Big People at Bottineau

Check out this amazing, never-before-seen footage of Big People kicking ass at the Rockin’ the Hills festival at the Wild Rose Amphitheater in Bottineau, North Dakota! The band took the stage on Saturday, July 1, at 2:15 pm.

Ben’s health was declining and he was losing weight rapidly, but his attitude was strong and he was still jamming like a true rocker! In fact, the whole band was playing with energy and passion.

This footage was generously given to me by the band’s tour manager, Joe Dlearo, and is shared here with permission. There is more to come as we approach the 22nd anniversary of this incredible bit of Big People history, so please stay tuned.

 

UPDATE JUNE 26, 2022: This footage is truly awe-inspiring! Ben is doing what he loved to do, and he’s thrown his whole heart into it. And his bandmates are pure gold, rockin’ right along with him!

SO much talent on this stage! Laurie commented on YouTube: “All I know is I want a hype man like Derek by my side when I’m fighting the good fight! These guys loved and looked up to Benjamin just like we do, only they got to know him and hold him up when he needed them most.” Beautifully said!

In other words:

“We were just beginning to explore new ideas as far as writing together, and unfortunately we never had the opportunity, because within the year Ben was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. We lost him October of 2000… What a talent. As Liberty always said, he’s the rock star of the band, but he was natural. He didn’t try; he didn’t have to try. He had a voice that was just unbelievable, and he’d just step up to a microphone and just have this glow about him, you know what I’m saying? It was just magical.” — Jeff Carlisi, guitarist for 38 Special and Ben’s Big People bandmate; interview with Craig Garber and Everyone Loves Guitar, November 26, 2020 (at about 12:47)

In other words:

“So, first day, I remember Ben coming to my house. Somebody picked him up at the airport, and I opened the door and there’s Benjamin Orr in all his glory and his … whatever… and I said, ‘God,’ I said, ‘you’re Ben Orr!’ and he goes, ‘So I’ve been told, pardner.’ He was a character (laughing).” — Jeff Carlisi, guitarist for 38 Special and Ben’s Big People bandmate; interview with Craig Garber and Everyone Loves Guitar, November 26, 2020 (at about 8:44)

In other words:

“[Ben] was not [an introvert]… I like to think more of Ben as, he spoke when he had something to say, which sometimes comes off as being shy or aloof… I’m not so sure, and I guess technically you could say that somebody can walk onstage and perform like he did and still be an introvert; maybe that’s their release. But I saw when Ben was sick, and we were touring and he was battling his cancer, and he would spend time talking to people who had either battled cancer themselves, were just curious, were going through some other trauma in their life, and Ben would take enormous amounts of time being very candid with these folks and talking to them. That’s not an introvert. An introvert runs and hides…

“He was a bit of a quiet person [but] he was very forthcoming with people, loved the human contact… The only thing that would maybe have given you the impression that he was an introvert was that he wasn’t a man of many words, but when he said something it meant something.” — Jeff Carlisi, guitarist for 38 Special and Ben’s Big People bandmate; interview on Madame Perry’s Salon, January 27, 2020 (at about 8:20)

In other words:

“We were all obviously devastated for Ben, but we learned a lot of lessons that last summer. He’d already been diagnosed, and check this out. The doctor says you got three or four months, and we’re not knowing what to say, let alone how to ask the question, and finally it’s kind of like, ‘well…’ Before we could say anything, Ben said, ‘Well, start booking as many gigs as possible. I’m going out the way I came in, doing what I love.’ And it was so inspirational.” — Jeff Carlisi, guitarist for 38 Special and Ben’s Big People bandmate; interview with Craig Garber and Everyone Loves Guitar, November 26, 2020 (at about 14:10)

In other words:

from liberty shediac show
Derek St. Holmes, Liberty DeVitto, and Benjamin Orr. July, 1999, at Rockfest 99 in New Brunswick, Canada. Photo courtesy of Liberty DeVitto; shared with permission.

“I can remember one time, Ben, Derek, and I going into a dive blues club in Atlanta and the band asked us if we wanted to sit in. When we asked Ben if he wanted to do it he just said, ‘I’m a bass player, not just that guy in The Cars!’ So, we went up there and played and Ben was fantastic!” — Liberty DeVitto, drummer with Big People, Let’s Go! Benjamin Orr and The Cars by Joe Milliken

 

Side note:

When I asked Liberty if there was a special story as to why Ben was getting ready to lick him, Liberty replied, “He loved me!!” LOL

In other words:

“I will tell you that he was such a champ, and he’s forever my hero because he always got up on that stage, and he was feeling really bad… Everybody helped to make sure that Ben was comfortable and had what he needed. It was an awful, stressful time. And it was a very sad time. And yet, personally, that was the most loving relationship I ever had —  and not just between me and Ben, but between Ben and I and those wonderful guys and their wonderful wives. You just felt the charge of love in my house… 

Julie Snider and Ben Orr on the Appalachian Trail, circa 2000. Photo courtesy of Julie Snider.

“Once Ben was sick, everybody knew the time was short so nobody wanted to miss a moment, and we didn’t. One year… it felt like a lifetime. I didn’t need to really know more about Ben than I did because the time was so precious and condensed, and… he was just a great man… an unbelievably talented, wonderful man.”

— Julie Snider, Benjamin’s fiancée, Benjamin Orr’s Friends and Family Tribute Compilation, recorded September 19, 2020

Big People in Rehearsal!

hat from jeffYesterday I published a video of Big People rehearsing “Bye Bye Love” at Crossover Studios in Atlanta, Georgia. Recorded in 1999, the footage was captured by Derek St. Holmes’ late wife, Rhonda, and includes a peek at Derek’s four beautiful kiddos.

In spite of it being a bit blurry, you can really see the genuine affection that these guys felt for each other. Their goofy smiles, side glances, and mugging for the camera reflect the completely relaxed atmosphere and their confidence as friends and band mates. Then there’s the music — the music! Even in practice, these guys are killing it!

And again I am struck by the colossal amount of talent stuffed into that room; all five musicians were (and are) absolute powerhouse performers, as we know. To see them jam like this is glorious!

  • I love Derek’s jaunty vibe as he be-bops a bit and shoots grins at his children. He looks to be on top of the world.
  • Ben seems completely content, too. Though he must be playing this song for the upteenth million time, he’s clearly enjoying himself, the way he smiles at Derek and watches Pat play the keyboard solo.
  • Pat, with his rock-and-roll hair! He covers both the guitar and keys with style.
  • It’s funny to have Liberty and Jeff in the same camera frame: Liberty is crackling with energy and humor while Jeff is placid and smiling shyly as he nails those lead solos.
  • And at the end? How cute is it that they imitate the lead-in to “Moving In Stereo?” That just cracks me up.

I’ve watched it over and over and over. I love it!

I  received this treasure from Jeff Carlisi. He had told me back in February that he had found some stuff to send me, but then the pandemic hit and everyone was laying low for a while. He mailed me a package at the end of the summer. I was excited to share it as part of my October #CelebratingBenjaminOrr tribute weekend, but nope. According to the tracking, the package got within seven hours of me, but the post office listed it as ‘in transit’ for days and days after that (and it’s never surfaced). I was so bummed!

But once again Jeff displayed his generosity to me: in the middle of his hectic schedule he offered to burn another DVD for me — and this time he sent is via UPS. Though it arrived too late for my original plan, I was so stoked to finally have it in my hands! And he sent me an original Big People hat (pictured above)!  How can I ever say ‘thank you’ enough to Jeff? He’s just the BEST.

So anyway, here’s the video I posted on my channel. I hope you love it as much as I do. More coming soon, I promise! ❤


Since this original post, I’ve also uploaded footage of Big People performing “Stranglehold.” Wowza!

For those diehards like me, I’ve also uploaded the full file of the rehearsal footage as it was given to me by Jeff Carlisi. So many fun bits to focus in on! You can watch it here:

In other words:

ben and liberty
Liberty and Ben, July, 1999

“A man’s man, Ben smoked Marlboro cigarettes, drank alcohol, drove a four-wheel-drive SUV, and chopped wood at his house in the mountains of Vermont. But when he went on stage in his black leather pants, brightly colored shirt, long black trench coat, and black cowboy boots, he drove the ladies wild. I’d look out into the crowd when we played ‘Drive’ and watch all the women smile at Ben, hanging on to every word he was singing.” — Liberty DeVitto, 2020, Liberty: Life, Billy, and the Pursuit of Happiness

Limited Edition Big People Shirts!

Attention Big People fans:

Limited-edition 20th anniversary Big People shirts are now available!

First, please join me in offering a tremendous ‘thank you’ to Jeff Carlisi for allowing us to recreate the logos and put them back in action, and to Kurt Gaber for designing the shirts in his spare time. I am so grateful to them both! My gratitude to Facebook member Hugh Futch, who shared photos of his original Big People t-shirt purchased in 1999, which gave us the template to build on.

Please be aware that no one is profiting from the sale of these shirts. The price reflects the cost of having them printed and mailed.

Please read this ENTIRE post for details on how to get yours!

The cost is $15.00 for short-sleeved shirts and $20.00 for long-sleeved shirts. Sweatshirts are $24.00 and hoodies are $34.00. The design on the fronts and backs of all the shirts is the same; the only variation is the size and placement of the logo on the front.

The gray shirts are sold in standard sizes from Men’s SMALL to XL in both short and long sleeves. The white shirts are Women’s V-NECK shirts and are sized from SMALL to XL in short and long sleeves as well. Next to the photo of each shirt mock-up you will find sizing charts. I cannot be responsible for sizing issues.

If you prefer XXL and XXXL sizes please add $1.00 and $1.50 (respectively) for short sleeves, and $2.00 and $2.50 (respectively) for long sleeves (see the first sizing chart in the comments). If you need a larger size, please expect $1.50 for each additional step up.

SHIPPING charges in the continental US are $5.00 for the first shirt and $3.00 for each additional shirt. It is more expensive to ship the sweatshirts and hoodies, so I will calculate an accurate shipping quote depending on your zip code. Orders shipped outside of the continental United States will be charged international shipping rates so postage will be calculated individually. All packages will ship via the post office.

You can pay through Paypal using the ID rememberingbigpeople@yahoo.com. If this is an issue let me know and we can try to work out another method.

ORDER DEADLINE IS JULY 3, 2020. The items will take 2-3 weeks to print and then will be shipped out. I’ll let you know via email when they are on their way.

HOW TO ORDER:

Send an email directly to me, Donna, at rememberingbigpeople@yahoo.com. I will only process orders I receive EMAILS for! Include ALL of the following information: your name, your mailing address, the style you want, the sleeve length, and the size you need. I will confirm via email that I got your order and finalize the total amount.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Please contact me with any questions, and feel free to share this post in its entirety. Rock on!

Free Big People Sticker!

~ 🥰 Hi friends! I have some Big People “All Access” stickers to give away! 🥰 ~

In honor of the 20th anniversary of Big People’s heyday, I’ve got plans for a few special items to share with fans. This sticker is the first!

These were made using the image of the actual 1999 Big People all-access backstage passes, given to me by Jeff Carlisi. He’s the best! If you’d like one, all you have to do is send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to me and it’ll be on its way! It is about the size of a playing card, so a small envelope works just fine. One sticker per person, please; quantities are limited.

stickers cropped

My mailing address:

sweetpurplejune

P.O. Box 925

Priest River ID 83856

 

I hope you are all staying safe and healthy!