A Way to Help Someone With ALS That Doesn’t Involve Getting Soaked

Richie Kotzen

Richie Kotzen, one of the artists performing at GAMH to benefit Jason Becker

If your Facebook feed is clogged with people dumping ice water over their heads but you still don’t know exactly what ALS stands for, much less what the disease does, you’re not alone. More than one user on Twitter has taken a cursory glance at a Wikipedia page for the disease and glibly characterized the acronym as “A Long Story.”

But Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, more commonly known as Lou Gherig’s disease, is no joke, taking a hugely degenerative toll on the body. In the Bay Area music community, virtuoso guitarist Jason Becker has been living with ALS since 1989. In 1997, he was given six months to live, but as the dry title of a recent documentary on the pioneering speed-metal musician says, he’s not dead yet.

Among all this ice-dumping of late, Becker got a huge celebrity endorsement from John Mayer, who not only dedicated his own viral soaking to Becker but opened his viral video by playing “Air,” a Becker composition, on guitar. This week, the third-annual ‘Jason Becker’s Not Dead Yet’ benefit raises funds for Becker’s medical costs, and features the above-pictured Richie Kotzen (Poison, Mr. Big), Michael Lee Firkins, SpiralArms and Ben Woods. The night offers a chance to see some incredible guitar playing and help out a Bay Area musician… but for the love of the club’s soundmen and janitors, don’t bring a bucket of ice water.

Author

Gabe Meline

Gabe Meline is KQED Arts' Music Editor & Curator. He lives with his wife, his daughter, a 1964 Volvo and too many records in his hometown of Santa Rosa, CA. Find him on Twitter at @gmeline.

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