Even Willie Adams (a.k.a. will.i.am), founder and front man of L.A.'s Black Eyed Peas, has a difficult time believing who he's hanging with these days. "If I met you at a bus stop and told you about my life, you'd think I was lying," he says between tales of recording with James Brown, staying at Sting's house and jamming with Prince.
However, the Peas' ascension into pop stardom -- the L.A. ensemble is up for four Grammys this Sunday -- has the group running with some pretty fast company, as evidenced by the $150-a-head benefit show the band will host Friday night at Avalon. (The Peas are also headlining the House of Blues on Saturday as part of the American Express Jam Sessions).
Will and the Peas are holding a launch party for his new will.i.am Music Group, with all the proceeds going to UNICEF to support tsunami relief. Joining the Peas at Avalon will be James Brown, Justin Timberlake, Carlos Santana, Herbie Hancock, up-and-coming rapper John Legend, Macy Gray, Earth, Wind & Fire and others.
"This party is going to be be crazy ridiculous," Will says excitedly. "Where are you ever going to see James Brown and Earth, Wind & Fire jamming?"
The show is modeled after the group's annual Pea Pod, a charity jam session the Peas have held in L.A. for six years running. Besides individual performances, several special collaborations are in store. Says Will: "The whole idea of a Pea Pod is vibing and jamming with musicians and having that harmony and magic on stage."
Black Eyed Peas Tsunami Relief show, Avalon, 1735 N. Vine St., Hollywood. 8:30 p.m. Friday. $150; VIP after-party tickets for sale on EBay; keyword: tsunami benefit peapod. (323) 462-8900