Tuesday, May 31, 2016

A Very Special Sha Na Na Reunion ... and Some Words From Henry Gross!

As we told you the other day, the surviving original members of Sha Na Na are getting together for a special concert event back where the whole thing started nearly 50 years ago ... they'll join the current group (which still includes two original members) on stage for a VERY special performance on Friday, June 3rd, at Lerner Hall at Columbia University in New York City.  

Here's the original blurb we ran a couple of days ago ... followed by a note we received from original Sha Na Na member (and long-time friend of Forgotten Hits) Henry Gross ...  

SHA NA NA: Original Members Reuniting Next Week 
Sha Na Na is reuniting -- for one night only  
Co-founder Henry Gross tells us that a planned concert by their current lineup has morphed into a reunion welcoming back all eleven surviving original members.   
The June 3rd private show at New York's Columbia University -- where the band formed -- seemed the ideal opportunity to welcome back former members, such as Henry, who later recorded the '70s surf-sound ballad "Shannon."   
Henry Gross on how the June 3rd show grew into a Sha Na Na reunion:  
"That's where it started.  Jocko [Marcellino], who is one of the original members of Sha Na Na, is the current manager. And they just took this gig thinking it was going to be a Sha Na Na gig -- and then it turned into this other thing. It's sort of really perfect that it's at Columbia University, because that's where it started."   
A limited number of tickets for the show are available through the university.   
Henry Gross on the band's mission and how it found its name:  
"Sha Na Na, if you think about it, was the first tribute band. It could have rolled off anyone's tongue. In the song, 'Get a Job' by The Silhouettes, 'Yip yip yip yip, boom, sha na na na na, sha na na na na na,' and it was actually a brilliant name. But the sad part was when we got a copy of the sheet music of 'Get a Job,' the original words were, 'Sha da da,' [chuckle]."  
More information here:  http://www.shanana.com/reunion-69.htm   

Hi Kent,   
As you may know, with the passing of Sha Na Na fellow founding member Frederic Dennis “Denny” Greene, the surviving eleven creators of the original band who performed at the “Woodstock Festival” in 1969 will do it again for the first and likely last time at Lerner Hall at Columbia University in NYC Friday night June 3rd. This long overdue reunion came about as an add on to a performance by the current version of the band, which still has two original members- Jocko Marcellino and Don York. We’ll be doing about ten songs. I’ll be singing “Remember Then” and “Blue Moon” as I did back then. On Blue Moon I’ll be joined by Bowzer, who joined the group when I left, on bass vocal. The original members, other than the two who still tour with the group, are coming from far and near and performing at our own expense for the sheer joy of seeing each other and taking one last ride on the Doo Wop train.  
We were, if nothing else, a harbinger of things to come by simultaneously being the world’s first Punk Band and Tribute Act. The group re-defined the fifties from memories of The McCarthy hearings and the Korean War to those of a joyful era of Grease, Happy Days and ultimately The “Dice” Man! I’m so proud to have been a part of it and delight in the fact that we were, inexplicably, the perfect combination of people to re create the innocence and charm of the era by bringing a new generation the best of the 50’s music from Doo Wop to Elvis. We were lucky but we worked hard and somehow the pieces fell in place - Magic!!!! I believe we have a whole lot left and something tells me we’re gonna tear that Mo’ Fo' up!   
Cheering us on will be Sha Na Na’s original manager, Ed Goodgold and the legendary producer of “The Woodstock Festival”, Mike Lang!   
So …  
Hey you hoods! Come on down and “Grease for Peace!” Ask for “Guest Tickets” at the Lerner Hall box office in person or online!
Hoping to see you there,
Elliot “Gino” Cahn, Rich Joffe, Joe Witkin, Alan Cooper, Bruce Clarke, Scott Powell, Rob Leonard, Dave Garrett, Don York, Jocko Marcellino and me,  Henry Gross (The one from “Brooklyn College” and the youngest performer at “Woodstock” at age 18!)

It sounds like this is going to be a BLAST!!!  Have fun, Henry ... and please get back to us after the big event with a full report! (kk)

We talked to Henry Gross for the first time very early on in Forgotten Hits ... (2002 to be exact!) ... 
Here is a brief excerpt of that long-forgotten interview ... which talked about Sha Na Na's appearance at Woodstock ... and also told the true story behind Henry's big solo hit "Shannon" ...

Kent Kotal / Forgotten Hits:  Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with us today.  I understand that you are currently touring the U.K. and I really appreciate your taking a few moments out of your busy schedule to talk with some of your music fans back here at home.  
You obviously had a real appreciation for the rock music that started it all in order to have been involved with SHA NA NA from the very beginning.  Can you tell us how the concept for that band came about?  

Henry Gross:  Sha Na Na started when a college glee club, "The Columbia Kingsmen", did a few oldies at a school pub called "The Lion's Den" to a tumultuous response. Seeing this, the brother of one of the members, George Leonard, had the vision and put the concept to the members. Some stayed, some quit when the new direction was taken. I was at a different college but was in a band with two of the members of that glee club. They asked me to join and I did.  

kk:  The band took a tongue-in-cheek look at some of the music of the '50's in their stage act but musically and vocally were right on the money ... in other words, the music never suffered.  How did SHA NA NA happen to be booked at WOODSTOCK?  What was that whole experience like?  There couldn't have been a less-likely audience for you to play to!!!  

HG:  After playing at the hottest club in New York, The "Steve Paul Scene" and playing at "The Fillmore East" to incredible reactions, we were added to the bill at "Woodstock".  
Woodstock was great fun. I got to drive to the stage (for about three hours) with Jerry Garcia! Great guy! I also got to spend time with Jimi Hendrix, who I'd gotten to know fairly well through a guy called Velvert Turner, who sat next to me in "The Midwood High School Mixed Chorus" in Brooklyn. Velvert was very close with Jimi and I was lucky to have had the opportunity to know both of them, as they were really great and talented guys. I also met and spoke to Alvin Lee, who is a friend of mine today, although he has no recollection of our meeting then. Why would he? It was right after he came off stage and there were 300,000 other folks talking to him at approximately the same time!
kk:  Jumping ahead, the song that you are most famous for here in the States has got to be SHANNON...it's a BEAUTIFUL tune and your website explains again what inspired you to write it.  Once you knew that you were dedicating this song to CARL WILSON of THE BEACH BOYS, did that help dictate the arrangement?  The vocals are beautiful and I'm sure many folks at the time thought that perhaps THE BEACH BOYS were actually singing on the record!  

HG:  I wrote the song without conscious effort to sound like anything. I more or less channeled it while thinking about a visit to Carl's Beverly Hills home I'd just had. I was always a big "Beach Boys" fan and I guess subconsciously I wrote in in their style. It took about ten minutes to write with almost no changes afterwards. One of those "meant to be's" I guess!    

kk:  I know that you've only got a limited amount of time to talk today, due to your commitments on the road (and I thank you again for spending some of it with us ... I really appreciate that) ... so let me ask you one more thing ...
It seems that every musician feels they've recorded a GREAT piece of music that the public hasn't heard ...
If there was one other HENRY GROSS song that you'd want us to know about, what would it be? 
And finally, in closing, can you bring us up to speed on what you've been doing musically ... the nature of the U.K. tour ... and what can we expect from Henry Gross in the future?  

HG:  My cd's "Nothing But Dreams" and my latest "I'm Hearing Things" on our "Zelda" label are the best work I've done to date. I'm over in The UK touring with my dear friend Joe Brown, who has been a major star over here for 40 years . The tour has been wonderful and I've gone down a storm! We have two more shows, the last of which is at "The Cavern" in Liverpool on the 17th of November. I've been recording all my shows here for a live cd to be released as soon as I mix it! Hopefully I'll find a way to do more US dates but they are difficult to get these days.  

kk:  Thank you, Henry, from all of us here at FORGOTTEN HITS.  

HG:  All the best from across the big pond! 
-- Henry Gross

For the complete, true story behind Henry's big hit "Shannon" (told in Henry Gross' own words), be sure to check out The Forgotten Hits Website here:

And for all the latest on Henry Gross' career, be sure to visit his website, where you'll find all kinds of great, recent releases since the titles he mentioned above in 2002 ...

I am very busy this year, writing, recording and touring.
Here's my upcoming schedule:

June 1st: Redbones, Jackson TN 8:00 PM solo show
June 3rd: Sha Na Na reunion, Columbia University - Lerner Hall NYC
June 12th: Lafayettes, Memphis TN 4:00 PM Solo show
June 25th: Private show, Ft. Myers, FL
July 9th: Red Dragon Listening Room, Baton Rouge LA Solo show
July 14th: Wateriest, Osh Kosh WI w/ Kansas
July 21st: Humane Society benefit, Portsmouth, OH
July 23rd: Richmond VA , two shows w/ Peter No-one
August 25th: Oldies package show, The Villages FL
September 10th: “One Hit Wanderer” Tucson AZ
September 18th: The Levitt Shell, Memphis TN
October 7th thru December 2nd: 29 shows all over England with the great Joe Brown

I also have recorded approximately 65 new master recordings over the past two years that I’ll be releasing soon. For all my CD’s check:

Thanks for your help in letting folks know about our Sha Na Na reunion. You know I love ya and appreciate all you do for the great “lifers” playing till the wheels fall off! 
The amazing outpouring of love and positivity concerning my upcoming shows just goes to prove our generation and the one before us WAS about the music which is why it's become the new "Classical" music. We were passionate about writing, recording and performing without ever considering merchandising, clothing lines and vulgar "fragrances". There was NEVER a Sha Na Na T- shirt!!!! (Not when I was there anyway.) I think the "branding" of artists is a barnacle on the ship of music rotting the hull from beneath. Support "Live" music - no tuners - no click tracks ... only the best of the moment.
There ... I said it! Thanks again in advance of these shows for your interest, love and support.
I've spoken to a couple of the venues we work regularly with here in Chicago about the possibility of bringing Henry's "One Hit Wanderer" show to The Windy City ... I think it would be the PERFECT fit (not to mention a VERY entertaining night of music and story-telling.  We'll keep you posted.
Thanks, Henry!