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1960 to 2000

Chronology of events in Pittsburgh Music and Pittsburgh from 1960 to 2000.

Sept 16, 1964 Civic Arena

1960's the British Invasion - Vocal Groups - Garage Rock
The early 1960s began with major shifts in the popularity of several music genres. The popularity of jazz declined and many jazz venues closed. The Doo-Wop Era ends with final hurrahs from the Marcels with their classic song "Blue Moon". Alan Livingston signs the Beatles to Capital Records in 1963. With the appearance of Beatles and the Rolling Stones on Ed Sullivan in 1964 British Invasion Pop Rock becames the most popular form of music. Record sales jump 35% and every boy wants to be a Beatle.  The Civic Arena is built and hosts the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, and Dave Clark Five. The Fantastic Dee Jays, the Fenways, and the Racket Squad score regional hits with their Brit Pop tunes. Tommy James and the Shondells break out of Pittsburgh to become one of the top selling bands of the 1960s. 

Soul and R&B reached their heights of popularity with the sounds of Motown and Philly International. Bassist Bob Babbitt became one of the Motown Funk Brothers and played his funky beat on hundreds of Motown hits with Steve Wonder, Marvin Gay, the Supremes and more.  Johnny Daye, of whom critics say may have been the best blue-eyed soul singer of the '60s. recorded the classic Stax Records R&B tracks “What’ll I Do”, “Stay Baby Stay”, “I Need Somebody” and ”I Love Love” backed by Steve Cropper, Issac Hayes and members of Booker T and the MGs. He was discovered by Otis Redding.  The Jaggerz, working with Philadelphia international producers Gamble and Huff score a regional hit In 1969 with the the Steals Brothers song "Gotta Find My Way Back Home" that sold 100,00 copies.

Pittsburgh vocalists and vocalist groups such as Bobby Vinton, Lou Christie, Adam Wade, Dean Martin, the Vogues, and the Lettermen hit the charts. Top 40 radio stations KDKA, KQV. WZUM, and WAMO spinning pop, rock, and soul hits dominated the airwaves. The 45 single is king. Teen dances and TV dance shows such as Clark Race's Dance Party and Terry Lee's Come Alive thrive on Pittsburgh Television. The Arondies of '69' fame and the Swamp Rats record a series of Garage Band classics that are produced by Terry Lee.  
The Igniters sign with Atlantic Records. 

1970's -Free Form Rock, R&B, and Jazz
With the rise of FM Radio in the 1970s album oriented rock leads to the decline of the 45 single and Top 40 radio. WDVE goes on the air in 1971. WYDD, where DJ Herschel began his long career, and WYJZ became free form radio meccas.  Those stations launch the careers of Glass Harp and Crack the Sky.  Glass Harp, with legendary guitarist Phil Keaggy, were pioneers of jam rock. Crack The Sky's first album was named "debut album of the year" by Rolling Stone Magazine and the release 5 albums.  Bassist Gary Van Scyoc records with John Lennon and the band Elephant's Memory on Lennons 1972 release "Sometime in New York City"
R&B Thrives. The Jaggerz score a number 2 hit with the Rapper and Wild Cherry goes Number 1 with "Play that Funky Music". Q scores a hit record with their soulful R&B dance tune “Dancin’ Man” in 1977. Diamond Reo has a Top 40 hit with a Marvin Gaye cover. The Steals Brothers working for Altantic Records and Philadelphia International write a string of hit songs "Could It Be I'm Falling in Love" for the Spinners, "Love Thang" and "Passion and Pain" for First Choice, "One Beautiful Day" for Ecstacy, and "Honeybee" for Gloria Gaynor.
"Could It Be In Love", which was a number 4 hit, became an all time R&B classic recorded by dozens of artists.  Phyllis Hyman came to national attention with the Top 30 R&B hit “Betcha By Golly Wow” and was “named Best New R&B Vocalist of 1977. Hyman released a string of hit R&B singles and three hit albums. 

In Jazz George Benson and Stanley Turrentine score number 1 hit jazz fusion songs and albums. Benson's landmark 1976 ``Breezin' '' was the first album in history to simultaneously hold the No. 1 spots on the Pop, Jazz, and R&B charts.  It is the best-selling jazz album of all time and won three three Grammy’s   
uitarist Joe Pass won his first Grammy. Sax player Eric Kloss is backed by Chick Corea on his most acclaimed album. 

Pittsburgh area natives Papa John Creach and Joey Covington join the Jefferson Airplane and Hot Tuna. Drummer Chris Frantz joins the Talking Heads.  Drummer  Vinnie Colaiuta joins Frank Zappa's band.

1980's -Classic Rock Supergroups, Punk, and New Wave

In the 1980s rock supergroups roam the earth. Bret Michaels forms Poison and Reb Beach becomes the guitarist for Winger. WDVE program directors John McGhan and Dave Lang give airplay to the Granati Brothers, the Houserockers, the Silencers, Donnie Iris, and B.E. Taylor launching their national careers.  The Granati Brothers, who got their start packing Morry's Speakeasy, sign with A&M and tour with the mighty Van Halen Brothers. The Houserockers start their reign at the Decade earn critical aclaim for their MCA albums from the Rolling Stone and Village Voice. The Silencers, who started at the Fat City Lounge, became new wave stars on the newly launched MTV. Donnie Iris gets a number 2 hit with "Ah Leaha". B.E. Taylor hits the national charts with "Vitamin L" and "Karen". Norman Nardini releases an album on CBS.  Trent Reznor's Nine Inch Nails hit it big with a platinum album. 

The Punk Scene emerged in Pittsburgh in 1980.  Carsickness and the Cardboards played the first punk gig at the Electric Banana on a cold Monday night in January of 1980.  The Banana became the home of the popular punk and new wave bands ATS, Kids After Dark, The Wretches, the Cynics, the Affordable Floors, Hector in Paris, and the Rave-Ups,

1990s Showcases and Pop Superstars 
In the 1990s Rusted Root emerges from the Graffiti Showcase with their international hit song "Send Me on My Way" and go on tour with the Grateful Dead before they become headliners. The Clarks become a regional powerhouse. Bruce Springsteen produces Joe Grushecky and performs with him. 
Guitarist Paul Gilbert scores a number one hit “To Be With You” from his band Mr. Big's 1991 “Lean Into It” CD Chris Kirkpatrict sells millions of records as the founder of the boy band N'Sync. Shanice's single “I Love Your Smile” is a number one hit in twenty two countries.  Christina Aguilera goes platinum to become a superstar diva. Classical pianists Earl Wild and Bryon Janis are hononred as two of the "Great Pianists of the 20th Century". The PSO wins a Grammy. Marvin Hamslisch becomes the director of the Pittsburgh Pops.





Pirates win the Series

"Beat Em Bucks" is the pirates theme song written by Joe Negri andrecorded by Benny Benack's "Iron City Six"


Bryon Janis performs in the USSR

Piano Bryon Janis is first American artist to be sent to the Soviet Union for a cultural exchange between the USSR and the United States.


Pittburgh Population Decline Begins

The city of Pittsburgh's population falls by 72,000 to 604,332 making it the 16th largest city in the U.S.


Blue Moon

The Marcels recording of "Blue Moon" sells over one million copies, topping both the Pop and R&B charts, and is awarded a gold record.   It is featured in The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll. 


Adam Wade tops the charts

Adam Wade has 3 top ten hits: The Writing on the Wall, Take Good Care of Her, and As If I Don't Know

   1961  Marcy Jo's Ronnie Hits the Charts  Singer Marcy Jo's song “Ronnie” on Calico Records reaches number 81 on Billboard's Hot 100, #64 on the Cash Box charts, and #27 in Variety. cthalls “Ronnie” a girl group classic. 


Civic Arena is built

The lower hill district is demolished to make way for the Civic Arena that is to host the outdoor summer seriers of the Civic Light Opera.  With the world’s first retractable roof the CLO offers musical theater “under the stars".  The CLO abandonded the arena in 1972 for Heinz Hall and now performs at the Benedum.


Roses Are Red

Clark Race breaks Bobby Vinton's song "Roses are Red" on KDKA making it a No 1 record in the country


First Woman African American PSO Member

Pianist Patricia Prattis Jennings joins the PSO becoming the first African American woman member of a major American Symphony.


Alan Livingston signs the Beatles

Alan Livingston signs the Beatles to Capitol Records and releases "I want to hold your hand"


Everybody Loves Somebody Sometime

Dean Martin's scores a number 1 hit knocking the Beatles out of 1st place on the charts.


Hanky Panky

“Hanky Panky” becomes the number 1 song in Pittsburgh selling 80,000 copies. Tommy James hires Pittsburgh bassist Mike Vales and keyboard player Ronnie Rosman to be part of the “Shondells”.

     1965  Fantastic Dee Jays open for the Stones  The Fantastic Dee Jays, later known as the Swamp Rats, open for the Rolling Stones at the Civic Arena.


Lightnin' Strikes

Lou Christie scores a number 1 hit with "Lightnin' Strikes"


The Igniters sign with Atlantic Records

Atlantic records signs the Igniters to a contract, making them the second white band on the label after the Rascals.  Insisting that the Igniters change their name to "Jimmy Mack and the Music Factory" Atlantic releases their first single, a pop soul tune, “Baby I Love You".


Brother Love Goes Underground

WAMO-FM becomes the first Pittsburgh station to air underground rock music playing  the Mothers of Invention, Jimmie Hendrix and the Doors on a nightly "Underground" show hosted by Brother Love.


Shondells outsell the Beatles

During 1968-69 Tommy James and The Shondells sell more singles than any other artist in the world, including The Beatles.  Their smash hits include Hanky Panky, Mony Mony, and I Think We're Alone Now.  Their biggest hit ‘Crimson and Clover” sold five million copies.


The Rapper

The Jaggerz reach number 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 with "The Rapper" and earn a Gold Record


Chick Corea backs Eric Kloss

Eric Kloss records his most acclaimed album, "Eric Kloss and the Rhythm Section" featuring keyboardist Chick Corea, electric bassist Dave Holland, and drummer Jack DeJohnette.


Papa John Creach finds fame

Violinist Papa John Creach joins the Jefferson Airplane and Hot Tuna


Glass Harp Signs

Glass Harp with legendary guitarist Phil Keaggy signs with Decca Records and record their first album"Glass Harp" at Jimi Hendrix's Electric Lady Studios.


PSO Moves to Heinz Hall

In September of 1971 the PSO moves to its new home at Heinz Hall. 


Tom Cossi leads RCA Promotions

Tom Cossie becomes RCA’s National Promotions Manager at age 26, managing a promotions staff of 100 and promotes the music of Henry Mancini, David Bowie, and Lou Reed.


WDVE is born

KQV-FM changes it call letters to WDVE. The DVE call letters were chosen to represent the word ‘dove’ the bird of peace.  Owned by the ABC radio network it aired the syndicated “love” music format of free form album rock.  In the fall of 71 the free form format was replaced with a rock format rotation playlist airing cuts from best selling albums.


Could It Be I'm Falling In Love

While working for Atlantic Records in the Steals Brothers (Melvin and Marvin) co-write "Could it Be I'm Falling in Love". Recorded by the Spinners the song peaked at number one on the R&B chart and number four on the Billboard Pop Singles chart selling over one million copies.  It has sold over 3 million copies and has been recorded by dozens of artists.


Gary Van Scyoc records with Lennon

Bassist Gary Van Scyoc records with Elephant's Memory on John Lennon's album "Sometime in New York City".

   1972  Steelers Immaculate Reception  Franco Harris miracle catch to win against the Raiders


DiCeaser-Engler Productions Forms

Pat DiCesare Productions and Rich Engler’s Go Attractions merge to form DiCesare-Engler Productions.


Steeler Polka

Radio DJ and Polka band leader Jimmy Pohl releases the Steeler Polka Fight Song as the Steeler build the team that dominnates football in the 1970s with 4 superbowl wins in 74, 75, 78, and 79.


Joe Pass wins Grammy

Joe Pass releases his landmark solo album "Virtuoso" and the album "The Trio" featuring Pass, Oscar Peterson, and Niels-Henning Orsted Pedersen. "The Trio" wins the Grammy Award for Best Jazz Performance by a Group.


No 1 Album for Stanley Turrentine

Stanley Turrentine's album "Pieces of Dreams" becames the number 1 jazz album


Chris Frantz joins Talking Heads

Drummer Chris Frantz, David Byrne, and Tina Weymouth form Talking Heads


Diamond Reo

The Atlantic subsidiary Big Tree Records releases Diamond Reo’s first album “Diamond Reo” in 1975.  Scoring a top 40 hit with a version of the Marvin Gaye song, "Ain't That Peculiar" the band launched a national tour and appear on Dick Clark's "American Bandstand".


Don't Mess with Mr. T

Stanley Turrentine's album "Don't Mess with Mr. T" becomes the no 2 jazz album


Play That Funky Music

Wild Cherry's "Play That Funky Music" is the number one hit on both the Billboard R&B and Pop charts in 1976. Both the single and Wild Cherry's debut album went platinum. The band was named Best Pop Group of the Year by Billboard, and received an American Music Award for Top R&B Single of the Year, as well as a pair of Grammy nominations.


Andre' Previn Leads PSO

In 1976 André Previn succeeds William Steinberg bringing the PSO a national audience with the PBS television series, Previn and the Pittsburgh. 


DiCesare-Engler buy the Stanely

DiCesare-Engler Productions purchases the Stanley Theatre.  Billboard names the Stanley the top rock venue in America.


Tito at the Opera

Colorful Tito Capobianco becomes Pittsburgh Opera’s General Director. Under his leadership the opera establishes its own orchestra, pioneered the use of supertitles, dramatically increased the regional opera audience.


On Broadway

George Benson scores a number 1 hit with "On Broadway"


Vinnie gets Zappa

At age 22 drummer Vinnie Colaiuta becomes Frank Zappa's principal drummer beginning a career of recording and performing with Sting, Chaka Khan, Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, Quincy Jones and more.


Granatis and Houserockers go national

The Granati Brothers release "G-Force" on A&M Records and the Iron City Houserockers release "Love's So Tough" on MCA.  John McGahan breaks their records on WDVE launching their national airplay.  Both band tour the U.S.


Ah Leah

WDVE breaks The Donnie Iris song "Ah Leah" making it a national hit.


Granati Bros Rock the country

The Granati Brothers, billed as G-Force, tour with Van Halen performing for over 500,000 fans in 39 cities in the U.S. and Canada appearing at 46 sold out concerts on the the third highest drawing tour of 1981.


Here I AM

Norman Saleet write the number one hit song "Here I Am" for Airsupply.


Love is Like A Rock

Donnie Iris score a number 9 hit with "Love is Like a Rock"


Steel Workers Benefit Concert

In May of 1982 Rick Granati, Mike Stout, members of the Homestead United Steel Workers Union Local 1397 and WDVE hold a benefit concert for unemployed Steel Workers at Pittsburgh’s Stanley Theater.  The Granati Brothers, Iron City House Rockers, Billy Price, and Rare Experience perform.  The CBS Evening News, the Today Show, the New York Times, La Times, AP, the UPI cover the event the focusing international attention on needs of the steel workers families.  The concert proceeds are used to found the Greater Pittsburgh Community Foodbank.


Nardini goes national

Norman Nardini releases his first CBS album “Norman Nardini and theTigers”


Louisianna Red wins W.C. Handy

Louisianna Red wins the W.C. Handy Award for Best Traditional Blues Male Artist


Lorin Maazel Leads PSO

Pittsburgh born Lorin Maazel takes the helm of the PSO serving until 1996.He leads the orchestra on several international tours.


B.E. Taylor takes "Vitamin L"

B.E. Taylor's song "Vitamin L" reaches No. 66 on the Billboard Hot 100 and MTV airs the video


Bob Corbin is Number 1

Bob Corbin writes the the number 1 country hit for Alabama "Fire In the Night".


Can't Keep A Good Man Down

Bob Corbin writes the the number 1 country hit for Alabama "Can't Keep a Good Man Down".


B.E. Taylor on the charts with "Karen"

B.E. Taylor's song Karen reaches No 99 on the Billboard Hot 100

    1986  Rave-Ups in Pretty In Pink  The Rave-Ups headed by Jim Podrasky perform two songs in the Molly Ringwald moive "Pretty in Pink"


Homestead Mill Closed

The Great Homestead Works is closed and demolished.  It is  replaced in 1999 by The Waterfront shopping mall providing fantastic part time no benefit minimum wage jobs selling Chinese made goods for former steel workers.   The population of Homestead falls from to 3,100 in 2010. During its 105 the Homestead Works produced 200 million tons of steel providing the beams that built the Empire State Building and the armor plate of for five major wars.


Bret Michaels Goes Platinum

Bret Michaels scores a platinum album with Poison's debut album "Look What the Cat Dragged In" boosted by the video of the song, "Talk Dirty to Me."


Reb Beach has a million seller

Reb Beach becomes a star with the million selling band Winger in 1988 with their release of the platinum debut album "Winger"

1989  Nine Inch Nails Go Platinum  Trent Reznor's Nine Inch Nails 1st album "Pretty Hate Machine" sells over a million copies


The Pittsburgh Diaspora

With the loss of the steel industry, Gulf Oil, and other large corporations during the 1980s the city of Pittsburgh's population drops by 235,000 from 1960 falling to 40th largest city in the U.S. with a population of 370,000.  Allegheny County's population drops by 292,000 from it's 1960 high point.  Beaver County losses 22,000 residents from it 1970 high point and Westmoreland County losses 22,000 from its highest population in 1980.  In total the Pittsburgh metropolian area losses around 400,000 residents.  Pittsburghers looking for work or retirement move to the Sunbelt but the remain loyal members of the Steeler Nation.


David Werner's Cradle of Love is No 1

Rocker Billy Idol scoreds a number 1 hit in with the David Werner written song “Cradle of Love”.


Shanice No 1 in 22 countries

Shanice's single “I Love Your Smile” is a number one hit in twenty two countries, including the U.S.  The album “Inner Child” album sells millions and goes Platinum.

   1991  Mr. Big is Big Guitarist Paul Gilber scores a number one hit “To Be With You” from his band Mr. Big's 1991 “Lean Into It” CD 


PSO Wins Grammy

The Pittsburgh Symphony wins the 1992 Grammy Award for "Best Classical Performance, Instrumental Soloist With Orchestra" for the recording “Prokofiev, Sinfonia Concertante; Tchaikovsky, Variations on a Rococo Theme” performed by cellist Yo-Yo Ma conducted Lorin Maazel.


Stanley Turrentine has top album

Stanley Turrentine's album "If I Could" reaches No 10 on the Billboard Top Jazz Albums


B.E, Taylor Christmas

The “B.E. Taylor Christmas” CD  is released and the B.E. Taylor Christmas show becomes an annual Pittsburgh tradition. 


Rusted Root Goes Platinum

Rusted Root's album "When I Woke" reaches No 51 on the Billboard 100 and earns a Platinum award from the RIAA.


Send Me On My Way

Rusted Root's single "Send Me On My Way" reaches 72 on the Billboard 100 and becames a classic song used in several movies and commericials.


Springsteen Produces Grushecky

Bruce Springsteen produces Joe Grushecky's "American Babylon" album.  Bruce co-writes two songs along with singing vocals and playing guitar.  Bruce later is the Houserockers' lead guitarist on the album's release tour..


Marvin Hamlisch Leads PSO Pops

Marvin Hamlisch became the PSO Pops conductor


Rusted Root Goes Gold

Rusted Root's "Remember" album reaches No 38 on the Billboard 100 and is awarded a Gold Record.


Mariss Jansons Leads PSO

Mariss Janson leds the PSO from 1997 unitl 2004.


Rusted Root scores again

Rusted Root's album "Rusted Root" reaches 165 on the Billboard 200 list.


DiCesare-Engler sold to SFX

DiCesare-Engler Productions is sold to SFX. Pat DiCeasare retires from concert promotion


Christine Aguilera goes Platinum

Christine Aguilera's debut album "Christina Aguilera" has three number one singles on the Billboard Hot 100—"Genie in a Bottle", "What a Girl Wants", and "Come On Over Baby (All I Want Is You).  The album goes Multi-Platinum with 9 million in sales.


Earl Wild and Bryon Janis Honored

Pianists Earl Wild and Bryon Janis are hononred in the "Great Pianists of the 20th Century" CD Series published by Polygram Records..