‘Journey’ back to the 1980s with RockStar

By: Maria Allard | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published June 29, 2022

 RockStar vocalist and showman Ken Lewandowski got to meet one of his music idols — Bret Michaels, of Poison — during a show.

RockStar vocalist and showman Ken Lewandowski got to meet one of his music idols — Bret Michaels, of Poison — during a show.

Photo provided by Ken Lewandowski

 Lewandowski brings his version of Alice Cooper and Dee Snider of Twisted Sister to the show.

Lewandowski brings his version of Alice Cooper and Dee Snider of Twisted Sister to the show.

Photos by Anne Nicolazzo


“Catching Up With Alumni” highlights the accomplishments of local high school alumni. In this story, the spotlight falls under 1997 Cousino High School graduate Ken Lewandowski, who also attended St. John Lutheran School in Fraser from kindergarten through eighth grade.

ST. CLAIR SHORES — Welcome to the jungle, where the rock music is cranked to 11, the hair is teased to the max and the party never ends.

For the past 10 years, “The International Arena Rock Revolution” known as RockStar has been bringing the Spandex-fueled days of ’80s rock ‘n’ roll to head bangers of all ages. There’s even room for some ’70s rock stars that still made music a decade later.

RockStar comes to the “Music on the Lake” St. Clair Shores 2022 Summer Concert Series July 13 at 7 p.m. at Veterans Memorial Park, 32400 Jefferson Ave. There is no cost to attend.

Leading the RockStar pack is frontman and 1997 Cousino High School graduate Ken Lewandowski, who on stage pays homage to the movers and shakers of the rock scene: Bret Michaels, Dee Snider, Steve Perry, Jon Bon Jovi, Axl Rose and others.

Through costume changes, wigs, strong vocal performances and choreography, Lewandowski transforms himself into different music idols for a show that relives the heyday of big arena tours, hair band anthems and broken eardrums.

At the show, you’ll see likeness of David Lee Roth’s jump splits, Alice Cooper’s top hat, plenty of glitter make-up and more old-school throwbacks from Lewandowski, lead guitarist Gordie O’Shea, bassist/keyboardist Michael Marzolo, drummer Dan Niewolak and lead guitarist Dave Hamilton.

“I wanted to create a show with the energy that was the ’80s. People come to see us, and it takes them back to a time they were really happy,” said Lewandowski, who grew up in Sterling Heights. “Everybody in the band is really passionate about the music and nailing it live. They are seasoned professionals and amazing musicians.”

The segment that usually garners the most reaction is Lewandowski’s recreation of Freddie Mercury’s 1985 Live Aid performance with Queen. The RockStar singer goes all out with a black wig, mustache, sleeveless white T-shirt and stoned-washed Wranglers. “Hands down,” it’s Lewandowski’s favorite part of the show. He said it’s obvious 30 years after he died, fans still miss Mercury.

“He was so talented,” Lewandowski said. “He’s an icon. There was a presence about him and such an energy.”

Other standouts include Night Ranger’s “Sister Christian,” Motley Crue’s “Home Sweet Home,” and Guns N’ Roses’ “Paradise City,” and the band always brings it home when the audience joins in on Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing.’”

“Everybody sings that. They love it,” the vocalist said. “Steve Perry is one of the best vocalists live.”


‘It looked like a wild party’
Lewandowski was 9 when bands like Twisted Sister, Def Leppard and Van Halen caught his attention on MTV. He’s wanted to be a singer ever since.

“They didn’t look like anybody else,” Lewandowski said. “It looked like a wild party.”

The musician would pick Sammy Hagar as his “favorite artist right now.”

“I loved him in Van Halen,” the stage performer said. “That’s the first album I heard.”

RockStar gets its mojo cranking with help from business partner Janisse Nickola, who has an eye for detail and makes all the band members’ costumes and wigs by hand. There’s plenty of leather, studs and headbands. Nickola, known as Sloan Wolf, also manages the band and books their gigs.

“I like to work with denim and leather. My objective is every single guy on the stage should pop. I want all the guys to get as much attention as Ken,” she said. “Our objective is to make it fun and put smiles on people’s faces. I think the visual aspect of the concert is so important. How they look makes it a fun spectacle. We’ve taken the fun of the ’80s and just blown it up to bigger than it ever was.”

Nickola said the goal is to add some other bands to the repertoire that started in the 1970s, including Boston, Styx and Kansas. Something that Nickola has noticed is the generation gap closing a bit when parents bring their kids to RockStar shows.

“They’ll say, ‘I hated my mom and dad’s music until I saw the show,’” Nickola said.

Past RockStar performances include Warren’s Birthday Bash, the Magic Bag in Ferndale and the Lexington Village Theatre. The band not only performs in metro Detroit, but has traveled to Traverse City, Las Vegas, Ohio, and Cancun to rock.

RockStar has brought its show to an ’80s event at a resort in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic with Berlin, the Romantics and Loverboy on the bill. It’s where Lewandowski met Tony Lewis of the Outfield, ’80s video babe Tawny Kitaen and Night Ranger drummer Kelly Keagy. Sadly, Lewis and Kitaen have since died.

“Great guy,” he said of Lewis. “Tawny Kitaen was a sweetheart. She was just amazing.”

Meeting “super personable” Bret Michaels of Poison during a performance was a thrill. The two singers found they had something in common: both have Type I diabetes.

RockStar also likes to give back to its fans. In coordination with Skull Island Camp in White Lake Michigan, the band last year raised $24,000 for the Great Lakes Burn Camp of Michigan at its annual summer show on the island.

For more on RockStar, visit www.facebook.com/RockStar80sBand.

Contact rockstarsloan@gmail.com for booking information.