The Rockets to get lifetime achievement award! The Rockets were one of my favorite bands that played around the Metro Detroit area. Dave Gilbert was the very cute lead singer and he really let loose on those Rocket's songs mostly written by Johnny Bee. Unfortunately Dave had substance issues and died very young. He played briefly with Ron Asheton and Dennis Machinegun Thompson's band THE NEW ORDER before he joined the Rockets

I have been extremely fortunate to be able to film the Helldrivers recently and they are so great to hear live. I bought their cd and I think a lot of the Rocket songs on the cd are even BETTER than the originals thanks to the fantastic voice of Jim Edwards. They are a great bunch of master musicians as Brett Call wood will testify I really believe this newest band that Jimmy and Bee have put together are a tribute to their massive musical talent. They are DETROIT ROCK N ROLL to me.... oh don't forget.....TURN UP THE RADIO!


It just might be the longest-running current partnership in Detroit music.

For nearly half a century, Jim McCarty has been playing his guitar against the beat of Johnny (Bee) Badanjek's drums: with Mitch Ryder's Detroit Wheels in the '60s, with its descendant band Detroit in the early '70s, with the high-wattage Rockets later that decade.

And now they're crashing through the local scene with the Hell Drivers, a group that taps their lifetime bodies of work and serves as a kind of loud, living Detroit rock documentary.

On Friday, the pair will be feted at the Detroit Music Awards, where the Rockets will receive a lifetime achievement honor, 27 years after the band's demise amid front man Dave Gilbert's drug descent. (The leonine singer died in 2001.)

For McCarty and Badanjek, it's a time for stepping back to take stock of the past, while looking forward to a future that may find the Hell Drivers morphing into a full-on Rockets revival.

"Promoters, agents, DJs keep telling us, 'We'd love to help, but you've got to change the name to the Rockets,' " says Badanjek. "So that's where we're at. We're waiting to see. We could do it if we get the help we need with a recording, a brand-name producer, all the pieces that make an act viable today in this market."

This is an autographed self portrait done by BEE

Badanjek and McCarty were 15-year-olds when they met in 1962 via the east-side tool-and-die shop where their fathers worked. The time-tested collaborative instincts still click, says Badanjek, who remains in awe of McCarty's internationally heralded guitar talent: "For his age, he still emulsifies people, including me. His playing kicks my ass."

Like an old couple, the two can argue fiercely, Badanjek says, reassured by the safety net of friendship underneath. Best buds as teens, creative partners as adults, the two have lived side-by-side for years -- in adjoining apartments in Sterling Heights.

"It's like he's my wife," cracks Badanjek.

A familiar figure around town in his black beret and sunglasses, Badanjek helped the Hell Drivers form by happenstance. Showing up to watch McCarty's band Mystery Train play at a Troy bar, he was soon encouraged to hop on drums for jam sessions, and a band was born.

"The word got out and this place started packing up," he says. "Most people our age don't play with the energy we do. The thing that blows people away with the Hell Drivers is it feels like we're 20 years old. I'm amazed at the energy that comes off that stage."

Even as band members craft new material, cover tunes remain the stock in trade. And for Badanjek, the best compliment is a simple one: Wow, you guys sounded just like the record.

"In the end, it's still us -- it's straight-ahead rock 'n' roll," he says. "We're playing like we've always played. It's just something we've always been able to do."

Dave Gilbert Tribute


GreatWhiteHonkeyMan said...

Thank you so much for the posting this! We're gonna have a great time tonight. Soundcheck was incredible last night.

Retro Kimmer said...

Good luck tonight I know you'll kill it. I can't come but maybe I will get film of it for the blog after all.

Love you all have fun!

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