Three inducted into Beaver Valley Musicians Hall of Fame

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Songwriting brothers Melvin and Mervin Steals of Aliquippa and drummer George Perilli of Hopewell were honored on their induction into the Beaver Valley Musicians Hall of Fame by a sold-out banquet audience Sunday night at The Fez in Hopewell.

"It was a night for stories," said Jean Busik, a 40-year member of the Beaver Valley Symphonic Wind Ensemble and one of the founders of the Hall of Fame. "They told stories about the people who helped them."

Mr. Perilli shared the experience of seeing Buddy Rich in a Youngstown, Ohio, concert, and the Steals brothers thanked their Aliquippa teachers who believed in two poor boys and helped them get into college.

"That's where Mervin learned how to play the piano, and Melvin came up with words for his brother's tunes," Mrs. Busik said.

The honorees joined 88 performing artists who have received the Henry N. Mancini Award since 1990 in recognition of their induction into the Hall of Fame. The event is the annual scholarship fundraiser for the Beaver Valley Musicians Local 82-545.

“We wanted to recognize the great musicians from the Beaver Valley as well as provide scholarships to students,” Mrs. Busack said.

The Steals brothers went from singing together at home and at Mt. Olive Baptist Church to becoming song writers while attending Cheney University. Melvin penned lyrics and Mervin composed melodies.

“Could It Be I’m Falling in Love,” recorded by the Spinners, reached the top of the charts in the U.S. and England. The Steals brothers' hits include “Honey Bee,” recorded by Gloria Gaynor, and Chubb Rock’s “Treat ‘Em Right.” Mervin lives in Bushkill, Pa., and Melvin and his wife, Adrena, the inspiration for their best-known song, live in Baden.

“It is something like the icing on the cake," said Melvin, a retired elementary and middle school principal. "It validates the education and life experiences that we received from and had in Aliquippa. Now it’s been 50 years since we graduated from high school, so it is a crowning experience of our lives.”

Mr. Perilli has appeared on television in "Happy Days.” He was a member of the fictional band on “Full House” and was a drummer for the daytime series “The Young and the Restless.” In a YouTube video, he credits the Beatles' performance on "The Ed Sullivan Show" as his career inspiration.

“He’s a world-renowned drummer who has worked with a long list of renowned singers. He travels all over the world. We are lucky he has returned to live here,” said Gary Waddell, owner of Waddell’s Music Center in Wexford, where Mr. Perilli teaches drumming.

The musicians union presented a $1,000 scholarship to Amber Leitsch, of Blackhawk High School, who is studying music education at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. It presented $500 scholarships to Stephanie Chiocchi, a graduate of Central Valley High School, studying music education at Slippery Rock University; Steven Genova, of Blackhawk High School, a music education major at Edinboro University; and Brian Kane, a graduate of Central Valley High, studying musical theater at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

On Sunday, the musicians union will honor member Peter Rogan, who died in February at age 97. A former member of  Frankie Yankovic's band, he played on the soundtrack for “Groundhog Day,” wrote arrangements for big bands and was a Las Vegas performer.

 

 


Jane Miller, freelance writer: suburbanliving@post-gazette.com.

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