Sha Na Na

views updated

Sha Na Na

Sha Na Na , performers of amusing and lively recreations of the music, dress, and choreography of 1950s rock and roll. Membership: John “Bowzer” Bauman, voc. (b. Queens, N.Y., Sept. 14, 1947); Henry Gross, gtr. (b. Brooklyn, N.Y., April 1, 1951); Donald York, kybd., voc; Lennie Baker, sax. (b. Whitman, Mass., April 18, 1946); Johnny “Jocko” Marcellino, drm. The above are original members. Keyboardist-vocalist “Screamin’” Scott Simon joined in 1969. Guitarist-vocalist Dave “Chico” Ryan joined in early 1970s. Group mainstays since the mid–1980s: York, Baker, Marcellino, Simon, and Ryan.

Sha Na Na were launched into international prominence through their appearance at 1969’s Woodstock Festival and the subsequent film. Featured at Ralph Nader’s first rock-and-roll revival show several months later, Sha Na Na frequently upstaged the original 1950s acts in concert during the early 1970s. From 1977 to 1981 Sha Na Na appeared on their own syndicated television show that further expanded their audience.

Formed out of Columbia Univ. glee club the Columbus Kingsmen in 1969, the group was initially comprised of John “Bowzer” Bauman, Johnny Contrado, Donald York, Frederick “Denny” Greene, Lennie Baker, Chris “Vinnie Taylor” Donald, Elliot Cahn, Bruce Clarke, Henry Gross, and Johnny “Jocko” Marcellino. Sha Na Na performed only their seventh engagement on Sunday morning, Aug. 17, 1969, at the Woodstock Festival, preceding Jimi Hendrix. Henry Gross soon left to pursue a solo career that peaked with 1976’s smash hit “Shannon,” and keyboardist-vocalist “Screamin’” Scott Simon joined shortly after the Woodstock appearance. Signed to Kama Sutra Records, the group recorded a number of albums for the label through 1976, scoring their biggest success with 1973’s The Golden Age of Rock ‘n’ Roll. Re-creating the sight and sound of 1950s rock and roll, complete with split-second group choreography, gold lamé costumes, oily ducktail haircuts, and feigned “greaser” hostility, Sha Na Na became a fixture on the rock-and-roll revival circuit of the 1970s. Bassistvocalist Dave “Chico” Ryan joined the group around 1974.

Retaining a remarkably stable lineup during the 1970s, Sha Na Na had their own syndicated television show that ran from 1977 to 1981. They also appeared in the 1978 movie musical Grease, starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John. By the mid-1980s John “Bowzer” Bauman, Frederick “Denny” Greene, and Johnny Contrado had left the group, which continued with Donald York, “Screamin’” Scott Simon, Lennie Baker, Dave “Chico” Ryan, and Johnny “Jocko” Marcellino as mainstays. More a musical revue than a rock band, Sha Na Na continue to play around 150 engagements a year at fairs, clubs, and private parties well into the 1990s.


sha na na : Rock ‘n’ Roll Is Here to Stay (1969); S. N. N. (1971); The Night Is Still Young (1972); The Golden Age of Roc ‘n’ Roll (1973); From the Streets of New York (1973); Hot Sox (1974); Sha Na Now (1975); The Best(1976); S. N. N. Is Here to Stay (1978); Remember Then (1981); Sh-Boom (1981); 34th and Vine (1990); Havin’ an Oldies Party (1991); 25th Anniversary Collection (1993). henry gross : Henry Gross (1972); Henry Gross (1974); Plug Me into Something (1975); Release (1976). “screamin’” scott simon : Transmissions from Space (1982).

—Brock Helander