Alan Cooper - vocals; Robert Leonard - vocals; Jon "Bowser" Bauman - vocals, keyboards; Scott Powell - vocals; Frederick "Denny" Greene - vocals; Richard Joffe - vocals; "Screamin'" Scott Simon - vocals, piano; Johnny Contardo - vocals, keyboards, drums; Vinnie Taylor (real name Chris Donald) - lead guitar; Elliot Cahn - rhythm guitar, arranger; Bruce Clarke - bass; Leonard "Lonnie" Baker - sax; John "Jocko" Marcinello - drums
Named after the refrain of the 1950's hit "Get A Job" by the Slhouettes, 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 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 and 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.
Sha Na Na certainly deserves credit for helping to spark the 1950s nostalgia craze in the 1970s, 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 James Brown, Chubby Checker, and the Ramones.
This 1972 Winterland performance captures the band near the height of its onstage powers, opening a bill that featured Stoneground and the Persuasions. The group's enthusiasm for the material and the high-energy pacing of their performance is undeniably infectious here, and one need not be a fan of 1950s rock 'n' roll to appreciate it. In 1972, the group was less focused on campiness and clearly championing the songs first and foremost, most of which will be familiar to anyone who grew up in the 1960s or '70s. Most of these hits continued receiving radio play well into the 1970s and appeared in countless 1950s nostalgia oriented programs, such as Happy Days.
Much of the material performed this night was included on the group's self-titled debut album and what wasn't, was included on their 1972 follow-up. Elliot Cahn's live arrangements are reverential to the originals for the most part, with a focus clearly on the vocals. The musicians provide a high-energy backdrop on the rockers and law back on the slower numbers, allowing the histrionic vocals to shine on such over-the-top numbers as "Tell Laura I Love Her" and "Sixteen Candles." This is early rock 'n' roll sing-a-long dance music at its finest, and it's no wonder the band was greeted with approval from both young and old alike.
The group sums it up best right before they close their set, when a bandmember humorously announces "We have just one thing to say to you fucking hippies..." prior to launching into "Rock And Roll Is Here To Stay."