The Rockets appear to be ready to blast off again.
Guitarist Jim McCarty and drummer Johnny “Bee” Badanjek — veterans of the Detroit Wheels and Detroit who founded the Rockets in the mid-’70s — may perform outside of Detroit using the band name, which has been dormant since the group broke up in 1983, after six albums. The rest of the lineup will include the other members of The Hell Drivers, who are currently playing Rockets music and other Detroit rock favorites with the McCarty and Badanjek.
“(The Rockets) is an important band, a legendary Detroit band,” says Michael Rand of the Southfield-based Popular Music agency, who’s currently handling the Rockets. He’s aggressively approaching promoters and “every major festival along the I-75 corridor from here to Florida” and says he’s already getting interest for bookings.
“Everybody wants it, and everybody’s interested in it,” Rand says. “At this point, we’re fielding offers. The idea is to put on the table as many different opportunities as we can and let the band decide.” Rand says he hopes to have some firm dates by the end of the month.
Badanjek says he and McCarty are “open” to playing as the Rockets again, though he says they will not use the name in the Detroit and are cautiously skeptical about how much interest there will be.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen,” notes the drummer, who also plays periodically with the Romantics. “It’s been so long. A lot of people don’t know the band or don’t know the tunes. But we had a real strong fan base so ... we’ll see what (Rand) comes up with.”
Renaissance Records reissued a pair of the Rockets albums, 1979’s “The Rockets” and 1980’s “No Ballads,” on one CD in 2009. The Rockets are scheduled to receive a Distinguished Achievement Award at the 19th Annual Detroit Music Awards on April 16 at the Fillmore Detroit.