The greatest private memorabilia collection to be on public display; The Jim Irsay collection came to the Shrine Auditorium & Expo Hall in Downtown Los Angeles, CA January 11th. The Jim Irsay Collection owned by its namesake is the owner of the Indianapolis Colts and brings together historic documents and possessions of U.S. Presidents and U.S. History artifacts such as George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Harry Truman, John F. Kennedy, a copy of the Declaration of Independence which one less than 60 in existence of the 200 made starting in 1820, a John Wilkes Booth wanted poster, musical instruments owned by the Beatles, Eric Clapton, Elton John, Bob Dylan, Prine, Kurt Cobain, Johnny Cash, Jerry Garcia, and more, sports memorabilia including Jackie Robinson’s bat, Muhammed Ali’s belt from “The Rumble in the Jungle”, and hollywood memorabilia including Al Pacino’s script for Scarface, one of the Wilson volleyballs from Castaway, and Sylvester Stallone’s training boots for Rocky and his script, there was also tech memorabilia including an early Apple manual signed by Steve Jobs. The one item Irsay considers “the most culturally significant piece of the 20th century” would be the original working manuscript for the 12-step program for Alcoholics Anonymous because of his and his family struggles and the millions of lives it has helped saved. This was the first time the event has taken place in Los Angeles. To simply put it these are the type of artifacts you would see at the Smithsonian and Rock N Roll Hall of Fame.
The best part of all, the collection was free to view with just an RSVP with Evenbrite and included an All-Star concert. The exhibit was held in the Expo Hall first starting with U.S. history followed by the original scroll of Jack Kerouac’s novel “On The Road” which is 20 feet in length, then instruments and the closing part was sports, hollywood, and tech.
By 4 P.M. there were already close to 200 fans waiting to get into the Shrine. It was no surprise between the collection and concert the venue would be at capacity. Outside the Shrine Auditorium entrance a car once belonging to author Hunter S. Thompson and another was the car retired Colts running back Edgerrin James was driven in for his induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The music began around 8:30 P.M. Sadly, Irsay, who never misses a Colts game or one of his events, was hospitalized with a respiratory infection just a few days before the event. Also before the concert, it was announced Stephen Stills would not be there.
The Jim Irsay Collection band included guitarists Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Tom Bukovac who recorded on over 700 albums, Danni Nucci (also actor in Titanic), and Mike Wanchic (John Mellencamp), Drummer Kenny Aronoff (John Mellencamp/ John Fogerty), bassist Mike Mills (R.E.M.), blues harmonica legend Billy Branch, vocalist Carmella Ramsey (Reba McEntire/ John Hiatt), and keyboardist Michael Ramos (John Mellencamp). Joining what was already an All-Star band would be a few music icons who have each performed with the band. The band would perform Shepherd’s “Down for Love.” Shepherd introduced the first guest a guitarist that influenced Jimi Hendrix. It would be none other than one of the last living Blues giants Buddy Guy. Guy had performed a headline set at the Hollywood Bowl this past summer but due to doctor’s orders was unable to perform at Eric Clapton’s Crossroads festival in September. Guy performed two songs with the band, then the band would perform four songs before the next guest. Mils would sing lead on “(Don’t Go Back) to Rockville” and “Superman”
Shepherd introduced the next guest which was actually an iconic instrument. This would be David Gilmour’s most famous guitar with Pink Floyd, the ‘Black Strat’ auctioned off at Christies in 2019 along with a number of other important Gilmour owned guitars. The guitar was purchased by Irsay for $3.9 million. In 2022, that price was beaten with Kurt Cobain’s Fender Jaguar from the “Smells Like Teen Spirit” video purchased for $4.5 million. Both guitars were on display. The band along with Irsay performed at Farm Aid 2023 and the ‘Black Strat’ was used by Shepherd on “Have a Cigar” sung by Nucci and “Comfortably Numb” sung by Bukovac. To top if off the performance included a Pink Floyd style laser show.
The next guest would be one of half of the Wilson sisters of Heart, one of the greatest voices in Rock N’ Roll, Ann Wilson. Wilson was set to perform three songs including Led Zeppelin’s “Rock N’ Roll” which was cut from the set. Wilson performed a cover of The Who’s “Love Reign Over Me” and Heart’s “Barracuda.” Heart performed their first shows in four years this past December. In 2022 Wilson performed several shows along with Jeff Beck and ZZ Top. Wilson performed “Barracuda” with the band at Farm Aid last year.
The third guest would be REO Speedwagon’s Kevin Cronin who joked about having to perform after Ann Willson. Cronin joined the band for four REO Speedwagon classics and Branch added a harmonica solo to “Roll With the Changes.’ Second to last would be J. Geils Band frontman Peter Wolf performing five songs with the band. Closing the show would be none other than ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons for “Sharp Dressed Man,” “La Grange,” and a cover of Freddie King’s “Going Down.” After the concert ended, the band along with Cronin, Wolf, and Gibbons took a bow.
- Down for Love- Kenny Wayne Shepherd
- Damn Right I Got The Blues- Buddy Guy
- I’ve Got to Use My Imagination/ She’s 19 Years Old- Buddy Guy
- I Can’t Hold You Out/ Watch Yourself- Elmore James (Kenny Wayne Shepherd)
- Blue On Black- Kenny Wayne Shepherd
- (Don’t Go Back to) Rockville- R.E.M. (Mike Mills)
- Superman- The Clique (Mike Mills)
- Have a Cigar- Pink Floyd (Kenny Wayne Shepherd w/ David Gilmour’s ‘Black Strat’)
- Comfortably Numb- Pink Floyd (Kenny Wayne Shepherd w/ David Gilmour’s ‘Black Strat’)
- Love Reign Over Me- The Who (Ann Wilson)
- Barracuda- Heart (Ann Wilson)
- Take it on the Run- REO Speedwagon (Kevin Cronin)
- Keep On Loving You- REO Speedwagon (Kevin Cronin)
- Riding the Storm Out- REO Speedwagon (Kevin Cronin)
- Roll With the Changes- REO Speedwagon (Kevin Cronin)
- Hard Driven Man- J. Geils Band (Peter Wolf)
- Just Can’t Wait- J. Geils Band (Peter Wolf)
- Centerfold- J. Geils Band (Peter Wolf)
- Love Stinks- J. Geils Band (Peter Wolf)
- Lookin’ for Love- The Valentinos (Peter Wolf)
- Sharp Dressed Man- ZZ Top (Billy Gibbons)
- La Grange- ZZ Top (Billy Gibbons)
- Going Down- Freddie King (Billy Gibbons)