Journey's Neal Schon and Ross Valory accept the Legend of Live award at the Billboard Touring Awards in New York. (Photo: Michael Seto).
Tributes came in several shapes and sizes Thursday night at the Billboard Touring Awards in New York, but they were all consistently heartfelt.
Phish's Trey Anastasio paid tribute to Red Light Management's Coran Capshaw, Perry Farrell bordered on tearful saluting legendary concert promoter Bill Graham and Live Nation president of North American Concerts Bob Roux saluted Journey as the ultimate road warriors. And Journey's Neal Schon and Ross Valory paid tribute to the whole reason the concert industry exists -- the fans.
"This last year was by far the best," said Journey co-founder Schon, the only member of Journey who has been in the band for its entire 38-year existence. "It's all about the fans, all about the music. We've always been about the performance, writing good songs. Arel Pineda brought us back into the forefront, really regenerated us. There's really no end to it. We have worked our asses off this year."
Journey received the Legend of Live award, a lifetime achievement award that Roux presented by reciting the tour routing of the first month of a nearly yearlong tour in 1978. It sounded relentless -- 22 shows in 26 days. "Shit Neal," Roux said, "I can see why you went through so many lead singers."
The evening started with a presentation of the Humanitarian Award to Red Light's Capshaw, who has organized benefits concerts in the last year to victims of natural disasters in the Gulf States, Nashville and Vermont, the state where one of his key clients, Phish, was formed.
Phish's Trey Anastasio makes a stop at the Billboard Touring Awards to pay tribute to his band's manager, Red Light Management's Coran Capshaw. (Photo: Michael Seto).
"He's not big on talk," said Anastasio in his introduction. "He got us through the event with one single goal -- having the greatest impact. Donors underwrote costs, so 100 percent of proceeds went to flood recovery and rebuilding efforts." And by 100 percent he meant money raised by tickets as well as merch.
Sons of the late Graham presented the Apple Award to Perry Farrell. Apple, in this case, refers to the apples handed out at the end of concerts at the Fillmore Auditorium in San Francisco. Graham had a profound effect on Farrell -- he was the one promoter to not only meet the singer's requests for a zoo and various exotic attractions for Lollapalooza, but he exceeded them by having things such as painted topless dancers at the entrance of the venue.
Perry Farrell, who earlier in the day delivered a keynote address at the Billboard Touring Conference, is the first recipient of the Billboard Touring Awards' Apple honor, which honors late concert promoter Bill Graham. (Photo: Michael Seto).
One of Graham's sons, Alex, was a stilt-walker at the first Lollapalooza and would become a DJ and tour manager for Jane's Addiction. "Dad used to say 'I am sick of people acting helpless. If you have the ability to do something do it'," Alex Graham said, adding that his father was a great proponent of tolerance and self-expression. "Dad supported everything Perry."
That was not lost on Farrell.
"At that first Lollapalooza, I had asked everyone for things -- hot air balloons and buffalos to grave on hillside. No one was going to give me any of it," Farrell said. "Bill Graham had topless girls dancing. I head to my dressing room and there was a robe on the wall that said Perry Farrell. It was black. I still have it today. There was a hookah. There was poster he had made. I stole everything."
"The best gift of all," and this is where Farrell got a bit emotional, "was when the man himself walked in and talked with me. 'I like what you're doing.' he said. He was interested in me and that meant the world to me."
Throughout the evening as one promoter after another accepted awards for venues, grosses and management, they saluted artists and fans over and over. It was Ross Valory of Journey who addressed the people in the room.
"This is not a popularity contest," he said after Schon spoke. "This is an award from people who know how the business works."