NEW YORK – Time to tune up those air guitars.
Come November, some 50 people will enter the Rock 'n' Roll Fantasy Camp as accountants, Web designers and housewives and leave as rock stars -- courtesy of bona fide rockers.
"People pay $1 million for a round of golf with Michael Jordan and thousands for fantasy baseball camp, but anyone who's been in our line of business knows that they all want to be rockers," said head "camp counselor" Mark Rivera. "When we ask people, 'What would you be if you could be anything,' 99 percent of people say rock star."
And Rivera is more than just a wannabe musician. His musical resume includes being a saxophonist for both Billy Joel and Elton John and a musical director for Ringo Starr.
The camp's five-day syllabus sounds like a teenage boy's idea of heaven: Morning classes on musicianship with rock stars like George Thorogood, Vince Neil of Motley Crue and Poison bandmates C.C. Deville and Bret Michaels, followed by afternoon jam sessions with "the professors." It's all wrapped up with a battle of the bands at the House of Blues in Los Angeles.
"They learn showmanship from the lead singers; they learn how to perform on stage; they can dress anyway they want to," said David Fischof, a camp counselor and Ringo Starr producer. "Drummers learn drums from Billy Joel's drummer [Liberty DeVitto]; presidents of record companies will be speaking."
And all throughout, from Nov. 10 to Nov. 14, students will be regaled with tales from onstage and off, from musicians, roadies and others in the record industry.
"That's the fun part. Everyone wants to hang out with the roadies and hear the great stories," Fischof said. "It's an opportunity, the only one where you can hang out with these rock stars."
In fact, Rivera said, the musicians were chosen for their friendliness. Other teachers will include Mark Farner of Grand Funk Railroad, Sheila E., Tommy Shaw of Styx, and Dave Davies of the Kinks. Some of the professors are returning after stints at the first camp, held in 1997.
"There are rules in rock 'n' roll, one of them being whoever comes on board in the camp has to be extremely accessible," he said. "We're not going to hire an ---hole or anyone with an ego that won't fit into the size of Texas."
And, he noted, this fantasy camp has baseball fantasy camps licked in at least one respect.
"These aren't retired ballplayers. These guys are still with the bands," Rivera said.
Naturally, the price is heftier than a concert ticket. The camp costs $4,900 and includes the cost of the equipment used. The students are generally in their 30s and 40s, and include doctors, lawyers, a vice president of Nabisco, and a housewife, all with varying levels of musical ability.
Thorogood, a first-time teacher, said he didn't know what to expect, but hoped his students don't mind if he tries to impart a love of the roots of rock 'n' roll.
"There might be 100 Britney Spears fans or whatever, and then the day will be very short. Or it might be people who love the music, and then it will be long, which is a good thing," he said. "Do you want to learn something authentic and take it somewhere, or do you want to do a Pepsi commercial?"
He also said he'd probably talk about how he formed his band and came up with his biggest hit, "Bad to the Bone."
"I knew someone was going to write a song with that title, so I said to myself, 'You're going to have to come up with a song,' and took two months to do it," he said.
But Fischof said no one should expect to leave the camp and immediately headline a coliseum.
"I don't think any of them are going to go away wanting to be a rock 'n' roll star and be discovered," he said. "But you never know. You never know."