Joe Rock Remembered©2006JCMarion


Joe Rock was born in 1937, and at an early age knew that pop music was ingrained into his soul and so followed his heart in this direction. By the time of the mid fifties, the teenaged would-be vocalist started to think about other aspects of the world of music – production, composing, and arranging. In his hometown area of Pittsburgh, he soon came across a promising vocal group known as The Crescents. He thought that they had promise, and soon after a number of personnel changes he presented the group with a new lead singer named Jimmy Beaumont. Acting as the group’s manager he made the rounds of the record companies looking for a recording contract for his vocalists.

After a number of dead ends and rejections, Rock finally landed a spot with a new label in Pittsburgh named Calico Records. He had lyrics to a song that he wrote, and with the help of Beaumont, fashioned the tune “Since I Don’t Have You”. The newly renamed group now known as The Skyliners, recorded the song late in 1958 and soon was the rage in Pittsburgh. Across the state in Philadelphia Dick Clark heard the tune and invited The Skyliners to appear on his nationally televised afternoon show "American Bandstand". Clark was surprised to find that “Since I Don’t Have You” was a new song written for the group and not an obscure American standard waiting to be rediscovered. The appearance on “Bandstand” provided the “push” and the record was a national smash. The success of the group caused Rock to become a musical “name” especially in the city of Pittsburgh. Another Rock-Beaumont collaboration by the group, the song “This I Swear” followed suit on the national charts.

Besides The Skyliners Rock managed other musical acts from the Pittsburgh area. One was Johnny Day and another which provided Rock with national success was the vocal instrumental group The Jaggerz. Rock discovered them performing in a local bar and thought he heard the makings of a popular combo. He first tried with Gamble-Huff in Philadelphia, but went nowhere with the band’s efforts. In 1970 with Kama Sutra Records, a song of lead singer Dominic Ierace (known professionally as Donny Iris), called “The Rapper” gave Rock and The Jaggerz a huge national hit record. Rock made contacts with Stax-Volt in Memphis when he was managing Johnny Day and this led to some writing collaboration with Otis Redding such as the song “Dreams To Remember”.

In the nineteen nineties, Rock continued to manage The Skyliners with Jimmy Beaumont who remain a top attraction on the “oldies circuit”, and he also moved to Nashville and concentrated on writing and arranging country music. Rock passed away in Nashville in 2000 at the age of 63. Besides being remembered for writing the lyrics to one of the most beautiful songs to come out of the vocal group fifties, he was a mainstay of the modern music scene in the city of Pittsburgh. The Steeltown remembers . . . . . .

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