Rock 'n' Roll Fantasy Camp cranks up the volume

Tue Nov 15, 2011 2:40pm EST
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By Iain Blair

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The decibel level in the small, bunker-like rehearsal room is ear-shattering and every loose item in the space is shaking as if an earthquake struck.

But it's no temblor -- just business as usual at the Rock 'n' Roll Fantasy Camp where ex-Runaways guitarist Lita Ford is leading a group of 30-something, would-be rock stars through a bone-jarring version of "Roadrunner."

"We're doing The Who's version," says 53-year-old rocker Ford, an enthusiastic coach who guides her equally enthusiastic charges -- three guitarists, a singer and two drummers -- through the arrangement.

As befits a Who homage, it's loud. But there's no guitar smashing, scowling or bad attitude. Everyone looks happy.

Other rooms in the Camp's North Hollywood complex feature similar scenes, with other rock teachers -- Kiss singer Paul Stanley, Black Sabbath drummer Vinny Appice and producer-songwriter Mark Hudson -- schooling students on the finer points of hard rock, playing and performing.

But big changes are on the horizon for the "camp," now in its 14th year, where people of all ages who dream of rock stardom can bring their axes and learn to shred like Pete Townshend or Guns N' Roses' Slash.

David Fishof, who founded the camp after years as a manager and tour producer for Ringo Starr and The Monkees, estimates that some 7,000 have attended one of the sessions held six times a year at various locations including New York, Philadelphia and London.

"It gets bigger every year," he said, and to cope with the demand, Fishof is planning to open a permanent location in Las Vegas. "We're in negotiations with a major hotel, and it's going to happen within the next year," he said.   Continued...

<p>Guitarist and vocalist Lita Ford (C), a founding member of the 1970s female rock group The Runaways, leads a rehearsal for participants at the Rock &lsquo;n&rsquo; Roll Fantasy Camp run by Ford in Los Angeles, California, November 11, 2011. REUTERS/David McNew</p>