Duluth East grad jams with Rosie

A 2001 Duluth East graduate added a colorful line to his music resume in mid-March: Performed the song “Jessie’s Girl” with talk show host Rosie O’Donnell on drums.

Adam LeBlanc and his Chicago-based 1980s cover band Sixteen Candles got a gig playing O’Donnell’s 50th birthday party, an event at Studio Paris in Chicago that included Mike Tyson rolling out the 3-foot cake. The jam session appeared on O’Donnell’s talk show on the OWN Network – just days after it was announced the show was going to be canceled. The band got some media chatter afterward, including a mention in the New York Post and People.com. This wasn’t a token “on drums,” either for O’Donnell, who seemed to know what she was doing. At one point LeBlanc busted out a “Go Rosie, Go Rosie, Go” that led into her drum solo. And at the end of the song, they kicked back to her.

After the segment that aired on the show, O’Donnell was back on stage and joined the band on some Huey Lewis and Journey hits.

“She was totally engaging,” LeBlanc said of O’Donnell.

The cover band is a fulltime job for LeBlanc, who left Duluth for Chicago about eight years ago. He said he responded to an ad that said “Sing ‘80s music, make music, have fun.”

And now: “’Jesse’s Girl’ pays the rent and ‘Footloose’ pays for my parking spot,” LeBlanc said. He also does original music on the side.

The band, voted Chicago’s Best Cover Band by a local radio station, has also opened for Rick Springfield, Joan Jett, Eddie Money and more. In recent years they have played at The Rex and at the Homecoming dance at the College of St. Scholastica, where LeBlanc’s mother is an assistant professor.

Here the band performs on “Windy City Live,” a Chicago talk show.