Thirty years ago, Ricky Byrd was strumming his guitar while rock icon Joan Jett belted out the words “I Love Rock and Roll” only feet away.
Today, Byrd is married with a daughter and, like all his neighbors in Howard Beach, is dealing with the devastating aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Now, he’s using his rock connections to help his community.
Sandy’s storm surge flooded Byrd’s entire basement, destroying his recording studio and decades of memorabilia and photos. But fortunately for him, he saved most of his guitars and amps. He said he didn’t expect the situation he saw.
“We just watched in disbelief like everyone else did,” Byrd said. “I’m truly grateful we made it out alive.”
A Bronx native who grew up in Flushing and attended Flushing High School, Byrd played with Joan Jett and the Blackhearts from 1981 to 1991. He also played with Roger Daltry and Ian Hunter.
Watching his neighborhood struggle to come back after Sandy, he decided to put together a benefit concert for three local organizations — The Graybeards, a Rockaway-based nonprofit; West Hamilton Beach Volunteer Fire Department; and The Broad Channel Volunteer Fire Department. Byrd is on the board of directors for Rockers In Recovery, a group dedicated to addiction recovery through music, events and festivals taking place within a clean and sober environment. He made calls to friends in the industry and the owner of The Cutting Room, a Manhattan concert venue.
“Everyone asked ‘Where and when?’” Byrd said.
This event will feature the Rockers In Recovery All-Star Band, which features Byrd, Liberty DeVitto, who played with Billy Joel, Richie Supa (Aerosmith), Kasim Sulton (Utopia), Christine Ohlman (SNL band), and Mark Stein (Vanilla Fudge).
They’ll be performing with a slew of special guests, including Gary U.S. Bonds, Ian Hunter (Mott The Hoople, Mick Ronson), Michael Des Barres (recording artist/actor), LaLa Brooks (The Crystals), Billy J. Kramer, Gene Cornish (The Rascals), Simon Kirke (Free, Bad Company), Handsome Dick Manitoba (Manitoba, The Dictators, Little Stevens Underground Garage), Joe Hurley, Ross The Boss (The Dictators), Peppy Castro (Blues Magoos), Mark Bosch (Ian Hunter Rant Band, Garland Jeffries), Arno Hecht and Larry Etkin (Uptown Horns), Adam Roth (Billy J. Kramer) and Marge Raymond (singer/songwriter/actress). Additionally, the night will open with a performance from Queens’ own doo-wop kings The Capris. The evening will be hosted by A&E Private Sessions’ Lynn Hoffman and Q104 DJ Ken Dashow.
The concert begins at 8 p.m. on Friday Jan. 25. The Cutting Room is located at 44 E. 32 St. Tickets are $50. VIP meet-and-greet packages are also available for $150. To purchase tickets to the concert, go to http://ticketfly.com/event/195052-rockers-in-recovery-relief-new-york/.