Even for someone with the high-profile successes of Thomas Tull ’92, it’s a pinnacle — his band Ghost Hounds will be the opening act for The Rolling Stones on July 3 at FedExField in Landover, Md.
It’s only rock ‘n’ roll, but guitarist Tull likes it, and most of all the music of the Stones.
Tull’s band will release its latest album this summer. Ghost Hounds has had major gigs before and will play at Willie Nelson’s Outlaw Festival on June 22. But none of that tops the thrill of warming up a crowd for Mick and the boys. “This is as big as it gets. I mean non-family related, this is as big as it gets,” Tull says.
As for his day job, Tull’s career has been extraordinary. He founded and served as CEO and chairman of the board of Legendary Entertainment, where he produced and executive-produced more than 40 films, including the Dark Knight trilogy, Jurassic World, and the Hangover franchise.
These days Tull is chairman and CEO of Tulco, a Pittsburgh-based investment-holding company he founded to create and deploy applications in predictive data analytics, artificial intelligence, and machine learning. He’s also part of the group that owns the Pittsburgh Steelers NFL franchise.
The FedExField crowd will be big, too — the largest Ghost Hounds has played yet, so he anticipates he may have a few butterflies. Also, an audience isn’t necessarily gracious to the act that stands between it and the main attraction. But an opening band can capture a crowd and introduce them to great new music, Tull observes. “And that’s what we’re hoping to do,” he says.
He created Ghost Hounds, whose music is a mix of rock ‘n’ roll, blues, rock, with a little country thrown in. Tull, with David Grissom and Kevin Bout, wrote the music for the band’s upcoming album, which will be released this summer. Although he founded the band, when members start to play, he’s just one of five.
“Once we hop up on stage or are rehearsing, I’m just the other guitar player. And that’s great. That’s the thing that’s the most important to me with this whole thing. It was the same thing when I first went into the movie business,” Tull says. “My point would always be, look, just judge the work on its merits, right?”
That’s what he wants people to do with the music, which seems to be how Ghost Hounds got the Stones gig. Tull says band manager Mark Proct, who has managed Stevie Ray Vaughan, Arc Angels, and The Fabulous Thunderbirds, pitched Ghost Hounds to the Stones’ management as a possible opener, and that did the trick. Getting the call that they’d been chosen was surreal for Tull. But it sort of fits.
“The incredible thing about my life — and I really truly understand how extraordinary [it is] and above all, how lucky I am — is that all the things I loved as a kid have translated into my career and in my adult life,” he says. He loved Batman, Godzilla, and Jackie Robinson, and got to make movies about them. He’s been a Steelers fan since he was a little boy and is now a part owner.
“And having your favorite band in the world, being able to open for them, is just a privilege. So I understand the extraordinarily lucky journey I’m on,” he adds.