Show Type: Musical Variety
Produced: 1977-1981 (97 episodes)
Released: September 1977
Sha Na Na Members
Jon "Bowzer" Bauman
Frederick "Dennis" Greene
"Dirty Dan" McBride (1977-1980)
John "Jocko" Marcellino
David "Chico" Ryan
"Screamin' Scott" Simon
Donald "Donny" York
Avery Schreiber (1977-1978)
Kenneth Mars (1977-1978)
Phil Roth (1977-1978)
June Gable (1978-1981)
Soupy Sales (1978-1981)
Karen Hartman (1980-1981)
Michael Sklar (1978-1979)
This festive mixture of 1950's rock-n-roll and corny comedy sketches made Sha Na Na one of the surprise hits of the late 70's.
The setting was a city street, and the 10 members of Sha Na Na all played variations on the dumb-but-lovable 1950's "greaser" - complete with leather jackets and ducktail haircuts. The Emcee and unofficial leader of the group was Bowzer, who would strike a pose and flex the muscles in his skinny arms while grinning with a mouthful of very big teeth!
The jokes were bad and the comedy skits usually silly, but they were done with infectious enthusiasm. The guys performed energetically and obviously didn't take anything too seriously. TV Guide said, "They seem like nothing so much as ten little boys - average age late 20's - having fun in Hollywood."
Each had his own personality. Bowzer, the smarter-than-he-looks leader; Johnny, the sexy, baby-faced Italian; Lennie, the happy, bearded saxophone player; Denny Greene, a talented black singer and dancer; Dirty Dan, another youthful good-looker; Screamin' Scott, the balding piano player who look like Elton John; Jocko, chunky and on the crazy side; Chico, a handsome, macho type; Santini, also balding and on the heavy side (he used to be called Scott Powell and then Captain Outrageous) and finally, Donny, the spaced-out guy in dark glasses.
When the guys performed an oldie like "At the Hop" or "Book of Love," there might be jokes thrown in between the lyrics but nobody mocked the music. "They have a lot of fun," said singer Bobby Vee after doing the show, "but they're doing the music of the 50's in the spirit it was intended." And when sexy Johnny did a dreamy ballad like "Our Day Will Come," the girls in the audience still swooned just as they did in the 50's!
All sorts of guest stars stopped by to visit Sha Na Na, some of them included: Ethel Merman, Phyllis Diller, Chuck Berry, Freddy Cannon, Dr. Joyce Brothers, the Shirelles, Bo Diddley, Brenda Lee and Chubby Checker.
Sha Na Na was formed in 1969 by 12 Columbia University students who did a cappella oldies on campus and then went on to professional gigs. The group was first called The Kingsmen, then changed their names to avoid confusion with another group of the same name.
Sha Na Na - whose name came from the background chant in a 1950's hit by the Silhouettes called "Get A Job" - was a surprise hit with the acid-rock generation, scoring a major success at Woodstock in the summer of 1969. However, since they did only other people's music, the novelty soon wore off and they were in decline when their manager pushed them into TV. Only four of the group's original members remained by then: Greene, Santini, Marcellino and York.
Although they were true professionals, they were still kids at heart and they closed every show each week with the slogan, "Grease for Peace!"
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