Organizers Postpone Leo Fender Concert Till January : Benefit: The producer says the later date gives him time to line up talent and plan a glitch-free event to honor the electric guitar innovator, who died of Parkinson's disease.


Organizers of an annual benefit concert in honor of the late Leo Fender have postponed their scheduled 1992 show in order to buy time for better planning.

Last March, the Parkinson's Educational Program (PEP) in Newport Beach announced plans for a Fender memorial benefit to be held at Knott's Berry Farm on Sept. 12. Charlotte Jayne, PEP's executive director, said last week that the date has been pushed back and a new producer has been chosen to coordinate talent and staging for the benefit. It is now tentatively scheduled for Jan. 23 at Knott's and will involve just one show instead of the separate country and rock concerts previously announced.

"Leo Fender's legacy is not going to disappear by not having it this year," Jayne said. "It's important to do something good and take the time to do it."

Fender, a Fullerton resident who died last year from complications of Parkinson's disease, revolutionized the sound of popular music with his electric guitar designs and has been honored with induction into both the rock and country music halls of fame.

The first benefit in his honor took place last August at UC Irvine's Bren Events Center, but it drew only about 850 ticket buyers to the 5,000-capacity venue and suffered from long staging delays. The show was produced by Leland Jeffries, a local rock musician and novice concert promoter who conceived the idea of honoring Fender with a benefit concert.

Gerald Ishibashi, an Orange-based musician and concert promoter, has been chosen to produce the next benefit, Jayne said. Ishibashi's Stonebridge Productions previously has coordinated entertainment for such special events as the Taste of Newport, Taste of Costa Mesa and the summer concert series at Park Place in Irvine. That has involved producing concerts by Juice Newton, Tower of Power, Three Dog Night and the James Harman Band, among others.

Ishibashi also has promoted concerts at Knott's and the Celebrity Theatre in Anaheim featuring the Hawaiian show band, Society of Seven.

Ishibashi said he approached PEP after reading a Times story about its plans for an annual Fender benefit. The promoter said he was drawn to the cause for two reasons: As a musician, he has had a longstanding passion for Fender guitars, and he also wanted to do something to help combat Parkinson's disease, a degenerative illness that claimed his grandfather.

Ishibashi envisions a tight, fast-paced show of about two hours, in which a succession of name players would be accompanied by a "killer backup band, guys that can nail every style. It's a big job, because we want to cover as much of the (Fender) influence as possible. It spans such a wide range of music."

The producer said the January date will give him enough time to line up talent and plan a glitch-free event.

"I could deliver a show next month, but there's a lot at stake here because this is something that could become a tradition," Ishibashi said. "You have to do so well that people automatically are going to come back next year. We have to make sure we have everything in place and hit a home run. It doesn't matter if it's (in a venue of) 2,000 seats (like Knott's) or 10,000 seats. What matters is that we build goodwill and integrity."

No performers have been announced. Jayne said that jazz-rock bassist Jeff Berlin, a Florida-based player who appeared in last year's Fender benefit, has volunteered to serve as musical director of the house band for next year's show.

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