Aug 27, 2009

Challenge # 20 : Meet a Rock Star!

With Journey's Lead Singer, Arnel Pineda

I will be the first to admit that I don't usually get star struck nor do I make any special effort to meet celebrities whenever they are staying in the hotel. Their privacy is a top concern and I will make every effort so it remains that way. However, I have to admit that I made a special arrangements to meet President Obama when he was in the JW. I was this close to meeting Jennifer Aniston, but elected to steer clear since she and then boyfriend, John Mayer, were truly enjoying a private weekend in Grand Rapids. I played it low key even in Chicago (where celebrities lived in my hotel at the Mayfair Regent) or in the Caribbean (where we had Sports Illustrated conduct a swimsuit issue photo shoot). Unless they specifically ask for the GM, you wouldn't find me near the celebrity.

Now, meeting the lead singer of Journey is a different story. For you Journey purists out there, sure, Steve Perry is the original. But it is Arnel Pineda now. Prior to discovering Arnel Pineda on youtube, Journey was pretty much a club act. Having gone through two or three lead singers after Mr. Perry, they were on their last leg. Steve Perry was a one hit wonder as a single artist with, "Oh, Sherrie." The remaining members of the band asked Steve Perry to rejoin the group, but Steve said, "Oh, Perry - no more."

Arnel Pineda, a Filipino circuit club singer in Manila, filled the missing gap that Steve Perry left wide open. And fill it he did. For the first time since the band disbanded, the stadiums are humming again. The band's new album made it to platinum. Thanks to the brains behind the band and for the big voice of Arnel Pineda.

There was no question that I was going to the concert when the news came out in May. Proud of my Filipino heritage, I was not going to let this opportunity to meet and say thanks to a fellow countryman pass me by. I sent Arnel's suite some ice cold San Miguel beers and a personal welcome note to Grand Rapids. His agent called me the next morning and told me that Arnel really appreciates the attention, especially from fellow Filipinos. That was nice - but I want an invitation to meet him!

So as Heart started their set, and I have given up any hopes of meeting Arnel, my friend who invited us to the concert told us that he had made arrangements for Elena and I to meet Arnel and the band. You waited this long to tell me! We were whisked to the back stage, and standing in the green room was Arnel and the band.

The band manager introduced me to Arnel, and upon hearing my last name, he said, "Mr. Aquino...maraming salamat sa San Miguel (thank you for the San Miguel beer)." I was shocked that he remembered the name on the welcome card. He rubbed my shoulder a couple of times to show his appreciation for the token gift as pictures were taken. We talked some more in Filipino before he went on to meet other people in the room. As this was going on, I was quite impressed at how the rest of the band just gave Arnel the limelight. That was pretty neat, I thought.

To meet a rock star is one thing. But to meet a humble and very appreciative one makes it memorable and worth sharing. And yes, the fact that the rock star happens to be a Filipino, makes it more amazing for this Filipino hotel guy. Maraming salamat, Arnel!

Journey in Grand Rapids

The Encore

My wife and Arnel

My friend, Rich (in jacket) and I, presented Journey with a certificate for a donation in the band's name to the local Children's hospital.

Arnel rockin' to Don't Stop Believin'

This one is for all the Pinoy's!


Mary and Sean said... glad you went for it!

Jenny said...

Well said...George! Reading your blog about Arnel gives a goosebumps!

Anonymous said...

Awesome! I really enjoyed your blog. Thanks.


Anonymous said...

Mabuhay ka!


Anonymous said...

Thanks...George!i wonder if someone here was able to get a video of their concert in grand rapids? will really appreciate it.

Anonymous said...

That was your Wife??????? no kidding? Really? But, how is that possible?

My Hotel Life said...


Love works in mysterious ways. I am very lucky...