by Cheryl B.
I became a Sha Na Na admirer probably around the late '70s, when their
syndicated series ran on a local station every Saturday night, and I'd
often put my little cassette recorder by the TV to record the sound.
In the midst of all the great music and good-natured silliness, I
quickly became a huge fan.
In fact, it was their renditions of the classics that turned me on in a
big way to '50's rock 'n roll. To this day, it remains my all-time
favorite style of music, thanks in no small part to Sha Na Na.
One thing that really impresses me about the group is that, despite all
of all their wacky antics on the show, they never seemed to be mocking
the oldies music they performed; it's more like they were just having
great fun paying tribute to the rambunctious yet innocent joy of
the '50's era.
They tend to get labeled as merely a silly novelty act, but there are
some extremely talented musicians in Sha Na Na (Jocko on drums,
Screamin' on keyboards, Danny and Chico on guitar, Lennie on sax) and
also some truly gifted vocalists (how Johnny escaped becoming a major
star still astounds me, and Bowzer's bass voice is one of the best
around). Their renditions of some of those rock 'n roll tunes actually
outshine the originals.
And it also didn't take very long for this girl to develop a huge
crush on Johnny Contardo! It wasn't only
the fact that he was devastatingly and heartbreakingly beautiful, but
also his amazing dance moves, his fabulous sense of humor, and, of
course, his gorgeous, angelic voice crooning those classic love songs,
as his deep brown eyes burned seductively right through the screen and
made every girl out there feel as though he was singing just for her.
Add that incredible falsetto voice to the mix, and, needless to say, I
was hooked. I'd hold my breath and pray that he'd have the lead on one
of the songs that week, and was always overjoyed when I'd see that
sweet face framed in the disco ball in the concert segment!
So I collected as many albums as I could find (see my album list for my mini-reviews of some of
them) and had a little scrapbook of photos and articles, plus my highly
amateurish sketches of the guys. I spent countless happy hours
watching their show and listening to their music. And I even named my
little blue parakeet Ginger, after the character that Pamela Myers
played on the series!
Well, by the mid-80's, I'd moved on to other fan interests and had
placed Sha Na Na on the back burner of my mind, although I never
stopped thinking they were great - I always smiled whenever I'd see
them in "Grease," and still got goosebumps and butterflies when Johnny
sang "Those Magic Changes." But thoughts of the group were relegated
to the occasional happy memory, and seeing the guys in concert a couple
of times in the early '90's - it was after Bowzer and Johnny had
already left, but still such terrific fun!
And then, in early 2002, a dear lady sent me a videotape of some old
episodes of the show, after seeing a post I'd made at a tape trading
newsgroup, and I immediately found myself thrust back into my young
adulthood. All the fun and music and memories flooding back again, and
I discovered that my inner adolescent girl still swoons just as hard
over Johnny now in my early 40's as I did 20 years ago!
So now, I'm the moderator of a wonderful Sha Na Na fan group at Yahoo.
I have a couple of cool posters of the guys on my wall. I have my
original vinyl copies of their albums, plus I've got all that great
music in CD format to listen to and enjoy, thanks to some great people
at the Yahoo group (and finding some of the rare import CD versions on
eBay). I have both of Johnny's rare, amazing solo albums - Changeover and Ballads For Lovers - and had those
transferred to CD, as well. Oh yeah, and I made these little Sha Na Na
and Johnny Zone websites, too!
But most importantly, some truly wonderful friendships have sprung up
from this renewed fandom, and I'm finding that Sha Na Na fans are,
without a doubt, some of the nicest, most wonderful people around. : )
So I've come full circle, and I'm having the time of my life! Thanks
to Sha Na Na and all the years of happiness and fun you've given to all
BACK TO THE JOHNNY ZONE!
BACK TO CHERYL'S SHA NA NA PAGE!