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December 28: Sha Na Na

December 28, 2012

The oldies cover group Sha Na Na headlined Carnegie Hall on this date in 1971, after three years as an opening act at rock venues such as the Fillmore East and the Fillmore West for such groups as the Grateful Dead, the Kinks, and the Mothers of Invention. Six years later, the group’s popularity would peak with their syndicated television show, Sha Na Na, with musical guests that included James Brown, the Ramones, Bo Diddley, and numerous other acts from early rock and soul music. Among the members of the group’s original cast of twelve were Alan Cooper, now provost at the Jewish Theological Seminary; Robert Leonard, a professor of linguistics at Hofstra; Elliot Cahn, who became the manager of Green Day; Joe Witkin, who became a physician and professor of medicine; Henry Gross, who went on to a solo music career; and several other nice Jewish boys. Sha Na Na, which performed at the Woodstock Festival in 1969, mixed classic harmonies with camp, satire, and nostalgia. They were an irritant to serious connoisseurs of rock and roll, but were wildly popular for more than a decade, and still tour as act today.
“Good night, and grease for peace.” —Jon “Bowzer” Bauman (closing line of their television show)