Two years after rock superstars Guns N’ Roses played Tel Aviv’s Hayarkon Park in front of an audience of 10,000 ecstatic fans, the band’s lead guitarist, Ron ‘Bumblefoot’ Thal, surprised US fans by playing the Israeli national anthem backstage before a Las Vegas concert last week.
According to blogger Darren Garnick, who was taken aback to have been invited backstage in the first place, Thal had picked people who he thought would be interesting conversationalists — along with more traditional female groupies — to meet him backstage.
The group, Garnick said, spoke mostly about burgers while Thal strummed his guitar.
Remembering that the guitarist had, two years previously, given a solo rendition of Israel’s national anthem “Hatikva” (The Hope) to the shaky accompaniment of the crowd, Garnick took a chance and blurted out, “Up for some Hatikvah?”
Thal acquiesced, playing the Israeli anthem to the room full of fans — who Garnick said “probably thought ‘Hatikvah’ was a new kind of bean dip and didn’t recognize the tune” — and a Jew or two.
After the 52-second acoustic rendition of the tune had ended, Thal pulled out his hamsa amulet, which he wore around his neck.
The good-luck symbol was a present from Israel, he said, adding that he was “open to the possibility” that the amulet would bring him good fortune.
“The power of ‘belief’ is something real. It’s a beautiful gift from a friend, and the kindness of this gift on its own is strength for the soul,” he said.
Thal then told Garnick he had only spent a short period in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, with just enough time for the customary visit to the Western Wall.
Garnick warned him to visit the Dead Sea “before it disappeared,” then ran off to blog about his “Hebrew School”-esque Hatikvah experience.