Farner, Quatro perform at Dick Wagner’s benefit
Correction: The date of the Remember the Child benefit concert was incorrect in an earlier version of this story.
The legacy of musician Dick Wagner isn’t just about music. Many know him as the guitarist/songwriter/producer who was part of the popular Detroit band The Frost (“Rock ‘n’ Roll Music”) in the ’60s.
Later, he was music director, lead guitarist and songwriter for Alice Cooper (“Only Women Bleed,” “You and Me,” “I Never Cry”).
But Wagner, who grew up in Saginaw, also was a generous supporter of causes that helped military veterans, the homeless and children. For that reason, after his death in 2014 at age 71, friends and associates memorialized the “Maestro of Rock” with a charity concert the following year that sold out quickly.
Now the third “Remember the Child” Dick Wagner memorial fund concert will be presented March 24 at the MotorCity Sound Board. Proceeds will go to the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, which include Beaumont Children’s Hospital and Flint’s Hurley Children’s Hospital, providing music therapy and music instruction to hospitalized children.
Wagner’s old friend Mark Farner, who rocketed to fame with Flint’s Grand Funk Railroad, will headline the roster of talent, along with Suzi Quatro and the Pleasure Seekers.
Farner was not only a friend from their band days, but Wagner produced Farner’s first, eponymous solo album in 1977 after Grand Funk broke up the first time.
“I have fond remembrances of that, and the days that we spent at The Swamp (a recording studio, in Flint) with (Motown bassist) Bob Babbitt,” Farner said. “We went out to Nimbus 9 in Toronto to mix the album, so it was kind of an international affair.”
As for Quatro, who grew up on Detroit’ss east side and in Grosse Pointe, she was on the same roster as Wagner when she was playing in her first group with her sisters, the Pleasure Seekers. Quatro will fly in from her home in England, accompanied by her singing daughter, Laura Tuckey, and sister Patti Quatro from the original group, will fly up from Texas to perform a Chuck Berry song with Farner.
Quatro, 66, just finished an Australian tour that included opening her own shows with her glam supergroup QSP (formed with Andy Scott from The Sweet and Don Powell of Slade).
For the Wagner tribute/benefit, Quatro wanted to do his song “Only Women Bleed,” but was assigned another song by Alice Cooper, no less. “Alice said, ‘This is non-negotiable, Suzi. This is your song, your voice, you will kill it.’ And he’s right, it is perfect for me!” That song, too, will be revealed Friday night.
Quatro has been defying expectations of women who rock since her days as a 14-year-old fronting the Pleasure Seekers at the Hideout in Harper Woods, Punch Andrews’ and Dave Leone’s teen club.
On their first Hideout gig, the Pleasure Seekers performed three songs — “Latin Lupe Lu,” “Twist and Shout” and “Long Tall Texan.” Next to her tall sisters, Quatro was a tiny dynamo playing a massive Fender Precision bass her father had given her. She had no qualms about singing the rougher material.
“I sang all the heavy, rock tunes, and always the guy songs,” she said. “The die was cast a long time ago, that was just my nature. I was a tomboy.”
Years of singing as Detroit’s premier female garage band — five 45-minute sets a night with brief breaks — honed Quatro’s voice to the point where now her voice has deepened, but she can sing hard all night.
As for Farner, at 68, he is singing in the same keys as in his days as the dancing lead guitarist/lead singer of Grand Funk Railroad. “Use it or lose it,” said Farner, who is touring with his band much of the year.
Forty years without a cigarette helps, as does his “mostly” plant-based diet, augmented by fish, and venison that he shoots in northern Michigan.
Susan Whitall is an author and longtime contributor to the Detroit News. Contact her at susanwhitall.com.
Dick Wagner “Remember the Child” Memorial Concert featuring Mark Farner (Grand Funk Railroad), Suzi Quatro and the Pleasure Seekers, Kip Winger (Winger), Jimmie Bones (Kid Rock), Johnny “Bee” Badanjak (the Detroit Wheels, Howling Diablos), Thornetta Davis, David Winans II, the Accidentals and more.
Doors at 5:30 p.m.; concert 7 p.m., March 24
The Sound Board, MotorCity Casino
2901 Grand River, Detroit.
Tickets: $28-$78, VIP $123, Super VIP, $153. Available at OlympiaEntertainment.com, and all Ticketmaster outlets, including Ticketmaster.com.
Call (800) 745-3000 or (313) 309-4700