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Beaver Valley's Jaggerz & Jerry Reed named to Pittsburgh music hall of fame
By Scott Tady email@example.com
Mar 15, 2017
MARSHALL TWP. -- Beaver Valley chart-toppers The Jaggerz and New Brighton recording studio creator Jerry Reed will compose half of the 2017 Class of the Pittsburgh Rock 'N Roll Legends.
Tommy James and the Shondells and disc jockey Chuck Brinkman were the other two inductees announced Wednesday for Pittsburgh's version of a rock and roll hall of fame.
The induction ceremony will take place April 27 at Jergel's Rhythm Grille in Marshall Township, with tickets on sale now.
"When I think back to my first wedding band making $5 and all the ham sandwiches we could eat, I never would have thought 50 years later we'd be named Pittsburgh Rock Legends," Jaggerz singer Jimmie Ross said. "I'm thrilled. It's just a big honor."
Donnie Iris, a member of The Jaggerz during their days on the charts, said news of the band's selection was a "complete and utter surprise.
"We shared many years of ups and downs together and I enjoyed every day I spent with the awesome Jaggerz," Iris, a previous inductee to the Rock Legends for his solo career, said. "I can't wait to get back on the stage with them. Thank you, Pittsburgh, for all you've done for us."
This also is well-deserved recognition for the late-Reed, said Rick Granati, whose band the Granati Brothers -- like many top-notch regional acts including Iris -- made music at Jeree Records, the studio Reed opened in 1973.
"He was a visionary and entrepreneur who helped create the Beaver County rock 'n' roll scene as well as Pittsburgh's by making it possible to record your efforts no matter what," Granati said. "A servant's heart that we all loved dearly."
More than 1,400 registered music fans helped choose the Rock Legends inductees through online voting last month. Those results were factored in with votes by an academy of 200 regional music industry professionals. Organizers say it was a tight contest, where nominees like The Clarks, Rusted Root and Jimmy Roach fell a bit short.
One winner was chosen per four separate categories.
Modern Era Legends category
Tommy James and the Shondells, a band that earned 23 gold singles along with nine gold and platinum albums on their way to selling over 100 million records worldwide. Their smash hits include “Crimson and Clover," Hanky Panky,” "Mony Mony" and "I Think We’re Alone Now”.
Though James founded the original band in Michigan, his first substantial radio airplay came in Pittsburgh, prompting him to relocate here and form a new version of The Shondells with members of the Westmoreland County band the Raconteurs. That version of the band became a major success as recording and touring artists. Pittsburghers Eddie Gray and Mike Vale co-wrote the band’s rock classic song "Crystal Blue Persuasion".
According to his Facebook page, James is working on a new album.
The Jaggerz, the Beaver County rhythm and blues/pop-rock band that first achieved regional success filling venues like the Club Naturale in Beaver Falls, and getting KQV-AM airplay for a 1968 single "(That’s Why) Baby I Love You." In 1970, "The Rapper," written by Iris, went to No. 1 on the national Cash Box chart and No. 2 on Billboard. Certified as a million-seller, "The Rapper" earned the band an appearance on Dick Clark's "American Bandstand." The Jaggerz, with original vocalist Jimmie Ross and guitarist Benny Faiella, continue to perform today.
Music Industry Professional Legends
Jerry Reed, who in the 1960s built a small recording studio in his basement in Beaver where groups like The Jaggerz recorded.
In 1973, Reed opened what's now known as Jeree Recording Studio in New Brighton, which produced releases by top regional acts, some with national success, such as Iris, the Iron City Houserockers, Billy Price, Wild Cherry, B.E. Taylor and Kenny Blake.
Hollywood took notice of Jeree's quality sound, choosing that studio as the spot to make the soundtrack for Stephen King and George Romero's horror flick "Creepshow" starring Hal Holbrook and Adrianne Barbeau.
Reed, who also founded the popular Jerry's Curb Service eatery in Bridgewater, died from liver cancer in 2000 at the age of 73.
Music Broadcaster Legends
Chuck Brinkman was one of Pittsburgh’s most popular radio deejays from the 1960s to the 1980s, entertaining listeners of KQV, WTAE and WFFM/WMYG. Brinkman introduced The Beatles at their only Pittsburgh stop in 1964 at the Civic Arena.
Formerly of Dormont, Brinkman remains in radio, currently the part-owner of rock oldies station KGVL-FM in Greenville, Texas.
The Rock Legends induction ceremony also will recognize the Pittsburgh connection to the late musical genius Prince, including his tour manager (Alan Leeds), saxophonist (Eric Leeds) and trumpet player (Matt Blistan).
Tickets for the event cost $75 for general admission, $200 for VIP (includes a full bar, heavy hors d'oeuvres and reserved seating) and are on sale now at pittsburghrocklegends.com. The event is a fundraiser for the Cancer Caring Center of Pittsburgh, and also will include a live and silent auction including autographed memorabilia.
"We thank the fans for voting, and hope everyone will join us to congratulate the honorees and all of the nominees, for everything they’ve done to enrich our lives through music," Rebecca Whitlinger, executive director of the Cancer Caring Center, said. "The opportunity to see so much Pittsburgh talent in one room on one night is what makes the Legends celebration truly unique."
The first three annual ceremonies, held at the Station Square Hard Rock Cafe and Stage AE, culminated with all-star musical performances featuring inductees and nominees like Price, Joe Grushecky, the Clarks and Beaver County's resident rock star Iris, a Class of 2015 inductee as a solo artist thanks to national hits "Ah! Leah!" and "Love Is Like a Rock."
The Jaggerz and Iris will celebrate their induction together on stage at Jergel's.
"I'm sure we'll play 'The Rapper' and 'Gotta Find My Way Back Home' and probably a couple more tunes," Ross said.
Ross said he wishes Jaggerz' bandmates Billy Maybray and Jim Pugliano, both of whom have passed away, could be there, too.
"They were a big part of our success," Ross said. "They'd think it's a big honor, too."