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Goodnight, Sweetheart, Goodnight: Watch Sha Na Na totally kill it live on German TV in 1973
05.27.2016
10:17 am
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The Kings of New York, Sha Na Na
 
Those of you that are of (ahem) a certain age will certainly remember faux-50’s band Sha Na Na not only for their music but also for their syndicated television show that ran from 1977 to 1981. I was absolutely obsessed with that show, and adored the band’s goofy antics and faithful fashion homages to the 1950s from the top of their greased back hair, to the seams on the famous gold lamé pants worn by Frederick “Dennis” Greene, Johnny “Kid” Contardo, and Scott “Tony Santini” on the show—one of the most popular in TV syndication at the time.

In addition to appearances in the film 1978 Grease (where the band was depicted as a fictional 1950s band called Johnny Casino and the Gamblers), Sha Na Na was also featured on the films wildly popular soundtrack, and the tearjerker “Sandy” (sung by John Travolta) was co-written by Sha Na Na’s Screamin’ Scott Simon, who got his start with the band playing piano back in 1970, and still performs with them to this day. In this footage (which I’m pretty sure is gonna blow your mind), the band performs nineteen songs for the enthusiastic studio audience in attendance for a taping of German music television show Musikladen in 1973.
 

 
From the minute they hit the stage, it’s clear that we are all in for some high-octane doo-wop, class-act choreography, and the visual treat that is the gangly, rock-and-roll Frankenstein known as “Bowzer” (Jon Bauman)—he’s probably the most recognizable member of the group, too. Since departing Sha Na Na, Bauman continues to tour as his alter-ego “Bowzer” with his group The Stingrays and was also instrumental in helping the passage of the Truth in Music Act—a law that protects musicians and bands from identity theft. Now that’s fucking rock and roll.
 

The gold lamé suits worn by Sha Na Na that drove my young libido into overdrive back in the late 70s
 
And what about those skin-tight gold lamé suits (pictured above)? While conducting my very important “research” for this post, I discovered that all three of them are currently up for sale (along with the matching gold lamé boots and belts, thank you very much) for the tidy sum of $2,500. A small price to pay for a piece of rock and roll history that I’d do almost anything to squeeze myself into (those boys were tight back in the day, to say the least). I’ve probably watched this footage at least five times since stumbling on it and every time I do, it gets better. As one commenter on the Youtube page said, “this deserves a million likes.” To which I say AMEN, brother. If you dig it as much as I do, you can get your very own DVD of the show, here. Enjoy!
 

Sha Na Na on German music television show, Musikladen in 1973.
 

Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Sha Na Na feud with the Ramones

Posted by Cherrybomb
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05.27.2016
10:17 am
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Sha Na Na feud with the Ramones
09.15.2015
08:05 am
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Do you remember Rock ‘n’ Roll radio? Do you remember shitty ‘70s variety show TV?

Do you remember when goofball nostalgia act Sha Na Na invited the Ramones to a “Greaser’s Feud”?

Formed in 1969, Sha Na Na managed to secure an inexplicable spot at Woodstock that very same year—preceding Jimi Hendrix, no less. It was only their eighth gig. Their brief appearance in the film version of that festival catapulted them to retro-greaser stardom, and according to their website, they’re still an active group.

In the late seventies Sha Na Na also inexplicably managed to land a TV deal. Their show ran from 1977 to 1982 and consisted mainly of silly sketch comedy and musical numbers featuring guest stars. And if the Internet’s memory is correct, the Ramones stopped by to participate in the Sha-Na-Nanigans on May 9th, 1979. The skit they appear in is a parody of the game show Family Feud called “Greasers Feud” hosted by Sha Na Na member Jon “Bowzer” Bauman. Oddly enough, Bauman would later go on to host game shows in real life, including The Hollywood Squares.

The Ramones all have awkward speaking parts in this little skit, but moments later, they launch into a rousing version of “Rock ‘n’ Roll High School”—which to my ears, sounds like a different recording than the album version even though it is clearly canned miming.

Of course, one of the best things about this video is seeing members of Sha Na Na dressed as women and dancing in the street to punk rock.

Naturally, no one could have guessed that a group formed in 1969 would outlive all four founding members of the Ramones, but if that’s what it means to win “Greasers Feud,” then Sha Na Na definitely has a leg up on the competition. However, in a strange coincidence I just discovered completely by accident that Sha Na Na founding member Dennis Greene died just days ago.

So, if Marky Ramone can manage to stay alive for a few more years, he may very well prove to be the last greaser standing.

 

 

Posted by Christopher Bickel
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09.15.2015
08:05 am
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The convicted child killer who made a career out of impersonating a dead member of Sha Na Na
03.17.2015
01:06 pm
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Solly
 
Just when you think you’ve heard it all, right about at the point when it seems that the United States could not get any more odd, a story like the one I’m about to relate rears it’s head from the annals of the Internet reminding you about how completely insane this entire thing we all call the “American Experience” can be and has always been. This, readers, is the story of Edward Elmer Solly, a convicted fugitive child killer who, after escaping from jail in 1974 and hiding in plain sight, went on to make a living for himself by impersonating and claiming to be deceased Sha Na Na guitar player, Vinnie Taylor.

As many of you already know, Sha Na Na formed in 1968 as an intentionally retro act imitating doo-wop groups from the 1950’s, slicking back their hair and dressing like what could have been Elvis’ personal, gold lame donning entourage. Famously, they played Woodstock, had a syndicated T.V. show that ran from 1977 to 1981 and appeared in the movie Grease in 1978.  Vinnie Taylor (born Chris Donald) was not in the group at the time of the Woodstock performance, joining the band as lead guitarist in 1971. Sadly, Taylor died of an accidental heroin overdose in 1974, so he wasn’t part of the group during the Grease period, either, but he left an indelible mark on the band of anachronistic performers.
 
Vinnie Taylor
The real Vinnie Taylor, 1973
 
Fast forward to May of 2001 when a guy by the name of Edward Elmer Solly gets arrested while, according to a New York Times report  on the incident, “fishing for snook from a pier in St. Petersburg, Florida.” But Solly wasn’t being arrested for fishing without a license. His capture was in fact the result of years of searching.  You see, in 1969, Solly was convicted for killing the 2-year-old son of his then-girlfriend, Linda Welsh, in Runnemede, New Jersey in what was allegedly a drunken rampage.  He was sent to jail, but escaped in June of 1974 while, according to the New York Times article, “on furlough to visit a dying sister.”
 
Sha Na Na
Sha Na Na circa 1972
 
Amazingly, somewhere in the mean time between his 1974 escape and his 2001 capture, Solly made the seemingly insane choice for a wanted man of turning himself into somewhat of a public figure by impersonating Vinnie Taylor in a variety of doo-wop acts in Florida. Solly told people that he had changed his stage name to “Danny C” from Vinnie Taylor, who Solly claimed had faked his death in 1974 for personal reasons.

In a 2004 CBS News article about Solly, Rebecca Leung reported that:

In Florida, doo-wop bands have always been a hit in bars and clubs along the beach. That’s where Tommy Mara’s group, The Saints, and Joe Locicero’s group, The Mello Kings, became two of Florida’s top local groups.

Both men remember being thrilled that living legend and former Sha Na Na singer Vinny Taylor had moved to town.

“You know, he had the talk,” says Mara. “He talked the talk and he walked the walk.”

The former bad boy of Sha Na Na said he had a new stage name: Danny C. And he even had his own Web site, where fans could log on and see all the rock ‘n’ roll legends he performed with over his career.

Locicero and Mara couldn’t believe their luck when Danny C asked their groups to back him up on stage.

“We featured Tommy and The Saints, and then we featured Danny C from Sha Na Na,” says Mara. “Sold it out.”

People from Sha Na Na eventually got wind of Solly’s act (he had a website for crying out loud, and a minivan with the web address printed prominently on the side) and, not knowing that he was on the run from the law, long-time Sha Na Na member, Peter Erlendson even sent Solly a cease-and-desist email asking him to stop performing as Taylor. According to a 2001 article on Philly.com, Solly actually responded to the email and even tried to convince Erlendson that he was in fact Vinnie Taylor and that Taylor had faked his death.  According to the article, Erlendson said “I can assure you Vinnie is dead. He was a friend.”  Sha Na Na threatened a lawsuit, but allegedly didn’t follow through because they didn’t want to give Solly any more undue attention. 
 
More of this strangeness after the jump…

READ ON
Posted by Jason Schafer
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03.17.2015
01:06 pm
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