Rock star Lew Schon ’82 is back to this day job: orthopedic surgeon.
For the few who missed the concert or the viral video, Schon belted out a cover of the White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army” in July at Boston’s Fenway Park.
His backing band: the Foo Fighters.
Schon found himself on the inner circle of the hard-rocking band after front man Dave Grohl broke his leg jumping off a stage during a June show in Sweden. The former Nirvana drummer was initially treated by a colleague of Schon’s in Great Britain. When Grohl returned to the states, Schon followed up on his care.
With Schon a longtime fan of the Foo Fighters and Nirvana, the two hit it off as the doctor oversaw the rocker’s cast changes and rehab. Schon found himself hanging with Grohl and the band when the Foo Fighters came to Washington to kick off their 20th anniversary tour, which Grohl played from an ostentatious throne that allowed him to keep his broken leg elevated.
Later, when the doctor went to see the band at Fenway, Grohl surprised him with a request. “I thought he was joking but soon realized that he was dead set on making this happen,” recalls Schon, who several times turned down the offer to sing at the next night’s show.
But Grohl persisted. “He asked me if I knew anything about Fenway or Boston. I reflected and realized I knew ‘Seven Nation Army,’ the stadium song. He loved it and … 15 minutes before curtain time we had a rehearsal and the rest is history.”
Schon says he has always been a performer at heart, doing magic shows at age 10 and giving academic lectures on orthopedics the last 26 years. He plays keyboards and sings with “The Stimulators,” a band of orthopedic staffers from Baltimore’s Union Memorial Hospital, where he specializes in foot and ankle procedures. Their gigs include hospital events, weddings and the Fourth of July. He recently sang with a Talking Heads tribute band at a club in Washington, and he opened for his son’s band at a gig this fall.
At Union, he spent time in the piano practice rooms and sang with Kappa Alpha. He attributes his moves to a dance class he took in his first year.
At Fenway, the self-proclaimed “nerdy doctor guy” ignited the audience, flailing and loosening his trademark bow tie as he screamed out the song. The crowd was chanting “Lew!” as he left the stage. Said Grohl afterward from his throne: “Holy s----, that’s actually my doctor. What a badass.”
And the reaction at the office? “Everyone thought it was pretty cool,” Schon said. “My patients were beaming and happy even if they had some swelling or discomfort. It was very therapeutic for them.”