by Dave Moto, photos Follow Me Photography
25 years ago, sports and music agent David Fishof had a dream to bring together the biggest names in music and give everyday people the chance to not only meet but create and play music right alongside their lifelong idols. Rock and Roll Fantasy Camp was born. David Fishof started his career booking comedians at a vacation resort in the Catskill mountains in the mid 70’s. He had noticed that sports stars were beginning to be used in tv commercials and making celebrity appearances. He decided he wanted to become a sports agent. I spoke with David earlier this week via phone and he said that Tampa’s own Lou Piniella gave him his first opportunity at becoming just that. Following a string of success with athletes, he again decided to change gears and give music a shot. To say he found his niche is an understatement. David is credited with getting Ringo Starr to tour after many years of no appearances. He did likewise with Roger Daltry and is credited with reuniting 60’s and 70’s supergroup “The Monkees”.
David said that it was during a tour with Ringo Starr that the idea for Rock Camp came to him. Ringo had insisted that David accompany him for the entire tour. He had never experienced life as a rockstar. One day after a show, Joe Walsh and Levon Helm staged a realistic knife fight amongst themselves as a practical joke to scare David. After realizing he had been had, David thought how awesome it would be if everyone could experience a taste of Rock n Roll.
Roger Daltry was a counselor at the very first camp. Nearly every name in music has been a counselor at David’s camps in the 25 years it has now been in existence. Over 6,000 “campers” have now lived the dream. I asked David who the “average” camper was. He says his campers are men and women who used to play in a band in high school or college and then had to give up what made them happy to get a real job but have never let go of the big dream. Campers are of all ages and all skill levels of musicians. Although the price of camp may look steep, it is a small investment for such a life changing experience. Campers spend four days with their idols forming a band, writing new music, recording it, and then playing a live show in front of an actual audience.
The stars who counsel at the camps all say they enjoy the experience as much as the campers themselves, as it reminds them of the dreams they had when they first started playing music. I asked David if any of the stars ever get frustrated with the students who have little skill. He told me that the patience they show is incredible. He says Slash once came to camp and was only going to stay for 2 hours. 12 hours later he was still working with his new group and didn’t want to leave.
Rock camp has been included in a slew of television shows including one of the highest rated episodes of “The Simpsons” ever shown. Last year saw the release of the documentary “Rock Camp: The Movie”. Since its release, business has been booming, allowing David to host more camps than ever. He has now begun to add themes to his camps including a new “Ladies Only” camp January 27th-30th in Los Angeles. Counselors include Melissa Etheridge, Kathy Valentine of the Go-Go’s, Nancy Wilson of Heart, Britt Valentine of Vixen and more.
His latest idea is to have a new class for aspiring rock photographers. I am thrilled to announce I have been picked to be a counselor for that class at the Camp coming March 10-13 in Deerfield Beach. At that camp will also be Tico Torres of Bon Jovi, Joe Perry of Aerosmith, Vernon Reed from In Living Colour and many more. This will be a Tampa Bay Music News exclusive.
If you haven’t already, you must see Rock Camp: The Movie or go to www.rockcamp.com for info on upcoming camps and events. David is certainly a visionary and has made a life of making peoples dreams come true! I can’t wait to see what venture he decides to tackle next.