The story of Sha Na Na's rapid rise to success has its roots amidst the protests and chaos at Columbia University in the late '60s. After only three months they had branched out into the national consciousness with their performance at Woodstock.
In this interview, Mary Travers (of Peter, Paul and Mary) talks with two of the original members of the group, John "Jocko" Marcellino and Scott Powell. They recount Sha Na Na's origins, talk about their upcoming tour in Japan, and chat about their own individual interests. This is an interesting example of the guys finally slipping out of character (which they at times seem reluctant to do), and to hear them talk so eloquently makes you truly appreciate their ability to perform as a couple of knuckleheads.
As with most interviews from the With Mary radio show, the distinction between interviewer and interviewee often becomes blurry in this recording. Her rants and recollections often dominate the conversation, but she too has some interesting stories to tell, and Jocko and Scott are excellent sports.
00:14 - Theatrical performances / Alice Cooper (Mary)01:35 - What happens when Sha Na Na performs 02:27 - Repression and evolutionary cycles: 1950's rock, folk, rock roots 03:52 - Juvenile delinquent gangs in NY in the 50's04:55 - The band's repertoire05:28 - [A reminder to plug one's name in the interview]05:44 - Crowd reactions depend on prior experiences with the music06:24 - The two gangs in Sha Na Na 06:58 - The musical environment and culture they became a part of07:36 - Fighting with the Fillmore East staff (the light shows)07:57 - How the group began08:37 - Majoring in rock n' roll or English (depending on who you asked)08:56 - Tight harmonies filled out with a rock n' roll band 09:52 - The Kingsmen in a coffee house / uniting the campus / needing a band11:39 - The keyboard player who actually knew the songs12:07 - Grease Under The Stars 13:18 - Within a month, rage of the Ivy League schools / Steve Paul's Scene13:34 - Discontinuing, finishing, continuing school14:00 - Steve Paul's Scene, getting booked for Woodstock14:30 - Meeting Steve Katz (Blood, Sweat and Tears)15:32 - Alice Cooper's take on the band / his golf handicap16:09 - Golf and horseback riding17:04 - Hotels while touring17:53 - Thoughts for doing an album of original compositions 19:05 - Keeping ego clashes out of the band 21:47 - The stages of Group Psychology: Romance, Success, Self-expression (Mary)22:56 - Different media / different dreams 23:59 - Successful bands without a hit / relying on live shows to succeed25:41 - Changing the live shows 26:23 - Big decisions: doctors or musicians26:59 - Henry Gross leaving / taking a more theatrical approach27:25 - Acting in The Crucible (Scott)27:52 - Acting in South Pacific (Mary)28:48 - Her conservative leading man (Mary)29:58 - The "Monster Mash" routine30:38 - Listzomania31:05 - Switching media / performing / desire to stay creative (Mary)34:28 - Working in TV (Mary)36:11 - No sponsors in the music business 37:08 - Scott's writing projects: music, poetry, screenplays38:56 - Jocko's writing projects: a film treatment, a second album40:08 - Favorite places to record albums / New York musicians / disco is over41:44 - No great New York bands (?) 44:46 - The music industry moved to L.A. / "Stroll All Night"45:38 - "Hot Sox," a dance crave46:09 - Going to and performing in Japan (Mary) 48:59 - Releasing "Smoking Boogie" in Japan / bad translations51:52 - The universal language of name-dropping / Japanese love for root music54:18 - Learning songs phonetically 54:34 - The new album, Sha Na Now55:52 - Intro line for Scott's "Lovin' in the Here and Now"
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