Monday, October 24, 2011

Name The Band...

Hey, did you ever wonder how some of the local groups picked up their names? In the course of researching the blog and some other projects, Google has given us some answers:

The Del Vikings: There are several stories behind their name. One claims that the group members were fans of the tales of the old-time marauding Vikings; another says that they were fond of the paperback books published by the Viking press that so many servicemen read to pass the off-duty time, and another believes the name was taken from a Brooklyn club/basketball team called the Vikings that Clarence Quick belonged to, and that’s the more likely tale of the three.

The Mellows - Four Dots - Four Troys: The late Fletcher Williams & The Four Dots started out as the Mellows in 1950, about as generic a group name as one could imagine. They were eventually represented by Don DeCarlo, who suggested that they change their name to the Four Dots, piggybacking on the hot-selling and eminently bookable Ink Spots.The Four Dots played the area hops & club circuit while releasing a couple of singles on the Bullseye label

In 1959, just about at the end of their career, the group inked a deal with Freedom Records, who already had a California-based Four Dots as part of their roster. Because of that, the Four Dots released their last wax as the Four Troys (no one remembers how that name was chosen). Did that end the confusion? Nah. The West Coast Four Dots released “Pleading For Your Love,” a ‘Burgh favorite. The local Four Dots hit the oldies circuit, and guess what their top request was? “Pleading” became part of their play list.

The Houserockers: Many remember Joe Grushecky’s Brick Alley Band, named after a McKeesport red light district, taking off as the Iron City Houserockers, a name given to them by Pittsburgh native and Cleveland International Records head Steve Popovich. Cleveland International was of course based in Ohio and Popovich had the band tour the midwest to support their records. But the Pittsburgh-Cleveland rivalry extended beyond football. Their name caused some problems when touring outside their hometown, and when they played Cleveland their van tires were slashed. So they switched in the early eighties to the region-neutral Houserockers brand.

Lugee Becomes Lou: Born Lugee Alfredo Giovanni Sacco, the stage name of Lou Christie wasn’t Sacco’s choice; it was more or less foisted on him. When “The Gypsy Cried” was released in 1962 on the local Co&Ce label, the record was credited to “Lou Christie” without Sacco's knowledge or permission. Sacco had been working on his own list of stage names, and said "I was pissed off about it for 20 years. I wanted to keep my name and be a one-named performer, just 'Lugee'." We’re glad he’s finally over it.

The Marcels: When the Oliver High gang first formed and was rehearsing, the group was coined "The Marcels" by Fred Johnson's little sister Priscilla. She was inspired by a popular hair style of the day, the marcel wave, sported by lead singer Cornelius Harp.  

The Skyliners: They collectively came up with their name after the 1958 Capitol Studios "Since I Don't Have You" recording session when the master came back without an artist credit. The singers were a mixture of the South Hills Crescents and El Rios groups, and manager Joe Rock, with their input, christened them “The Skyliners” after the 1945 Charlie Barnet hit song according to their official history, although we're told by Ed Salamon that they were named for the car per Jackie Taylor.

The Vogues: Originally known as The Val-Aires (a combination, we’ve been told, of the names of the two high school groups the members had first sang with), the Vogues got their name from manager Elmer Willett’s nightspot and studio, East McKeesport’s Vogue Terrace. The group didn't have a vote; when "You're The One" was released, it was credited to the Vogues by the Co&Ce label. At least one member, Hugh Geyer, didn't find out about the name until he heard the song on the radio.

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