KG: Fallen Blue is specifically an organization for Police Officers. Very specific, so why not champion Diabetes or Cancer? Is/was there a close family connection that prompted this superb cause?
JG: Fallen Blue is something that is very close to my heart, as I am currently a federal police officer and have been for the last 3 years. I lost a classmate off-duty to a motorcycle accident, and from that moment I wanted to see what we could do to help the families of these officers alleviate some of the financial burden. More often than not, an officer that is killed outside the line of duty is not entitled to line of duty death benefits, so that is where we can hopefully come in and help.
KG: Choosing to use music and musicians, especially of the Rock genre, is both ballsy and perhaps limiting. You must be a huge fan and really believe in these musicians.
JG: Besides family, faith, and friends, there are two things I love. I love being a cop and rock/metal music. So I figured, why not combine both things to make Fallen Blue successful in raising money and awareness for these police families. Plus, police officers are some of the biggest supporters of the hard rock and metal community. The musicians in the metal and rock community have been a tremendous asset to our cause. We have built a great working relationship with everyone from Megadeth, Shinedown, Egypt Central, Dokken, Twisted Sister, Rev Theory, Hinder, Testament, Halestorm, and Lizzy Borden. It’s great because they truly believe in the cause, with many having family and friends that have served in a police capacity. If we ever needed anything, there is no doubt in my mind that someone like Dave Mustaine, Don Dokken, Hinder’s Mark King, or Don Jamieson from That Metal Show, would do whatever they could to help us out.
We have also been fortunate enough to have the support from some up and coming bands that truly are amazing: Wildstreet, Iconic Tonic, Attackhead, Hollywood, and Catalano. Then there are radio stations, record labels, and management companies that fully support us. Iron City Rocks, Digital Radio Revolution, Chief Music Management, and Jamsync Music, to name a few.
KG: AJ Pero of Twisted Sister fame is your international spokesperson. How was that relationship born?
JG: AJ has been superb. Not only does he continue to rock with Twisted, but he totally gets what we are trying to do with Fallen Blue. I reached out to AJ late 2010, and from there he has been with us as our National Spokesperson. He brought with him years of experience with his work with March Of Dime. I have been fortunate enough to know AJ for a couple of years know, and I can easily consider him a close friend.
KG: You have so many benefit days/concerts yearly and an ongoing charity is almost thankless. What keeps you and your team motivated?
JG: You know, 2012 is shaping up to be a big year for us. This past February, Twisted Sister, Y+T, and 3 UP 3 Down, played a benefit show in Poukeepsie, NY, where the proceeds went the Officer John Falcone PBA Fund, the National Law Enforcement Memorial and Fallen Blue. They raised well over 40k…it was a great night. On May 9, at the Baltimore Soundstage, we will be hosting the annual show Fallen Blue show in Baltimore. We are based out of there. Already confirmed to play: AJ Pero, Randy Jackson (Zebra), Bill Leverty (Firehouse), Jack Starr (Virgin Steele, Burning Starr), Beverly Allgood, Rob Fahey (The Rayvns), Iconic Tonic, and Wildstreet. More names to be added.
It’s a lot of work trying to plan/ organize, but with a wonderful group of directors, to include my wife, and support from the artists and music community, it makes it that much easier. At the end of the day, we are just motivated to help these families, because for us, we could one day be in that position, which puts everything into perspective. Sure, I can have fun with music, but every day I report to work not knowing what lies ahead.
KG: Do you visit schools and Colleges/educational institutions with your cause?
JG: Right now, we have not started to do this. Eventually, yes. More importantly, we want to let police agencies at the local, state, and federal level know we exist and that there is help and support out there.
KG: Who came up with the drum head idea and how successful is that?
JG: Drum Heads For The Fallen was something that our PR Director, Mr. Vrana started. We customize drum heads, whether it’s with their band logo or latest album cover design, then have the artists/ bands autograph them. We plan on doing an online auction with them, so be on the lookout for that. Everyone from Rob Halford, Black Label Society, Buckcherry, and Vinnie Paul have helped us with that. This year, I will be doing the same thing at the M3 Rock Fest and Rock On The Range.
KG: What are the national numbers on suicide, shooting deaths accidental deaths each year? Are rates higher in specific areas?
JG: A great question…I am looking to get the updated information. The biggest thing to say about police suicide, suicide in general actually, is that it is considered a blackfoot and many people/ agencies don’t know how to deal with it. This is one of the worst situations for the family of a cop, who kills themselves outside the line of duty. Thankfully, our partners and friends at Safe Call Now; www.safecallnow.org are there to help prevent that from happening!
KG: How do you persuade the musicians to appear at your concerts and donate instruments and time?
JG: We send them a letter/ email that outlines our goals, who we are, and what we would love on their end. It has got to the point now though, that other artists are now reaching us and helping us spread the word. Many of these artists are friends of ours, so it makes it a lot easier.
KG: Two years in what are your thoughts on the past two years and where are you headed in the next two years?
JG: The last 2 years have been a blast, a lot of work no doubt, but fun. We have been grateful to have the support from other police groups, Safe Call Now, Serve and Protect, and Cops Alive. We have also spoken with some incredible men and women who have had the courage to share their stories with us. In 2 years? Well, I hope we get bigger. Two of our main goals are to establish an endowment fund for the children of these officers who lose their lives outside the line of duty, and to have a physical monument built to honor these women and men.
By Karen Graham April 4th 2012