As I got in my car and started the 2-hour drive into Los Angeles, I began to try and prepare myself for what I knew was to be an extremely emotional night. It felt like even the sky was feeling the loss of Adrenaline Mob’s David “Z” Zablidowsky and had started to cry as it was raining for the first time in months.
Every week the Whiskey A-Go-Go hosts an event called Ultimate Jam Night and you never know who will show up. Tuesday August 1, 2017 was going to be different than the usual upbeat jam session that we are used to. This night was a tribute show to David Z., bass player extraordinaire and truly amazing person. The list of musicians coming to pay their respects and show their support seemed to be never ending.
With David’s brother Paulie Z. at the helm, it was a rollercoaster ride of emotions combined with stories, friends and music. I am a firm believer that music can help a person through almost anything, whether it is writing it, playing it, or listening to it, and this star filled event was a true example of this. Paulie and friends took us through David’s life, bands and love of all things music via songs, both from his inspirations and bands he was a part of.
This journey was kicked off with a video of a bass solo showing David’s immense talent and reminded all in attendance the gift we were all there to honor. Next up was violinists Roddy Chong and Mark Wood of Trans-Siberian Orchestra (which David was a member) along with house musicians Joe Travers, Walter Ino, Sean McNabb, and Mitch Perry performing Christmas Eve/Sarajevo, which pulled every heart string in the house. Paulie then took us back to his and David’s childhood singing “Juke Box Hero” with help from the entire crowd.
The theme of family, both blood and musical, continued as Dee Snider (Twisted Sister) was joined on stage with his son Jesse, and his young grandson Grayson to treat us to a fun performance of “You Can’t Stop RNR.” Snider then called up his “sister” from another mister, Mike Portnoy to play “We’re Not Gonna Take It” and everyone screamed along as if telling the universe that we indeed were not going to take anymore loved ones being taken far too soon.
The next surprise reunion of the evening came when The Winery Dogs, Richie Kotzen, Billy Sheehan, and Mike Portnoy joined forces on stage for the first time in over a year to perform their hit “Elevate.” Kotzen then left the stage as Portnoy and Sheehan were joined by Derek Sherinian, Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal, and David’s bandmate Jeff Scott Soto to introduce the world to their new band Sons of Apollo. The shock and excitement was felt throughout the venue as they had only announced the band earlier that morning. They gave us covers of Van Halen’s “The Cradle Will Rock” and Deep Purple’s “Burn,” both favorites of David Z. in his younger years.
This event dedicated to David brought out so much talent and the love and respect they all had for David was felt throughout the night. There were tears, laughter, and a whole lot of hugs shared with every person who came. Other musicians that were in attendance included, King’s X’s Dug Pinnick, one-time KISS member Bruce Kulick, Ricky Rockett, Julia Lage, Mark McGrath, and a slew of others. This emotional journey through one man’s life and all those he had touched was brought to an end with “Knocking on Heaven’s Door” performed by almost all in attendance. It was the perfect way to bring the evening to an end.
This event was a true reminder to cherish every single moment you have with your loved ones as tomorrow is never promised. CARPE DIEM folks.
Be sure to keep David Z.’s memory alive by donating to the David Z. Scholarship fund for the music school at Brooklyn college here.