PORTLAND — Dan Jackson wasn’t a friend of Bill Chinnock’s. He didn’t know him, and never met him.
But Jackson was a fan. He used to go to Chinnock’s concerts around Maine, and when Chinnock died three years ago, Jackson attended the funeral.
“I needed to pay my respects,” he said.
This coming Saturday, Jackson will pay his respects in a different way. An executive at a Portland firm, he has helped organize a concert at Empire Dine and Dance in Portland that pays tribute to Chinnock’s considerable musical legacy while raising money for the rocker’s surviving son, William, 11, who lives with his mom in Yarmouth.
“I lost my dad when I was 11,” Jackson said. “The years after that were just really difficult. I know what William might be going through, and I feel this is something I can do to help.”
Saturday’s rock ‘n’ roll party has many angles. The concert, which will feature many musical acts playing Chinnock’s music, is timed to coincide with the release of Chinnock’s remastered “Dime Store Heroes” CD. This is the 30th anniversary of the original release of the album, and Adam Ayan of Gateway Mastering worked on the disc to clean it up.
The disc also includes a handful of live tracks, recorded in 2003 at the Stone Pony in New Jersey, where Chinnock got his start and learned the rock ‘n’ roll way. In addition, there are a limited number of discs that also include a DVD documentary about Chinnock. Proceeds from the concert and sales of the CD benefit a trust fund in William’s name.
The CD will be available beginning Tuesday at Bull Moose Music stores. In another month or so, it will be available for download on iTunes and other sites.
Saturday’s show is the second that friends have organized in Chinnock’s honor. The first occurred in late March at the legendary Stone Pony nightclub in Asbury Park, N.J.
“It was just magical,” said Chinnock’s widow, Terry. “Everybody told stories and played Bill’s music. It could not have gone better. It was just amazing.”
Expect more of the same Saturday. Among the musicians who are scheduled to perform are Marion Grace, This Way, The Lucid, Sly Chi, the WBLM Band, the Bill Chinnock Touring Band and Vini “Mad Dog” Lopez, who was the original drummer in Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band.
Chinnock’s history is twined with Springsteen’s. They were both playing in Jersey at the same time, and shared many mutual musician friends. Lopez was one of Chinnock’s oldest buds.
“Bill was just an amazing songwriter,” Lopez said. “He was prolific. He had his own ideas, and he always had good songs. I don’t know how to describe what songwriters do, but Bill could always come up with them. But not out of the blue. He worked hard at it.”
For Jackson, part of the gratification of working on an event like this is educating people about Chinnock’s music — especially young people. These days, Portland is known for its vibrant music scene. Jackson, 44, believes there might not be a scene at all if not for Chinnock.
“He was the music scene before there was a music scene,” Jackson said. “Through his work, he established Portland as a great place to play. He worked it and he worked it and he worked it.”
Jackson remembers the first time he saw Chinnock perform live. It was sometime in the late ’70s. He knew Chinnock’s music and admired him as a songwriter. “I felt at the time, lyrically, he could not write a bad song,” Jackson said.
But he had never seen him perform. So he and his brother went to Old Orchard Beach for a show at a club, “and it felt like you were seeing someone in the Boston Garden with 18,000 people. He was fully there, and you were there with him. He was taking you someplace.”
Chinnock was a classic Jersey shore rocker, with lots of energy and a hard-driving style. It’s no coincidence that Springsteen followed him, at least to some degree. Chinnock played in bands that included future members of the E Street Band, including Lopez, keyboard player Danny Federici and bass player Gary Tallent.
Over the course of his career, Chinnock ended up with four major-label record deals, won an Emmy Award and toured nationally.
He moved to Maine for the first time in 1971, Terry Chinnock said.
“He was living in New York at the time, and he wanted to come up and work on his writing. He wanted to get away. He loved the outdoors. He loved to hunt and fish, and he absolutely loved Maine,” she said. “It’s a brutal business. He would come up here to relax and get away from it all.”
Chinnock lived here off and on the rest of his life.
He died in March 2007 at age 59 after contracting Lyme disease a decade earlier.
But his memory remains strong, and Saturday’s show will go a long way toward ensuring that his legacy lasts through future generations of musicians.
Chinnock’s son, William, has taken up music himself. He made his stage debut at his father’s tribute show in New Jersey last month, soloing on his dad’s guitar and later singing with his dad’s friends on “Something for Everybody.”
No doubt, there will be more of the same Saturday with glasses raised in honor of a fallen musical hero.
Staff Writer Bob Keyes can be contacted at 791-6457 or at: