Sha Na Na

Sha Na Na

Sha Na Na is a well-known rock and roll revival act. Announcing themselves as "from the streets of New York", and outfitted in gold lame, leather jackets and Elvis Presley hairdos, Sha Na Na perfected a song and dance repertoire of classic fifties rock'n'roll, simultaneously reviving and sending up the music and 1950s New York street culture.

Their current touring group features original members Donny York, and Jocko Marcellino, and another member from the TV show, Screamin' Scott Simon. Everyone else from the TV show has left the group, and been replaced by bass singer Reggie Battise, bass player Jim Waldbillig, guitarist Gene Jaramillo, drummer Paul Kimbarow, and sax player Michael Brown.


The group began singing as part of the longstanding Columbia University a cappella group The Kingsmen, but changed their name due to the Pacific Northwest group of the same name, famous for covering "Louie, Louie".Fact|date=October 2008 It is theorized that the Sha Na Na name comes from a mishearing of the refrain of the classic '50s hit "Get a Job" ("Sha-da-da-da, sha-da-da-da-da...") by The Silhouettes.Fact|date=October 2008

Conceived by George Leonard, then a graduate student in English Literature, "Sha Na Na" began performing in 1969, at the height of the hippie counterculture, and achieved national fame after playing at the Woodstock Festival, where they preceded Jimi Hendrix. The group helped to spark a 1950s nostalgia craze, inspiring similar groups both in North America and in the United Kingdom, as well as the Broadway musical "Grease" and the TV show, "Happy Days". The degree to which their act was truly nostalgic, as opposed to the degree to which it was "invented nostalgia," has, however, been called into questioncite web|url=|title=Sha Na Na and the Invention of the Fifties||date=2008-09-01] .

The group appeared in the movie "Grease" as "Johnny Casino & The Gamblers". The group was also successful with its own hit syndicated television show "Sha Na Na" from 1977 to 1982, featuring guests such as James Brown, the popular 1970s punk rock band the Ramones, and musicians from rock & roll's golden era, such as Little Richard, Bo Diddley, and Chubby Checker.

The original band line-up featured 12 performers: Alan Cooper (Bass Vocals), Rob Leonard(Vocals), Frederick 'Denny' Greene (Vocals), Henry Gross (Guitar), John 'Jocko' Marcellino (Drums), Joe Witkin (Piano), Scott Powell aka Captain Outrageous aka Tony Santini (Vocals), Donald 'Donny' York (Vocals), Elliot Cahn aka 'Gino', (Rhythm Guitar), Rich Joffe (Vocals), Dave Garrett (Vocals)and Bruce 'Bruno' Clark. The initial act saw 3 "up front" dancers/singers in gold lame and the other nine in "greaser attire" (rolled up t-shirt sleeves, leather jackets, tank tops, etc. The group would taunt the audience and announce "We've got just one thing to say to you f----ng hippies, and that is that rock and roll is here to say".Fact|date=October 2008 The act usually ended after several encores, and closed with "Lovers Never Say Goodbye". The closing song was changed to, "Goodnight Sweetheart" for the TV series.

Tragedy struck two of Sha Na Na's members: Former Sha Na Na bass player, from their television show lineup, Dave "Chico" Ryan, died in 1998. Vinnie Taylor (1949 - 1974) (real name "Chris Donald"), who replaced Henry Gross as the lead guitarist in 1970, died from a heroin overdose on April 17 1974, after a concert at University Hall at the University of Virginia.Fact|date=October 2008 He was found in a Holiday Inn hotel room in Charlottesville, Virginia.Fact|date=October 2008

Founding member of the band Robert Leonard is a professor of linguistics at Hofstra University, and had an appearance as a qualified expert in linguistics for the murder case of Charlene Hummert in the episode "A Tight Leash" of the TV series Medical detectives (Forensic Files) in 2004.Fact|date=October 2008 The group's first guitarist, Henry Gross, went on to become a solo performer, and had a hit single titled "Shannon" in 1976. Another Founding member, Alan Cooper, the lead singer in the group's performance of "At The Hop" in the "Woodstock" film, also went on to an academic career. He taught religious studies for ten years at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, was a professor of Bible studies at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York, and now serves as the Elaine Ravich Professor of Jewish Studies and provost at the Jewish Theological Seminary.Fact|date=October 2008 Long time member, Jon "Bowzer" Bauman, replaced Alan Cooper and became a recognizable member of the group as he taunted audiences while he flexed his muscles, burped and spat in the direction of the bass player. Today, Bowzer continues to tour under his own banner.Fact|date=October 2008 Elliot Cahn, the group's original rhythm guitar player and musical arranger, later became the first manager of Green Day. "Screaming" Scott Simon replaced Joe Witkin, the original keyboard player (and singer of Teenager in Love on their first album). Today, Witkin is an emergency room physician living with his family in San Diego, California and playing with a band called "The Corvettes." ( doing an oldies revue. Scott Powell today is a specialist in orthopedic surgery and sports medicine.Fact|date=October 2008 He performed on the TV show under the stage name "Santini" (which he changed from his previous alias, "Captain Outrageous"). Powell left the band in 1980 and returned to Columbia to take pre-medical courses.Fact|date=October 2008 He is a member of the medical staff of U.S. national soccer teams, and is the team physician for the Federation Women’s National Team and an associate clinical professor at USC.Fact|date=October 2008 While Powell was with Sha Na Na, he sang the bulk of the Elvis revival songs. Frederick "Denny" Greene left the group to pursue studies in law.Fact|date=October 2008 After graduating from Yale Law School, he became the vice president of production and features at Columbia Pictures.Fact|date=October 2008 He is currently a professor at the University of Dayton. Greene was known for his skilled dancing, and sang the lead in "Tears On My Pillow", "Duke of Earl" and others.

Sha Na Na's stage show was wildy popularFact|date=October 2008 and their concerts were great successes. They have had surprise performers opening for their show, such as Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel, Billy Crystal, Steve Martin and Jay Leno.

TV Series

Sha Na Na hosted the Sha Na Na syndicated variety series that ran from 1977 to 1981. It was among the most watched programs in syndication during its run.Fact|date=October 2008 The show was produced by Pierre Cossette and originally distributed by LBS Communications.

The show featured the group performing hits from the 1950s and 1960s, along with comedy skits. The "tough guys" road act from their original road shows was adpated for TV and the group moved to a comedy and self deprecating routine. The mainstay continued to be the '50s song and dance routines. The show opened in a typical "concert scene," and then moved through various street and ice cream parlor scenes where they and their guests performed several sons. That was followed by a comedy-oriented song (e.g. Alley Oop, Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah) and closed with a slow song, again in their "concert format".

Among the supporting members featured in the series were Avery Schreiber, Kenneth Mars and Phillp RothFact|date=October 2008 (All of them in the first season); Pamela Myers and actress Jane Dulo (who played the crabby Lady in the Window, who watched over the street scenes from the window of her apartment with undisguised disdain) (Both throughout the show's run), June Gable and Soupy Sales (Seasons 2 to 4); Michael Sklar (Season 2); and Karen Hartman (Season 4).

Guests included: Jan & Dean, Fabian, Chubby Checker, the Ramones, Ethel Merman, Frank Gorshin, Billy Crystal, Danny and the Juniors, and others

The members of Sha Na Na during the TV Series were: Jon 'Bowzer' Bauman (Vocals), Lennie Baker (Sax), Johnny Contardo (Vocals), Frederick 'Dennis' Greene (Vocals), 'Dirty Dan' McBride (Guitar)(left after second season), John 'Jocko' Marcellino (Drums), Dave 'Chico' Ryan (Bass), 'Screamin' Scott Simon (Piano), Scott 'Santini' Powell (Vocals), Donald 'Donny' York (Vocals).


Sha Na Na performed in Grease, the movie, as Johnny Casino and the Gamblers.Fact|date=October 2008 The group remains well-known for their tracks on the "Grease" soundtrack, including "Those Magic Changes", "Hound Dog", "Rock & Roll Is Here to Stay", "Blue Moon", "Born to Hand-Jive" and "Tears on My Pillow". Sha Na Na's performance in Grease was during the school dance scene.Fact|date=October 2008 In addition to performing as a group in the movie, the song "Sandy", sung by John Travolta, was written by Screamin' Scott Simon.Fact|date=October 2008 The group also appeared as themselves in the documentary "Woodstock" movie and the more recent "Festival Express."

Members included

* [ Alan Cooper]
* [ Robert Leonard]
*Jon "Bowzer" Bauman
*Johnny Contardo
*Frederick "Dennis" Greene
*Lennie Baker
*Donny York
*Jocko Marcellino
*Screamin' Scott Simon
*'Dirty Dan' McBride
*Dave "Chico" Ryan
*Scott Powell
* [ Joe Witkin]
* [ George Leonard]


ALAN COOPER (1968-1970 +1971), Original Bass Singer, brief return in 1971 due to Bowzer’s illness

BILLY SCHWARTZ (1971), Guitarist on Canadian Tour in 1971 due to Chris Donald’s inability to enter Canada

BRUCE "ZOROASTER" CLARKE a.k.a. BRUNO (1969 - 1973), Original Bass Guitar

BRYAN CUMMING a.k.a. MIGHTY JOE (1987 – 1989), Guitar, Replaced Guitar Glenn

BUZZ CAMPBELL (2002 - 2006), Guitar, Replaced Rob Mackenzie

CHRIS DONALD a.k.a. VINNIE TAYLOR (1971 - 1974), Replaced Larry Packer

DANNY McBRIDE a.k.a. DIRTY DAN (1975 - 1980), Replaced Elliot Randall

DAVID GARRETT (1968 - 1970), Original Vocalist

DAVID RYAN a.k.a. CHICO (1973 - 1998), Replaced Bruce Clarke

DONALD YORK a.k.a. DONNY (1968 - Present day), Original Vocalist

DORA PEARSON (1984 - 1988), Original Female Vocalist

ELLIOT CAHN a.k.a. GINO (1968 - 1973), Original Rhythm Guitar

ELLIOT RANDALL a.k.a. ENRICO RONZONI (1974 - 1975), Replaced Chris Donald

FRANKIE ADELL (1999 - 2005), Sax and Vocalist, replaced Lenny Baker

FREDERICK DENNIS GREENE a.k.a. DENNY (1968 - 1984), Original Vocalist

GEORGE SLUPPICK (1999 - 2000), Drums

GENE JARAMILLO (2006 - Present) replaced Buzz, Guitar

GLENN JORDAN aka Guitar Glenn (1980 - 1986), Guitar,Replaced Danny McBride

GROVER KEMBLE (1970), Replaced Rob Leonard

GUERIN BARRY a.k.a. TITO MAMBO (1984 – 1988), Bass singer, replaced Jon Bauman

HENRY GROSS (1969 - 1970), Original Lead Guitar

JIM "BILLY" WALDBILLIG (1990 – Present day), Guitar

JIMMY HUN a.k.a. JUNE (1987)

JOE WITKIN (1968 - 1970), Original Pianist

JOHN MARCELLINO a.k.a. JOCKO (1969 – Present day), Original Drums, Vocalist

JOHNNY "KID" CONTARDO (1971 - 1983), Vocalist, Replaced Grover Kemble

JON BAUMAN a.k.a. BOWZER (1970 - 1983) – Bass singer, replaced Alan Cooper

KAL “CASUAL KAL” DAVID (1984), Interim replacement for Jon Bauman (filling-in for Guerin Barry)

LARRY PACKER (1970), Replaced (briefly) Henry Gross and was subsequently replaced by Chris Donald

LENNIE BAKER (1970 - 1999), Sax and Vocalist

LISA SUNSTEDT (1993 - 1995), 3rd Female Vocalist

MICHAEL 'DOWNTOWN MICHAEL' BROWN (2005 - Present) replaced Frankie Adell

PAMELA DAY (1989 - 1992), 2nd Female Vocalist

PAUL KIMBAROW a.k.a. PAULIE (2002 – Present Day), Drummer

REGGIE BATTISE a.k.a. REGGIE DE LEON (1989 – Present day), Bass singer, replaced Guerin Barry

RICHARD JOFFE a.k.a. JOFF (1968 - 1973), Original Vocalist

ROB LEONARD (1968 - 1970), Original Vocalist

ROB MACKENZIE (1990 - 2001), Guitar, Replaced by Buzz

SCOTT POWELL a.k.a. CAPTAIN OUTRAGEOUS a.k.a. TONY SANTINI (1968 - 1981), Original Vocalist

SCREAMIN' SCOTT SIMON (1970 – Present day), Pianist, replaced Joe Witkin


* "Woodstock Festival Soundtrack" [1969] (includes “At The Hop” by Sha Na Na)
* "Woodstock Festival Soundtrack" (1969) (includes “DUKE OF EARL” Sha Na Na BONUS WD THE UNSEEN DY III)
* "Rock And Roll Is Here To Stay" [1969]
* "Sha Na Na" [1971] (Side A: Recorded live at Columbia University, New York)
* "The Night Is Still Young" [1972]
* "Live In Belgium, With Francis Bay & His Orchestra" [1972] (Bootleg)
* "The Golden Age of Rock ’N’ Roll" [1973]
* "From the Streets of New York" [1973]
* "Sha Na Na Live in Germany" (TV: Musikladen), 1973 (DVD, CD+VCD)
* "Hot Sox" [1974]
* "Sha Na Now" [1975]
* "Rock’n Roll Graffiti - Live In Japan" [1975]
* "Grease" Soundtrack [1978] (includes 6 songs by Sha Na Na)
* "Rockin’ In The 80’s" [1980]
* "Silly Songs (1981)
* "Rock’n’Roll Concert & Party" [1987] (VHS)
* "The Sha Na Na 25th Anniversary Collection" [1993] (including the 8 tracks on the previous album)
* "Live In Concert" (late 80’s / early 90’s concerts) [199?] (1 CD, 2 cassettes, or 1 DVD)
* "Rock ‘N’ Roll Dance Party" (20 tracks in 1996; 16 tracks in 1998)
* "Then He Kissed Me (with Conny)" [1999] , Japan
* "Live In Japan (with Conny)" [2000] , recorded In November 1999, Japan
* "Rockin’ Christmas" [2002]
* "One More Saturday Night" [2006]



*David "Chico" Ryan of Sha Na Na joined Bill Haley and His Comets for a European tour in 1979.Fact|date=October 2008 Ryan played bass guitar with Haley during his final tour of Great Britain and Europe, including the group's command performance for Queen Elizabeth II in November of that year.

ee also

*List of artists who died of drug-related causes

External links

* [ Official website]
* [ AMG profile]

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