Having been born in 1960, naturally I was a lover of all things space. I remember my Boy Scout jacket was covered in Scout, Apollo and Gemini pins and patches. I remember seeing Apollo 17 from Miami!
We came to Brevard County, with my mom and stepfather in 1973, so it was very exciting to watch the shuttle program begin. It was very exciting to be able to watch shuttle launches virtually out of our backyard. Everybody here knew somebody connected to/or worked for the Kennedy Space Center and NASA.
Oddly enough, the Apollo landed on the moon on my brother Tom's birthday July 20th, 1969. Happy Birthday (btw!). And the Space Shuttle Challenger had an unfortunate ending on my birthday. So sadly, my “space spirit” had been lacking at certain periods of my life, but that’s not so here in the summer of 2019!
Let this space odyssey begin!
With my insatiable desire for music, I've been anticipating the Woodstock 50th Anniversary as much and maybe more than I was the Apollo 11 anniversary! But that changed a few months ago with the announcement of some very special music events coinciding with the Apollo moon landing 50th anniversary.
First, the amazing Alan Parsons Project played across the bridge from where we live in Riverfront Park/ Cocoa Village, to a great crowd. It was a unique and momentous event celebrating the Apollo 11, with special guests, particularly Rick Armstrong (son of the first man to walk on the moon), with his band Edison's Children!
Then on the north side of our island, on July 16th, legendary 80s glam band Duran Duran landed in the Rocket Garden at the Kennedy Space Center for an unbelievable performance, under a full moon!
Astronauts Bob Cabana and Rusty Schwieckart were the first to come on stage to introduce the band with a Countdown. As the lights went down, Duran Duran’s Nick Rhodes and John Taylor hopped on a couple of keyboards to perform an expanded intro: Ambience Countdown to the song Universe Tonight. They were accompanied by the wonderful Joyful Noise Choir (look them up), and our very own Brevard Symphony Orchestra!
After about 5 minutes Simon Lebon appears in all white under the full moon. It's sweltering in the lagoon where the Kennedy Space Center is located, but the band with the choir, and the BSO, make a perfect space harmony as their shadows bounce off the rockets from the flickering lights, while 360 drones put on a light show (by Studio Drift). The effect was truly intoxicating.
Being a veteran of well over a thousand concerts in my lifetime, it takes a lot to really impress me, but this opening set stands alone with any performance I've seen before.
The darling boys of the 80s, round out there space set with Planet Earth / Space Oddity; Is there anyone out there; Astronaut, Ordinary World, Sunrise / New moon on Monday. Wrapping up that set with a cover of the Police's Walking on the Moon.
(Just days before the concert I told a number of people I knew they would have to do Space Oddity somewhere in that set!)
The band proceeded without intermission to perform Wild Boys, Hungry Like the Wolf, White Lines, Girls on Film A View to Kill, Save a Prayer and Rio.
The band was very tight, they had a great stage presence, and I became a fan that night!
While still recuperating from the heat from the night before, I got a message from a friend asking if I wanted to accompany him to St Augustine to a concert the following night...tickets were on him. I didn't know if I had any energy, but Sure, I’ll try! I said, who's playing? Turns out to be Yes, Asia, with John Lodge of The Moody Blues, and Carl Palmer's ELP Legacy featuring Arthur Brown (yes, he w/ the Crazy World, and our local pal bass playing maniac David Pastorius (nephew of bass master Jaco)!
What an amazing way to fill out my musical week, with the very space like music of Emerson Lake and Palmer, Asia, Yes, Moody Blues, the Buggles, and the Crazy World of Arthur Brown under the new Amphitheater in St Augustine! Not to mention that I got to meet one of my heroes that inspired my artwork, the legendary Roger Dean! Roger created the great album covers for Yes, Asia, Budgie, Uriah Heep, Gentle Giant and others.
Tonight, I think I wrapped up my space jones for the time being, with a beautiful launch from SpaceX heading to the Space Station.
Rockets going to the space station isn’t anything out of the ordinary, but the amazing thing in this Space Age, is they can launch rockets safely and land them back on the launch pad in my own backyard!
I'd like to very much thank Duran Duran, and the KSC / staff for the press passes and hospitality. They also gave portions of their proceeds to the Aldrin Family Foundation.
Also thank you to Cindy, Scott, Roger Dean and Arthur Brown for all you do.
The Kennedy Space Center Visitor complex, is just an amazing place. It's been at least 10 years since I've been there, and they have done a really a heck of a job. I would love to see them do concerts in the Rocket Garden every month! hint hint…. I’ll help you book if you want!
Please tune in to “On the flip side” with Java John on Wfit. Org, or listen locally in Melbourne Florida to 89.5 FM, every Monday night from 7 to 10 p.m.