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The Inside Story of the Tokyo Super Jam (aka the Classic Rock Awards)

For this year's Classic Rock Awards, we took an all-star cast to Tokyo, hired a Sumo arena, filled it with 8000 people and invited Johnny Depp. What were we thinking?

It’s 2pm Tokyo time, November 9. Nine hours behind us, Britain is sleeping. America is counting votes. The stock markets, responding to the news coming through from the USA, are in fucking bits. Stock markets have fallen across Asia. The Dow and the FTSE will fall around 3.5% when trading starts. The dollar has plunged.

In Oden Studios, Rudolf Schenker is running through Rock You Like A Hurricane and No-One Like You with the house band: Dean and Rob DeLeo (ex-Stone Temple Pilots), drummer Ray Luzier (Korn) and guitarist Tommy Hendriksen (Alice Cooper/Hollywood Vampires).

They are nailing it. There has been a load of nerves, fraught meetings and difficult times in the past few months putting this bill together. But finally hearing this, you realise things are going to be alright.

Fuck that. Better than ‘alright’.

“So,” says Rudolf Schenker, “shall we do both songs?”

Andy Hipkiss is TeamRock’s Artist Liaison and the guy who, with photographer Ross Halfin, has put this bill together. Andy plays it cool. “We have time to do both,” he says, even though this is not strictly true. The venue – the Ryogoku Kokugikan, Tokyo’s national Sumo arena – has a strict 9:30 curfew and the Japanese are nervous that we’ll overrun.

Rob DeLeo laughs: “You didn’t come all this way to do one song, did you?”

That’s that sorted then. There is only one thing left to do and that’s choreograph the windmilling at the end.

They run through the ending of Hurricane and Schenker shows them how to do it. He does a burst of 10 manic windmilling arm swings.

Rob, Dean and Tommy seem unsure.

“Let me show you again,” says Rudy.

“I don’t want you to hurt yourself, though,” jokes Rob. “Promise me.”

Schenker demonstrates again. There are few more impressive sites in the world of rock. They have three guitarists, he reasons, so they have to do it three times. “So that’s 30 times!”

Dean mouthes it to himself “30 times!” like “I used to be in Stone Temple Pilots – what the fuck have I myself into here?”

Schenker keeps on windmilling. By the time he’s finished, Trump has won. We don’t tell anyone. They’ll find out soon enough. We want to keep the real world out of this room for as long as possible.


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