VACAVILLE — It is said that imitation is the greatest form of flattery. With Rolling Stones tribute band Rudy Colombini & The Unauthorized Rolling Stones, however, it is more about emulation, not imitation.
“We capture a bit of the essence of The Rolling Stones,” Colombini said. “This band is the real deal.”
Colombini is a singer-songwriter who had success with a single titled “Under the Impression,” released in 1999, and is the “Mick Jagger” of the group. “The band just happened naturally. I had a hit on national radio, everyone was happy, there was a lot of energy and then we released another one that didn’t make the top 40,” Colombini said. “The band was dropped from our label and we just kind of hung out for a while. I was asked to jam with some guys and I wasn’t thinking about songwriting or my own stuff and I kind of just slipped naturally into this bluesy vein. The Mick was always in me, it wasn’t like I had to work for it.”
Rudy Colombini & The Unauthorized Rolling Stones have, for 14 years now, shot for creating a realistic Rolling Stones experience for concertgoers that all starts with the music. The dynamic of the actual band begins with the “Glimmer Twins,” singer Mick Jagger and guitarist Keith Richards, who over their five-decade career have become rock ’n’ roll archetypes. After the original “Keith Richards” in The Unauthorized Rolling Stones, Ken Khristian, died in 2013, Colombini searched for a replacement.
“Kevin Russell was really apprehensive about joining the band because he is one of the most noted guitarists in the area and this is a tribute band,” Colombini said. “Plus, he’s a band leader and I’m a band leader so we had that whole dynamic, but we worked all that out and developed quite a working relationship. He is probably the linchpin that had me transform the band to what it is today.”
The musicians in The Unauthorized Rolling Stones have played with Huey Lewis and the News, Whitesnake, Rick Derringer, Sons of Champlin and other well-known artists. Colombini can afford to put together what he refers to as an all-star band because he is a self-described “eccentric millionaire.”
The singer owns a lot of San Francisco real estate and all his energy doesn’t go into his band – some goes into giving back, he said. “I am building a 501(c)(3) charity organization called Music City SF (www.musiccitysf.org), dedicated to the working musician. I hope to open it in about nine months. It is already the biggest community of musicians in the Bay Area,” Colombini said.
When completed, the Music City project will have a hotel, studios and house the San Francisco Music Hall of Fame, among other things.
Colombini got a new lease on life after a serious medical issue five years ago.
“On Nov. 17, 2009, I had an aneurysm. It’s the kind of event that if you don’t get to the hospital very quickly, you are not going to survive. Fortunately, I was there in less than 10 minutes,” Colombini said. “I stayed in the hospital for a month and it was life-changing. I actually died a couple of times. Believe it or not, 30 days after leaving the hospital, I was back on stage. I feel more comfortable on stage than I do in my home.”
While the Rudy Colombini & The Unauthorized Rolling Stones show is closer to the intimate Stone’s concert captured in Martin Scorsese’s 2008 documentary “Shine A Light” than the 1983 concert film “Let’s Spend the Night Together” that covered stadiums, they still try to add some of the original band’s dazzle.
“We have a great lighting system, gigantic strobes, LED flamethrowers that are rather spectacular and cannons that fire out confetti – we try to cover entertainment and not just the music,” Colombini said.
When it comes to music, staples like “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,” “Start Me Up” and other classics are sure to be in the set, but they also include songs like “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking,” “Monkey Man” and “Live With Me” that Colombini calls “tremendous art pieces.”
While the average age of the actual Rolling Stones is 68, the average age of The Unauthorized Rolling Stones is almost 20 years younger.
“We’re better looking,” Colombini said, in jest.
Reach Fairfield writer Tony Wade at firstname.lastname@example.org
Rudy Colombini & The Unauthorized Rolling Stones