Pittsburgh - The Birthplace of American Music
Virtual Museum Honoring Outstanding Musicians from the Pittsburgh Area
"An impressive encyclopedia of local music"  -Scott Mervis Pittsburgh Post Gazette

Celebrate with the winners April 23, 2015 at the Hard Rock Cafe Pittsburgh

The Story of Pittsburgh Music

Pittsburgh is the birthplace of American Music. The father of Pop Music Stephen Foster was born in and wrote his music in Pittsburgh.

Pittsburgh is a musical city that has produced many award winning hall of fame honored musicians in pop, jazz, rock, and classical. Their enduring music has influenced generations of musicians and is enjoyed by billions of fans throughout the world on record, in concert, in films, and on Broadway.

The Pittsburgh Music History website is an online museum that tells the stories of renown musicians from the Pittsburgh area and the story of the development of Pittsburgh’s musical culture.

Doo Wop City

Pittsburgh was a key city in the development and promotion of Doo Wop and 1960s vocal group music. Scoring many hit records were the the Marcels, The Skyliners, the Del Vikings, Lou Christie, Bobby Vinton, the Vogues, the Lettermen and other artists. D.J Porky Chedwick, Mary Dee, and Jay Michael were among the 1st in the country to air Doo Wop, R&B, and Rock. The Robee, Fee Bee, Co & Co, Calico, and World Artist record labels produced and promoted definitive recordings of the era. DJ dance promoters Bob Mack and Terry Lee drew thousands of teens to their weekly hops.

Crossroads of Jazz

The Hill District was the cross roads of the world where many of the definitive players, singers, and arrangers in Jazz history learned their craft including Earl Hines, Roy Eldridge, Kenny Clark, Ray Brown, Art Blakey, Stanely Turrintine, Maxine Sullivan, Lena Horne, Dakota Staton, Dodo Marmaroso, Billy Eckstine, Eddie Jefferson, Billy Strayhorn, Mary Lou Williams, Joe Pass, George Benson, Errol Garner, Ahmad Jamal, Billy May, and Sammy Nestico.

Esquire Magazine proclaimed Pittsburgh "The Number 1 City That Rocks" with its many rock musicians who have been heard around the world on radio, on record, and in concert halls, arenas, and clubs.  Pittsburgh area natives who rocked the world include Bret Michaels, Trent Reznor, Tommy James and the Shondels, Chris Frantz of Talking Heads, Anti-Flag, Rusted Root, Paul Gilbert of Racer X,  Wild Cherry, the Jaggerz, Donnie Iris, the Clarks, the Cynics, David Werner, the Iron City Houserockers, Joe Grushecky, The Granati Brothers, the Silencers, Norman Nardini, B.E. Taylor, Glass Harp, Crack the Sky, the Rave-Ups, the Swamp Rats, the Racket Squad, Punchline, Juliana Theory and more.  

Outstanding Pittsburgh instrumentalists have been members of the bands of John Lennon, David Bowie, Sting, David Bryne, Jefferson Airplane, Frank Zappa, Match Box 20, Billy Joel, Prince, the Fountains of Wayne, the Brian Setzer Orchestra, the Dave Letterman Show Band, Carly Simon, Hot Tuna, John Mayhall and others.


Remembering the concert halls and clubs where generations of Pittsburghers enjoyed great performances the Stanley Theater, Syria Mosque, the Decade, Grafitti, Morry's, Moondog's, Electric Banana, Mancini's the Leona Theater, Danceland, the Staircase, Fat City, the Crawford Grill, the Hurricane, MCG Jazz

Birthplace of Radio

The story of the birth of commercial radio and live music broadcasts at KDKA, KQV and WCAE. The stories of Pittsburgh's influential pioneering rock and Doo Wop DJs like Porky Chedwick, Mary Dee, Jay Michael, Clark Race, Bob Mack, Terry Lee, Mad Mike, Sterling Yates, Bill Powell, Bob Livorio, Jimmy and Steve, and Herschel.

Pop and R&B

Singing superstars of Pop and R&B who hail from Pittsburgh are Christine Aguilera, Jackie Evancho, Phyliss Hyman, Dean Martin, Perry Como, and Chris Kirkpatrick of N'Sync, Bobby Vinton, Chuck Jackson, Shirely Jones, Vaughn Monore, Shanice, and Adam Wade.

Hip Hop and Mash Up

Pittsburgh is an up and coming center for Hip Hop and electronic mash up music with stars like Wiz Kahlifa, Mac Miller, Girl Talk, and TV on the Radio.. 

Pittsburgh Blues

Pittsburgh has had the Blues since the 1920s when Pine Top Smith originated the Boogie Woogie and played with Ma Rainey.  Bluesman from Pittsburgh include Papa John Creach, Louisana Red, Ernie Hawkins, Tim Woods, Jimmy Thackery, Tim Woods, Billy Price, Chizmo Charles, Bub McKeg, Barbara Blue, guitar Zack and Tony JanFloner Jr.

Awarding Winning Hall of Fame Artists

Pittsburgh musicians have been honored with Grammy Awards, Oscars, and Emmys, along with Gold, Platinum, and Diamond records.  The first ever Oscar award for best song and the first ever Grammy award for album of the year were won by Pittsburgher song writers.  The first ever Gold Record and Gold Albums were awarded to Pittsburghers.  Pittsburgh musicians have scored dozens of Top Ten Billboard Hit Records.

            Song Writers Hall of Fame Members

Stephen Foster, Ethelbert Nevin, Jay Livingston, Herb Magidson, Henry Mancini, Leo Robin, and Gerome Ragni. 

    Grammy Hall of Fame Honorees             

Twenty recordings that were written by or performed by or produced by Pittsburghers are included in the Grammy Hall of Fame.  Henry Mancini, Errol Garner, Pine Top Smith, Perry Como, Jay Livingston, Art Blakey, George Benson, Gerome Ragni, Dean Martin, Earl Hines, and Leo Robins are in the Grammy Hall of Fame.

Grammy Life Time Achievement and  Trustee Honorees

Art Blakey, Perry Como, Henry Mancini, Billy Strayhorn, Alan Livingston, Lena Horne, and Bob Babbitt as a member of the Funk Brothers

     Big Band Hall of Fame Members

Billy Strayhorn, Earl Hines, Billy Eckstine, Roy Eldridge, Sammy Nestico, Maxine Sullivan, Joe Pass, Erroll Garner, Kenny Clarke, Mary Lou Williams, and Perry Como. 

        Downbeat Jazz Hall of Fame Members

Billy Strayhorn, Ray Brown, Roy Eldridge, Kenny Clarke, J.J. Johnson, Earl Hines, Art Blakey, and Mary Lou Williams. 

Pittsburgh jazz musicians were founders of the Be Bop, Hard Bob, and Vocalese styles of jazz. Earl Hines is credited as the originator of modern jazz piano and Roy Eldridge is heralded as one of the all time great trumpeters in the history of jazz. Kenny Clark invented modern jazz drumming. Ray Brown is the master bassist of Jazz. Maxine Sullivan created an innovative style of Jazz singing.

          Vocal Group Hall of Fame Members

 The Skyliners, the Marcels, the Del Vikings, the Vogues, the Swan Silvertones and the Lettermen.

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and
Blues Hall of Fame Member

     Movie and Television 

Composer / Arrangers 

A dozen composers, arrangers, and lyricists from Pittsburgh dominated the movie and television industry from the 1912 through the 2000s. Joseph Breil, Charles Wakefield Cadman, Leo Robin, Herb Magidson, Jay Livingston, Henry Mancini, James Fielding, Billy May, Sammy Nestico, Jay Chattaway, and Trent Reznor scored award winning music for hundreds of movies and television shows. Joe Breil is considered the “Father of Movie Music” as he wrote the first ever movie music. The themes songs of Pink Panther, Peter Gunn, Hogan’s Heroes, Naked City, McHale’s’ Navy, Bonanza, Mr. Ed, the Mod Squad, Emergency, Star Trek the Next Generation, Deep Space Nine and more were written by these Pittsburghers. Henry Mancini, nominated 74 times for a Grammy, won 20. These musical masters also were arrangers and composers for the big bands and for stars such as Sinatra and Nat King Cole.

       Multi-Million Selling Recording Artists  

Several Pittsburgher musicians are among the top selling artists of all time.  Between 1943 and 1974, Perry Como had almost 150 hits and won five Emmy awards.  Over a 50-year career, Perry’s total record sales topped 100 million.  Also selling over 100 million records were Steubenville’s singer Dean Martin along with Tommy James and the Shondels with Pittsburgh members Mike Vale and Ronnie Roman.  Canonsburg’s Bobby Vinton sold 75 million.  *Nsync founded by Clarion’s Chris Kirkpatrick had sales of 56 million and Christina Aguilera has sold over 50 million records. Bret Michaels as a member of Poison has sold over 30 million records.

Classical Music Superstars

In the realm of classical music two of the greatest pianist of the 20th century ares from Pittsburgh: Earl Wild and Byron Janis. Pittsburgh has also produced the world renown classical artists including conductors Lorin Maazel and Antonio Modarelli, pianist Oscar Levant, pianist Norman Frauenheim, opera stars Louise Homer,Florence Wickham, Herva Nelli, and Nan Merriman, and composers Adolph Martin Foester and Anna Priscilla Rischer.  The Pittsburgh Symphony is ranked one of the top symphonies in the United States.

Ahmad Jamal on Pittsburgh Music - All About Jazz January, 2002

"Pittsburgh is one of the most important cities in the world for music and musicians. There are very few cities that have produced music like Pittsburgh. Very few. Billy Strayhorn is from Pittsburgh. He wrote "Lush Life" when he was 16 years old, that is the kind of talent we had coming out of Pittsburgh. Everyone from Pittsburgh has been influential to the music world. From Art Blakey to Kenny Clarke to Roy Eldridge, to Mary Lou Williams, myself, Errol Garner, he also started playing at 3. Dodo Mamarosa, whom the world has forgotten. George Benson, Stanley Turrentine. All of those are from Pittsburgh. On the other end of the spectrum you have Oscar Levant, Earl Wild. When Andre Previn had the choice to conduct the London or the Pittsburgh symphony, he chose Pittsburgh. We have a very powerful statement musically from that town. Very powerful. It still remains so."

Enduring Classic Songs Created by Pittsburgh Area Musicians:

Oh Susanna   Stephen Foster
Camp Town Racers  Stephen Foster
The Continental  Herb Magidson
Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree  Sam Stept
Take The A Train  Billy Strayhorn
Lush LIfe  Billy Strayhorn
Satin Doll Billy Strayhorn
Thanks for the Memory  Leo Robin
 Blame It On My YouthOscar Levant 
Mona Lisa  Jay Livingston
Que Sera-Sera  Jay Livingston
Silver Bells  Jay Livingston
Blue Moon  The Marcels
Moon River  Henry Mancini
Peter Gunn  Henry Mancini
The Pink Panther  Henry Mancini
Salt Peanuts  Eddie Jefferson
Five O'Clock World  The Vogues
Since I Don't Have You  The Skyliners
Come Go With Me  The Del Vikings
Hanky Panky  Tom James & The Shondels
Crimson and Clover  Tom James & The Shondels
Crystal Blue Persuasion Tom James & The Shondels
Dean Martin Everybody Loves Somebody
Bobby Vinton Blue Velvet
The Rapper  The Jaggerz
Play That Funk Music Wild Cherry
Let the Sunshine In Gerome Ragni
Aquarius  Gerome Ragni
Good Morning Star Shine,  Gerome Ragni
Could It Be I'm Falling In Love  Melvin & Mervin Steals
Cradle of Love  David Werner
Send Me On My Way. Rusted Root


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