With thanks to “the Geator” Jerry Blavat, classic rock maven Denny Somach, and a hat tip to Liberal Paul, and in large reliance on Wikipedia here are the Philadelphia inspired bumpers launched in early 2016 for use on the Michael Smerconish Program, on SiriusXM POTUS, channel 124.
Frankie Avalon – “Venus”
Mr. Beach Party, Francis Thomas Avallone was born in South Philadelphia on September 18, 1939. At a young age, Frankie was discovered as a trumpet-playing prodigy, beginning his music career performing in local clubs and theaters in Philadelphia before signing with X-Records in 1954. In 1959 it was the recording of his hit song “Venus” that landed him on the Billboard Hot 100. But that was just the beginning, as he went on to produce five more Top 40 hits just that year. Despite great fame, Frankie has clearly not forgotten his Philadelphia roots; in 2015 he donated five thousand dollars in an effort to restore a famous South Philly mural of musical influences.
David Bowie – “Diamond Dogs”, “Fame”, “Rebel Rebel”, “Suffragette City”, “Young Americans”
David Bowie’s ties to Philadelphia go back forty years, to 1974, when he recorded two iconic albums in the City of Brotherly Love. David Live, Bowie’s first live album, was recorded at the legendary Tower Theatre July 8 – 12, 1974 during the first part of Bowie’s “Diamond Dogs” tour. In August of the same year, Bowie began recording his collaborative album, Young Americans, at the Sigma Sound Studios with a series of musicians. After both of these recording sessions, the second part of his tour was appropriately dubbed, “Philly Dogs.”
Solomon Burke – “Everybody Needs Somebody to Love”
James Solomon McDonald, credited with selling more than 17 million albums, was born March 21, 1940 in his grandmother’s row home in West Philadelphia. Just one of his many hit songs, “Everybody Needs Somebody to Love”, is ranked #429 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time and was covered by the Rolling Stones as well as the Blues Brothers. In 2002, Philadelphia Mayor John Street named July 19th “Solomon Burke Day” in the city after he was named the “It” soul legend by Entertainment Weekly.
Chubby Checker – “The Twist”
Chubby Checker, originally Earnest Evans, was born in South Carolina but moved to South Philadelphia at a very early age. It was Checker’s boss at the Produce Market on 9th street that gave Earnest the nickname “Chubby”. The originator of the dance style is the only recording artist to place 5 albums in the top 12 all at once. “The Twist” was the #1 song in the summer of 1960 and it created the idea of “dancing apart to the beat”.
Stanley Clarke – “Return To Forever”
Graduate of the Roxborough High School and Philadelphia Musical Academy (now University of the Arts), Stanley Clarke was born in Philadelphia on June 30th, 1951. Although best known for his work with the band “Return to Forever”, Clarke also facilitated the “base revolution” in the 70’s, released over 40 albums, and won four Grammys. In 2010 Clarke went on to launch is own record label, Roxboro Entertainment Group, named after his Philadelphia high school.
Phil Collins – “In The Air Tonight”
On July 13th, 1985, Phil Collins performed in both England and Philadelphia for the iconic Live Aid Concert. The concert was organized to raise relief funds for victims of the Ethiopian famine. The event was nicknamed the “global jukebox” as it starred many iconic names at the Wembley Stadium in London and the John F. Kennedy Stadium in Philadelphia, including Collins who performed at Wembley Stadium in the morning before flying to Philadelphia for his next set. He sang his hit song, “In the Air Tonight”, which was his first solo single, released in 1981 on his album, Face Value. The song reached No. 2 on the UK Singles chart and No. 19 on the US Billboard Hot 100.
John Coltrane – “A Love Supreme”
“Trane” moved to Philadelphia in June of 1943 at which time his mother bought him his first saxophone. Throughout the 40’s, the innovative South Philadelphia teacher, Dennis Sandole, trained Coltrane in music theory and served as his mentor. “A Love Supreme”, the studio album released by Coltrane’s quartet in 1965, is considered one of the greatest jazz albums of all time and, in 2003, was ranked number on Rolling Stone’s list of “500 greatest albums of all time”.
Bill Conti – “Gonna Fly Now”
Bill Conti, a composer and conductor, is best known for his original song “Gonna Fly Now”. Conti wrote and produced “Gonna Fly Now” in Philadelphia and it served as the infamous theme song for the 1977 film, Rocky. The song also landed on Billboard’s Year-End Hot 100 singles of 1977.
Tommy Conwell & The Young Rumblers – “I’m Not Your Man”
Tommy Conwell & The Young Rumblers are a Philadelphia-based band whose original members included Conwell, Paul Slivka, and Jimmy Hannum. The band had moderate success with their debut 1986 album, Walkin’ On Water, gaining most recognition for their rock single, “I’m Not Your Man”. Conwell later pursued a solo career but reunited with the Young Rumblers in 2014, for a concert at the Ardmore Music Hall in Ardmore, PA.
Jim Croce – “I Got A Name”, “Operator”, “Photographs and Memories”, “Time in a Bottle”, “You Don’t Mess Around with Jim”
South Philadelphia native Jim Croce attended Upper Darby High School, Malvern Prep and Villanova University. Croce got his start in the music industry playing at local venues in Philadelphia and eventually settled down in Lyndell, PA. His music became popular locally after repeat performances at Main Point coffeehouse in Bryn Mawr. Croce went on to release five albums and eleven singles and one of his singles, “Time in a Bottle” reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
Danny & The Juniors – “At The Hop”
Frank Maffei, Danny Rapp, Joe Terranova and Dave White, began singing together in the early 1950’s at ages 13 and 14 in Philadelphia where they were fans of the local rhythm and blues radio stations. Their song, “At The Hop”, was the first No. 1 hit out of Philadelphia, putting the city on the map as a hub for musical talent. In 2013, Danny & The Juniors were inducted into the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia Hall of Fame.
Delfonics – “Didn’t I Blow Your Mind This Time”,
“La-La Means I Love You”
The group started with William and Wilbert Hart, Ritchie Daniels, and Randy Cain, whom the brothers’ met at Overbrook High School in the 1960s. The group’s first album, La-La Means I Love You, was released under the Philly Grove Record label. The hit single on the album, “La-La”, sold over 1 million copies and received a gold disc. The Delfonics are often referred to as the architects of the Philly sound for their influential soul music.
DJ Jazzy Jeff & Fresh Prince – “Summertime”
The American hip-hop duo originated in West Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Rapper Will Smith (The Fresh Prince) met disc jockey Jeff Townes (DJ Jazzy Jeff) in the 1980s, when they were both trying to make names for themselves in West Philadelphia’s local hip hop scene. After joining forces with Clarence Holmes (Ready Rock C), the team members became local celebrities. Their well-known single “Summertime”, released in 1991, won the duo a Grammy and landed them on the Billboard Hot 100. The music video, filmed in Philadelphia, features over 14 Philadelphia landmarks, including the Belmont Mansion, The Art Museum, and Boathouse Row.
Dovells – “Bristol Stomp”
The American music group formed at Overbrook High School in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1957, under the name “The Brooktones”. The members were Arnie Silver, Len Borisoff, Jerry Gross (alias Summers), Mike Freda and Jim Mealey (alias Danny Brooks). In 1960 the group signed to Parkway Records and went on to produce their first national hit “Bristol Stomp”. The song was about teenagers from Bristol, PA dancing a step called “The Stomp” at Good Will Hose Company.
Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell – “Ain’t Nothing Like The Real Thing”
Terrell was born as Tomasina in Winifred Montgomery in Philadelphia, to Jennie and Thomas Montgomery. Tammi was a student at Germantown High School in the early 60’s. Shortly after graduating high school, she enrolled at the University of Pennsylvania for two years. In 1967, Motown hired her to sing duets with Marvin Gaye. Their first recording together, “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”, reached No. 19 on the Billboard Hot 100. Together they released more than six hit singles, including “Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing”, which reached No. 1 on the R&B charts.
Bill Haley and the Comets – “Rock Around the Clock”
Bill Haley was born in Highland Park, MI in 1925, but his family moved to Boothwyn, PA in the 1930’s. He spent his most influential years in Philadelphia and by age 14, left high school to pursue his music career. Bill Haley and The Comets, initially named Bill Haley and the Saddleman, formed in 1949. The group performed mostly western songs and it wasn’t until their cover of “Rocket 88”, recorded for Philadelphia label Holiday Records, that their style was considered Rock n’ Roll. In 1954, Haley and the Comets recorded their hit single “Rock Around the Clock” for Decca Records, a song that is considered the beginning of Rock n’ Roll music. James Myers, another Philly native, wrote the song and was credited for its success as he managed to get it placed in the movie “The Blackboard Jungle”. After the movie was released, “Rock Around the Clock” sold 25-million copies worldwide.
Hall & Oates – “Fall in Philadelphia”, “Lady Rain”, “Sarah Smile”, “She’s Gone”, “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling”
Daryl Franklin Hohl (born in Pottstown, Pennsylvania on October 11, 1946) and John William Oates (born April 7, 1948) first met each other at the Adelphi Ballroom in Philadelphia in 1967. At the time they met, each was heading his own musical group, Hall with the Temptones and Oates with The Masters. They were there for a band competition when gunfire rang out between two rival gangs, and in trying to escape, they ran to the same service elevator. On further discovering that they were interested in the same music and that both were attending Philadelphia’s Temple University, they started spending time together on a regular basis and eventually shared a number of apartments in the city. One of the apartments they shared had “Hall & Oates” on the mailbox, which became the duo’s name. They released their first album, Whole Oates, in 1972, which included just one of their famous songs, “Fall in Philadelphia”. In 1984, the group officially became the most successful rock duo after earning 19 gold and platinum awards. On October 1st 2015, Hall and Oates opened the new music venue, the Filmore Philadelphia, performing to a sold out crowd.
Robert Hazard – “Escalator of Life”
Robert Hazard, son of an opera singer, grew up in Springfield Township, Delaware County, Pennsylvania and graduated from Springfield High School in 1966. He became a star in the 1980’s among Philadelphia’s club scene with his hits, “Escalator for Life” and “Change Reaction”. When his EP came out in 1982, Philadelphians went wild and it sold 100,000 copies in the Philadelphia area alone. Hazard also composed Cindy Lauper’s hit single “Girls Just Want to Have Fun”.
Billie Holiday – “Lover Man”
Billie Holiday was born in Philadelphia as Elearnora Fagan on April 7, 1915. Holiday had a difficult childhood, and by 1929, moved to Harlem, NY where she began singing at nightclubs. In 1935, Holiday signed her first record deal and began collaborating with various artists. It wasn’t until 1945 until Holiday released one of her biggest hits, “Lover Man” which reached No. 5 on the R&B charts and No. 16 on the pop charts. The song put Holiday on the map and her version of “Lover Man” was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame 1989.
Hooters – “All You Zombies”, “And We Danced”, “Boys Of Summer”, “Day By Day”, “I’m Alive”, “Time Stand Still”
The Hooters were formed by Rob Hyman and Eric Bazilian in 1980 and played their first show on July 4th of that year. Rob and Eric met in 1971 at the University of Pennsylvania and had played in a band in the late 1970s, based in Philadelphia, called “Baby Grand”. During the 1980s, the Hooters played on the Philadelphia club scene, boosted by airplay on WMMR, the major rock radio station in Philadelphia. Their music was also played very frequently on WRDV-FM in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. The Hooters are credited with revitalizing Philadelphia’s Rock n’ Roll scene in the 1980’s and, in the wake of their success, several other Philadelphia bands received major label deals. Their debut album, Nervous Night, sold over 2 million copies and achieved platinum status around the world. Additionally, in 1985, the group was the opening band at the Philadelphia Live Aid benefit concert.
Phyllis Hyman – “You Know How To Love Me”
Phyllis Hyman was born in Philadelphia in July, 1949. She began her music career in New York City and in 1979 released her fourth album, You Know How to Love Me, her first album to make the R&B Top 20. In 1985 Hyman signed with Philadelphia International Records to produce two of her most popular albums, Living All Alone and Prime of My Life.
Intruders – “I’ll Always Love My Mamma”
The Intruders were an American soul music group most popular in the 1960s and 1970s. As one of the first groups to have hit songs under the direction of Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, they had a major influence on the development of Philadelphia soul. They got their start as a doo-wop group performing around Philadelphia in the 1960’s before signing with the Gamble label in 1966. The label’s success with the Intruders helped Gamble and Huff convince Columbia Records to give them the money to start Philadelphia International Records, one of the most successful soul labels in the 1970’s.
Mick Jagger and Tina Turner – “It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll”
At the Live Aid Concert in 1985, Mick Jagger and Tina Turner performed a duet of the Rolling Stones hit song “It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll” in front of a 100,000-person crowd. During the performance, Mick Jagger ripped away the majority of Turner’s dress, leaving her to finish the song in a leotard.
Joan Jett – “I Love Rock And Roll”
Joan Marie Larkin was born September 22, 1958 at Lankenau Hospital in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Philadelphia. Although she only lived in Philadelphia for roughly a year, she remained in Pennsylvania for much of her childhood. Jett became a founding member of The Runaways and the band recorded five LP’s. While touring with The Runaways, Jett saw the Arrows perform their song “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll” and decided to record a cover. She rerecorded the song, this time with her band, the Blackhearts. The recording was the Billboard Hot 100’s No. 1 single for seven weeks and the version was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame just this year.
Elton John – “Philadelphia Freedom”
The Elton John Band released the hit song, “Philadelphia Freedom”, as a single in 1975. The song was one of Elton John’s seven No. 1 US hits during the early and mid-1970s, which saw his recordings dominating the charts. In Canada, it was his eighth single to hit the top of the RPM national singles chart. Elton John and Bernie Taupin wrote the song as a favor to John’s friend, tennis star Billie Jean King. King was part of the Philadelphia Freedom’s World Team Tennis league. The song went on to reach No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and in 1995, went platinum.
Patti LaBelle – “Lady Marmalade”, “New Attitude”, “On My Own”
Patti LaBelle was born Patricia Louise Holte on May 24, 1944 in West Philadelphia, to Henry and Bertha Holte. Her interest in music began when she started singing in the church choir at Beulah Baptist Church, in Southwest Philadelphia, at the age of 10. Labelle was the member of two music groups, “Patti Labelle and the Bluebelles” and “Labelle”, before branching out to start her solo career. In 1977, she released her first solo album, and by 1999 had won two Grammys for her solo work. Labelle’s success was due, in part, to her work with Gamble and Huff, who produced some of her biggest hits and founded Philadelphia International Records. Labelle is set to receive Philadelphia’s 2016 Marian Anderson Award for her musical achievements.
Cyndi Lauper – “Girls Just Want to Have Fun”, “Time After Time”
Although Cyndi Lauper has no ties to Philadelphia, two of her most famous songs, “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” and “Time After Time”, were born in The City of Brotherly Love. In 1979, Robert Hazard, acclaimed Philadelphia musician, wrote and first recorded “Girls Just Want to Have Fun”. Another one of Lauper’s hit songs, “Time after Time”, was co-written by Lauper and another Philadelphia local, Rob Hyman of the Hooters. To further the Philadelphia connection, Rick Chertoff, Hyman’s friend and fellow Penn alum, produced Lauper’s 1983 album, She’s So Unusual. The album was one of the best-selling albums of the 1980s and won Lauper two Grammy Awards.
Barbara Mason – “Yes I’m Ready”
Barbara Mason, born August 9, 1947 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is an American R&B/soul singer with several R&B and pop hits in the 1960s and 1970s, best known for her self-written 1965 hit song, “Yes, I’m Ready” produced on her album, Give Me Your Love. The album was backed by some of Philly’s best musicians, giving it an undeniable Philly Sound. The album was recorded at Philadelphia’s Sigma Sound Studios. The musicians that helped develop the album included the Baker-Harris-Young rhythm section, who were part of Philadelphia International’s house-band, as well as Barbara Ingram, Evette Benson, Carla Benson, Kenny Gamble and Bunny Sigler.
Maze Ft. Frankie Beverly – “Back in Stride”
Frankie Beverly, best known for his work singing vocals for the band Maze, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on December 6, 1946. Beverly got his start singing gospel music at his local Philadelphia church. It wasn’t until 1970 that Beverly formed Maze and began writing songs for the group. The group gained popularity for their second album, released in 1985, Can’t Stop the Love. The album featured their first No. 1 R&B hit, “Back in Stride”, which landed them on the Billboard Hot 100.
McFadden & Whitehead – “Ain’t No Stopping Us Now”
McFadden and Whitehead were an American songwriting, production and recording duo, best known for their signature tune “Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now.” They wrote and produced some of the most popular R&B hits of the 1970s, and were primarily associated with Gamble and Huff’s Philadelphia International record label. The duo worked with many of the artists listed here including, The Intruders, The O’Jays, Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes, and Teddy Pendergrass.
Don McLean – “American Pie”
In 1971, Don McLean released his hit album, American Pie, which included his infamous single, “American Pie”. The single was No. 1 in the US for a month in 1972 and was No. 2 in the UK. The song’s connection to Philadelphia has long been contested. But, in a 2011 New York Times article, Don McLean set the record straight about the single’s origins. The singer stated in the article that he wrote the song in Philadelphia as well as Saratoga Springs, NY. The song also debuted in Philadelphia, on March 12th, 1971, when McLean was opening for Laura Nyro. The venue was the St. Joseph University’s Fieldhouse.
Harold Melvin – “If You Don’t Know Me By Now”, “Wake Up Everybody”
Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes were an American singing group, one of the most popular Philadelphia soul groups of the 1970s. The group’s repertoire included soul, R&B, doo-wop, and disco. Founded in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in the middle of the 1950s as The Charlemagnes, the group is most recognized for the several hits they produced with Gamble and Huff’s Philadelphia International Records label between 1972 and 1976. The Blue Notes most famous member was Teddy Pendergrass, their lead singer during their time at Philadelphia International. Two of their songs, “If You Don’t Know Me By Now” and “Wake Up Everybody” both reached No. 1 on the R&B charts.
Nine Inch Nails – “Hurt”
Nine Inch Nails was the headliner at Jay-Z’s 2013 Budweiser Made in America concert in Philadelphia, PA. The concert is an annual two-day music concert that takes place on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. The band was given the honor of closing out the concert and they were paid $2 million for the appearance. Among other hits, the band played their song “Hurt”, which, released in 1995, was nominated for Best Rock Song at the 1996 Grammy Awards.
O’Jays – “Backstabbers”, “Love Train”, “For the Love of Money”
The O’Jays are an American R&B group from Canton, Ohio, formed in 1958 and originally consisting of Eddie Levert, Walter Williams, William Powell, Bobby Massey and Bill Isles. The O’Jays made their first chart appearance with “Lonely Drifter” in 1963, but reached their greatest level of success once they signed with Philadelphia International Records in 1972. With the help of Philadelphia International, the O’Jays (now a trio after the departure of Isles and Massey) emerged at the forefront of Philadelphia soul with “Back Stabbers” (1972), and topped the Billboard Hot 100 the following year with “Love Train”. In 1974, The O’Jays released their top 10 song, “For the Love of Money” which became the theme song for the reality TV show, the Apprentice with Donald Trump, in 2004. The song was also incorporated into a series of sketches on Late Night with Conan O’Brien in which O’Brien would perform an impression of Trump. The O’Jays were inducted into The Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2004 and The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2005.
Joan Osborne – “One of Us”
Eric Bazilian of The Hooters wrote “One of Us” and shortly thereafter, Joan Osborne recorded the hit. Released in March 1995, on the album, Relish, and produced by Rick Chertoff, it became a Top 40 hit in November of that year. The song is the theme song for the American television series Joan of Arcadia. The song was also nominated for three Grammy’s and peaked at No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Billy Paul – “Me and Mrs. Jones”
Billy Paul was born on December 1, 1934, in North Philadelphia. He attended West Philadelphia Music School and began his singing career at a local radio station, WPEN. As a teenager, he performed at local venues, such as club Harlem, and in 1952, moved to New York City to record his first album. The soul singer is most known for his 1972 number one single, “Me and Mrs. Jones”, as well as the 1973 album and single, “War of the Gods”. He is one of the many artists associated with the Philadelphia soul sound created by Kenny Gamble, Leon Huff, and Thom Bell. In 2012, when asked about his hometown in an interview, the singer stated, “It’s very very important to me. I was born here and so many great and influential artists come from here as well. Its a city of its own and has its own sound.”
Pearl Jam – “Even Flow”, “Jeremy”
The rock band, considered one of the most influential bands of the 90’s and known for countless hits, performed the last concert ever held at the Philadelphia Spectrum concert venue. The 2009 performance featured a 41-song set list and appearances from famous musicians, including Billy Joel and Bruce Springsteen. Among the 41 songs played were two classics, “Even Flow” and “Jeremy”, both of which topped the charts shortly after their release. The band also performed at the Budweiser Made in America Festival in Philadelphia in 2012 as a headliner.
Teddy Pendergrass – “Close The Door”, “I Don’t Love You Anymore”, “Love T.K.O.”, “When Somebody Loves You Back”
Theodore DeReese “Teddy” Pendergrass, was an American R&B/soul singer and songwriter. He first rose to fame as lead singer of Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes in the 1970s before a successful solo career at the end of the decade. In 1982, Pendergrass was severely injured in an auto accident in Philadelphia, leaving him paralyzed from the chest down. In the aftermath of the accident, he founded the Teddy Pendergrass Alliance, a foundation that helps individuals with spinal cord injuries. He commemorated 25 years of living after his spinal cord injury with the star-filled event, “Teddy 25 – A Celebration of Life, Hope and Possibilities” at Philadelphia’s Kimmel Center.
Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers – “American Girl”
Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers opened the 1985 Live Aid Concert at the JFK Stadium in Philadelphia. Since the Live Aid concert had two locations, London and Philadelphia, and the London concert happened first, Petty & The Heartbreakers decided to begin the concert and their set with the hit song, “American Girl”. According to Petty, the song was a last minute addition after the band realized they would be the first act of the Philadelphia concert. “American Girl”, released in 1997 as the second single on Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers debut album, did not chart in the US until 1994, but Rolling Stone dubbed it one of the “100 Greatest Guitar Songs of All Time”.
Pink – “Just Like Fire”, “Lady Marmalade”, “There You Go”, “Trouble”
Alecia Beth Moore was born on September 8, 1979 in Doylestown, Pennsylvania to Judy and Jim Moore. She – like Michael – attended Central Bucks High School West in Doylestown, PA. In high school, Alecia joined her first band, Middleground, and by age 14 began performing at clubs in Philadelphia. It was at this time that she adopted her stage name, Pink. In 1999, Pink signed a recording contract with LaFace Records and her debut single, “There You Go” became a top-ten hit on the Billboard Hot 100 and she went on to win three Grammy awards. Her first Grammy, Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals, was awarded in 2002 for her rendition of “Lady Marmalade”, a collaboration with singers Christina Aguilera, Mya, and rapper Lil’ Kim. Her second Grammy, Best Female Rock Vocal Performance, was awarded for her 2003 hit, “Trouble”, which was the first single on her album, Try This. Her newest song, “Just like Fire”, released in April, 2016, has already reached No. 10 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Renaissance – “Carpet of the Sun”
Renaissance is an English progressive rock band best known for their 1978 UK top 10 hit “Northern Lights” and progressive rock classics like “Carpet of the Sun”, “Mother Russia”, and “Ashes Are Burning”. They developed a unique sound, combining a female lead vocal with a fusion of classical, folk, rock, and jazz influences. The band created a significant following in the northeast United States in the 70s, and that region remains their strongest fan base. The band decided to go on a North American Tour in 2011, hoping to give their fans a one of a kind concert experience. To build on the band’s global reach, they decided to record and film one of the concerts. Their choice of venue was right here in Philadelphia, at the Keswick Theater in Glenside.
Roots – “The Fire”, “The Seed”, “Wake Up Everybody”, “Walk Alone”
The Roots are an American hip hop/neo soul band formed in 1987 by Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter and Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania while both artists were attending The Philadelphia High School for Creative and Performing Arts. The Roots are known for a jazzy and eclectic approach to hip-hop featuring live musical instruments. Their work is critically acclaimed and About.com called them, “Hip-hop’s first legitimate band”. Nine years ago, the Roots decided to develop a concert that would be held annually in Philadelphia, called The Roots Picnic. The Roots Picnic, held every summer, includes acts of multiple genres, each handpicked by the Roots band.
Todd Rundgren – “Bang On The Drum All Day”, “Can We Still Be Friends”, “Hello, It’s Me”, “I Saw The Light”, “We Gotta Get You a Woman”
Rundgren was born in Upper Darby, at the western city limits of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Rundgren began his career in a Philadelphia-based music group called Woody’s Truck Stop. Rundgren then left Woody’s Truck Stop to form the rock group, Nazz. The group released three albums between 1968 and 1971; they are best known for their two memorable songs, “Hello Its Me” and “Open My Eyes”. Rundgren spent much of his early career producing music with other artists but in 1970, branched out to produce his solo album, Runt. One of the singles on the album, “We Gotta Get You a Woman”, became an instant hit, reaching the Billboard’s Top 20 by 1971. In 1989, Rundgren was inducted into the Philadelphia Music Foundation’s prestigious “Walk of Fame”, a walk that consists of bronze plaques stretching along Broad Street from Walnut to Spruce.
Bobby Rydell – “Wildwood Days”
Robert Riderelli was born in 1942 in South Philadelphia and by the late 50’s became a Rock n’ Roll teen star and a regular on Dick Clark’s American Bandstand, eventually changing his name to Bobby Rydell. Rydell signed with Veko Records and soon after produced his Top 40 single, “Kissin’ Time” as well as many others that landed him on the Billboard Hot 100. In addition to his singing career, Rydell also began acting, staring in many TV shows and the movie version of the Broadway show, Bye Bye Birdie. To commemorate Rydell’s success, in 1945 the city of Philadelphia named the street where he was born, “Bobby Rydell Boulevard” and he was also inducted into Philadelphia Music Foundation’s “Walk of Fame”.
Jill Scott – “A Long Walk”
Scott was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She grew up an only child in a North Philadelphia neighborhood, raised by her mother and grandmother. Scott was raised as a Jehovah’s Witness and attended the Philadelphia High School for Girls. After graduating from high school, Scott attended Temple University for three years. Scott began her performing career in poetry and was eventually discovered by Amir Thompson, a member of the Roots. She co-wrote the song, “You Got Me”, with the band. She released her first album, Who is Jill Scott? Words and Sounds Vol. 1 in 2000 and one of the singles on the record, “A Long Walk”, earned her a Grammy nomination. In 2003, in an effort to give back to the community in her hometown, Scott established the Blues Babe Foundation, a program that offers financial assistance for college and specifically targets students in Philadelphia, Camden, and the greater Delaware Valley.
Michael Sembello – “Maniac”
Michael Sembello was born and raised in Ardmore, PA, a western suburb of Philadelphia. Sembello got his start in music at an early age, studying with Jazz legend Pat Marino and working with Stevie Wonder by age 17. That same year, Sembello was chosen as one of the core artists who worked on Songs in the Key of Life, a concept album that took two years to produce. He was credited as lead and rhythm guitarist on most of the tracks, and shares songwriting credit with Wonder on the song “Saturn”. He released his first solo album, Bossa Nova Hotel, in 1983 and one of the hit songs on the record, “Maniac”, was featured in the film Flashdance. His debut album went on to win a Grammy Award in 1983.
Dee Dee Sharp – “Mashed Potato Time”
Dee Dee Sharp, born Dione LaRue, September 9th, 1945, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania is an American R&B singer who began her career recording as a backing vocalist in 1961. The following year she produced multiple Billboard Hot 100 Hits including “Mashed Potato Time” and “Slow Twistin”, a collaboration with another Philly native, Chubby Checker. “Mashed Potato Time” time sold over one million copies and was awarded a gold disc. In 1967, Sharp married Kenny Gamble, The Philadelphia International Record’s co-founder; the two divorced in 1980, after thirteen years of marriage.
Sister Sledge – “We Are Family”
Sister Sledge is an American musical group from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Formed in 1971, the group was originally composed of sisters Debbie, Joni, Kathy and Kim Sledge. All four sisters attended Temple University, while simultaneously balancing their music careers. They released their best known single “We are Family”, in 1979 and the song reached No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 and earned the group a Grammy Nomination. The song was also adopted as the official anthem for the baseball team, the Pittsburgh Pirates, who went on to win the World Series that year.
Soul Survivors – “Expressway To Your Heart”
The Soul Survivors were an American, Philadelphia-based R&B group founded by New York natives Richie and Charlie Ingui and Kenny Jeremiah. The group was best known for their hit single, “Expressway to Your Heart”, released in 1967, known for their 1967 hit single “Expressway to Your Heart”, which made it on the Billboard Hot 100. Gamble and Leon Huff, Philadelphia locals and the founders of Philadelphia International Records, wrote the song for Soul Survivors; it was the first hit produced by the two songwriters. In 1974, the band had one more hit, titled “City of Brotherly Love” as an ode to Philadelphia.
Spinners – “The Rubberband Man”
Formed in 1954, the Spinners, also known as the Detroit Spinners and Motown Spinners are an American blues and rhythm vocal group. During the 1960’s and 70’s the group had their most success with multiple hit singles. Their most successful years were those spent working with producer and songwriter, Thom Bell, who made up 1/3 of the Philadelphia International Records production team. Under Bell’s direction, the band charted 5 top 100 singles from their album, Spinners (1972), including their hit, “The Rubberband Man”.
Bruce Springsteen – “Streets of Philadelphia”
In 1994, Bruce Springsteen released the song, “Streets of Philadelphia”, for the film “Philadelphia” (1993), an early mainstream film dealing with HIV/AIDS. The song was a hit in over six countries and went on to win four Grammy awards. “Streets of Philadelphia” also went on to become one of Springsteen’s best-known songs to the general public. The music video for the song opens with Springsteen walking along the streets of Philadelphia and features Rittenhouse Square, the Ben Franklin Bridge, and the Delaware River.
Stealers Wheel – “Stuck in the Middle with You”
Stealers Wheel’s hit song “Stuck in the Middle with You”, was published on their 1972 debut album. The single sold over 1 million and reached the #6 spot on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart. This song fits the Michael Smerconish Program perfectly and here is the best we could do with the Philadelphia; “Stuck in the Middle” was featured in a season 11 episode of the classic Philly show, “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”.
Stylistics – “Betcha By Golly, Wow”, “You Are Everything”, “You Make Me Feel Brand New”
The Stylistics formed in 1968, when two Philadelphia groups, The Percussions and The Monarchs, joined forces. Russell Thompkins Jr., James Smith, and the Airrion Love came from the Monarchs, and James Dunn and Herbie Murrell came from the Percussions. In 1970, the group recorded “You’re a Big Girl Now”, a song their road manager, Marty Bryant, co-wrote with Robert Douglas, a member of their backing band, Slim and the Boys, and the single became a regional hit for Sebring Records. Producer Bill Perry spent $400 to record the number in the Virtue Studios in Philadelphia. The larger Avco Records soon signed the Stylistics, and the single eventually climbed to No. 7 on the US Billboard R&B chart in early 1971. After signing with Avco Records, the group had their most success working with Philadelphia International Record’s, Thom Bell, who produced three of their major hit singles,”Betcha By Golly, Wow”, “You are Everything” and “You Make Me Feel Brand New”.
TSOP – “The Sound of Philadelphia”
“TSOP – The Sound of Philadelphia” is a 1973 hit recording by MFSB (Mother, Father, Sister, Brother) featuring vocals by The Three Degrees. The song, written by Philadelphia International Record’s Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, is a classic example of the Philadelphia soul genre. The single was released on the Philadelphia International Record label and became the theme song for the American musical television program, Soul Train. It was the first television theme song to reach No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, and it is arguably the first disco song to reach that position.
Grover Washington – “Mister Magic”
Washington was born in Buffalo, New York on December 12, 1943. His mother was a church chorister, and his father was a saxophonist, so music was prominent in his home. At the age of 8, Grover Sr. gave Jr. a saxophone. He practiced and would sneak into clubs to see famous Buffalo blues musicians. In 1967, after serving in the U.S. Army, Washington settled in Philadelphia. He produced three albums with Kudu Records before he gained mainstream popularity. His 1974 album, Mister Magic, put him on the map and reached No. 10 on the Billboard’s Top 40 album chart. He continued his successful streak and in 1980, dedicated his single “Let it Flow”, to Philadelphia 76er’s player, Julius Erving. After his death in 1999, Grover’s success was not forgotten, specifically in the city of Philadelphia. The Philadelphia Mural Arts Program built a large mural of the artist on Broad Street and Philadelphia’s Grover Washington, Jr. Middle School is named after the late artist in memory of his dedication to the community.
Led Zeppelin – “Stairway to Heaven”
In 1985, the Philadelphia Live Aid concert was the venue for the Led Zeppelin reunion. The remaining members of the band, Robert Plant, Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones, were all in attendance and Phil Collins subbed in on the drums for the late John Bonham. Unfortunately for the fans who waited in 95 degree July weather to see the reunion, it was more than underwhelming. Plant’s voice was hoarse from his solo tour, Page’s guitar was out of tune, and Collin’s struggled to mirror Bonham’s style. The group was granted 20 minutes of performance time and they ended their three-song set with their 1971 hit, “Stairway to Heaven”.
Warren Zevon – “Carmelita”, “Excitable Boy”, “Lawyers, Guns, & Money”, “Werewolves of London”
Warren Zevon, born in Chicago Illinois in 1947, was an American rock singer-songwriter. Zevon got an early start in the music industry, writing and recording several songs while in high school. His first solo album, Wanted Dead or Alive, debuted in 1969 but his big break didn’t come until 1978, when he released his hit album, Excitable Boy. The album included some of Zevon’s most well known hits, “Excitable Boy”, “Lawyers, Guns & Money” and “Werewolves of London” and Rolling Stone called the album one of the most significant releases of the 1970’s. In 1983, after the peak of his career, Zevon moved to a Rittenhouse square apartment in Philadelphia to live with his fiancée, Philadelphia DJ Anita Gevinson; the relationship ended a year later. In an interview with Philadelphia Weekly, Gevinson discussed Zevon’s love for Philadelphia, noting that he was a 76ers fan and loved walking around the city streets without being recognized.