Lori J. Barker has mostly been a casual music listener over the years. She rarely goes to concerts, attracted to the modern rock sounds of such artists as U2 and Peter Gabriel. But when one of her closest friends, hard rock guitarist Jason Becker, was recently stricken with Lou Gehrig's disease, she soon found herself concentrating much more on a music scene dominated by heavy chords and black leather.
This sudden involvement will manifest itself Wednesday night with a benefit concert for the 22-year-old Becker; it will feature a virtual army of noted rock guitarists at the Excess club in Glendale. Barker has organized the show to help pay the mounting medical costs of the Bay Area guitarist, who played lead guitar on the recent David Lee Roth album, "A Little Ain't Enough."
"He's very excited," said Barker, a 29-year-old accounting student at Pierce College. "He thinks it's pretty neat that people want to get together and do this. It's going to be fun. There aren't going to be any speeches; we just want people to have a real good time."
Among the musicians performing are Steve Hunter, a veteran sideman for Lou Reed, Alice Cooper, David Lee Roth and others; Steve Lukather, ubiquitous studio player and a member of Toto; George Lynch, Jeff Pilson and Mick Brown, all formerly of Dokken; Zakk Wylde of Ozzy Osbourne's band; Warren DeMartini of Ratt; Vivian Campbell of Whitesnake and Bruce Kulick, lead guitarist of Kiss.
Becker will be at the show, Barker said, although he isn't likely to perform. The young guitarist is still writing music at home, where his father is caring for him, but his weakened legs have made him uncomfortable on stage. Becker recently performed Bob Dylan's "Meet Me in the Morning" with other members of Roth's band for a compilation album soon to be released by Guitar for the Practicing Musician magazine.
The magazine is co-sponsoring the concert, helping Barker contact several of the musicians. And several music companies are donating use of equipment for the evening.
"Nobody is getting paid," Barker said. "George Lynch is coming out from Arizona at his own expense. Everyone has been so generous, it's been a great discovery. You have an image of people in rock 'n' roll that they are self-serving, and it's just not true at all. People have gone to such lengths to just do anything they can at all. It's just wonderful."
Kulick said he volunteered to perform soon after hearing about Becker's career-ending disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a degenerative nerve disorder. Kulick said he had found it virtually unbearable to put down his guitar for just two weeks when he suffered a broken collarbone a few years ago.
"I think it's really tragic for anybody young who plays rock 'n' roll to get into a debilitating condition to where he can't do what he loves," Kulick said. "Here was a great opportunity for him, with his chance to play with David Lee Roth. But right now he has to take care of his health."
Kulick, who said he will perform Jimi Hendrix's "Little Wing" with Lukather during the concert, added that the hard rock community is often active in charitable concerns but gets little credit.
"This is a real nasty business," he said. "If you're on top, they want to knock you down until you can do something for them. But something like this, where someone can't do what their dream is, it just brings everybody down to a common ground. It takes away all the egos and all the cat fighting, and brings them all down to the same level."
At the show will also be an electric guitar autographed by all the participants, to be raffled off during the night.
"I've never done anything like this," Barker said Tuesday. "So I don't know what to expect. So I'm pretty nervous about it. I hope people show up, not only because it's a good show, but because it's also a good cause."
A benefit concert for guitarist Jason Becker, featuring the members of several noted hard rock bands, begins at 8 p.m. Wednesday at Excess, 223 N. Glendale Ave., Glendale. Tickets are $15. No one under 21 admitted. For information, call (213) 841-4437 or Ticketmaster at (213) 480-3232.