VH1 classic rocking ‘Live’ – Net pairs legends with contemporary stars for special

With the hope of creating a signature show like VH1’s “Storytellers,” VH1 Classic is bringing together musical legends with contempo stars in a concert series titled “Decades Rock Live.” Series, produced with World Prods., will premiere Oct. 8.

Pilot episode, “A Tribute to the Doors,” was taped Aug. 5 with Ray Manzarek and Robby Krieger of the Doors, who are now billing their act with Ian Astbury as Riders on the Storm. Special guests were Perry Farrell, Macy Gray, Pat Travers, John Sebastian (who played harmonica on “Roadhouse Blues”), members of Vanilla Fudge and Antigone Rising.

Next seg will be filmed Sept. 30, featuring Bonnie Raitt, who will be partnered with Norah Jones, Ben Harper, Alison Krauss and Keb’ Mo’.

VH1 Classic has ordered 12 hourlong segments with an option to extend; World Prods. is negotiating with VH1 for a possible run as well. Viacom’s InDemand network will air the shows in high-def 90 days after the initial airing. Compilation DVDs are in the planning stages.

“We saw potential in this the first time we heard the pitch,” said Eric Sherman, senior VP and general manager, VH1 Classic. “We knew from experience over the last five years that the artists of today owe so much to past (legends) that this seemed like a natural. This is right in line with our (programming) mission.”

Future shows will be centered on Sheryl Crow, the Doobie Brothers and Michael McDonald, Cyndi Lauper (Sarah McLachlan has been inked), Motley Crue and Lynyrd Skynyrd. A tribute to Alice Cooper will feature Cheap Trick, Rob Zombie and Billy Corgan. World Prods. is also looking at tributes to Queen and Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders.

“We’re very specific about targeting the main performer — artists who have had a particular success and have opened their music to new fans,” said Barry Summers of World Prods. and executive producer of the show. “We also want to focus on younger artists and who they have been influenced by. It’s almost like putting together a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame show” at which inductees are feted by the artists who admired them.

“Decades” is taped at Trump Taj Mahal’s high-definition television studio in Atlantic City, N.J., a 5,000 seat venue. Perfs are augmented with interviews and “Fan Factoids” from viewers sharing their knowledge of music facts and figures.

The shows will be shot over the next 18 months, and Summers figures six will air by March. VH1 Classics sponsors between 20 and 30 tours per year, and Sherman figures a number of those acts will fit the bill for “Decades” appearances.

Auctions of memorabilia and special items from the artists appearing on the show will be held with proceeds benefiting the philanthropic projects of the Guitar Center Music Foundation and the Grammy Foundation.

Contact the Variety newsroom at