In 1993, The Who’s TOMMY was preparing to open on Broadway. One day during rehearsals Pete (Townshend) approached me about doing a couple of live concerts around the city. He wanted the cast to learn what real Rock & Roll felt like, and for a bonus they could perform with him. He wanted us to have this experience for ourselves, because it would help translate that edgy rock sensibility into our performances. At Pete’s request I gathered the TOMMY orchestra and formed a band. Once the band was set, I held a company meeting with my fellow cast members and asked them to join in the fun.
The first ROCKERS ON BROADWAY® was held in the Spring of 1993 at the China Club on 75th Street. In addition to the TOMMY cast and Pete (of course), special guests included Joe Walsh, Linda Perry (4 Non Blondes) and Eddie Vedder. For me, the experience of singing ‘Pinball Wizard’ next to Pete that night changed me forever. It was extraordinary. Really, who doesn’t want to feel like a Rock Star…at least once? Every year I hope to share that same feeling with the wonderful performers who donate their time and talent, while continuing to make a difference to our beneficiaries.
–Donnie Kehr, Founder and Executive Director