PREVIEW Lots of people want to be rock stars, but life usually gets in the way, and one day they wake up as midlevel managers commuting from suburban Milwaukee. While Joe and Suzy Chief Purchasing Officer may not have fame and glory, they definitely have disposable income, and now they can buy their high school dreams for a day.
Since 1997, Rock 'n' Roll Fantasy Camp founder David Fishof has recruited bona fide rock stars from Roger Daltry to Slash to act as counselors to wannabe musicians, helping them perfect their instruments and perform as a band at the end of the session. "It's almost like the television show where they do an extreme makeover on a house and they only have one week to do it," said former Megadeth bassist David Ellefson, laughing. He got involved during last year's 10th anniversary show in Las Vegas. "I find it's really a fun challenge. You basically get to accomplish in one day what most musicians take 20 years to do."
One day at the camp costs $1,999. The five-day tour package fetches a cool $9,999. Some think the cost is worth it. Vancouver surgeon-guitarist Bill McDonald, 56, will attend his fourth camp this summer. "In my line of work, it's a very high-stress profession, and the music allows me to escape that for a bit," he said. McDonald's tour goes from Phoenix to Los Angeles, with a stop here at the Fillmore where his wife and teenage children will watch him perform.
Fishof won't reveal how much counselors get paid, but insists that the enterprise, now his full-time job, is not particularly lucrative. "I do it more as a labor of love," he said, noting that he's looking into turning the camp into a reality show. "I love getting letters from people saying, 'You changed my life.' People call me and say, 'My husband doesn't have road rage anymore.'"
ROCK 'N' ROLL FANTASY CAMP Opening for Extreme and King's X. Mon/25, Fillmore, 1805 Geary, SF. For details, call 1-888-762-2263 or go to www.rockandrollfantasycamp.com