Every rock fan dreams of one day hanging out with his/her heroes…
It was a few months after my first encounter with the band. I heard Velvet Revolver was coming back to Los Angeles for a gig at the Gibson Amphitheatre. And holy shit, Alice In Chains would open the show.
I knew I had to go. I had to hear these bands play my songs. I bought my tickets, then wondered if I should take Matt up on his offer for backstage passes. Wouldn’t hurt to ask, right?
It didn’t hurt. He remembered me and I was on the list. I called my trusty “plus one” and we set off into unchartered rock ‘n’ roll territory: the forbidden backstage area.
There I was. Fresh out of the hospital, brand spankin’ new leg, and a heart so full of excitement, I thought it would burst. I kept remembering how I had photos of these guys in my locker and on my bedroom walls…and now I was about to hang out backstage with them. Me. A poor little Mexican girl who was just at the right place at the right time.
I get to the door and wait behind an unhappy bunch of people. They didn’t look familiar to me at all. But they definitely looked well off. A young lady with a thick fur coat was cursing at security because her name wasn’t on the list. And it was the first time I heard those god awful words that make me cringe…
“Don’t you know who the f*** I am?!”
As I made my way to the guy with the list, I gave him my name. While he was shuffling through papers on his clipboard, fur coat lady stared me down and scoffed as if I had no business being in the same line she was in. She looked at me as if I were covered in dog shit.
“Solorio? Okay, you’re here.”
Fur coat lady looked shocked. And began cursing again. I slapped on my backstage pass and thanked security.
Hope that coat kept you warm outside the show, sweetheart.
Another guard escorted us to an area behind the venue. It was such a long way. Thank goodness I had my chair. My lungs weren’t fully ready for this.
As we got closer to the VIP area, my heart began to race. I couldn’t believe I was really here.
I always had this image of Slash and the others in my head. I always fantasized about what it would be like to be around them before a show. I imagined Slash would be piss drunk, slurring, and jamming out on his guitar while ranting about what’s wrong with today’s youth.
I pictured total chaos happening backstage. Sex, drugs, groupies…I was about to witness what few fans have before. My god! It’s all really gonna go down tonight!
“Ok, go on inside. Have a good night, miss.” Security guard was so polite. Didn’t he know I had no business really being here?
As we made our way in, I immediately see a bar. I see food and a ton of people mingling about.
I see roadies and more bodyguards. The smell of whiskey and cigarettes hit me like a ton of bricks.
“Finally,” I thought, “here we go…”
All of a sudden, something strange caught my eye. I blinked twice to be sure I was seeing correctly. Can’t be another chemo hallucination. It’s been ages since my last round.
I got a closer look. What the hell was this doing back here?
It wasn’t a groupie’s bra. It wasn’t a joint, it wasn’t anything you’d expect to see at a rock show.
It was a damn sippy cup.
A sippy cup? Who brought their kids to a Velvet Revolver concert? Who the hell let kids backstage?!
Then, it dawned on me. These guys are now sober, married, or have children. It’s over.
I had completely missed the sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll train. I was born too late. What on earth made me think they still partied the way magazines said they did?
In a strange way, the sippy cup relaxed me a little. It definitely brought me back to reality.
I ended up meeting wonderful people that night. From Slash’s attorney to Cindy Crawford. People were just so cool, so nice, and so…NORMAL.
Matt finally came out and made his way through the crowd to greet me. We hung out with a few others in the band and their relatives before the show. It all felt so surreal but casual at the same time.
“Hey, Slash, remember Wendy? You signed her foot…” Matt gave him a quick rundown of what I went through.
“Oh yeah!” he said, “Hey, glad you could come out.”
Hey. Me, too.
When it was time for the show to start, my plus one and I made our way to our seats. They put us in an area suitable for my chair. It was a little far from the stage, but it was safe. Away from the drunkies spilling beer everywhere.
At one point during the show, I got so excited to hear the guys play songs I had forgotten about when I was sick. Something made me jump out of my chair and scream.
A drunk man nearby saw this and flipped out, “OH MY GOD! It’s a miracle! She can stand!”
I laughed hysterically. I couldn’t believe I almost gave up fighting for my life. I would have missed out on so much. I didn’t even need alcohol. The music was more than enough to recharge my brain.
After the show, I returned to the backstage area to say goodbye to the band. We took a few photos and I started heading out.
Matt walked us out to the gates and reminded me to keep in touch.
“Remember. Anytime you wanna come to a show…”
…and we’ve been friends ever since.
I remember not being able to sleep that night. I was too high on everything I saw, felt, and heard. It had nothing to do with being star struck. Someone or something bigger than me was letting me know that better things are ahead if I just keep pushing through. Stick around, and you’ll see your nightmare was all for a reason, Wendy.
I’m definitely on the list. I am a permanent name on the universe’s VIP list. That’s for sure.