The Bangles Help Keep The Light Alive For Lou Gehrig's Disease Sufferers

Monday, November 23, 2009

Eric Lowen and Dan Navarro are one of the most beloved songwriting teams in music history, their hits include pop-rock standards such as "We Belong," "Keep The Light Alive," "If You Loved Me Like That," "You Stay On My Mind," and many more.

Then sadly, Eric Lowen was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease.) According to the Keep The Light Alive website, ALS is a "neurodegenerative disease that usually attacks both upper and lower motor neurons and causes degeneration throughout the brain and spinal cord. First discovered in the mid 1800s and they still have no idea where it comes from or are anywhere near a cure. It is estimated that as many as 30,000 Americans have the disease at any given time."

That is not even counting the many people worldwide who also suffer from the illness.

The music community immediately rushed to support Lowen by collaborating on an album of classic Lowen & Navarro tunes to raise money for research and proactive ways to fight this disease. Many artists came forward to offer their services, but only those who who made it clear they wanted to be a part of celebrating Eric Lowen's contributions as a singer, songwriter, and performer were chosen, and who could dedicate time and talent in equal measures to the project, including active promotion.

Artists who were chosen include The Bangles, Jackson Browne, John Ondrasik, Keb' Mo', Severin Browne, Joel Rafael, Andy Chase, The Refugees, Freebo, Eddie From Ohio, Phil Parlapiano, Charlie Wadhams, and Stonehoney.

Susanna Hoffs, Vicki Peterson, and Debbi Peterson are the main driving force behind The Bangles, with former bassist Michael Steele having left the band in 2004. Lending their celebrated and harmonic voices and formidable instrumental talent, the trio performed a cover of the Lowen & Navarro anthem "We Belong", which was also a huge hit for Pat Benatar in the 80s. Joining Hoffs (rhythm guitar), Vicki (lead guitar, keyboards) and Debbi (drums) are fellow musicians Abby Travis on bass and John Cowsill (husband of Vicki Peterson and brother of Susan Cowsill) playing the congas.

Hoffs, in particular, has known Eric Lowen and Dan Navarro since 1985, when Eric began dating her best friend Mary. She even remembers a night at Mary’s apartment when Lowen and Navarro had the spark of inspiration to form an acoustic duo.

Hoffs reminisces fondly: "We all fell in love with the blend of their distinct voices, Eric's angelic purity and Dan's resonant soulfulness. They wrote and performed song after beautiful song [and we] recorded a few of them - 'I'll Set You Free,''Something To Believe In,' and 'Everything I Wanted,' all co-written with Eric and Dan. Here [on the album] we offer our version of the lovely, fervent song 'We Belong' as a thankyou to Lowen and Navarro for so many years of heartfelt and gratifying music."

Three specific organisations that this project will directly benefit include Augie's Quest in honour of fitness entrepreneur Augustine "Augie" Nieto, who together with his wife Lynne are champions in the fight against ALS since Augie's diagnosis in 2005. The second organisation is the ALS Association Greater Los Angeles Chapter which aims to to lead the fight to cure and treat ALS through global, cutting edge research, and to empower people with Lou Gehrig's Disease and their families to live fuller lives by providing them with compassionate care and support. Then there is The Eric Lowen Trust which was created to offset the enormous costs of fighting his illness and helps support his family, which includes his wife and their five children.

As for The Bangles, they have some fascinating new projects in the works, according to Gracie, the esteemed webmistress of The Bangles Official Website and Return Post Forum, who also acts as an official liaison between the band and their fans.

Debbi Peterson will be collaborating with British singer-songwriter John Wicks by drumming on his new album with his band The Records. Fans are being invited to check out this project at Wick's website and even offer their input.

Vicki Peterson has saucily hinted at some big new project, which she refuses to elaborate on. Gracie hilariously states: "Last but not least (although certainly the most exciting/frustrating) is the news from Vicki that "there is something biggish on the horizon..." But despite Yours Truly's very best efforts to get the rest of the story out of her (bribing, begging, bawling...) she won't give one more peep on the subject! So, I guess we'll all just have to wait to hear what's up... in the meantime, maybe a few (hundred) emails to her inbox demanding the details will turn the tide in our favor? You never know."


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