In 2001 Fortune magazine named Air Products' rock band, The Difference, the “Best Corporate Rock Band in America.” Since 2000, Fortune has partnered with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland to host a battle of the corporate bands. These bands include CEOs and forklift operators from Allentown (Air Products home base) to Alameda to Switzerland.
How did this happen? How did I not know about this? I love rock and roll. I live in Cleveland. I have been reporting on corporate doings since 1997. I must have been living under a mossy rock. But I am now informed. Unfortunately, it's just about too late for me to catch a performance from The Difference. The band will play its final concerts on Sept. 8 at the Musikfest Café in Bethlehem, Pa.
Thirteen years after then Air Products Executive Vice President Joe Kaminski suggested the company form a rock group, the band has played over 300 concerts, recorded four studio albums, and helped to raise more than $700,000 for charities throughout the United States including the Special Olympics, Muscular Dystrophy Association, Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, American Diabetes Foundation and the American Heart Association.
“The Difference has displayed a level of passion that many Air Products volunteers share for supporting good causes,” says John McGlade, Air Products chairman, president and CEO. “The band members have provided tireless support, on their own time, for countless charities and I thank them dearly for the 13 years of great times that they have given to so many in the community and at Air Products.”
However, the road has not been without heartache for the band. It lost founding members Barry Grow in 2003 and Steve Eck in 2007 to cancer. And this year drummer and vocalist Sal Nicrone announced his retirement – and hence the end of corporate rock history for The Difference.
With a legacy of giving and music to make them immortal, these rockers will never fade away. And who knows, maybe a reunion tour is in the future. It worked for The Eagles, The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, Black Sabbath. . . the list could go on, I'm sure.
You can check out videos of The Difference at this page.
Think you've got moves like Mick Jagger? Check out what you need to do to enter your corporate band. It's too late this year, but you can work on your strut and guitar solos to compete in 2014. Here's the page for 2013 >> http://rockhall.com/events/battle-of-the-corporate-bands/
Long live rock and roll.
Senior digital editor, master air guitarist and shower-singing diva.
P.S. This picture was taken in the early 1980s. Don't judge me. And despite my efforts to shred like Eddie Van Halen, I never got past playing the first few chords of Smoke on the Water by Deep Purple.