A shorter version of this story first appeared in Endless Summer Quarterly, vol. 13 nos. 1-2 (December 1999 and March 2000).

The Roxy event had taken its toll on me. After six months of preparation and execution, I really needed a break — some time off to recover (both physically and mentally) and to savor the sweet success that had come from that wonderful, magical night. That was not to be.

Two weeks after the Carl Wilson Tribute occurred, I got a call from the owner of The Roxy / Rainbow Bar & Grill asking me to produce the 35th anniversary week long event (to benefit Multiple Sclerosis) at another club they owned on the Sunset Strip — the legendary Whisky A Go Go. This was based on the triumph at The Roxy of which they were quite impressed. I was flattered and honored by this offer. I accepted.

I began work on November 14, 1998 with only two months to pull it all together. I was given a beautiful office at The Whisky which overlooked The Strip. To make a long story short, it was one of the most intense experiences of my life. I planned to have the shows recorded, videotaped and broadcast on the Internet. It was an extremely ambitious project and one which I consider a success, even though I had to go into battle every day to get things done. After 8 days of performances and twenty four acts later, I left The Whisky completely spent. I had been beat up (figuratively speaking) pretty good by some of the more temperamental artists, aggressive managers and even some of the management at The Whisky. I had learned a new appreciation for that other job of mine — that of being a musician who simply shows up for the gig, plays his parts and leaves. For the time being, I wanted no more part in being a Producer/Promoter.

The Whisky shows had ended around the second week in January 1999 and I was all set to enjoy some time off. After all, I had devoted almost nine months of my life exclusively to The Roxy and The Whisky events. That's when I received a package from Betty Collignon with detailed plans for yet another Carl Wilson event for 1999.

I explained to Betty that I really couldn't take on another commitment right now. The Beach Boys Family & Friends had now formed (as a result of their "debut" at The Roxy), we had already started to rehearse and we were planning on touring. I had other projects in the works too — such as bringing the Carl Wilson limited edition Rickenbacker project to completion, assembling my collection of memorabilia which I wanted to make available to the public, and continuing to maintain my video business. I wished her great success with her new plans but declined from taking on the responsibility that I had in the past.

Around June of 1999 I was visiting the Internet site where the new plans for the Carl Wilson Walk / Auction / Concert were on display. I wanted to make sure that Jonah and Justyn Wilson were fully apprised of these plans so I sent them hard copies for them to review. They contacted me and said that they had some ideas of their own which they wanted to incorporate into the event. They asked me if I could take on a more active role by once again working with Betty and her team. Even though The Beach Boys Family & Friends were now touring and, as anticipated, I was very busy, I could not refuse. I would be in charge of the concert portion of the event — responsible for the acquisition of the sound, staging and talent (musical charts, audio tapes, rehearsals, etc.) I would also help get more donations for auction items from some of my/Carl's friends.

One of the first things Jonah and Justyn wanted to do for this event was to create The Carl Wilson Foundation. They also wanted to make the event more accessible to the public by keeping the ticket price affordable ($35). Performers would be limited to family members only. They felt this would enhance the feeling of casual intimacy and familiarity for everyone. The acts would be: The Honeys, In Bloom, The Wilsons, Ricci Martin, and Billy Hinsche.

A site at the lovely Calamigos Ranch in the Malibu Hills had been chosen for the primary event which would include the walk, auction and concert. The area was called The Grove and resembled a medium sized park. It had picnic facilities, a softball diamond, a volleyball court, swimming pool and lots of room. Most important, it had a nice vibe.

Since I had never produced an outdoor event before, I was a little apprehensive at first. I didn't have the same controlled environment as was afforded by The Roxy. That is, I had to create a stage setting and customize the sound to accommodate the strict noise restrictions imposed by the Calamigos Ranch owners. For instance, the sound levels could not exceed 90 decibels from 80 feet in front of the stage. This is about 10-15 decibels lower than that of a regular concert event. If these levels were exceeded, Calamigos could be fined, would not be able to have live events in the future and could face legal action from the residents who lived all around the perimeter of the ranch. I hired longtime friend and Beach Boys sound man Jeff Peters to make sure these parameters were met.

Jason Raphalian was hired as the stage/production manager. He is also an old friend and former employee of The Beach Boys touring staff. He determined that we would need a stage with dimensions of approximately 26' X 18' to accommodate all the microphones, amplifiers, drums, percussion, keyboards and talent. We would also need a small drum riser to sit atop the main stage. He decided to place the stage under a grove of trees which would protect the performers and equipment from any direct sunlight. It would also serve as an informal back stage area for the performers and family members since it was adjacent to a row of picnic tables.

Since the main event was to occur on Sunday, October 3, 1999 with family members only as the performers, a second event needed to be created to include our friends from The Sunrays, Papa Doo Run Run and The Malibooz who were the originally scheduled artists. I thought a casual beach party singalong would be a nice way to accomplish this. I suggested Zuma Beach which was only a short distance from Calamigos Ranch. Betty thought Paradise Cove would be even better since it had ample parking, picnic facilities and was the original site for some of the early Beach Boys album covers and photo sessions. It was a brilliant idea! The event would take place on Saturday, October 2, 1999 and would give everyone a chance to get to know one another — especially all the folks who would be arriving from out of town.

“Surprise guests” were also promised on the Carl Wilson Walk Against Cancer website. I thought it would be very cool if I could get my old pal Desi Arnaz, Jr. to participate in the event as he had done last year when we sang a duet at The Roxy. This year we could incorporate Ricci Martin into the act, thus creating Ricci, Desi & Billy. The idea of forming a trio was something that we had talked about in the past and we all agreed that this would be a perfect opportunity to give our first public performance. All we needed was a band!

I thought it was logical to use some of the members of The Beach Boys Family & Friends band in addition to a few more people. The band would be Bobby Figueroa (drums/vocals), Craig Copeland (lead guitar/vocals), Jeff Foskett (guitar/vocals), Jimmy Pou (guitar/vocals), Wayne Tweed (bass), Ricci (keyboard/vocals), Desi (percussion/drums/vocals) and me (keyboard/guitar/vocals). The set would consist of Dino, Desi & Billy material as well as one of Ricci's songs. We would rehearse in Boulder City, Nevada where Desi had just purchased a beautiful, newly renovated theater. We would also be the "house band" for The Honeys and The Wilsons.

I hoped that some of the principal members of The Beach Boys Family & Friends might attend the event. This would add yet another bonus to the lineup of artists and would be a real treat for the fans.

In Bloom would rehearse on their own and The Wilsons didn't really need any formal rehearsals but The Honeys needed some time to prepare. They decided on doing two songs from their catalogue which were written by Brian Wilson. They were both really cute songs — “The One You Can't Have” and “He's A Doll.” Marilyn sent me a cassette copy of both songs which I then charted for the house band to learn. I also made audio tapes for all the band members. Prior to the show we had an informal rehearsal at Ginger Blake's house along with her cousins Marilyn and Diane. I played the piano while the ladies worked out their parts. They gave me a vocal part to sing and said that I was now the fourth Honey!

Next page  bullet  Part 2, Paradise Cove

Copyright © 1999, 2000 Billy Hinsche