Some of your all-time favorite rock stars went to rock 'n' roll heaven years ago. Others don't tour anymore. And those who still do perform don't play cheap.
But that doesn't mean you can't attend a live performance of the greatest hits by the Beatles or Led Zeppelin.
Northern California is booming with popular tribute bands with names like the Unauthorized Rolling Stones and AC/DShe (an all-woman tribute to AC/DC), recreating the music you love at a price you can afford.
Tom Petty's summer tour will bring him no closer to Sonoma County than Los Angeles, but the cleverly named tribute band Petty Theft played his hits last weekend at the HopMonk Tavern in Sebastopol.
"It'll cost you $150 to see Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers in an arena," said guitarist Monroe Grisman of Petty Theft. "Most of our shows cost $15 to $20. It's a comparatively cheap night out."
Tribute bands not only play at the right price, but their music is a known quantity.
"The audience knows what they're getting," said Grisman, son of famed Petaluma mandolinist David Grisman.
"They know they're going to have a good time."
Alan Williams of Santa Rosa, bassist and backup singer with Aqua Nett, believes in offering audiences more than a faithful recreation of songs they know and love.
"You need to do more than showing up to play," Williams said. "It's about the total show. If people are going to go out to a show, you need to give them their money's worth."
For their salute to the heavy metal, "big-hair" bands of the 1980s, from Poison to Whitesnake, the players in Aqua Nett don wigs, lipstick, eye-liner and tight costumes, and the crowds love it.
"People come dressed up in '80s garb," Williams said. "They love to drag that stuff out of the closet. It brings back their youth. The '80s were a fun time."
Unlike Aqua Nett (which also plays a wide variety of pop music under the name Counterbalance) and some other tribute bands, Petty Theft makes no effort to dress the part.
"I'm not into the whole costume thing," said Petty Theft keyboardist Mike Emerson. "This is about the music."
Emerson's bandmate, Grisman, maintains it's truer to the spirit of their hero not to try to look like him.
"Dressing up in a costume seems like an un-Tom-Petty-like thing to do," Grisman said.
Other tribute bands agree with the "be yourself" approach. Zepparella, an all-woman band based in San Francisco, doesn't try to look like Led Zeppelin while playing their music. Pepperland, a seven-piece Sonoma County band, doesn't pose as the Beatles.
Zepparella even includes some original music created by its lead guitarist, Gretchen Menn.
"We're excited to bring some of our solo work to our fans, as well," said Clementine (who uses one name only), Zepparella's drummer.
In an even more daring move, Zepparella doesn't even play Led Zeppelin's iconic anthem, "Stairway to Heaven."
"We decided to leave one song sacred, and not duplicate it," Clementine said.
Pepperland, led by Robert Butler of Sebastopol, is faithful to the Beatles song catalog, even to the point of performing "Glass Onion," a semi-obscure cut from from the Beatles' "White Album."
"I never liked that song, but the fans wanted to hear it, and they loved it," Butler said. "They were singing along."
Upcoming tribute band performances
What: Zepparella with Gretchen Menn, plus Stars Turn Me On
When: 9 p.m. Saturday Where: Mystic Theatre, 23 Petaluma Blvd. N., Petaluma
Admission: $19 Information: 765-2121, mystictheatre.com
What: The Sun Kings, a Beatles tribute
When: 8 p.m. March 23
Where: Spreckels Performing Arts Center, 5409 Snyder Lane, Rohnert Park
Admission: $23-$25 Information: 588-3400, rpcity.org
What: Aqua Nett
When: 9 p.m. April 13
Where: The Flamingo Resort and Spa, 2777 Fourth St., Santa Rosa
Cover charge: $5
Information: 545-8530, flamingoresort.com
What: Pepperland, a Beatles Tribute
When: 8 p.m. April 19
Where: HopMonk Tavern, 230 Petaluma Ave., Sebastopol
Admission: $10 Information: 829-7300, hopmonk.com
What: Petty Theft, plus Zoo Station: The Complete U2 Experience
When: 8:30 p.m. May 3
Where: Mystic Theatre, 23 Petaluma Blvd. N., Petaluma
Admission: $16 Information: 765-2121, mystictheatre.com