Twenty-three years ago, some wild rock and roll dreams started becoming realities.
David Fishof’s idea of a rockin’ camp that paired superstars with the Average Joe was born in Doral, with the likes of Joe Walsh, Levon Helm and Nils Lofgren.
“Only 20 people came to the first one, but there were like 50 reporters covering it... There were definitely more reporters than campers,” said Fishof of the first Rock ‘n’ Roll Fantasy Camp. “It wasn’t very profitable, so I stopped for a while. And, then, sometime later, I was at a Pollstar convention and they were filming Who Wants to Be a Millionaire with Sammy Hagar and Tommy Lee... and [Hagar] remembered the camp for an answer. So, I was inspired to give it another shot.”
Since that moment, Fishof hasn’t looked back, attracting the likes of Stephen Tyler, Cheap Trick, Alice Cooper, Bret Michaels, Steve Vai and a laundry list of others to partake in the affair.
This year, the shindig returns to its South Florida roots with a Fort Lauderdale camp booked for November 8 through 11. Slated to attend are Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry and drummer Jason Bonham of Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin, among a slew of other music biz veterans.
“We do have some big stars that participate, but they realize they are not the stars at camp. The campers are the true rockers,” said Fishof. “Doing this for 23 years, they all love it and they all get it. That’s why this continues to work.”
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Upon arrival, fantasy campers are placed in bands with similarly-skilled musicians. Throughout the experience, they are guided by their counselors and have the opportunity to attend master classes to enhance their skills. There are a ton of rehearsals in between and, at the end of the camp, they rock on stage (in this case, with Perry and Bonham).
While there have been some rise-to-stardom stories that have stemmed from Rock ‘n’ Roll Fantasy Camp, Fishof doesn’t see this as a Star Search or talent competition whatsoever.
“A camper the other day stopped me on the street and told me, ‘my band opened for Aerosmith in Moscow because of you,” said Fishof. “But more so, this is about changing people’s lives and giving them the experience of a lifetime.”
Rock 'n' Roll Fantasy Camp. November 8 through 11 at TBD recording studios in Deerfield Beach and concert venue(s) in Fort Lauderdale. rockcamp.com. Camp packages start at $1,999.