Sha Na Na
“Rock ‘n’ roll has nothing to do with a generation gap any more.
Today, it’s really a generation bridge.”
-Donny York, co-founder, Sha Na Na
A Rock & Roll Celebration
SHA NA NA brings their rock & roll celebration to town in a dynamic, crowd pleasing show that includes highlights of their four decade journey from WOODSTOCK, the movie GREASE, THE SHA NA NA TV SHOW and their world wide concert touring. In an interactive show where the audience sings along, dances along and participates in a “Greaser Olympics, a good time is had by all ages. Hey all you greasers, teen angels and party dolls: twist, stroll and hand jive to the classics as performed by the crowned princes of doo-wop and rock & roll, Sha Na Na.
Sha Na Na bio…
Sha Na Na may not have invented rock nostalgia, but the group has successfully – very successfully – celebrated the music and the memories for the past four decades… in concert, in the movies and on TV, and on record.
Sha Na Na’s story is an all-encompassing one: they were in the original Woodstock Festival lineup, starred in “Grease”, hosted the “Sha Na Na” TV series for four years, and still play more than 50 concerts a year, from state fairs, performing art centers, casino showrooms to mega corporate functions world wide.
And through it all – flower power, hard rock, metal music, disco, hip hop, rap and more – Sha Na Na remains true to the original concept: rock & roll is here to stay!
The Sha Na Na story begins oddly for a group that, in appearance, runs the gamut from greaser to gold lame. Attired in turtleneck and blue blazers, the nucleus of Sha Na Na were undergraduate members of The Kingsmen, a glee club ensemble at New York’s Columbia University that used to perform a cappella versions of 50s rock songs as part of the performances.
These proved very popular and eventually rock & roll took over, instruments were added and Sha Na Na – the name comes from the 50s Silhouettes’ hit, “Get A Job” – was born.
Heard of Woodstock?…
If the original 1969 Woodstock Festival was a defining moment in rock history, it was also a defining moment in the history of Sha Na Na. The group’s appearance – only the eighth in Sha Na Na’s career, followed by the Woodstock album and movie, cemented their reputation and style. “We went on second to last, at sunrise on the final day, but, importantly, just before Jimi Hendrix,” recalls co-founder, drummer Jocko Marcellino. “We did 40 minutes and were paid $350…and the check bounced!”
Sha Na Na was the only group at Woodstock without a record deal. Immediately afterwards, they had one and today the group has released eighteen albums in total, with worldwide sales of more than 20 million.
TV was another important step for the group…
The group taped 97 episodes of the Sha Na Na music variety shows from 1977 to 1981 that were seen in worldwide syndication. The shows, which featured Sha Na Na’s music, plus the group in comedy skits with special guests, further established the group’s credentials as a part of the landscape of rock & roll America.
GREASE is still the word for Sha Na Na…
“Grease: The Movie” became another significant building block in the Sha Na Na story. The group appeared in the 1979 musical, as Johnny Casino and the Gamblers, and contributed to the music score with six Sha Na Na versions of rock classics and one original song, “Sandy,” co-written by Screamin’ Scott Simon for John Travolta to sing. (Between takes, Travolta also sang a little doo-wop with the group.)
The accompanying “Grease” soundtrack album was a major hit, Grammy-nominated and certified eight times platinum.
Recalls Marcellino: “Whole new generations get swept up in the nostalgia craze, effectively becoming our potential audience.”
For example, Sha Na Na played the immense Los Angeles County Fair in front of a special audience – 20,000 girl scouts! “They were too young to have seen our TV show, but they had seen ‘Grease’ on video. They knew the words to every song from the movie.”
Sha Na Na recently rocked The Hollywood Bowl at this year’s Grease Sing –A-Long presented by The Los Angeles Philharmonic hosted by Didi “Frenchy” Conn with special guest drummer Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters. A Hollywood Bowl tradition, the event celebrated the 35th Anniversary of the beloved Grease film, the highest grossing musical film of all time.
Live in concert….
Working for over four decades throughout the world Sha Na Na has performed worldwide: from Carnegie Hall to the Grand Ole Opry, in Asia and in Africa, London to Tokyo. They have had some interesting newcomers opening for their show, such as: Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel, Billy Crystal, Steve Martin and Jay Leno!
Live performances remain at the heart of Sha Na Na. Whether it is those girl scouts or their baby boomer parents, the reaction to the group is the same – the discovery of a common joy in the music from a time when part of the world was “greased and ready to rock.”
Sha Na Na Rocks with Symphony Orchestras…
As well as stints with MARVIN HAMLISCH conducting THE SEATTLE SYMPHONY, THE PITTSBURGH SYMPHONY, and THE MILWAUKEE SYMPHONY, Sha Na Na has made multiple appearances with PETER NERO & PHILLY POPS, THE COLUMBUS, LOUISVILLE, and PHOENIX symphonies.
Sha Na Na also appeared on The PBS Special A CAPITOL FOURTH with the National Symphony and Choir at the Capital Fourth Celebration in Washington, D.C. The special brought the sights and sounds of the symphony performance to a nationwide audience.
The arrangements for up to a seventy- six-piece orchestra range from the staccato strings of “Rhythm of the Rain”, a lush rhythm and blues “wall of sound” for “Soul and Inspiration” and a swinging arrangement of “Rock & Roll is Here to Stay”.
Of course Sha Na Na invites the orchestras to lose their tuxedo jackets, open their collars and roll up their sleeves. That, that is, to get greased and ready to rock & roll.
Sha Na Na recordings…
Their latest release, “SHA NA NA GREASER HIGH SCHOOL HOP” features 25 signature songs perfect for an instant high school hop dance party. “The Bop,” “The Twist,” “The Stroll,” “The Hand Jive,” “The Monkey,” “The Jerk,” “The Cha Cha” and even “The Hokey Pokey” are amongst the great dances of the ‘50s and ‘60s celebrated by Sha Na Na in this collection. Also included are songs they sang in Grease (“Sandy”, “Rock & Roll is Here to Stay”), The Sha Na Na TV Show (“Rock & Roll Hall of Fame,” “You Can’t Sit Down”) and at Woodstock (“At The Hop”).
Also in the Sha Na Na catalogue: SHA NA NA 40TH ANNIVERSARY COLLECTOR’S EDITION, ROCK & ROLL DANCE PARTY, ROCKIN’ CHRISTMAS (with “Santa’s On A Diet”, “Blue Christmas” and “The Rockin’ Dreidel Song”) and Sha Na Na’s first completely original Rock & Roll and doo-wop c.d., ONE MORE SATURDAY NIGHT. Sha Na Na CDs are available at iTunes and Amazon.
Meet the Greasers
Jocko, now in his four decade with Sha Na Na, was the first to walk onstage “greased and ready to rock ‘n’ roll” in 1969. That same year, at age 19, he appeared with the group at the Woodstock Festival. Jocko holds the distinction along with fellow Sha Donny of performing in both the most successful music documentary ever (Woodstock) and the most successful rock and roll film musical ever (Grease). Juggling his schedule around his touring, Jocko earned both a B.A. from Columbia and a Masters in Drama from New York University.
When not with Sha Na Na, Jocko is an actor, producer and a songwriter. His acting credits include television’s “Veronica Mars”, “NYPD Blue”, “Alley McBeal”, “The Tiger Woods Story”, “Herman’s Head”, “Good Advice”, ”18 Wheels of Justice”, “The Invisible Man”, “Amazing Stories” and the “Gary Shandling Show”. His film credits include: “Rainman”, “National Security” and “Hot To Trot”. Jocko has also written and performed songs for the films “Rainman”, “That’s Life” and “The Night Of The Comet”; and television shows “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit”, “The Office”, “Terriers”, “Castle”, “Kath & Kim”, “Parks and Recreation” and ESPN’s “Monday Countdown” (“C’mon Man” theme song). In addition, he performed and produced an arrangement of “Take Me Out To The Ballgame” for the motion picture “Benchwarmers”. Jocko has produced Sha Na Na’s last five CDs.
Jocko also released his original rock & roll, children’s collection: “Kidsville” and has a rock ‘n’ roll/ rhythm and blues band: Jocko and the Rockets. For more information, go to their website.
Jocko was born in Quincy, Mass. and toured New England with his high school band, The Pilgrims. He now lives with his family in La Jolla, California.
Screamin’ Scott Simon has been an integral part of Sha Na Na’s popularity since 1970 as a charismatic performer, multi-instrumentalist musician (from keyboards to guitar and bass) and prolific songwriter. His best-known composition, “Sandy” was sung by John Travolta in the hit movie Grease. Two other songs of his have made the billboard Hot 100, “Top Forty” and “Only One Song” both on the group’s “ Sha Na Na” (Gold Boots) album. Scott composed “Wrestling Tonight” performed by Sha Na Na for the 1985 film Grunt The Wrestling Movie, and recorded a solo album on Rolling Rock Records, “Transmissions from Space.” He also self-produced the original “Boomer Humor” CD by his side-band, Hong Kong Tailor and the Prom Kings.
Raised in Kansas City, Missouri, Scott lives in Los Angeles, and has been seen around town performing as part of Art Fein’s Elvis birthday parties, Ronnie Mack’s Barn Dance, and as an occasional member of Chuck E. Weiss and the GD Liars, the hippest band in town.
He is married and has two fabulous daughters.
Donny York is a native of Idaho and a 1971 graduate of Columbia, where he co-founded Sha Na Na. He is a veteran of Woodstock, the movie Grease and The Sha Na Na TV Show. Donny penned a song on an early road tour, urging establishment of a “Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame.” He later performed the song on Sha Na Na’s hit TV series. Finally, his prophecy came true with the opening of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland in 1995.
Donny has returned to his North West northwest roots, now living near the Idaho border in Spokane, Washington, where he enjoys skiing and camping in the nearby mountains.
He worked with Pat Boone on the latter’s preparation of Pat Boone’s America, 50 Years, a career memoir that included Donny’s commentary about historical settings the book explored. His essay on the place of the “King of Square” in rock music history remains one of the most visited pages in the PatBoone.com web site. Says Donny, “Rock ‘n’ Roll has nothing to do with a generation gap anymore. Nowadays, it’s really a generation bridge.”
Originally from the Bronx, New York, drummer Paul Kimbarow now lives in San Diego where he is one of the most sought-after musicians in the area. With his diverse musical background he has performed and recorded with a myriad of artists including A.J. Croce, the Ventures, Angela Bofill, Willie Colon, Robin Henkel, Chuck Berry, Ashford and Simpson, The Platters, The Gypsy Swing All-Stars and now Sha Na Na. His television appearances include “The Tonight Show”, “The Today Show” and “Rock Concert” and Austin City Limits.
Randy Hill was born in Dayton, Ohio. At age 8, his family moved to Westchester, CA. At age 12, after seeing the Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show, he knew he wanted to play guitar. He immediately went to his local music store and started taking lessons. Soon he formed his first band, The Illusions, who got good enough to play at the 7th grade dance at his junior high. They got paid in snacks.
Subsequently throughout his four decade career (working for a lot more than snacks) he has performed and recorded with an array of national and international artists: The Pointer Sisters, Rick James, Stephen Stills, Johnny Hallyday, Veronique Sanson, The Ohio Express and now Sha Na Na.
When not touring, Randy works as a producer/ engineer/ guitarist/ bassist at Shut Up & Play studio in California’s San Fernando Valley. He also works with The Rescue Riders, an organization he founded that transports and fosters homeless animals.
“Downtown” Michael Brown originally from Newport Beach in Orange County Ca. now hails from Pahrump Nevada. The son of renowned jazz Pianist, Ronnie Brown, Michael has played the saxophone since the age of nine. He started out on a clarinet but quickly moved to saxophone because: 1. Clarinet players were not allowed in the school jazz band at Hienze Kaiser Middle School, and 2. His big brother said, “Girls dig saxophone players a lot more than clarinet players”.
A regular on the Las Vegas and national touring scene he has performed with the likes of, Buckwheat Zydeco, The Platters, Lil’ Elmo and the Cosmos, Shake Rattle and Roll, Launi Kristopher, Mitch Woods and His Rocket 88’s, the house band at Ivan Kane’s Forty Deuce Club inside Mandalay Bay Las Vegas, and now Sha Na Na.
When not rocking, he is the Coola Suncare Education Ambassador, the Executive Director for the Melanoma Education Foundation Nevada chapter and part time Racecar driver. Michael has a solo c.d.: WITH ALL MY HEART, an original eclectic blend of music from Pop-rock to Jazz-funk, punctuated by a ballad dedicated to melanoma awareness and the memory of his wife Amanda. It is available on CD Baby. (http://cdbaby.com/cd/downtownmichael).
Everything about Tim Butler is old-fashioned, from his Buddy Holly glasses to his vintage checkered shirts. Butler, a longtime San Diego bassist who has toured with Sha Na Na, The Rockin’ Aces and Hot Rod Lincoln is known as a go to guy for bass, guitar and singing. Tim has worked with almost all of San Diego’s top artists and even has a classic profession. He owns Quality Letterpress, a custom print shop that makes everything from wedding invitations to concert posters…except Butler makes everything on his antique letterpress machines, some dating back to before the Civil War… That’s “old school”!