Between 7:30 and 8:00 a.m. on the morning of Monday, August 18, 1969, Sha Na Na took the stage at Yasgur's farm as the penultimate act of the Woodstock Music and Art Festival. The '50s rock-and-roll revivalists followed The Paul Butterfield Blues Band and preceded Jimi Hendrix who brought the festival to a majestic close. Twenty years later, Sha Na Na reprised their act at the Woodstock: 20 Years After concert held across the country at Cal-State Dominguez Hills in Carson, California. They performed alongside fellow veterans of the original event including Blood, Sweat and Tears, Melanie, Canned Heat, Edgar Winter, and Country Joe McDonald. On August 5, the Liberation Hall label will bring Sha Na Na's 20th anniversary performance to CD, DVD, and digital formats.
Sha Na Na was still in its infancy when the group performed at Woodstock; it was only the eighth live performance from the singers who joined together at New York's Columbia University under the aegis of choreographer George Leonard to spread classic rock-and-roll and doo-wop spirit. The line-up was a large one, encompassing a dozen members including drummer Jocko Marcellino; guitarist Henry Gross (later a "one hit wonder" for his ballad "Shannon"); singers Donny York, Rob Leonard, Alan Cooper, Frederick "Dennis" Greene, Dave Garrett, Rich Joffe, and Scott Powell; keyboardist Joe Witkin; guitarist Elliot "Gino" Cahn; and bassist Bruce "Bruno" Clarke. At Woodstock, the youthful greasers brought new energy to such oldies as "At the Hop," "Duke of Earl," and "Come Go with Me," with "At the Hop" earning a spot in director Michael Wadleigh's Woodstock film.
Their Woodstock performance helped spark the '70s nostalgia craze which would yield hits on film (American Graffiti), television (Happy Days), and the Broadway stage (Grease, which would in turn become a smash film featuring Sha Na Na as fictional group Johnny Casino and The Gamblers). On the concert stage, Sha Na Na hosted a number of opening acts who would attain superstar status: Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel, Steve Martin, and Billy Crystal among them. They recorded numerous albums, primarily for the Kama Sutra label. Between 1977 and 1981, Sha Na Na headlined their own syndicated television series; the line-up by then featured original members Marcellino, York, and Greene plus new recruits including Jon "Bowzer" Bauman, Screamin' Scott Simon, and others.
The group in 1989 was led by Jocko Marcellino, Screamin' Scott Simon, and Donny York, all of whom are still in the group today. Woodstock: 20 Years After boasts 23 classic rock and doo-wop performances over 51 minutes, including a return to Woodstock favorites "At the Hop" and "Get a Job." Look for this trip back in time on August 5 from Liberation Hall at the links below.
Sha Na Na, Woodstock: 20 Years After (Liberation Hall CD-LIB-5095/DVD-LIB-4029, 2022)
- Rock Around the Clock
- Tossin' and Turnin'
- The Stroll
- Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On
- High School Confidential/At the Hop
- Let's Dance
- Queen of the Hop
- Save the Last Dance for Me
- Chantilly Lace
- You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'
- You Can't Sit Down
- Blueberry Hill
- Hit the Road Jack
- Tonite, Tonite
- In the Still of the Night
- Get a Job
- Oh Lonesome Me
- Promised Land
- Introducing the Band
- Rock and Roll Is Here to Stay
- Goodnight My Love
- Goodnite, Sweetheart, Goodnite