Elginite drumming as part of Letterman’s Elvis Week
By Mike Danahey firstname.lastname@example.org February 4, 2013 3:50PM
Johnny Perrin of Elgin will be playing drums Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday with Lance Lipinsky and the Lovers on "Late Night with David Letterman"
Updated: March 6, 2013 6:19AM
ELGIN — Johnny Perrin is all shook up — in a good way.
The 20-year-old Elgin musician is in New York this week as a member of the band Lance Lipinsky and the Lovers, playing on “Late Night with David Letterman.” They were scheduled to play Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday to back up singers performing Elvis Presley songs.
“It’s been a weird 24 hours,” Perrin said early Monday afternoon on a phone call just before heading over to the Ed Sullivan Theater for rehearsal.
Part of that was due to flying Sunday night on the anniversary of the plane crash that took the lives of Buddy Holly, Richie Valens, and the Big Bopper — and hoping not to see “That’ll Be The Day,” or “American Pie” listed among the in-flight song selections. Perrin said.
After arriving in New York around midnight local time, the band had to be at the theater at 4 a.m. Monday for a load-in of equipment that took about two hours. An afternoon rehearsal segued into the show’s early evening taping.
Perrin explained that Lovers’ leader Lance Lipinsky has been playing Jerry Lee Lewis in the long-running Chicago production of “Million Dollar Quartet,” the biographical musical about the night Lewis, Elvis, Johnny Cash, and Carl Perkins recorded the Sun Sessions for Sam Phillips.
Lipinsky got wind of Letterman wanting a backup band for Elvis singers and sent in a press kit and demo to suit the bill. He learned a week ago that the group had been picked for three nights of the show.
Lipinsky plays piano and had wanted Perrin to play guitar instead of drums in the rockabilly band, but found Wyatt Marshall to handle those duties, with Zach Lentino, who will be turning 20 while in New York, playing bass. The band also features backup singers Darcy Wood and Jessica Lyons.
According to a press release for Letterman’s show, Can’t Help Falling in Love with Elvis Week will feature five “Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artists” chosen by Elvis Presley Enterprises: Cody Ray Slaughter, 20, who is in the touring production of “Million Dollar Quartet,” and the youngest person ever to be named an “Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist”; Brandon Bennett, who stars in the Chicago cast of the “Million Dollar Quartet” and who also starred in the hit Canadian show “The Elvis Story”; Justin Shandor, who portrays Elvis in the touring show “Rock ‘n Roll Legends”; Ben Portsmouth, who stars in the European “Tribute to Elvis” tour; and Canadian Shawn Klush.
Elvis was born Jan. 8, 1935, and first appeared at what is now the Ed Sullivan Theater — where Sullivan presented his Sunday evening variety show — Sept. 9, 1956.
Like Elvis, Perrin got his first guitar at the age of 10. But Perrin now prefers drumming. He had performed with Chicago area favorites the Love Shots and still plays with his family-based band, The Lennys.
Perrin still lives with his parents in the Century Oaks West subdivision and quit Larkin High School to pursue a career in music. “I got flack from a lot of people who care about me about that,” Perrin said.
Now, though, he is forming with two other bands in the Chicago area, while working a day job at a theatrical lighting company and hoping that something comes from the television appearances and his biggest opportunity so far.