Pittsburgh Rock 'N Legends Awards to induct Donnie Iris, Lou Christie and Porky Chedwick
March 19, 2015 8:31 AM
Porky Chedwick will be inducted into Pittsburgh's version of a rock 'n' roll Hall of Fame along with Lou Christie and Donnie Iris.
"I'm thrilled," Donnie Iris said of the Hall of Fame honor. "There were some good people up there. When I found it was me, I was basically beside myself."
By Scott Mervis / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Two of Pittsburgh's most iconic singers and the Daddio of the Raddio are going into Pittsburgh's version of a rock 'n' roll Hall of Fame.
The inductees for the second annual Rock 'N Roll Legends Awards are Lou Christie, Donnie Iris and Porky Chedwick.
They join last year's inductee, promoter Rich Engler, in being honored with a ceremony and plaque at the Hard Rock Cafe at Station Square.
The awards, created as a charitable event for the Cancer Caring Center, were expanded this year to honor inductees in three categories, determined through a three-tiered voting process that included a Legends Nominating Committee, an Academy of Voters consisting of nearly 200 local industry professionals and the public, which submitted 1,000 votes online.
The event will take place April 23 at the Hard Rock.
Mr. Iris prevailed in the Modern Era Legends section, defined as groups/artists with 20-plus years experience. Of course, the 71-year-old rocker's career goes back far more than two decades. Born Dominic Ierace in New Castle and raised in Ellwood City, "Dahnie," as he's affectionately known here, started his career in the early '60s and went to No. 2 on the charts as a member of the Jaggerz in 1969 with "The Rapper."
After a stint with Steubenville, Ohio, band Wild Cherry in the late '70s, he broke again nationally with his first solo album, 1980's "Back in the Streets" (No. 57 on Billboard), thanks to the enduring Top 40 hit "Ah! Leah!" The follow-up, "King Cool" on MCA Records, issued as Donnie Iris and the Cruisers, also cracked the Billboard top 100 albums and the Top 40 with the singles "Love is Like a Rock" and "My Girl" (not the Temptations song).
For years, he lived a dual life as mortgage banker by day and rocker by night. He sold the mortgage business five years ago and the Beaver Falls resident now divides his time between the stage, the studio and the golf course.
"I'm thrilled," he said about the award. "There were some good people up there. When I found it was me, I was basically beside myself."
Also nominated as Modern Era Legends were Joe Grushecky, Billy Price and Rusted Root.
He was also excited about the Non-Performer award going to the Pork the Tork, who died in March 2014 at 96. Mr. Chedwick, who started his career as a DJ for WHOD in Homestead in 1948, became a beloved music legend breaking artists both locally and nationally by playing records by black singers when the mainstream stations were focused on white artists. He was also known to make hits of b-sides and "dusty discs" from years back.
He stayed on the airwaves and Internet radio and made public appearances well into his 90s.
"The man was incredible," Mr. Iris said, while also praising Non-Performer nominee, the late Joe Rock, who managed the Jaggerz.
Mr. Christie was in contention with The Skyliners and Del-Vikings as the Legacy Legend inductee, groups/artists with 40-plus years experience. Born Lugee Sacco, the Moon Area High School graduate started recording in 1959 and scored his first hit in 1963 with "The Gypsy Cried." After two years in the Army, he went to the top of the charts in 1966 with "Lightnin' Strikes."
The 72-year-old singer, who lives in New York City, continues to perform and will be part of the Pittsburgh Rockin' Reunion with Mr. Iris on April 4 at the Benedum Center, Downtown.
“We know the voters had some tough choices to make, given the caliber of the slate of nominees, which speaks to the exceptional rock 'n' roll talent we have in Pittsburgh,” Rebecca Whitlinger, executive director, Cancer Caring Center, said in a statement. “We congratulate all of this year’s inductees and look forward to celebrating with them.”
The ceremony will feature performances by local all-star musicians, cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, and a live and silent auction. Tickets ($50-$200) are on sale at www.PittsburghRockLegends.com and 412-622-1212.
Scott Mervis: firstname.lastname@example.org; 412-263-2576. Twitter: scottmervis_pg.
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