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Arts + CultureMusicA peek at classic rock treasures—with some legends playing...

A peek at classic rock treasures—with some legends playing stellar tunes

Ann Wilson, John Fogerty, Elton's piano, James Brown's cape, and John Lennon's glasses were all on-hand for Jim Irsay's charitable night

Owner and CEO of the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts, Jim Irsay, hosted a rockin’ event at Bill Graham Civic Auditorium on Dec. 10.

The billionaire three times over closed out an eight-city US tour of his monumental collection of historical memorabilia in San Francisco, thrilling attendees with a viewing of such culturally significant artifacts as guitars once owned by The Beatles, Jerry Garcia, and Prince; an Elton John piano; a James Brown cape; John Lennon’s signature sunglasses; and Paul McCartney’s handwritten “Hey Jude” lyrics. 

The showcase—benefiting local charities Project Night Night, which brings blankets, books, and toys to houseless children, and Ohlhoff Recovery Programs, which treats those suffering from substance misuse—also featured performances from the Jim Irsay Band, a supergroup of acclaimed musicians including guitarists Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Tom Bukovac, and Mike Wanchic, bassist Mike Mills, drummer Kenny Aronoff, keyboardist Michael Ramos, and singers Carmella Ramsey and Danny Nucci.

The San Francisco Symphony and Rock & Roll Hall of Famers John Fogerty, Buddy Guy, and Ann Wilson also took the stage for several numbers. 

Highlights included Mike Mills’ rousing vocal renditions of R.E.M. classics “(Don’t Go Back To) Rockville” and “Superman,” Stephen Stills’ politically driven performances of Buffalo Springfield classic “For What It’s Worth” and CSNY’s “Carry On,” and Ann Wilson’s roof-raising covers of Led Zeppelin’s “Rock and Roll” and Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain,” in tribute to the late Fleetwood Mac vocalist/keyboardist, Christine McVie. 

A rock ‘n’ roller by night, Irsay took the mic for Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb” and Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to Run.”    

In a press conference prior to the event, Irsay quoted from the Springsteen hit to emphasize the importance of such an awareness- and money-raising event in giving back to struggling communities. He hopes others will follow suit.

“‘Together, we can live with the sadness/I’ll love you with all the madness in my soul,’” Irsay recited. “’Oh, someday, I don’t know when/We’re gonna get to that place where we really want to go, and we’ll walk in the sun/But till then, tramps like us, baby, we were born to run.’” 

“The closing of that song is so powerful,” the Colts owner added. “I tear up every time I read those words. What we do tonight … It’s those moments that are truly special. And it’s so important for me to change the world because it’s driven all our souls. We can all get up tomorrow and do just a little bit more.” 

48 Hills welcomes comments in the form of letters to the editor, which you can submit here. We also invite you to join the conversation on our FacebookTwitter, and Instagram

Joshua Rotter
Joshua Rotter
Joshua Rotter is a contributing writer for 48 Hills. He’s also written for the San Francisco Bay Guardian, SF Weekly, SF Examiner, SF Chronicle, and CNET.

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