Most Boomers have heard of Sha Na Na and remember their successful late 70's TV show, but young visitors to the Museum at Bethel Woods Center for the Arts not only don't recognize the name, they don't associate the band with Woodstock. Hendrix, of course. Sha Na Na? Never heard of them.Not many had heard of the band made up of Columbia University undergrads before that famous August 1969 weekend in Bethel, NY either. And most weren't there to hear the band on Monday morning.Sha Na Na was there, though. They "opened" for Jimi Hendrix, an acquaintance and apparently the person who punched their ticket to Woodstock.
Sha Na Na John Jocko Marcellino
You can win some bar bets by asking who the youngest person to play at Woodstock was? Those who have an answer will often reply, "Santana's drummer, Michael Shrieve. Country Joe McDonald boost that belief dozens of times each day during the repeating movie in the entrance to the Main Gallery at Bethel Wood's Museum.McDonald is wrong. It's John Jocko Marcellino, Sha Na Na's drummer. Born May 12, 1950.
For five years after Woodstock, the band toured and then landed the aforementioned TV show. It had an eight-year run. In 1978 they appeared in Grease, the wildly popular film adaptation of the rock’n’roll revival musical.In addition to that movie, Marcellino has appeared in many others, including Rain Man. Check out his IMDB page.
Jocko continues to be in music and perform with his own band that departs from doo wop and believes in the blues. He released an album (“Funky Chicken” heard above) called Make It Simple.
Henry Gross singing lead on “Remember Then” from Sha Na Na’s first album
original member of Sha Na Na
youngest Woodstock alum
Hit single “Shannon”
center of a profanity-laced Casey Kasem rant
Henry Gross was born on April 1, 1951 in Brooklyn, NY. According to his site, "By age thirteen his first band, The Auroras, performed at The New Jersey pavilion of the Worlds' Fair in New York City. At age fourteen he was playing regularly in local clubs all over the New York area and spending his summers playing at Catskill Mountain Resort hotels."
When he was 18, Henry Gross helped form Sha Na Na.
Sha Na Na's successful appearance at the Woodstock Music and Art Fair launched their career. It also launched Henry Gross's career as he went solo in 1970.
Though his first album was not a commercial success, Gross continued to release albums and they sold better. He also had success as a sessions guitarist on recordings by Dion and Jim Croce.
In 1976, he released the song "Shannon."It was written about the passing of Beach Boy Carl Wilson's Irish Setter of the same name.
Nine years later a request for the song led to a now infamous tirade by Casey Kasem. On September 14, 1985 while recording his show, Kasem read a "Long-Distance Dedication" from a listener who asked Kasem to play the song "Shannon" because his dog Snuggles had died.
Kasem was upset that the dedication had segued out of the uptempo "Dare Me" by the Pointer Sisters. Here is that piece. Warning: this is a side of Casey you've likely not heard before. NSFW. You have to click to listen.
Henry Gross continues to perform regularly throughout the United States.
Happy birthday Henry!
Frederick "Dennis" Greene, born in New York City, was a founding member of Sha Na Na and later became a movie studio executive and then a law professor. It was while he and the other original members of Sha Na Na were attending Columbia University that they formed the Columbia Kingsmen. Because there already was a well-known band called the Kingsmen (they sang the infamous "Louie, Louie") they changed their name to Sha Na Na after the nonsense lyrics in the Coasters hit song, "Get a Job."
None of them realized the distance that idea would travel.
He sang with Sha Na Na at the Woodstock Music and Art Fair. After receiving widespread exposure from Woodstock the movie and the album in 1970, the rock group became an overnight success. For the next three years, Mr. Greene attended classes on weekdays and toured on weekends. He graduated from Columbia with a B.A. in English in 1972.
He was in the movie Grease as well as in the group’s television series, “Sha Na Na.” The variety show aired from 1978 to 1981.
After 15 years with the group Greene left Sha Na Na to pursue a master’s degree at Harvard and a law degree at Yale. He went on to become vice president of production and features at Columbia Pictures, where he worked on Spike Lee’s “School Daze,” and later became president of Lenox/Greene Films.
Greene eventually settled in law. He worked as a professor at multiple universities, including University of Dayton, Florida A & M University, and Ohio State University.
Dennis Greene died on September 5, 2015. His obituary appeared in the New York Times >>> NYT article