We are going to start compiling lists of notable Rochester area, Monroe and Livingston County musicians, those who have enriched our music scene, memorable events in the area's music history, and eventually induct the best of the best into our Rochester Music Coalition Hall of Fame. It has always been a major goal of the RMC to have an actual physical structure to honor these people, and now thanks to one of our coalition partners, The Rochester Music Hall of Fame, that dream is closer than ever to becoming a reality. As they begin to induct people into the Rochester Music Hall of Fame they will automatically be inducted into ours here as well. The RMC is going to do everything possible to assist them in their endeavors, so we ask all our members to please help them out.
You can learn more at:
If you know of anyone who should be recognized for their accomplishments related to the field of music, and who should be added to our website, please let us know.
Rochester Music Coalition & Rochester Music Hall Of Fame Inductees
George Eastman - Founder, head of Eastman Kodak Company and music philanthropist who established the Eastman School of Music and Eastman Theatre, which bear his name and radio, station WHAM.
Lou Gramm - Singer, songwriter, and drummer who performed with Poor Heart, Black Sheep, and who is most internationally renown for his singer-songwriter work for the rock bands - Foreigner and the Lou Gramm Band. He is the co-author and subject of a book about his life "Juke Box Hero: My Five Decades In Rock N Roll."
Bat McGrath - Singer, songwriter, musician and former member of the Showstoppers in the 1960's, and was co-owner of the music and coffeehouse Hyliemorris' Alley in the 1970's. In 1976 and 1978 he released two well received albums on Amherst Records called From The Blue Eagle and The Spy and in 1980 I traveled to Scotland and recorded Whatever Happened To Jousting, which was released on Manana Records. In 1997 he co-wrote "Come Some Rainy Day," with Billy Kirsch, which was a top ten country hit for Wynonna Judd and he has written songs that were recorded by the Judds, Kenny Rogers, Chuck Mangione and Chely Wright. He also has his own independent record label.
Mitch Miller - Singer, musician, conductor, choral director, record producer and host/originator of the very popular "Sing Along With Mitch" TV show which aired on NBC from 1961 - 1966. He worked with many other artists including Doris Day and Johnny Mathis. In the 40's he was head of A&R at Mercury Records and in the 50's was head of A&R at Columbia records. He signed and produced many successful recording artists including Johnnie Ray, Percy Faith, Ray Conniff, Jimmy Boyd, Johnny Mathis, Tony Bennett, Guy Mitchell, Patti Page and Frankie Laine. He also recorded many successful albums and singles which included "The Children's Marching Song" (more commonly known as "This Old Man"), two marches from The Bridge on the River Kwai: "The River Kwai March" and "Colonel Bogey March," and his version of "The Yellow Rose of Texas" topped the US Billboard chart.
Nick Nickson - Radio DJ at WARC and WBBF who career spanned the 1940's - 1960's. He had the highest ratings ever of any Rochester radio personality.
Jack Palvino - Radio DJ at WBBF who had the top rated morning show in Rochester for some twenty years on WBBF and went on to co-own eight radio stations.
Don Potter - Singer, songwriter, musician and former member of the Showstoppers in the 1960's and the Brass Buttons, and was co-owner of the music and coffeehouse Hyliemorris' Alley in the 1970's. He is a producer, was the musical director for the Judds for many years, and has released numerous solo CD's. He has played guitar with several other artists including the Judds, Kenny Chesney, Chuck Mangione, Etta James, Mark Knopfler and Toby Keith to name just a few.
Son House (Eddie James House Jr) - Blues singer and guitar player. In 1930 he recorded nine songs on Paramount records and he was recorded for the Library of Congress in 1941. After being retired for many years, he was rediscovered in the 1960's, he recorded for CBS Records, and then toured extensively in the US and Europe.
Cab Calloway - Cabell “Cab” Calloway III (1907 - 1994) - Cab was born on Sycamore Street and lived there for 11 years. He started out performing in a musical review called “Plantation Days.” He then began performing as a singer and drummer and emceed at several clubs including the Sunset Café where he met Louie Armstrong who taught him the art of “scat” singing. He took over a band called the “Missourians,” which became the Co-House band at the Cotton Club in New York City and then began touring all across the country. His biggest hit "Minnie the Moocher,” which was recorded in 1931, became his signature song, and it sold over one million copies. Cab and his band broke all existing audience records for an all black band. He became famous for his scat singing, dancing, flamboyant style and comedic personality. He recorded many other songs some of which were used for cartoons and movies, did voice over work, and sang in the 1943 film, “Stormy Weather.” He popularized the term, “Jitterbug.” He won two Grammy’s - The Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008 & the Grammy Hall of Fame Award in 1999. He was also inducted into both the Big Band Hall Of Fame & the Jazz Hall of Fame. In his later years, he was in the movie “The Blues Brothers,” and continued to perform right up until his death in 1994 at the age of 88.
Corinthian Hall - (1849 - 1879) - Venue - Corinthian Hall was Rochester’s most prestigious site for grand concerts by national and international performers, lectures, historical speakers and balls. Susan B Anthony, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Charles Dickens, William H. Seward, William Lloyd Garrison and Frederick Douglass all spoke at the hall. On July 22 and July 24 in the year 1851, world reknown Swedish soprano Jenny Lind, the “Swedish Nightingale,” sponsored by P.T. Barnum performed there to some of the biggest audiences this area had ever seen. Several years later the hall was remodeled and renamed the Academy of Music – (1879 – 1898), then after a fire it was rebuilt & renamed The Corinthian Theater – (1898 – 1928). It was located at Exchange Place and Mill Street behind the Reynolds Arcade where currently a parking garage stands at the end of what is now called Corinthian Street off of State Street.
Gene Cornish - (1945 - ) - As a teenager, Gene attended Ben Franklin High School, after his family moved to Rochester from Ottowa Canada. He played in several area garage bands, attempted a solo career and then became the guitarist with Joey Dee and The Starlighters in New York City. He and three other musicians formed The Young Rascals which later became known as The Rascals. They had 18 top 100 hits, 3 reaching number one, and in 1997 the Rascals were inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Gene is still performing and exciting audiences with his unique guitar style.
Doriot Anthony Dwyer - (1922 - ) - Doriot is the second cousin of famed suffragette Susan B. Anthony, and an Eastman School of Music graduate. Her skills at sight reading and her experience playing “modern music,” led to lucrative work on radio and with recording studios in Los Angeles. She performed with the popular Hancock Ensemble, the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. In 1952, the flutist began her successful and critically acclaimed 38 year relationship with the Boston Symphony Orchestra as the very first woman to win a principal chair (first flute) in a major US orchestra.
Joe English - (1949 - ) - Joe's parents bought him a drum set and it wasn’t long before he was performing in nightclubs and concerts. From 1969 to 1973 his powerful drumming propelled the horn infused rhythm and blues band Jam Factory based in Syracuse NY. They took to the road to promote their debut album, Sittin’ in the Trap, and for the next few years, regularly opened for major acts such as Jimmy Hendrix, Steve Miller, Janice Joplin, and the Grateful Dead. The band eventually moved to Macon GA, changed their name to Tall Dogs, and began playing southern rock. Back in the 70’s when ex Beatle, Sir Paul McCartney needed a drummer to finish recording a Wings album, it was Rochester native Joe English who came to the rescue. He played on five gold and platinum Wings albums, toured the world, was in one of the most popular bands of all time, was idolized by millions of fans world wide, and possessed all the material wealth he could ask for. He left Wings to return to Georgia where he joined the band, Sea Level, made up of ex members of the Allman Brothers Band. Next, he formed the Joe English Band and began making Christian rock albums for very eager fans. Joe continues to sing in the World of Faith Fellowship choir in Spindalem NC.
Charles Frank “Chuck” Mangione - (1940 - ) - Born and educated in Rochester NY, flugelhorn player, smooth - jazz composer, and double Grammy winner, Chuck Mangione is best known for his 1977 album Feels So Good. He is also officially a national treasure. Recently the Smithsonian rejoiced in receiving scores (literally) of personal musical memorabilia. Along with the original scores for his most important works were his signature brown felt hat, photos, recordings and an animation cell from his cartoon appearance on, “King of the Hill.”
Charles Strouse - (1928 - ) - This Eastman School of Music graduate is a three time Tony Award and two time Grammy Award winning American composer and lyricist. His first Broadway musical was the 1960 hit “Bye, Bye Birdie,” and he also wrote the score for “Annie.” His film scores include “Bonnie and Clyde” and “There Was a Crooked Man.” In 1958 his song, “Born Too Late” was number one on the Billboard charts. He also co-wrote the theme song, “Those Were the Days” for the television show, “All in the Family.” On January 29, 2009 was the debut of the musical "Minsky’s," which features his latest musical score.
Jeff Tyzik - (1952 - ) - Educated at the Eastman School of Music, musician, conductor, composer, arranger and record producer Jeff Tyzik has held the position of Principle Pops Conductor of the RPO for the past 16 years. Among his many accomplishments, Jeff has performed with Chuck Mangione and produced a Grammy award winning album for Doc Severinsen. He juggles duties with orchestras from at least two other cities and guests conducts for many more.
Rochester Music Coalition Hall Of Fame Inductees
Jack Allocco - Composer, conductor, performer, BMI Film and Television Award winner for Outstanding Composition, and he is a recipient of seven Emmy Awards and eleven ASCAP Awards. He has performed at Carnegie Hall, Buckingham Palace, and the White House and was asked to compose the music for the inauguration of President Ronald Reagan. He has composed the music for two televisions series, the Young and the Restless and the Bold and the Beautiful, and for a number of films as well as for shows on ABC Family Channel, HBO, and NBC. Jack is an active supporter of numerous charities including the "Children's Music Fund," and "Education Through Music," and has donated his services, as music director and conductor for a USO show in Norfolk Virginia for our returning troops. He is a trustee at Nazareth College, where he has been awarded several honors and he is a supporter of Nazareth's music department where a recording studio is named in his honor.
Karl LaPorta - President & Founder - Rochester Music Hall of Fame - For achieving his dream and giving Rochester NY a Music Hall of Fame, which has also been one of the original goals of the Rochester Music Coalition since it's inception. Karl is a professional musician (over 40 years) and a piano technician (almost 30 years.) We are honored to be partnered with his organization and eternally grateful for this magnificent musical and historical contribution to our community.
Scott Hetsko - WROC TV - Meteorologist - For giving Rochester NY the best & most unique musical weather forecast!
CONGRATULATIONS & KUDOS GO OUT TO:
Mike Brown - Groveland (Livingston County) musician/collector featured on the History Channel TV show "American Pickers."
City Of Rochester - Ranked number one "most livable" US metro by MSN Real Estate and Sperling's Best Places
Joe Brucato - Joe's song/video "Thank You Soldier" which was written to honor all veterans who have served in the U.S. armed forces, was featured as part of the Dallas Cowboys - Monday Night Football - half time Veteran's Appreciation ceremonies 10/25/10 on ESPN. The song/video was also produced, arranged and directed by Rochester's own Ferdinand Jay Smith (Founder/CEO of Jay Advertising/Linden Oaks Studios).
Clearly From Negligence - Top 10 finalists in the SchoolJam USA Battle of the Bands contest.
Gabe Condon - Winner of the 33rd Annual Downbeat Magazine Student Music Award for undergraduate college Outstanding Performance, and is the recipient of a Rochester International Jazz Festival/Eastman School of Music scholarship.
Graham Keir - Winner of the 33rd Annual Downbeat Magazine Student Music Award for undergraduate college Jazz Soloist.
Michael Steck (aka Pandora Boxx) - Placed 5th on LogoTV's Ru Paul's Drag Race, which led to an appearnce on RuPaul's Drag U, and also hosted One Night Stand Up: Dragtastic Comedy Show.
Steve Schiltz – Singer, songwriter, guitarist, former Greece resident – member of the band Longwave and creator of the Hurricane Bells project. Congratulations on getting two of your songs in major motion picture soundtracks – “Monster” in the movie “The Twilight Saga: New Moon and “There’s A Fire” in the Adam Sandler comedy “I Now Pronounce You Chuck And Larry.”
Julia Nunes - Congratulations on winning the Bushman World Ukulele Video Contest.
Charles "Chuck" T Campbell - Sacred-steel guitarist and member of the Campbell Brothers has received a National Heritage Fellowship for Folk and Traditional Arts given by the National Endowment for the Arts.
Teddy Geiger - RMC member - Congratulations on the record deal with Columbia Records. His debut CD “Under-Age Thinking” has just been re-released and re-packaged with extra music, photos, a DVD and is in stores now with a new look and is subtitled "Look Where We Are Now". It originally premiered at #8 on the Billboard Music Chart. He is featured on the cover of Seventeen Magazine November 2006 issue as the "Hottest Guy In America". He will also be featured in the 2007 Rolling Stone/Chevrolet "Year In Rock" calendar. Teddy is also pursuing an acting career - another side of his artistic talents. To learn more about Teddy see his listing in the RMC Musicians Directory.
Jimmie Highsmith Jr - RMC member - Congratulations on receiving the prestigious Duke Ellington Musical Genius Award and induction into the FCD Hall of Fame. To learn more about Jimmie see his listing in the RMC Musicians Directory.
Donald Palumbo - Named chorus master for 2007-08 season at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. He is also the first American to have served as chorus director of the prestigious Salzburg Festival.
NOTE: We would also like to take some space to recognize current and former members of our community who have made major accomplishments in their varied fields (besides music) over the years.
John Piano – Transplant Connect founder/CEO and 1985 Greece Olympia High School graduate. Congratulations on getting top honors in GQ Magazine’s “Better Man Better World Search 2009.”
Jason "J-Mac" McElwain - "J-Mac" is back! Congratulations on the release of your book "The Game of My Life: A True Story of Challenge, Triumph and Growing Up Autistic."
Jenn Stuczynski - Congratulations for setting the American record in the pole vault at 16' 1-3/4".
Taye Diggs - Plays Dr Sam Bennett on the ABC hit series "Private Practice."
Phillip Seymour Hoffman - Best Actor Oscar win for Capote. The DVD is in stores now.
Jason "J-Mac" McElwain - Manager of Greece Athena Trojans basketball team, now nationally known for his inspirational performance (scored 20 points and tied a school record with six 3-pointers) to win the game against Spencerport. Also congratulations to Jason on winning the ESPY - Best Moment In Sports award, and Teen Choice Courage Award.
Rochester Razor Sharks - Congratulations on the ABA Championship title win!
For those whose song was silenced before its time...
Robert J Bohrer Sr (1929 - 2013)
President of the Rochester chapter of AFTRA - the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists union in the late 60's, and he was best known for his work as a news commentator for decades on Rochester radio stations such as WBBF, WHAM, and WVOR.
Scott Schojan (1965 - 2011)
Founder of the Scottypaluza music festival, percussion player for the bands Family Dawgz and Resistance, DJ and author.
Alise Gruttadauria (1964 - 2010)
Lead singer over the years with the bands Black Eyed Rosie, American Banned and 3 Peace.
Andrew Langston (1927 - 2010)
Founder and CEO of WDKX-FM (103.9) - Rochester NY's only African-American owned radio station, which originally went on the air on 4/6/74. The station's call letters were created using the initials of Frederick Douglas, Martin Luther King, and Malcolm X, who were African American leaders revered by Mr. Langston. The format of the station is urban contemporary, specializing in talk, pop, hip-hop, rap, R&B, and soul. Since its inception, WDKX-FM has always been, and continues to be, a very active sponsor of community events.
Mitch Miller (1911 - 2010)
Mitch was born on the 4th of July, grew up in Rochester NY, and graduated from the Eastman School of Music. He was a classically trained oboist and conductor. He was the grandfather of what we now know as Karaoke, as host/originator of the very popular "Sing Along With Mitch" which aired on NBC from 1961 - 1966, and encouraged the audience to "follow the bouncing ball" as the song lyrics appeared on their TV screen. He also recorded a series of Sing Along With Mitch records. He was head of A&R at Mercury and Columbia Records and a record producer. He greatly helped the careers of such artists as Bob Dylan, Tony Bennett, Rosemary Clooney, Jerry Vale, Marty Robbins, Johnny Mathis, Mahlia Jackson, Patti Page and Frankie Lane. In 2000 he won a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.
Peter Grammatico (1969 – 2009)
Singer, drummer, (Blackjack, Running On Empty, Chasing Giants, Stranger, Nik & The Nice Guys), music therapist and registered member of the Rochester Music Coalition.
Paulie Rocco (1962 – 2009)
Singer, songwriter, guitarist, member of the White Devils, former member of the Chesterfield Kings (1989-1994), played with Johnny Thunders (New York Dolls), Mick Taylor (The Stones), and Gilby Clarke (Guns N’ Roses).
Chad Coleman (1986 – 2008)
Singer – graduate of Greece Olympia High School (2003)
Le Ngo (1991-2008)
Flute player, honor and music student at School of the Arts.
Rachel Woodland (1992-2008)
Singer – school choir, involved in school musicals, vocal music and music theory student, at Greece Odyssey Academy.
Anthony "Tony" Cavagnaro (1966 - 2007)
Rochester Music Coalition member, guitar teacher, lead singer/guitar player for the Buddhahood. He also over the years played guitar with the Brothers Green, Urban Squirrels, Mysterious Blues Band and Rub The Buddha.
Kevin DeFrance (1960-2007)
Accomplished guitarist that played with several bands, over many years in the Rochester music scene. He toured for a short time with the orchestra during a run of Jesus Christ Superstar, and played with The Mister Magoo Band, Blue Axis, Twin Image, Wild Heart, 585, Long Live Rock Show and too many more groups to mention. He loved the Fender Strat and according to his colleague Dave Belec “His specialty was taking the classic “feel” of Hendrix and Santana and infusing the speed and proficiency of an 80’s era bred guitarist, the end result being an incredibly gifted technician who could slow down and let the notes speak for themselves!”
Shalonda Simpson (1982 - 2007)
Singer and bassist for the Cheetah Whores
Jonathan Angelone (1987-2006)
Singer, performer - musical theater
Dennis Monroe (1950-2006)
Folk instrumentalist and teacher well known in Folk and historical music circles throughout the Rochester area. Recordings of his music can be found on Give Me Your Hand and Released and he also performed with the White Hots (White Hots With Relish Live At The Clarissa Room).
Mary Anne Conners (? – 2005)
Music teacher (4 years) Gates-Chili school district, sang at church/schools directing several community choirs. She was also well known as the town/village historian for over 20 years in the East Rochester area and was a member of the East Rochester Association of Churches.
Mark Manetta (1956 – 2005)
Jazz guitarist and member of the band Primetime Funk. He played with Chuck Mangione, Doc Severinson, Ben Vereen, Jeff Tyzik, Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, Buffalo Philharmonic and many others. He studied at the Eastman School of Music with renowned guitarists Gene Bertoncini, Pat Martino and Richard Longale and directed the jazz ensemble in the music department at Hobart and William Smith College.
John Starr (1955-2005)
Bassist and owner/operator of the Rochester jazz club the Clarissa Room. He was also a maintenance mechanic for Greece Central School District (20 years), civil rights activist and board member of Bill of Rights Defense Committee of Monroe County.
Bob Stata (1953-2005)
Jazz bassist (stand up double/electric bass) and member of the Mambo Kings. After graduating from Gates Chili High School, he attended Hochstein School of Music and graduated with both a bachelor’s and master’s degree from Eastman School of Music. He later earned a master’s degree in music education from Nazareth College and taught instrumental music at Allendale Columbia School. Over the years he played with Dizzie Gillespie, Clark Terry, Barry Harris, Stanley Turrentine, Marion McPartland, Fred Wesley, Diane Schur, Gene Bertoncini, Eric Reed, Bill Dobbins, Gap Mangione and Bob Schneider.
Frederick Fennell (1914-2004)
Founder (1952) and conductor of the internationally renown Eastman Wind Ensemble. He was considered by some to be the "most-recorded American Conductor ever." Over the years he worked with the Dallas Wind Symphony, Cleveland Symphonic Winds and the Tokyo Kosei Wind Orchestra, recorded 22 albums on Mercury Records including a Collection of Civil War Songs which won him a citation and medal from the Congressional Committee for the Centennial of the Civil War in 1961. Stereo Review selected their recording of Percy Grainger’s "Lincolnshire Posy" as one of the Fifty Best Recordings of the Centenary of the Phonograph, 1877-1977. In 1992 the Frederick Fennell Hall in Kofu Japan was dedicated in his name. The Frederick Fennell Prize was created in his honor by the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers and the College Band Directors National Association and is awarded to gifted American composers. He was inducted to the American Classical Hall of Fame in Cincinnati OH in 2001.
Ray Santirocco (1931-2004)
Board chairman of Arts & Cultural Council for Greater Rochester, Monroe County Legislator – 15th District, scholar, concert pianist, scientist (PhD – physics and astronomy), associate provost RIT in 1998, board member 911 Operating Practices and Cornell Cooperative Extension. Ray was a champion for the arts in our community and headed a committee to revive interest in a performing arts center for the City of Rochester. Because of his tireless involvement in so many projects, he touched countless lives and his presence will be greatly missed and never forgotten.
Vincent "Mr B" Bruni (1928-2003)
The father of drum & bugle corps/marching bands. Director, drill writer and instructor for the Rochester Crusaders, founder of the Empire Statesman and several others in Rochester. In 1976 he founded and ran the World Drum Corps Hall of Fame. His incredible contributions to this form of music will live on for generations to come.
Ben Grammatico (1924-2003)
Band leader and trumpet player. Played with Duke Spinner in the 1930’s, Al Zanni band in the 1940’s, band leader and trumpet player in the Sonny James Band in the 1940’s where he met his wife – singer Nikki Masetta. The band's theme song "Stardreams" written by Sonny Burke eventually also became the theme song for the Gateswingers as well. He often helped Aquinas High School playing trumpet with the band for their musical productions. In the 1980’s he played with the Webster Village Band and eventually formed the Gateswingers in 1991 where he was band leader and trumpet player until his death. We thank Ben for all the years he made Rochester jump, jive and wail! He will be greatly missed but never forgotten. His love of music has been passed on to several family members including his 3 sons, grandchildren, nieces and nephews currently making their mark on the local and international music scene.
Tim Kelley (1960-2003)
Trumpet Player for the Skycoasters for 20 years. We thank Tim for all the years he made Rochester sing, dance and party. His presence will be greatly missed by all of us.
"Unkle" Roger McCall (1951-2003)
Rochester Music Coalition member, local music supporter and WCMF DJ. His support of the musicians of Rochester and the RMC was unprecedented. He hosted "Homegrown" the longest running local music show in the country at WCMF 96.5 FM for almost 30 years. He also was a DJ during the overnight shift at WCMF for most of his time at WCMF and made six Homegrown albums featuring local bands during his career. "Unkle" Roger, a champion of local original music, was a musician himself, and had previously played bass in a local band called the Fugitives. His absence leaves a huge hole in the heart and soul of the Rochester music community and we vow as an organization to make our common vision a reality in his honor.
Aaron G. Christiano (1981-2002)
Rochester Music Coalition member, singer/guitarist with the band Manaia.