- Posted April 6, 2012 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Photo essays: Your stories in pictures
Original Rock 'n' Rollers: The Mike Pedicin Band of Philadelphia
They just don't make good music like this anymore!
The Mike Pedicin Band, of Philadelphia, PA, was one of the original Rock and Roll groups to spring up in the 1950's. They were Sinatra's choice for a back up band when he'd come to the Philadelphia area early in his career. Like most original Rock and Roll groups, they were never given enough credit for their contribution to the birth of Rock and Roll, despite coming from Philadelphia, home of American Bandstand.
My grandfather, Sam Cocchia, was the lead guitarist and Mike's best friend. They played gigs together, even into their 80's, showing so much devotion and love for their craft. They were true entertainers, coming from a generation who helped birth a movement that took over the world: Rock and Roll.
There has been some talk recently of getting the old time Rock and Rollers together for an anniversary concert which would be a fantastic event. People who feel this kind of music resonate in their hearts and souls will understand the importance of such an event. These original Rock and Rollers are American legends and without their creativity and talent, we wouldn't have rock and roll. Rarely are these musicians ever given enough credit, and they certainly didn't profit very much from sales of their records.... imagine had they began making this great music in today's day and age, with the aid of iTunes.
Mike Pedicin, born in 1917, is one of the oldest surviving members of this elite group of musicians. He is alive and well, and looking great as always. He still comes to our family functions, even after my grandfather passed in 2006. It's always a joy seeing him and helps me feel that my grandfather is always near when Mike is around us.
My hope is that this music will live on forever because it's truly fun, uplifting and hard to find anything today that captures the original Rock and Roll spirit the way The Mike Pedicin Band did.
Here is a little more information on the history of the band:
After several unsuccessful sides for the local Gotham label, Pedicin and company were signed to a major label, RCA Victor, in early 1955, months before anybody at RCA was familiar with Elvis Presley. At the time, the label was hoping to find an outfit akin to Haley's band, or the white equivalent to the Treniers, who could do rocking dance music that sold. At this point the band consisted of Mike Pedicin (alto sax), Buddy La Plata (piano), Sam Cocchia (guitar), Lou De Francis (bass) and Al Mauro on vocals and drums. In the studio they were sometimes augmented by Dominic Arnone (guitar), Robert Sentenari (drums) and Sam "the Man" Taylor (sax). On their first session, they recorded "Mambo Rock", one month after Haley had done it. Pedicin was busy at RCA for the first ten months of his two-year contract, through November of 1955, but after that he only had one session in the spring of 1956. It was clear by then that rock 'n' roll was going through a change, passing into the hands of younger performers and evolving into a more personal and charisma-driven form embodied by the likes of Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry et al. The Mike Pedicin Quintet scored only one chart entry at RCA and that was for exactly one week, in March 1956 ("The Large Large House", # 79), but they were huge in Philadelphia and played some of the best venues in New Jersey.
In 1958, the band recorded a single for Cameo Records, which returned them to the charts (aided by an appearance on American Bandstand), this time for two weeks, peaking at # 71. It was "Shake A Hand" (Cameo 125), the old Faye Adams hit. They also cut sides through the 1960s for Federal, ABC-Paramount and Apollo Records, among other imprints. Pedicin was still making music into the 1980s and beyond and in 1994 he saw his RCA recordings compiled on a Bear Family CD. This set is rounded out with (according to Bear Family) perhaps the first live rock 'n' roll recording from Detroit in 1955. If you like Bill Haley, you'll probably also like Mike Pedicin.