Friday, June 19, 2009

photo friday: sha na na

Photo Friday: An opportunity to share some of what is beautiful and wonderful about life.

Okay... before anyone questions my sanity, I'm feeling a bit nostalgic this evening. My idea of music today does not even almost feature men running around in glam rock gold lame outfits, especially ones that could pass as Billy Crystal's brother.

I adored Sha Na Na when I was in high school. They consumed all my time. My best friend and I never missed a show, knew all their songs, had all their albums, practiced all their dance routines, saw them live every chance we got and even assigned which Sha Na Na our friends could have a crush on! (That part sounds so Mean Girls.) It would have been inconceivable to share your Sha Na Na with anyone you knew! My guy was Johnny. He's on the right in the above picture in the light jeans and track sweatshirt. I loved all things Italian even back then, so I got one of the two obviously Italian guys in the group. My friend got the other one, Jocko (in the wine satin shirt). I thought Jocko was cuter (taller and chunkier) but Johnny definitely had more talent, so I was okay with it. Never mind that Johnny Contardo was born in 1951... and that put him at 28 when I was 16... fantasies are wonderful things.

For all their corniness, Sha Na Na holds a real place in music history. They performed right before Jimi Hendrix at Woodstock in 1969 and was included in the Woodstock film. It is thought their appearance at the festival and on the film helped catapult the 50's nostalgia craze. Younger folks will remember them from the movie version of Grease. They were Johnny and the Gamblers, the band that preformed at the prom. My boy Johnny was the front man. (Have I ever told you I saw that movie more times than I care to remember??) I first discovered them on television. Their variety show ran from 1977 to 1981 (coincidentally the same years I was in high school.)

Their music was good. I developed a real appreciation for the music of the 1950's. Sha Na Na put out bunches of albums and as their popularity grew, they even included original (non-50's sounding) songs on some of them. Johnny Contardo released a couple of solo albums, Changeover was the only one I got my hands on. (This was back in the days of vinyl.)

As a Photo Friday bonus, I am including a video of Sha Na Na singing Those Magic Changes (which is featured in Grease.) By the way, Johnny received a Grammy nomination for the soundtrack for Grease and the album went platinum.

1 comment:

  1. You know I thought Johnny WAS Billy Crystal forever right!? I watched "Soap" with my brother when I was little and to a 5 or 6 year old they looked like the same guy.


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