Guitar gods Dave Navarro (of Jane’s Addiction) and Billy Morrison (of Billy Idol) have done it again! On December 20th, they brought together another star-studded group of unparalleled musicians and artists for the 3rd Annual Above Ground benefit concert and art auction at the Fonda Theatre in Los Angeles, CA. Continuing their support of MusiCares, a charity supporting music professionals in need of help with physical and mental health, addiction recovery and preventative care, all proceeds from the night were donated to the life-saving organization.
Like years before, Navarro and Morrison chose two highly influential albums that were clearly ahead of their time yet ring true today: Lou Reed’s Transformer and Sex Pistols’ Nevermind the Bullocks, Here’s The Sex Pistols. It was a bucket list night of iconic performers, some not seen on stage together in over 25 years alongside those that had never shared a stage before.
Navarro and Morrison co-hosted the memorable evening with Mark McGrath (of Sugar Ray) enthusiastically emceeing the night and art auction.
The night kicked off with Transformer, as Corey Taylor (of Slipknot), Navarro and the band, and Steve Stevens (of Billy Idol) on guitar nailed “Vicious”. Courtney Taylor-Taylor (of The Dandy Warhols), Billy Morrison and Mark McGrath got the crowd going with “Andy’s Chest”, “Perfect Day” and “Hanging Around”. The first surprise guest of the evening sent fans into a screaming frenzy, as Anthony Kiedis (of Red Hot Chili Peppers) took to the stage with a hauntingly melodic take on “Walk on the Wild Side”.
The legendary Mickey Avalon covered “Make Up”, while sensational background vocalist Laura Mace (of Foo Fighters) stunned the crowd with “Wagon Wheel”. The eclectic and talented Perry Farrell (of Jane’s Addiction) and Etty Farrell (of Kind Heaven Orchestra) joined longtime bandmate Dave Navarro onstage for “Satellite of Love”. Donovan Leitch (of Camp Freddy) covered “NY Telephone Conversation”, before Corey Taylor returned to the stage with Steve Stevens for “I’m So Free”.
Vocal powerhouse Franky Perez (of Apocalyptica) stunned not only the crowd, but Navarro and Morrison alike with “Goodnight Ladies”, with the Big Band Horns backing in a big way.
Morrison solidly rounded out the album and set with “Sweet Jane”. McGrath auctioned off unique art pieces — graciously donated by Navarro and world-renowned graffiti/contemporary artist, Risk Rock — during the intermission, raising more generous funds for the amazing MusiCares.
Navarro and Morrison brought the band and Corey Taylor back out to kick up the night with the Nevermind the Bullocks, Here’s The Sex Pistols album, tearing up the stage with “Holidays in the Sun” and “Bodies”. Mark McGrath killed it with “No Feelings”, while Dave Kushner (of Velvet Revolver) and Dave Navarro had a guitar battle. Jason Butler (of Fever 333) brought it up a notch, commanding the stage with his fire and enthusiasm on “Liar”. Perry Farrell returned to the stage for “Anarchy”, with McGrath covering “New York”. Fans were blessed with surprise guest Dexter Holland (of The Offspring), who played guitar and rocked “God Save the Queen” and “Pretty Vacant”. The all-star lineup night was complete, with all remaining performers onstage together for an epic performance of “EMI”.
It was a fantastic evening of music and community supporting a worthy cause. Please check out musicares.org for more information on how you too can support them!
Photography by Jenni Lynne