Rock ’n’ Roll is My Religion
Dr. Gabrielle Francis
I was freshly out of massage school… a ripe 19 years old. My cousin worked for the big production company that promoted Rock Concerts in Cleveland. One day she called me and said, “Cuz, such and such, the biggest name in rock n roll at the time, is coming to Cleveland and they want massages. I volunteered you.” I was in a state of shock, but gladly accepted the offer. Weirdly enough, I was not nervous or overly excited. I felt I would be great for the job.
I arrived at the coliseum with my massage table. But I was secretly looking forward to the massive parties back stage. To my dismay, the backstage seemed quite quiet. All the artists were in their private dressing rooms and keeping to themselves. I was taken to the catering hall and noticed that there was a completely organic and vegetarian spread. In those days this was very rare and unheard of. Whole Foods was not a household name. I also noticed there was not an ounce of alcohol backstage. The most intoxicating beverage I could find was coke. Wives had taken the place of the groupies. The Myth was shattered!
The first artist I was to work on had a spiritual name instead of his stage name on the door. When I entered his dressing room, I felt I had entered a Temple. It was lit by candles, incense permeated the air, and a picture of his Guru stared at me throughout the entire massage. I worked with most of the band that night just doing massage to get them ready for the marathon show. There was a medical doctor backstage giving them B12 shots to help with extra energy for the big performance.
Each artist was so thoughtful and down to earth. I was taken by their humility and realness. It was an ego-free zone.
They put on a super 4-hour show that night. I watched from backstage and I could see what an amazing dynamic a rock concert was. The band gives energy to the audience. The audience gives love and more energy to the band. The band gets high on the energy from the crowd. And it seems like it can go of forever. The only thing that made the band come off the stage was the venue saying that they had to go.
I will never forget that night as I saw the power of music to elevate the energy of a theater to a higher vibration. It is no wonder that some people feel that going to a concert can be like a religious experience. I decided it would be one of my religions too! It would blend very well with my Catholic upbringing. Catholics revere saints. So why not add a few like Jimi Hendrix, Patron Saint of the Wa Wa Pedal; Santana, the Archangel of Long Instrumental Grooves; Keith Richards, Holy Father of the Rhythm Guitar: and of course, Our Lady Madonna.
After the show, that band asked me to tour with them as a massage therapist. I had to say no as I was very committed to the idea of finishing medical school.
I regretted that decision for a very long time. Luckily, I had the chance again almost 17 years later…