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Mike McCready of Pearl Jam formed the superband playing at Peak to Sky in Big Sky, Montana on July 6. PHOTO BY KAREN LORIA

Peak to Sky brings legendary talent to community

By Michael Somerby EBS DIGITAL EDITOR

BIG SKY – When Paige Rasmussen of Bozeman-based Paige and The People’s Band spoke to Explore Big Sky about the upcoming Peak to Sky concert for the May 24 edition of EBS, the powerhouse lead singer of the popular funk, soul and rock-fusion band made a point about the significance of the event: “[It] feels like being a part of rock history,” she said.

Rasmussen is no stranger to the big stage; at just 17 years old, she played at the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics, and would go on to share stages with rock and roll legends the likes of John Hiatt, Willie Nelson, The Doobie Brothers, Lyle Lovett, Pat Benatar and Kenny Loggins, among others.

“When I was 17, I played at the Salt Lake City Olympics,” said Rasmussen, who also opened for B.B. King in Bozeman in 2005.

Each member of the superband formed by Pearl Jam’s lead guitarist Mike McCready is distinguished—for starters, four of the five musicians are officially Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees. And when considering their collective careers, they’ve jointly played for hundreds of millions of fans.

Yet it’s their synthesis of musical backgrounds, storied band allegiances and individual accolades that confirms Rasmussen’s conjecture: On July 6, in Big Sky, Montana, rock and roll history will be made and in front of 4,500 fans fortunate to bare witness to the near-cosmic assembly.

Here are some brief synopses of the artists who will follow Rasmussen and her band onto the Big Sky Events Arena stage:

Mike McCready

Seattle native Mike McCready picked up a guitar in 1977 at the age of 11; the rest, as they say, is history. He began playing in a series of bands, such as Temple of the Dog, which included Soundgarden’s Chris Cornell, a legend in his own right, as well as Pearl Jam’s Jeff Ament, Matt Cameron, Stone Gossard and Eddie Vedder, bassist, drummer, rhythm guitarist and lead singer, respectively. The men would go on to form Pearl Jam in 1990. Among the pinnacle “grunge” bands of the 1990s, a media term given to the musical movement by members of the press, Grammy-winning Pearl Jam had sold more than 85 million albums worldwide as of 2018, and is considered among the most influential bands of the 90s. In 2017, McCready, along with the rest of the band, was inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in its first year of eligibility.

Chad Smith of Red Hot Chili Peppers, a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, will take the sticks on June 6 at the Peak to Sky concert. PHOTO LAURA GLASS

Chad Smith

Chad Smith is regarded as among the best rock ‘n’ roll drummers in history, despite having no formal education in his craft; Smith learned to play the skins at the age of 7, honing his skills in school bands. After playing in a series of groups in his native Michigan, Smith left for California, eventually auditioning for Red Hot Chili Peppers. The band was looking for a new drummer to record their fourth studio album, “Mother’s Milk.” Smith nailed his audition and has been a member of the band since 1988. Smith was inducted into the Roll Hall of Fame with fellow bandmates in 2012. Red Hot Chili Peppers has been nominated for 12 Grammys, winning three.

Duff McKagan, a fellow Hall of Famer, has played with several prominent rock ‘n’ roll bands, including Jane’s Addiction and Velvet Revolver, most notably Guns N’ Roses, and will play bass on June 6 for the Peak to Sky concert. PHOTO COURTESY OF BASS PLAYER MAGAZINE

Duff McKagan

Seattle native Duff McKagan has played in countless household-name bands, from Velvet Revolver to Jane’s Addiction, and is most famous for his role as bassist of Guns N’ Roses. While McKagan helmed that post, the band pocketed countless successes, such as the best-selling album of all time with the release of its 1987 debut album, “Appetite for Destruction,” which included perennially popular tracks “Welcome to the Jungle,” “Paradise City” and “Sweet Child O’ Mine.” When McKagan joined GNR, the band consisted of Axl Rose and Izzy Stradlin, and would soon add Slash and Steven Adler, forming one of the most star-studded ensembles in rock and roll history. In 2012, McKagan was inducted into the Hall of Fame with the rest of Guns N’ Roses.

Josh Klinghoffer

Josh Klinghoffer is the youngest-ever inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame at 32 years old, surpassing a record set by Stevie Wonder by a margin of six years. A kid from Santa Monica, California, Klinghoffer dropped out of school at 15 to focus his attentions on music. When he was 17, Klinghoffer joined The Bicycle Thief, a group that opened and toured for the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Klinghoffer would then write music with John Frusciante, a guitarist for the Chili Peppers, and eventually played with Grammy-winning soul duo Gnarls Barkley. In 2007, Klinghoffer joined the Red Hot Chili Peppers, where he remains a staple member of the band. In 2012, Klinghoffer was inducted into the Hall of Fame alongside Smith and other bandmembers.

Taylor Hawkins

Taylor Hawkins was voted “Best Rock Drummer” in 2005 by U.K. drumming magazine “Rhythm,” and currently is the drummer for Foo Fighters, one of the most commercially decorated rock ‘n’ roll groups of all time. The band boasts a whopping 27 Grammy nominations, winning 11, and an impressive pedigree that includes founding member Dave Grohl, who was previously drummer for grunge sensation Nirvana. Hailing from Laguna Beach, California, Hawkins drummed for the immensely popular Alanis Morissette for two years before being scooped up by Foo Fighters in 1997.

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