The inaugural Rock from the Heart concert benefiting the John Ritter Foundation for Aortic Health featuring Night Ranger will raise money and awareness for aortic health while spending the night rocking with one of America’s most legendary bands.
Opening the show is The Band That Fell to Earth, including Rock from the Heart founder, Pete Johnson, on drums.
With more than 17 million albums sold worldwide, over 3,000 live shows performed, and more than 1 billion in radio audience, Night Ranger has both epitomized and transcended the arena rock sound and style of that era and beyond. With songs that have significantly impacted popular culture and continue to expand their ever-growing fan-base, Night Ranger is proof that powerful songs, plus accomplished musicians is the perfect formula for continued success.
Night Ranger has earned widespread acclaim, multi-platinum and gold album status while leaving their indelible mark on the music charts with a string of best-selling albums and instantly recognizable hit singles such as “Sister Christian,” “Don’t Tell Me You Love Me,” “When You Close Your Eyes” and more. The band was also one of the first big “video” bands, with more than 10 number 1 videos on MTV. Night Ranger is Jack Blades (bass, vocals), Kelly Keagy (drums, vocals), Brad Gillis (lead & rhythm guitars), Eric Levy (keyboards) and Keri Kelli (lead & rhythm guitars).
ABOUT Rock from the Heart
In March 2015, Rock from the Heart founder Amy Johnson’s husband, local drummer Pete Johnson, went to the doctor for a routine physical. The doctor heard a heart murmur and scheduled Pete for an echocardiogram.
“I will never forget when Pete got the call and was told he had a 5cm ascending aortic aneurysm and moderate aortic stenosis that would require surgery,” Amy Johnson said. “I’d never heard of these conditions. When I looked it up on the internet and learned what it was, I felt sick.”
The Johnsons met with Pete’s primary care doctor, and he told them that actor John Ritter had died from an aortic aneurysm, and Pete was lucky it was caught early. The doctor reassured the Johnsons it was fixable, and the “watch and wait” years began. Pete was monitored every 6 months to check progression of the aneurysm and stenosis. The doctor also explained in detail what the signs and symptoms of aortic dissection were and instructed them to call immediately if Pete experienced any symptoms.
At Pete’s May 2017 appointment, the stenosis had progressed to severe, and surgery was scheduled for July 12. After the appointment was scheduled, the Johnsons learned one of their favorite drummers, Kelly Keagy of Night Ranger, also had heart surgery, and was taking six weeks off to recover. A few weeks later, the Johnsons saw that the band was playing in Fargo, so they drove up to see them.
“Jack Blades announced from stage that Kelly had open heart surgery and was back rocking after 8 weeks,” Amy Johnson said. “I cried. Those words, and seeing Kelly up there on stage 8 weeks post surgery gave me hope. We now had the ‘Kelly Keagy Barometer’ for recovery.”
During Pete’s recovery months, Night Ranger announced a December show in Minnesota, so Amy bought tickets and surprised Pete by adding the meet and greet package.
“It was important to me to tell Kelly how much it helped us mentally and emotionally to see him up there after his surgery,” Amy said. “It was an unforgettable experience for us to shake his hand and thank him in person for getting us though a tough time.”
Before Pete went in for surgery at the Minneapolis Heart Institute, the Johnsons decided once Pete recovered, they would find a way to help others by raising awareness of this silent killer. Because of the work the John Ritter Foundation has done, doctors are looking for the signs and sending patients in for testing. Now, it is the Johnsons turn to give back.
“We love rock music, and music brings people together, so we decided a great way to raise money and awareness would be to hold a benefit concert,” Amy Johnson said. “Because of the emotional connection we felt with Night Ranger, we knew they would be the ideal headliner, and Rock from the Heart was born.”
The John Ritter Foundation was created in October 2003, just weeks after John’s sudden death due to an acute aortic dissection. Formed by his widow, Amy Yasbeck, and their family for the purpose of receiving donations in honor of John’s life, the foundation is focused on thoracic aortic disease education, support, and research.
An education event and dinner is planned Friday, Feb. 8 in Minneapolis, and a VIP reception prior to the concert at SEVEN is also taking place. Visit www.rockfromtheheart.org for additional details.