Scott Wells Memorial Fund Celebrates Life With Malibu Rocks Summer Concert

Scott Wells

“L’Chaim” is a traditional Hebrew toast meaning “to life!” and Malibu Rocks, the first in a summer concert series sponsored by the Scott Wells Memorial Fund, is dedicated to the late Malibu producer/director with a pertinent theme: “Celebrate Summer… Celebrate Life!”

Wells’ mother, Lori Lerner Gray (also a Malibu resident), is helming the project, partly as a way to help her cope with the loss two years ago of her 35-year-old son from colon cancer, but also, as she said, “to remind ourselves that there is so much to celebrate in the moment, and creativity is our highest calling.” 

The event, to be held at the Malibu Jewish Center & Synagogue on July 19, will feature a lineup of local musical talent starting with Cantor Marcelo Gindlin of MJC&S, Jared Weinstock, Steph Wells (Wells’ sister) and headliner Lenny Goldsmith (and his new band, the New Old), whose career began in the ‘60s with Five Americans, and who went on to perform with groups like Tower of Power. 

“What we’re trying to do with the Scott Wells Memorial Fund is to acknowledge our local artistic expression,” Gray said. “Scott was all about music, art and film, and he loved life with a passion. To stand up and applaud that creative spark elevates the spirit. So we said, ‘Let’s create something cool in our community.’” 

Gray, a former radio broadcaster/news director, raised her children in Malibu. She said that Wells was artistically interested from an early age — one of those kids who got up and banged on the piano while still a toddler. He followed his parents around the house with a camera, creating his own short films. He graduated from Agoura High with broad musical tastes, from opera to musical theater. 

He pursued film studies at UC Santa Barbara and, after graduation, launched his own production company. 

“He had three projects going,” Gray said. “He was so close to grabbing that brass ring.” 

But it was not to be. In 2010, minor ailments spurred Gray to urge her son — always the picture of health — to get a colonoscopy. 

“It turned out to be stage IV cancer,” she said. 

A trip to France for the Cannes Film Festival was cancelled and Wells immediately began chemotherapy. He battled for two years before succumbing in June 2012. Ten days before he died, he married the “love of his life,” Limor Gottlieb. 

Gindlin was deeply involved with helping the Gray family through the last stages of Wells’ illness. As the cantor has a strong background in music therapy, music was a large part of the transition. 

“Music brought many moments of sacredness,” Gindlin said. “The family and I, and especially Scott, used a lot of music in his last days. He knew love more and more as his life in this world was coming to an end, like I’ve never seen before. Everyone got strength and comfort through music.” 

Gray was determined that Wells’ memory would be honored with the same artistic expression that so motivated her son’s life. Accordingly, she developed the Scott Wells Memorial Fund, with the idea of showcasing local talent in all areas of expression: visual art, music, dance, film and even stand-up comedy. 

Along with his sisters Rachel and Rebecca, Gray established the Scott Wells Golden Reel award for the best student film from the UCSB Film Studies program. The first award was given last month to UCSB freshman Johnny Rafter for his film “A Man, A Mustache.” 

Malibu Rocks is all about celebration — without having to “drive all the way into town,” Gray insists. She wants to see this event become a summer staple for Malibu, not only as an opportunity for local talent to shine, but for Malibu families to enjoy a community festival. Food trucks will be on hand and attendees are also encouraged to bring their own picnic. 

“Our mission is to feature new artists, like Scott was,” Gindlin said. “To bring music to Malibu is to match the beauty we have here.” 

Gray said the celebration’s message is captured in something Wells wrote his mother three months before he died: “And yet, every second of my life from 16 years old on, I lived in awe of how lucky I was, how important the moments were. I knew deep down, that nothing lasts forever.” 

Malibu Rocks takes place Saturday, July 19 at 6:30 p.m. at MJC&S. Tickets are $18 in advance/$25 at the door ($10 for children). Go to for more information