Organized by Chuck Brennan, founder of the Brennan Rock & Roll Academy, THE Fundraiser included live performances of some of the greatest rock & roll hits of all time by the artists themselves. Backed by tribute band HAIRBALL as the house band, THE Fundraiser included more songs by more headliners than any other rock concert in history. Performers included Alice Cooper, Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, Eric Singer and Tommy Thayer of KISS, Vince Neil, Rob Zombie, Dee Snider of Twisted Sister, Stephen Pearcy of RATT, Tom Keifer of Cinderella, Jack Blades of Night Ranger, Joey Tempest & John Norum of Europe and Kip Winger of Winger.
Alice Cooper has been a long-time supporter of the academy. He was on-hand in Sioux Falls for its groundbreaking last year and grand opening concert series this Spring. The academy’s “Welcome To My Nightmare” recording studio was dedicated in his honor. Cooper operates his own performing arts charity, Alice Cooper’s Solid Rock, in Phoenix. “You should see these kids when you go out and play in front of them,” he said. “They are in these rooms trying to learn guitar and then they see the real guys right in front of them. You can see the inspiration in their faces.”
Another academy supporter performing at THE Fundraiser was Jack Blades of Night Ranger. Night Ranger wrote a song on the stage of the Brennan Rock & Roll Academy this year that will be included on their upcoming new album. “All those times when we were young and didn’t have a place to go to get our creativity going,” he said. “Chuck (Brennan)-and Alice with Solid Rock -have made places for kids to go to let their creativity just run wild.”
“We raised more than a million dollars for the academy,” said Brennan. “It was an incredible night and I can’t thank the artists enough for their time, talents and commitment to music education for our children.” Brennan, who started his business career in the music industry, founded the academy in 2012 and celebrated its grand opening earlier this year in his hometown of Sioux Falls, South Dakota with a week-long series of concerts that included friends Alice Cooper, members of KISS, Night Ranger, comedians George Lopez and Louie Anderson, Sebastian Bach and Vince Neil along with dozens of other celebrities.
Between the two fundraising efforts, Brennan has raised more than half of the $3.6 million needed to operate the Brennan Rock & Roll Academy in Sioux Falls for the next 20 years. “The academy is a partnership with the Boys & Girls Clubs, which I was a member of when I was a kid,” he said. “I want to give those kids who really love music and want to learn about the industry a chance I never had.” The academy offers free music lessons to Boys & Girls Clubs members, along with opportunities to perform and learn about the music industry.
“THE fundraiser showed just how much the rock & roll industry believes in our youth and wants to help them pursue their musical passions,” said Brennan. “Dozens of rock stars from all over the world came to Las Vegas for one incredible evening and raised more than a million dollars for these kids. It was absolutely incredible.”
In addition to the performances, many stars donated items and experiences that raised more than $350,000 for the academy. Auction items included opportunities to meet artists like Slash and Rob Zombie, private concerts for up to 500 people with Vince Neil, Warrant and RATT and an opportunity to tour Gene Simmons’ home office and KISS museum. “The winner of one will even get to join Twisted Sister on stage at a concert,” said Brennan. In addition to the auction, there was a raffle of six Paul Stanley (of KISS) Washburn guitars that were signed by all members of the band.
Among the evening’s surprises was a performance by Alice Cooper backed up by academy members for his iconic "School’s Out" and nearly all performers in the concert joining the members of KISS onstage to perform “I Wanna Rock N Roll All Night.”
Next up for the music (education) man? The Brennan Rock & Roll Academy is coming to Las Vegas. Brennan is currently working to bring the program to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Southern Nevada and expects to make an announcement on his plans for it next year. “My vision is to have a Brennan Rock & Roll Academy in every major city in the US within the next 20 years,” said Brennan. “So much has been pulled from public school music programs and so many children can’t afford to pay $100 for a one hour guitar lesson. We are bringing music back into their lives.”
Brennan himself had no means to learn an instrument as a child. “So I am especially happy when the academy gives more than 600 lessons a month, completely free of charge, to Boys and Girls Clubs members,” he said. “This program is changing their lives.”
Brennan is a philanthropist who regularly contributes to organizations throughout the country. He is especially generous in Southern Nevada, where he is a major donor to Opportunity Village and Henderson Little League along with dozens of other non-profits. When he founded the Brennan Rock & Roll Academy, he committed more than $3 million dollars to the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Sioux Empire for its ongoing operations.
About The Brennan Rock & Roll Academy
The Brennan Rock & Roll Academy was founded in Sioux Falls, South Dakota by Chuck Brennan, a philanthropist and business owner. The academy gives the children of the Boys and Girls Club in Sioux Falls the opportunity to grow by offering free music lessons to those that may otherwise not be able to get them. For more information on the Brennan Rock & Roll Academy, visit www.brennanrockandrollacademy.com or call 605-274-ROCK (7625).