By Tracy Dietlin
It’s no secret that Jimi Fitz wears many hats in the entertainment business, but on Saturday, December 10 at The McCallum Theatre this multi-talented man will be performing front and center as the “Star in the Spotlight.” He will be surrounded by several close friends/musicians who will also be performing to bring us a fabulous CV Christmas concert including Barry Minniefield, brightener, Frank Di Salvo, Jimmy Palmer, John Carey, John Stanley King, Kaitlyn Farley, Kal David, Lauri Bono, Penny Unniversity, Ronnie King, Sergio Villegas, Steve Madaio and Will Donato.
This past September Fitz was chosen as one of CV Weekly’s Top 12 Men of 2016. This week I had the opportunity to interview this warm hearted and all around awesome individual and go a little more in depth than we were able to in his profile for the Men’s Issue.
CVW: You have performed alongside of many musicians at the McCallum but for this event you will be the “Star in the Spotlight.” Are you excited to be front and center for this?
Jimi Fitz: “Since I have been on the McCallum stage hundreds of times presenting world class talent of course I am humbled and honored to be center stage for the first time as a performer with my own show surrounded by some of the valley’s premiere artists who call the valley home.”
CVW: What can people expect from this show?
Jimi Fitz: “My love of music and what I present to the valley each and every morning “THE PERFECT BLEND”. This night’s unique blend will be ROCK, POP, BLUES, JAZZ, LATIN and Christmas favorites.”
CVW: You’ve had a long relationship with the McCallum. Can you share a little about that?
Jimi Fitz: “I can share with you that The McCallum Theatre has been one of my most cherished partnerships. Our world class theatre has a staff of top professionals in this business who have been a pleasure to work with. As we enter our 18th year Wendy Jayne and I have made lifelong friendships and we hope to continue presenting memorable shows for years to come.”
CVW: Did you hand pick the other entertainers? And how did you choose?
Jimi Fitz: “Most featured artists for Dec 10 have been my friends for many, many years. I have either performed with them, them with me, recorded and written with or promoted. I’m a fan of all who are part of this night so I will most definitely be soaking in the music and enjoying seeing friends being showcased in this performing arts center environment with great sound and lights.”
CVW: Of all the hats you wear and have worn in this business including radio personality, recording artist, live performer, booker/promoter, producer, which do you enjoy the most?
Jimi Fitz: “It’s tough to name just one because I get a lot of pleasure and satisfaction from so many aspects of what I get to do. I Love them all. I’m so fortunate to be able to communicate positive messages and play great, multi genre music on the airways. I feel so alive when I’m writing new material and recording new music and collaborating with a great team including my talented wife WENDY JAYNE. There’s nothing like the adrenaline pump of a live performance. Promoting other talent is such an honor for me. There are so many nights of watching someone I’m promoting connect with an audience and thinking that I’m lucky just to be able to be in this business. As long as I’m involved in any way I’m happy.”
CVW: Tell us a little bit about your position at CV 104.3 and how that came about and plans for the station for the future?
Jimi Fitz: “We have so many plans for the future too numerous to cover here but I hope you’ll stay tuned and follow our growth. My position as Morning Personality is to wake up our valley with a unique blend of music, some lighthearted fun, interviews, news and anything else I can cram into a 4 hour radio show that I think is relevant to the day. I create the show as I go along having a blast doing it. The rest of the day includes smooth favorites and of course we are so happy to have Patrick Evans as our afternoon personality 2PM-6PM. He sounds great and gives lots of interesting info on your favorite smooth hits including his popular feature FRANK at 4!”
CVW: You also came up with the brilliant idea to bring a skating rink to The River. How did that come about?
Jimi Fitz: “As a New Yorker I have always loved Rockefeller Center especially the joy that’s spread by bringing so many people together for the holidays. Last year while doing the tree lighting at The River along with our holiday show with Santa, Mrs. Claus, music, etc. the thought came to me that the only thing missing is an Ice Rink that would create our own Rockefeller Center right here in the center of the valley. When it was presented to the owners they were as excited about the idea as I was. We got right to work and with a great team effort here we are open for the holidays. I hope everyone will come and enjoy so that this becomes an evergreen for the community!”
CVW: And you also did a music series at The River earlier this year. Will that be returning in Spring? And if so what can we expect?
Jimi Fitz: “Yes we are going to do 6 shows this year between January and April and have 4 of them booked. I’m trying to mix it up with different flavors and musical neighborhoods.”
CVW: I know you support several charities but which one is your priority and why?
Jimi Fitz: “I don’t prioritize. When it comes to charities they all do amazing work and I try to help as many as I can in many different ways.”
CVW: Who do you most admire in the business and why?
Jimi Fitz: “There’s another tough question. I admire anyone who puts themselves out there in any capacity in the business with honest intentions and a great work ethic. I also admire executives who are willing to step out of the box and take chances. I know many in the business and those are the special individuals who make this business so great!”
CVW: You had a couple videos on MTV back in the day when they actually played them. Can you tell us a little about that time in your career?
Jimi Fitz: “It was such an exciting time for me. My first video was “NO GOOD FOR YOU”. The late TOMMY WOLK (T-BONE), CHRIS PARKER (STUFF) and Pete Cummings recorded this with me. It was one of the first music videos to be played in regular rotation on MTV. That led to a record deal and international distribution and a Hit Record in Italy with my song “AUDIO/VIDEO”. The video to “AUDIO/VIDEO” was played in regular rotation on MTV in the U.S. and became a music video hit in Italy with viewers of DEEJAY TELEVISIONE (CANALE 5) becoming their channel’s theme song video.
I was playing all of the clubs in New York City at The time with my band “FITZ and THE NEW YORK BAND” and touring up and down the East Coast. It was a very exciting time in my career.”
CVW: Who have you most enjoyed performing with?
Jimi Fitz: “I’ve had many memorable nights on stage at some amazing venues. Some of the ones that stick out the most are country music nights even though I’ve played many great rock venues in several cities. One, when I got to sing with my long time friend WILLIAM LEE GOLDEN (OAK RIDGE BOYS) his sons Rusty and Chris, THE GOLDENS in the historic pay per view “THIS COUNTRY’S ROCKIN” at THE PONTIAC SILVERDOME.
And the other being the grand finale of THE GRAND OLE OPRY On Tour at THE CAPITAL CENTRE LANDOVER MD (D.C.) singing with ROY ACUFF , MINNIE PEARL, GRANDPA JONES, BILL MONROE, THE GATLIN BROTHERS, DOTTIE WEST, SKEETER DAVIS and many more. To be on the same stage with all of those country legends was very inspiring.
Sharing bills with Johnny Cash as a performer, producer and promoter rank way up there on my Memorable scale.”
CVW: You also do the Lexus Jazz event. When is that held?
Jimi Fitz: “The first weekend in May. This will be the 4th year at THE INDIAN WELLS TENNIS GARDEN and we hope to announce the lineup and a couple of surprises soon!”
CVW: Unfortunately I had to miss the event during Desert Trip where you brought Lisa Fisher here who used to be the long time backup singer for The Rolling Stones. How did that come about?
Jimi Fitz: “I’ve been a fan of The Rolling Stones forever and have seen Lisa with them several times since 1990. A couple of years ago she started doing her own concerts with a new band and I wanted to be a part of it. Lisa opened for TOWER OF POWER last year at The Tennis Garden and blew everyone away. We had her back at The McCallum Theatre earlier this year and the same thing. People were in awe of her. Long story short I wanted to take advantage of Lisa being in the desert for those Desert Trip weekends and reached out to see if she would be willing to perform her own concert the night before the Stones appearance the 2nd weekend. She ended up not performing at Desert trip because of previous commitments. Her replacement in the Stones, Sasha Allen came to her concert at The Renaissance IW that night along with Keith Richards, Patti Hansen, Charlie Watts, Daryl Jones and Tim Reis. Lisa and Sasha did an impromptu version of “WILD HORSES” that brought down the house. That was the handing off of the baton from Lisa after being with the Stones 27 years to Sasha. It was a magical music history moment.”
CVW: You’ve had such longevity in the business in so many facets. What advice would you offer to young performers trying to make it?
Jimi Fitz: “First and foremost hard work and sacrifice. Keep doing it and be true to who you are as an individual. Own your own character and personality. Good intentions reap huge rewards. Listen to your inner voice and realize you will skin your knees along the way but the magic moments that happen allow you to feel truly alive.”
CVW: You’ve had a long career in show business. What has been your most precious moment?
Jimi Fitz: “I don’t think I can name just one; probably the latest one and the next one that will come. I hope to have many precious memories the night of Dec 10 at The McCallum Theatre!!”
This performance of jimi FITZ and Friends and “A CV Christmas” on Saturday, December 10, is sponsored by Desert Lexus, General Air Conditioning and Plumbing, CBS Local TV 2, CV 104.3FM.
The show starts at 8pm. Ticket prices for this performance are $67, $47, $37 and $27. Tickets are available at the Theatre’s website at www.mccallumtheatre.com or by calling the McCallum Theatre Box Office at (760) 340-ARTS. The McCallum Theatre, located at 73000 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert CA 92260, accepts payment by cash, personal check, VISA, MasterCard, Discover and American Express.