Wall of Fame
May 16, 17 & 18, 2004
Before I can tell you about the present, I have to take you back to the beginning of the saga. I received a phone call in the fall of 2002. It was Janine Asmus from the Leyden Wall of Fame committee. She asked me if I was the Rhonda Dirr that ran the Jonathan Cain web site. I am. Janine then proceeded to tell me about how she was standing in line at Crate and Barrel, wearing her Leyden sweatshirt. A gentleman behind her asked if she knew that Jonathan Cain of Journey graduated from Leyden. She said, “No.”
When she returned to work that next week she tried to find Jonathan Cain in the yearbooks. She found Larry Cain. She then searched the internet for more clues, and she found me. I enlightened her with the fact that Jonathan Cain is really John Friga, class of 1968. She grabbed a yearbook and found him right away. She asked if Jon would be interested in being involved with the Wall of Fame. I emailed Jon, and he was interested.
After quite a few emails between Jon and Janine, it was not possible for Jon to be inducted in 2003. The Journey tour was already set in motion, and dates could not be changed. So, we opted for 2004. Jon made sure that no tour bookings would be made. Earlier this year, Tracy and I talked to Janine about maybe having Jon do a concert to benefit Leyden. She asked the superintendent, and it was cleared through her, if Jon agreed. I asked Jon if he would do a benefit concert for Leyden, and he agreed.
So, the planning started. Janine and I would talk on the phone and plan the preliminary items for the concert. We were just going to have Jon and the school’s Steinway, on stage. Then Jon arranged for his signature piano, the Whale, Brent Jeffers his tech and Rocko, Journey’s Production Manager to all help out with the concert. Needless to say we were all thrilled. I have always had a vision of Jon performing his solo material here in Chicago. And it was coming true right before my eyes, and I was helping plan it.
I asked Jon about doing a meet and greet, again he agreed. He can be very agreeable, at times. So, we arranged with the school for 60 meet and greet passes. The school would have 30 and jonathancain.com would have 30. Our 30 passes went like hotcakes. We had people coming in from California, Utah, Florida, Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana and Illinois.
I would have a weekly phone call with Jon to keep him up to date, on what was going on. He made mention one time of taping the show for a DVD. I jumped on that. Tracy and I had had the same idea, but didn’t know quite how to bring it up. I then arranged for a friend and his buddy to videotape the show, and turn it into a DVD.
Janine, Tracy and I would have meetings on how to promote the show. We handed out flyers, put up posters at local shops and stores, we emailed and snail mailed community members. We enlisted the help of local bands. They would announce Jon’s show at their shows and they even put it in their weekly emails. I got one of the radio stations (WNND) to give away tickets and do an interview with Jon. Janine even got the students involved. Jon suggested that the choir, that was going to sing with him at the induction ceremony, sing with him at the show.
Tracy had an idea of putting together a scrapbook, to commemorate Jon being inducted. We got all the materials together; it took several weeks and many trips to the scrapbook store. We found a “Whale Red” book, perfect for the occasion. We enlisted the help of people from Jon’s past, like Ricky Philips (Babys and Bad English) and Jimmy Arnold (Jonathan Cain Band); and his wife Liz, to get all the family members. Everyone came through. Tracy did most of the work on the book; I cut things out for her. Tracy had a vision and knew it was a good one. The book turned out fantastic. We hope he takes it on the road to show everyone.
I put together a special promo photo for everyone who attended the meet and greet. It was Jon’s senior photo from 1968 and his current promo photo. I put them side-by-side. It turned out great. Jon also wrote a special song for the show called “Shine on Chicago”. Jon wanted everyone who came to the show to have a copy of it, so I volunteered to burn copies of it. I made 400 of them. And we put red ribbon and your business card on 300 of them, for a splash of color.
This brings us to Sunday May 16th. Jon, Rocko and Brent are all due to arrive. Tracy and I got Jon a dozen red and white roses, for his stay in Chicago. I delivered them to his hotel and put them in his room. I ran into Rocko on the way out, we chatted for a moment and then I left. I was headed out to get Jon a couple of cigars for his stay. Jon’s friend John Sigle was coming up from Springfield, to spend some time with him. We were all meeting for dinner at Gibson’s.
Tracy and I got there a little early to setup the table. We decorated the table with little red and silver stars, and the scrapbook was placed on the table. Tracy put a bow on the book and then added a bouquet of a single red rose and two cigars. We then went into the bar for a drink. I called Jon to let him know that we were there and to let Brent and Rocko, know it was time to come over. Rocko came in first, and then Jon followed a few minutes later. Brent was late as usual. John S. showed up last. We had 6:30pm reservation and it was almost 7:15pm before we got back to the table. The conversation was so good; no one wanted to stop talking.
When we got back to the table, Jon was like “What did you girls do now?!?!?!” He was overwhelmed with the book. We included his family, Tracy and I, Journey, the Babys, Bad English, Jonathan Cain Band, Journey Crew, Moderators, Fans, the Whale and baby Shamu. The meal was great and we heard some great stories around the table. I had asked the waitress to put the book somewhere safe, and she looked at it. Because, a little later on she made the comment, “It’s so nice to have you here with us, Mr. Cain.” Hey, we all got free dessert out of it. Tracy and I were supposed to help pay for dinner, but Jon wouldn’t let us. So he picked up the bill for all six people. At about 10:00 pm. We said good night. We knew Jon had an early call in the morning.
Jon and John had a breakfast meeting with the other three inductees and the Leyden Board of Education. Jon was to speak at three different sessions; at West Leyden on Monday and then three at East Leyden on Tuesday. Factoid: My apartment is about the same distance from both High Schools.
Tracy and I arrived at the west campus at 10:15 am. Jon’s first session was to begin at 10:30 am. Jon had the auditorium for all his sessions. While I sat up my video camera and still camera, Jon was going over his speech. John, Tracy and I all sat together in the front row. Joe Rufolo was Jon’s teacher guide for the day. Jon started out by showing a 15-minute video of his career. It started out with him on the Dick Clark Show; then went into video footage from the Babys and then into Journey.
Jon spoke of his very first day at Leyden and how he got a black eye. He was talking to the girl whose locker was next to his, and her boyfriend punched Jon out. Jon was also involved in a school fire, Our Lady of the Angels. It was December 1958; Jon was in third grade. He escaped, but 160 children died when the roof caved in. All the fire exit doors were rusted shut. Jon talked about being real with yourself and others. You can change things if you really want to and try. He was editor of the school paper, ran cross-country (to escape the greasers). He touched on how there was a war going on in the school between the Greaser’s and the Social’s. Kids were getting beaten up and stabbed. He also talked about the fact that he changed his last name from Friga to Cain. He also mentioned Sex, Drugs and Rock-n-Roll.
After the first session was over, we all headed to the east campus for a sound check. Joe drove us over in the school van. The choir was already there practicing. Jon ran through the Journey medley that they were going to do for the ceremony and the concert. The kids were all very excited. Jon ran through “Shine on Chicago” and decided to have the choir join him on that one also. I didn’t have a cd with me, but could get one as soon as we got back to the west campus. All the cds were in my car. The PA system that Rocko had brought in was fantastic. All the kids were saying, “This is what a PA systems should sound like!” Rocko had gotten us some sandwiches and waters. He gave them to me and we headed back to the west campus.
Jon was feeling a little better. Weston had been sick the week before, so now daddy was getting it. He had meds that he was taking and a lot of cough drops for his throat. He didn’t eat much of his sandwich. Comcast had gotten there and was setting up to film the induction ceremony. Jon gave his second speech, which was the best one of the day. After that he did his third speech. This one was cut short due to getting started late. Then it was time for the induction ceremony. Jon chatted with some teachers that he had in high schools, who came to the ceremony. At 3:00 pm, everyone took their place and the ceremony began. The Superintendent welcomed everyone; Janine Asmus was up next. She introduced the video. Every year Janine has the inductees send in photos, articles and what ever else they would like to have on display for the ceremony. Janine then takes the photos and sends them off to be made into a 4-minute video, highlighting each of the inductees. This year she was had the video set to Jon’s “Shine on Chicago” music.
The president of the senior class gave a short speech. Then it was time for the inductees. A different staff member gave a short synopsis for each one of the inductees. Jon was first. The music director gave the synopsis and then Jon received his plaque from the Superintendent and a Leyden sweatshirt. Jon thanked the school for the honor, he wished that his dad could be there to see this and wished the students every luck in the world. After the other three inductees were done, Janine handed out a scholarship and then introduced Jon and the choir. It was difficult to see Jon; the awards table was in the way. But he and the choir did a great job. The Asst. Superintendent did the closing remarks, and plugged Jon’s show for that night.
After the ceremony, there was a reception in the courtyard. The Blue Notes (the schools jazz band) were providing the music. People were around Jon asking for his autograph and talking to him. We all stayed about 30 minutes and then it was time to go. Tracy and I needed to get to the auditorium at the east campus and Jon wanted to go back to his hotel for a little while. He didn’t need to be to the auditorium till 6:15 pm.
Tracy and I got there a little before 5:00 pm. Rocko was playing the piano, quite well. I was a nervous wreck and sweating like a cold glass of water on a humid day. Glen, Tom and Jim (video crew) got there about 5:00 pm. I showed them where to set up. Brent suggested that we also use his video camera for a different angle. I had also set up my camera. People were gathering outside for the meet and greet. I went out and said “Hi” to a few of them. We got everything ready. Jon came in the front door, past everyone. They were in awe. He went downstairs and dropped his stuff off. Tracy brought everyone in and we lined them up. I informed them that Jon had been talking all day and he had one more day of talking to go and he was also starting to get a cold. So, he wasn’t going to be doing much talking. Tracy handed out the photos and the cds. Jon came in and sat at the table, and the line began with Tracy’s mom, friend Sylvia and Tracy’s Grandmother and Aunt.
It was very hot; people tried to prop the doors open. It helped a bit. After everyone got through the line, Jon went back downstairs to relax. I went up front to see how things were going there. While I was there Jon’s Aunt Jean came in. She was a surprise for Jon. I escorted them down stairs. I walked in the green room and said, “Jon, Tracy and I have one more surprise for you.” Then Aunt Jean came around the corner; needless to say his look was priceless. He was so happy to see “Family” there. Jon hadn’t called anyone in Chicago to let them know that he was being inducted or that he was putting on a show. So, we did.
About 7:25 pm, Tracy and I took the family back upstairs and showed them to their seats. I then went around and talked to people who came in for the show. The show started at 7:32 pm. Janine introduced Jon. The set list consisted of:
Only the Young
Stone in Love
Be Good to Yourself
Just the Thought of Losing You
Summer of an Angry Son
My Old Man
Working Class Man
Who’s Cryin’ Now
Send Her My Love
When You Love A Woman
Shine On Chicago
Woman Never Forget
Back to the Innocence
When the Spirit Comes
Don’t Stop Believin’
Encore: Best of What I Got
Needless to say, I cried during some of the concert. It was very emotional for me. I was watching a dream come true. Jonathan was playing in Chicago and singing his music. I was evening crying during the sound check. I couldn’t take my eyes off of him. I listened to every word he spoke; every note he sang. He was mesmerizing. The show lasted 93 minutes; and ended with a standing ovation.
Afterwards, Jon was out front signing autographs and posing for pictures. I finally had to tell him that he needed to get off the stage. Rocko and Brent could not get the stage cleared with everyone around it. Tracy and I gathered our things together and headed to the green room. Aunt Jean and family were already down there. We all stayed down there for a little while and then left for the hotel. My trunk was packed. I had Jon’s memorabilia box, a gift basket that Jon received from a fan and all the video equipment. Tracy and I headed over to the hotel.
We sat in the bar and had some drinks and appetizers. Jon and John went and had dinner at Gibson’s. Brent and Rocko came in and said goodnight. We were hoping that Brent would stay and talk for a little bit, but Rocko told him he had to go to bed. They had a 4:30 am wake up call. Tracy and I then left and went home.
We were to be at the east campus by 8:15 am on Tuesday. I arrived on time, got my security pass and went to the auditorium. I talked with John S and he wondered why Tracy and I didn’t come over to Gibson’s for dinner; they were expecting us. I told him that we thought Jon might like some alone time, since we had been with him ALL DAY. I did not bring my video camera or my still camera. The fact that I was not video taping shocked Tracy when she arrived.
Jon did three sessions back to back. He was much more relaxed and was dressed more casual. The student responded better to him today, then they did on Monday. I talked with some of the choir students that sang with Jon and they were flying high from the experience. One girl Kristin said the Jon was and inspiration for her. She wanted to be a professional singer and come back to Leyden; to do a show just like Jon did. After Jon’s last session he was to have lunch with some of the students. Tracy and I didn’t want to intrude on that so we went to Gibson’s for lunch. I told Jon that and he said “Lucky you.” I told him that we would meet him after he got done, so we could go over some things.
We had a great lunch and then walked over to the hotel and waited for Jon and John to arrive. As we were walking over, Janine drove past us and said that she had just dropped Jon off. As Tracy and I were walking to the lounge, we ran into Jon. He walked back up front with us. He needed to get his computer that Brent left for him at the front desk. He took his stuff up stairs and Tracy and I got a table in the lounge. John S. came in and we waved in back to the table. He had to go pick up his car. They were going to go downtown for dinner and catch a Cubs game. The Cubs were playing the San Francisco Giants; how perfect was that. The Giants won.
Jon returned and we sat and talked for an hour. We talked about how he felt the past two days went, the family, the site and this summer. We then hugged and said our goodbyes. It was the perfect three days. My vision had come true!!
Photos from the Induction Ceremony and Speeches.
Photos from Jon's Concert.