kind to a bunch of nervous nellies. Finally it was my turn. I walked around the corner and Rick Savage was there. I was a bit tongue tied but said Hi Sav and shook his hand. Next to him stood Vivian who was smiling and said Hi to me. I leaned in and got a hug from him. Next was Joe. I showed them all my shoes and told them that I had bought my shirt thirty years ago. I shook hands and said Hi to Phil and Rick while still talking about my shirt with Joe. Joe kept talking even while we were getting the picture taken. He told me how well the shirt had held up all these years and I said something like yeah, almost as good as all of us. The meet and greet goes by fast, but I did not feel rushed at all. Def Leppard has a wonderful photographer, Valerie, who takes the photos. They are then posted for you about a week after the show. The photos are good quality.
After the meet and greet was over, I went and found a Def Leppard beer (which was only on tap in Raleigh) and my seat. I realized that the woman sitting in front of me was familiar and so I introduced myself. It turns out we know each other from the Riverdogs Fan Page and another fan page that I am on. We are in the group photo together as well! It was good to meet you Kelpie! It is always good to meet people from our online support groups! I also got to see my other concert friends Liz, Cat and Louise. One of the perks of doing the meet and greet is that my seat was in the second row. I was on Vivian's side of the stage, right in front of him. I changed into my Riverdogs tank so that I didn't get my vintage Lep shirt all sweaty.
The Concert was amazing as always. Viv tossed me a guitar pick (or three, haha). He is always good to me like that. The next day my friend sent me a message to check out Journey's Instagram account (they are on tour with Lep right now and played after Lep did). Low and behold there I was! Entranced by the music from the looks of it.
Journey played a great set to close out the night. After the show I headed to the local McDonald's for a night cap and made it back to my hotel in one piece. The next day I was still on my concert high as I made my way home to Virginia. It was another great rock n roll roadtrip!
Shoot me a message if you have any questions about the meet and greet! I am happy to share my experience!
A few months ago I was contacted by Los Angeles based photographer Astor Morgan www.astormorgan.com and asked to write an essay on a photograph of Vivian Campbell that he had taken in Los Angeles at the Riverdogs reunion show on December 2, 2017. The original post is on his Instagram Page which is a set of photo essays called "Between sets by Astor Morgan".
Below is my essay, unedited. Thank you to Astor Morgan for allowing me this opportunity.
By Lori Jackson Black
"Last year I got to live out every fan’s dream when I was invited to California to attend the Riverdogs last rehearsal before their first show in 14 years. Some nine months before I had heard my favorite guitarist Vivian Campbell on the radio doing an interview about how he felt Riverdogs was some of his best work that no one had ever heard. I decided to use my social media skills to promote a band I love. Social media connected me with Riverdogs in a way I never dreamed of.
I arrived at the rehearsal studio that Thursday night and the first person I see is Vivian Campbell in the parking lot. I had to pinch myself. Was this even real? It was not my first meeting with Vivian but this was different. The rehearsal studio was not large and a small group of fans, friends and family were there. It was intimate and special for all of us. As the band ran through the set I was standing mere feet in front of Vivian. I got to see the Les Paul that started it all, 72987537 and the guitar that Pete Townshend so lovingly scratched his name into up close. Vivian is not the typical rock star. He is talented beyond compare, but to us fans he is kind and approachable. That night I was able to talk to Vivian in a social setting far different from the meet and greets of the past. It was something special, an evening where many friendships were made.
Saturday night arrived, as had Riverdogs fans from all around the world. There were fans from as far away as Australia & The Netherlands and all across the United States. We met in the parking lot, some of us meeting for the first time, some of us old concert friends. We are rock and roll family. The venue was small and intimate, nothing like the arenas and stadiums that Vivian is used to playing with Def Leppard. I had a spot next to the stage, a little off to the side of Vivian. From that vantage point I got to watch the show from a technical standpoint. That night I witnessed Vivian’s passion for playing, the ease and grace in his flipping of switches and the manipulation of foot pedals. I could feel the bond of the band on stage, the genuine friendships that make Riverdogs something special. I was in awe of it all.
That night was not about Vivian Campbell, guitar hero, it was about the music, it was about Riverdogs. It was about the fans. We use these musical moments to forget about the tough things in life. We forget Vivian has cancer. We forget our own troubles. We become a family for that one night. The music is our connector. The music is what drives us. The music is what save us and for that I am grateful."
I owe a huge debt of gratitude to Riverdogs manager Paul Liszewski and lead singer Rob Lamothe for inviting me to the rehearsal. It really was a dream come true!
Riverdogs Website: http://riverdogsmusic.com/
Riverdogs Facebook: www.facebook.com/riverdogsband/
Riverdogs Facebook Fanpage: www.facebook.com/groups/RiverdogsBand/
Below is a photo gallery from the two nights. Enjoy!
Raleigh, North Carolina....a not so short three hour and forty minute drive from my humble abode on the Chesapeake Bay in Virginia. Rock N Roll Road Trips are a way of life for me. The closest venues are a good hour plus from my home. So, off I went to Raleigh to see the G3 tour featuring Phil Collen (and Delta Deep), John Petrucci and Joe Satriani. I left my home mid-day and made my way to The Residence Inn by Marriott across the street from the venue. For those attending shows at The Duke Energy Center for The Performing Arts, I can highly recommend this hotel. It is new, clean and affordable. I had a room on the sixth floor with a kitchenette and a king size bed. They have good parking and a continental breakfast buffet in the mornings. After checking in I met my friend Liz in the lobby and we walked down the street a few blocks to a cool restaurant called Bu Ku which had good prices and a good selection of food. After a quick dinner we walked down to the venue. Liz had managed to upgrade our tickets to front row! While in the lobby Liz introduced me to some other concert friends of hers. The concert world is a small place and thanks to social media we are able to connect and meet like minded people at events. Liz and I made our way to the front row which in this venue consisted of several rows of movable chairs. We were right in front of the stage this time. No barricade separating us. I could reach out and touch the stage.
The first band to play was Phil Collen's band Delta Deep. Delta Deep is a bluesy rock band, much different from Phil's full time band Def Leppard. Besides Phil on Guitar, Delta Deep consists of Debbi Blackwell Cook on vocals, Forrest Robinson on Drums, and on this tour filling in for Robert DeLeo is bassist Craig Martini. They did a six song set. The interaction of the band is a pleasure to watch. Smiles abound. Oh, and Debbi can sing her ass off!
I was looking forward to seeing John Petrucci again. I had only seen him with Dream Theater in the past and I left that concert with so many drum beats in my head I don't know that I really appreciated Petrucci's playing. Petrucci has put together a fabulous band. I was really impressed by them. Petrucci's playing was fantastic. He was feet in front of me and I couldn't take my eyes off of how fast his hands were moving. From my seat in the front I was surprised to see Phil Collen and some guests watching the show from the wings.
Joe was the only one of the three that I had not seen live in concert before. I found him and his band enjoyable and was especially impressed by his bass player, Bryan Beller and keyboard/guitarist Mike Keneally. I tend to gravitate towards those players who are lesser known but whose talent shines bright as it did with these two.
The show ended with an all star jam. While my seats were fabulous, it came at a cost during the final jam. I was right in front of Petrucci's amp and it literally drowned out everything else. The most noticeable thing about the jam were the smiles on everyone's faces both on stage and in the audience. Everyone had a great time!
The show ended and I spotted my favorite Vlogger/Roadie Jeff Diffner. Being shy (haha) I called his name and he came over for a quick chat with me. Jeff is working this tour as a drum tech and general jack of all trades. His day job is for Rick Allen (Def Leppard) as his drum tech. I really admire people like Jeff who get to work behind the scenes and in his vlog you get to see how much work these tours really take. They work long hard hours for weeks at a time with minimal down time. Please take some time to check out Jeff's Vlogs on Youtube. After a quick chat with Jeff, that was interrupted by venue security telling me to leave (boo), Liz and I and my new concert friends Louise and Kevin stood about and chatted about upcoming concerts etc...and took photos with each other before saying goodbye. I made my way across the street to my hotel and as is always the case, could not fall asleep because of the concert high. I IM'd with my sister on the West Coast for about an hour and then finally fell asleep.
The next morning my internal body clock got me up at six a.m. I slowly got ready and made my way back to Virginia in the rain. The first rock n roll road trip of 2018 was completed in less than 24 hours and as my husband says, "a good time was had by all".
My next Rock N Roll Road Trip is scheduled for Monday, February 12th. This is a short one to Norfolk, VA to see Robert Plant! See you then!