Jon "Bowser" Bauman - vocals, keyboards; Alan Cooper - vocals; Robert Leonard - vocals; Donald "Donnie" York - vocals; Richard Joffe - vocals; Scott Powell - vocals; Frederick "Denny" Greene - vocals; Scott Simon - vocals, piano; Johnny Contardo - vocals, keyboards, drums; Leonard "Lennie" Baker - sax; Chris Donald - lead guitar; Elliot Cahn - rhythm guitar; Bruce Clarke - bass; John "Jocko" Marcinello - drums
Named after the refrain of the 1950's hit "Get A Job" by the Silhouettes, Sha Na Na was formed by Columbia University students in 1969 at the height of the hippie counterculture. Wearing gold lame outfits and greased up hairdos, they perfected a song and dance repertoire of classic 1950s doo-wop and seminal rock 'n' roll. As the second to last performers (prior to Jimi Hendrix) at the legendary Woodstock Festival in 1969, they gained national attention for their wild stage show, which balanced humor with a dead-on tribute to rock 'n' roll's golden era. This led to extensive touring, often performing at the Fillmores and opening for many of the best contemporary bands of the day.
This 1973 Winterland headlining performance captures the band near the peak of their onstage power, topping a bill that also featured Stoneground and the Persuasions. The group's enthusiasm for the material and the high energy pacing of their performance is undeniable. One need not be a fan of 1950s rock 'n' roll to appreciate it, as the energy and exuberance of their live shows comes through loud and clear. Much of the material performed this night was included on the groups first several albums. Elliot Cahn's live arrangements are reverential to the originals, with a strong focus on the vocal arrangements. The musicians provide a high-energy backdrop on the rockers and lay back on the slower numbers, allowing the vocals to shine on such over-the-top numbers as "Tell Laura I Love Her." Additional highlights include two of the group's signature songs, "Get a Job" and "Goodnight Sweetheart," as well as the irresistibly fun "Summertime, Summertime," and a remarkably beautiful reading of "Chances Are." Also featuring some of the most influential songs of the 1950s, like the opener "Rock Around The Clock" and "Jailhouse Rock," this is early rock 'n' roll sing-a-long dance music at its finest and it is no wonder the band was greeted with approval from both young and old alike. For younger listeners, not only were all the songs undeniably catchy and fun to sing, but they also provided musical insight into the lives of their parents. For the parents, Sha Na Na was a welcome return to simpler times, when these songs were the soundtrack to the dances and sock hops of their youth in the 1950s and early 1960s.
Although Sha Na Na became increasingly campy as the 1970s rolled on, at the time of this Winterland performance, they were still clearly championing the songs first and foremost. Most of these songs will be familiar to anyone who grew up in the 1960s or '70s as the vast majority of them continued receiving radio play well into the 1970s and appeared in countless 1950s nostalgia oriented programs, such as "Happy Days." Sha Na Na certainly deserves credit for helping to spark the 1950s nostalgia craze, inspiring the Broadway musical Grease and the movie of the same name (in which they appeared as Johnny Casino & the Gamblers.) In 1977, the group landed their own TV show deal, which had a successful six year run, featuring guests as diverse as Chubby Checker, James Brown and the Ramones, all of whom appreciated Sha Na Na's enthusiasm and humor and relished joining them in paying homage to the past. Sha Na Na had one straightforward message, which has endured to the present day—rock 'n' roll is here to stay.