Pictures at bottom...
This one's lengthy, but it's a great story!
I took my daughter to her first concert for her 10th birthday last September. It was the Goo Goo Dolls with Sugar Ray. We were on the front row, and got to talk with a lot of the other fans while they were tearing down the Sugar Ray stage and setting up for the Goo Goo Dolls. Sjaan (my daughter) made a few friends during that intermission, and a lot of people thought it was cool that she got to see her favorite band for her birthday.
When they took the stage she picked up on the fact that she needed to get as close to the gate as possible, and it was really high for her, but she was up there with everyone else dancing and singing along. A few minutes into the show John noticed this little kid on the front row, and he pointed to her and said, "Are you alright?". She thought that was the greatest thing in the world.
A little while later John focused in on her again, and these two girls near her just started jumping up & down and screaming, "IT'S HER BIRTHDAY!". He came to the edge of the stage in front of her and asked, "It's your birthday?", and she nodded her head. He asked her how old she was, and she held up all ten fingers. John said, "Well, Happy Birthday". Thousands of people just went crazy screaming and cheering.
He said a few other things to her: he asked her where her parents were, and cut up with her and the two girls for a minute. (He told her she had cool parents!) When they started to play again, she turned around and looked at me with her hand over her mouth, and then she said to me, "Mom, none of my friends are ever gonna believe me". Those of you who have children will understand the importance for me when I say that at that moment I saw a look on my child's face that I have never before seen in ten years.
After they did their finale, they all scattered off the stage and the lights came all the way up, then John came back on the stage. I was actually sitting down a few feet behind Sjaan when I saw a rush of people just all around her. I couldn't see her anymore, so I got up to find out what was happening up there.
John was kneeled down at the edge of the stage reaching out to Sjaan, trying to give her something. Because there was a four foot pit and she was the shortest person on the other side of it, a lot of other people had a hold of it. John pulled it back and Sjaan tells me he said, "No, give it to the little girl". He finally handed it to the Security Guard in the pit who handed it over to Sjaan. It was the guitar that he played the last song with autographs from all the guys and Happy B-Day written on it! Well, she was immediately mobbed by people who wanted to touch it or play it or buy it or whatever. The guy behind us offered us a LOT of money on the spot for it. Sjaan said, "Are you crazy, I'm not even gonna sell this to the hard rock cafe'".
As we walked out a hundred people who had never laid eyes on Sjaan before were inclined to wish her a happy birthday. She carried that heavy guitar around for an hour while we talked to people and let them touch it or strum it, and she fell asleep with it next to her that night. She made some friends that night that we're still in contact with, and a lot of people have commented on the monetary value of that Fender Strat., but it's worth more to Sjaan than any amount of money. The thing about it all for her is that she absolutely loves the Goo Goo Dolls, and they gave it back to her - they sort of said "thanks, we like you too".
Before that night I didn't know a lot about the Goo Goo Dolls. I remembered that they were banned from a radio station in Charleston, SC sometime around 1992 for failing to show up for a performance without even a phone call-twice! Since September I've become an expert on the band. I watched every program and read every article on them. I know now that 1992 were some dark times for them, and I can see them not showing up for those shows in Charleston. They've come a long way, and they've had to fight like hell to get where they are - and they're still fighting.
As a mom, I couldn't give a shit less what kind of people they are after what they did for my kid, but for the hard core fans in here I'd like for you to consider this: They're not just a bunch of cute guys who make good music, and they haven't used their fame as a reason to grow arrogant and selfish. What I found out about these guys is that they're giving a lot to the kinds of organizations that are gonna make a difference: Children's charities, non-violence campaigns, homeless charities. They're giving it back. That's what puts them a step above the cute guy bands who put out good music. These guys are in it to do what they want to do, and they appreciate their fans - just ask Sjaan.
I've been told by people who have been in and around the music scene for years and years that they've never seen a band do anything like that before, though, so I wouldn't expect them to start handing out guitars at the shows! Sjaan tells people that she's the luckiest girl in the world, and she believes it.
Before that show her Dad called them the "Poo Poo Dolls" and the "Goo Goo Fairies", but all that stopped in September. I've finally signed her up for those guitar lessons that she's wanted for a year, and she's got a new motivation to succeed. We didn't meet the band, or talk to them personally, but she thanks them every day by staying devoted. For the record: Sjaan is an honor roll student, she's in the gifted program at school, she won a trip to the Hard Rock Cafe' in Atlanta last year for being second in her grade in the Accellerated Reading Program, she's a Junior Deputy, she wakes up for school every morning on her own and watches the NEWS while she eats her breakfast (then wakes me up at seven!), she does her homework and her chores every day, she honestly has a heart of gold, and she is the biggest Goo Goo Dolls fan.
Sjaan loves to tell this story, and I love to hear her tell it. She hasn't gotten any local attention, and I don't really think I want any. I think it's a great story, and since everyone who is reading this is a fan of the band, I'm sure you all can appreciate it even more than a stranger on the Marta rail! I've got some great photos on disk, but I'm not sure how to get them to this page - maybe I'll try later. For now, I just wanted an audience to convey the coolest night of my kid's life!
John at the show
Sjaan playing her guitar
Closeup of the guitar
One happy ten year old!