“Rock of Ages” Los Angeles Premiere and my Personal 80’s Experience Blog

Greetings everyone! Welcome to another sneak peek inside some of the entertainment industry’s hottest events. This blog is dedicated to the new film based on the play “Rock of Ages”. The film is directed by, Adam Shankman (Hairspray). The film is an adaptation of the 2006 Chris D’Arienzo rock jukebox Broadway musical of the same name. The film and play featured a soundtrack of 70’s groups like Journey, Foreigner, and Reo Speed Wagon along with music from some of the most popular bands from the 80’s hair band scene including Def Leppard, Bon Jovi, Poison and more.

Before I talk about the film and the premiere, let’s take a trip back to 1987, as I can share some of my experiences from that time period.

Some of you that know me know I have a younger sister named Rachel who is four years younger than me. If you grew up in the 80’s and were a female, musically there were two roads you could go down. The first was the hair band / Glam Rock phase. This included music from bands that are still playing live like Def Leppard, Bon Jovi, and Poison. It also included some bands like Guns N’ Roses, Motley Crue, Winger, Warrant and others. The other and more popular choice with teen girls were the beginning of boy bands and pop stars like New Kids on the Block, Tiffany, and other one hit wonders. Luckily my sister took the hair band road.

Bon Jovi Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Uniondale, NY, April 8, 1987 – Slippery When Wet Tour

After a few months of listening to every song on the Slippery When Wet album by Bon Jovi, I wanted to see them live. At the time none of my friends were allowed to go to rock concerts. My sister who was only 11 at the time desperately wanted to go. My mom decided to take us, but she wasn’t going to stay in the parent’s waiting room with the other moms. My mother surprisingly liked the band and did not trust me to watch my sister at the show, so she ended up taking us. My mom would later be called an old hag by some glam rock chick in the women’s bathroom. After returning from the bathroom with my sister the opening band Cinderella started to play. Some of the crowd started to bang their fist and had their head sway back and forth to the music. My sister saw this and immediately started to copy them.

About an hour later the light went out and the smell of hairspray mixed in with cigarette and another unusual kind of smoke filled the air. Girls were screaming as the band slowly walked on to the stage. Our seats were nosebleed ones a few rows from the top of the arena. John was dressed in leather pants and a blue Jean Jacket, to go along with his long brown curly teased up hair. The band put on a great show and I was hooked on live music.

Def Leppard Hysteria Tour:  September 21 1988, East Rutherford, New Jersey Meadowlands Arena

The next band that I saw was Def Leppard, in 88 at the Meadowlands Arena. This time I brought a friend with me. Once again, my sister wanted to go. This time it was my dad’s turn. Unfortunately for him the opening band Queensrÿche, which was a louder band, to begin which had their sound turned up way too loud for an indoor arena. This would be my final show with a parent taking us. We would go on to see many of the hair bands from 88-92 including Poison, Warrant, Motley Crue, and ending with the Guns N’ Roses  / Metallica tour. Now that I’ve shared my hair band experience now it’s time to talk about the  “Rock of Ages” premiere.

Rock of Ages – World Premiere – Grauman’s Chinese Theatre Hollywood

I walked on to Hollywood Boulevard, and saw a large black carpet set up to look like the Sun Set strip in 1987. Various landmarks, like the Whisky and the Rainbow Room, were joined by some fictitious clubs like “The Bourbon”, which is owned by Alec Baldwin in the film. The first person seen on the carpet was a flyby by one of the films stars Tom Cruise, who plays “Stacey Jax” a cross between Jim Morrision and Axle Rose. Tom waved to the photographers while saying hello to the films producers. The first stars to walk the carpet were a mix of 70’s and 80’s music stars like Lita Ford, Reo Speedwagon singer and Brett Michales who arrived before his band Poison. Brett quickly found Tom Cruise and would go on to take pictures with dozes of celebrities. The first band to walk the carpet were Def Leppard, whose song “Rock of Ages” from the bands mega album Pyromania the play and the film are named after.

Most of the cast, from the film, attended the world premiere. Even 80’s pop queen Debbie Gibson (this bloggers teen age crush) who has a cameo in the film was there to celebrate the release.  Juliana Hough lit up the black carpet in a yellow dressed. This was my third time photographing Miss Hough and every time she has a different amazing and original look. Juliana posed for pictures with everyone from Tom Cruise to her “Dancing with the Stars” brother Derick Hough.

In the end it wasn’t an actor or musician from the film that stole the carpet. “Transformers” star Josh Duhamel, strutted down the carpet dressed in full blown 80‘s hair band costume. Josh wore a long black curly hair wig along with a black skull shirt unbuttoned and holding a Corona beer . Josh would have gone unrecognized if it wasn’t  for his wife actor and Black Eyed Peas member Fergie.

The movie has the feel of a musical / rock opera. Going into the film I knew stars like Julianne Hough and Catherine Zeta-Jones would have no trouble nailing the singing roles. One of biggest surprises for me was how well Tom Cruise created,acted and sang his Jim Morrison meets Axl Rose character. The other surprise for me was co – star Diego Boneta , who shined as a singer and actor in the film. The film may not be nominated for any awards but it was a lot of fun. The same can be said about what the music scene was like in the 80’s. What made those shows so special was the live performances. The crowd gave back as much energy as the bands did. People would sing along clap their hands and light an arena up with 20,000 lighters. The shows let the audience take part in it. You had the feeling of a live show. Not like today when people at concerts are more interested in updating their status on Facebook or taking pictures with their camera phones.

Joan Jett and the Blackhearts in Concert at the Marin County Fair in San Rafael – July 2, 2012

Now that Generation X’s kids are growing up, some of them who were raised with the music of the 80’s as continued the trend. On July 2nd of this year I photographed the Joan Jett and the Blackhearts show at the Marin County Fair. As I expected the audience was female dominated. After all Joan Jett has been referred to as the “Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll”. Joan along with Lita Ford and their all female band may have not been hugely commercially successful in the U.S. but their influences in rock history still lives on to this day. In the crowd were females wearing Joan Jett and The Runaways shirts ranging from 7 to 57. Joan delivered a powerful performance looking and sounding just as good as she did in the 80’s.

As I looked back and watched the crowd sing along, I was reminded how much can be ageless and timeless. This hair band or glam rock scene has now transformed into classic rock. Bands like Bon Jovi, Def Leppard, and Poison are some of the most played bands on classic rock stations. To borrow a line from The Rolling Stones “It’s only rock n’ roll but I like it”.

Thank you for joining me on this trip back to the 80’s. My next blog will be returning to the 21st century, and will be on the Los Angeles Film Festival. Till then don’t forget to support independent films and music in your city.

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About Jonathanshensa

I'm a Celebrity Event Photographer, producer and Screenwriter. I also worked with promoting bands and spent 5 years in music management. In my younger days, I was also an Actor, News reporter, DJ, and have worked at Talent, and Management companies. I love the mass media but also love to talk about everyday topics. I want to have a positive and creative impact on the entertainment business. http://jonathan-scott-shensa-photography.net/
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