Pittsburgh's own Donnie Iris is inducted at the Pittsburgh Rock ’N Roll Legends Awards during the second annual gala benefiting the Cancer Caring Center at the Hard Rock Cafe, South Side. Other inductees were Lou Christie and the late Porky Chedwick.
Rusted Root's Liz Berlin, Michael Glabicki and Patrick Norman perform with a Donnie Iris cut-out.
Pittsburgh's Billy Price, center, and members of the Pittsburgh All-Star Band perform at the second annual Pittsburgh Rock ’N Roll Legends Awards at the Hard Rock Cafe, South Side.
Donnie Iris, center, and Joe Grushecky perform at the second annual Pittsburgh Rock ’N Roll Legends Awards at Hard Rock Cafe, South Side.
Rick Witkowski, left, Frank Czuri, Donnie Iris, Art Nardini, Joe Grushecky and B.E. Taylor read the words to The Vogues' "5 O'Clock World" at the second annual Pittsburgh Rock ’N Roll Legends Awards, at the Hard Rock Cafe, South Side.
By Scott Mervis / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Lou Christie had a gig in California and Porky Chedwick is pushin’ platters for the big man upstairs, leaving Donnie Iris to work the stage magic, with a lot of help from his friends, tonight at the Hard Rock Cafe.
The three music greats were inducted at Pittsburgh Rock ’N Roll Legends Awards at the second annual gala benefiting the Cancer Caring Center.
Pork the Tork died last year at 96 after a 60-plus-year radio career, but hearing his old clips brought his spirit to the room. He was represented by his wife, Jeannie, and her son Ben Sidon, who reminded us that “he had more lines than Bell telephone.”
“This morning I had a very long conversation with my husband,” Ms. Chedwick said tearfully. “He said to tell them he’s sorry that he cannot be here. He’s making clouds and he’s polishing stars for the children of Pittsburgh.”
Legacy Legend winner Christie sent a video message thanking Porky for being the first jock to play his breakout hit “The Gypsy Cried.” Ed Salamon, radio exec and author of “Pittsburgh’s Golden Age of Rock ’n’ Roll,” accepted for Christie.
In typical Donnie mode, Iris didn’t take much credit for his great career.
“I want to thank my mother for getting me started in this business,” he said. “My mother was gonna come. She’s 93! She couldn’t make it.”
His Cleveland-based manager Mike Belkin called the 72-year-old rocker “the Energizer Bunny” and said, “I’ve been working with Donnie since 1980 and have enjoyed every minute of it.”
The sizzling jam started with Jack Hunt (Johnny Angel) and Frank Czuri (Silencers/Igniters/Skyliners) leading the all-star band in a wacky version — what other version could there be? — of the Porky theme.
The band did Lightnin’ Lou proud with Angel firing up the high falsetto on “Lightnin’ Strikes.”
Modern Legend nominees Billy Price and Joe Grushecky made their case for next year and did Pittsburgh proud with scorching versions of “Part Time Love” and “Pumpin’ Iron.”
Michael Glabicki led his nominated band Rusted Root in “Send Me on My Way” but not before thanking Iris for helping to give him the courage to perform back in the day.
The strikingly youthful Iris then rocked the Hard Rock like a Legend should with “Love Is Like a Rock” and hometown anthem “Ah! Leah!” with Glabicki, Liz Berlin, Rick Witkowski and B.E. Taylor joining the chorus of “Leee-ahhs!”
It’s weird to say this rocked as much as the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction in Cleveland last week, but you had to hear them all doing “Hanky Panky” and “The Rapper” to believe it.
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