The Jaggerz are a blue-eye soul band best known for their chart topping hit "The Rapper". Their first album "Introducing the Jaggerz", a soulful R&B classic, released on Gamble Records in 1969 was produced by the legendary Philadelphia International team of Gamble and Huff. In 1970 the Jaggerz were signed by Neil Bogart to his Buddah/Kama Sutra label and released the album "We Went to Different Schools Together". It featured the smash hit "The Rapper" written and sung by Donnie Iris. The song went Gold selling 2.5 million copies and rising to No. 2 on Billboard and No. 1 on the Record World charts. The Jaggerz toured the country and appeared on Dick Clark’s American Bandstand. Their third album “Come Again” was release on Wooden Nickel Records in 1975. The Jaggerz also appeared on recordings with Bobby Rydell, James Darren, and Wolfman Jack
Formed by Donnie Iris and Benny Faiella in 1965 the Jaggerz were Pittsburgh’s most popular band before they went on to national success. They broke up in 1975. Jimmie Ross went on to record and perform with the Skyliners and the duo Cooper and Ross. Donnie Iris and his band the Cruisers landed 10 singles in the Billboard top 100 including the hits “Ah Leah”, “Love Is Like A Rock” and “I Can’t Hear You”.
The Jaggerz reunited in 1989 led by singer Jimmie Ross and released the albums "And the Band Played On" (1998) and "Re-Rapped" in 2001. They continue to perform their heartfelt soulful sounds and rich vocal harmonies with founding members Jimmie Ross and Benny Faiella along with Hermie Granati (of the Granati Bros. and B.E. Taylor), Dennis McAbee, Paul Martello, and the horn section of Ron Levi, Rich Mansfield and Jim Sheppard.
Donnie Iris while in college at Slippery Rock State formed a band called the Trivelles that was latter renamed Donnie and The Donnelles. They played frat parties and at a bar called "Guy's". Around 1964, Donnie and The Donnelles merged with members of another band called Gary and The Jewel Tones to form the Jaggerz. When Koorich and Sabol quit the band, Donnie and Benny recruited bassist Jimmie Ross and drummer Jim Puguliano into the Jaggerz. Guitarist Bill Maybray and organist Tom Davies joined a few months later.
The Jaggerz began their career playing 6 nights a week at Club Natural in Beaver, Falls. In 1966 they played the entire summer at the Sunken Bar at Geneva on the Lake, Ohio. They returned to Genava in the summer of 1967 to play the season at the Cove.
Working steadily the Jaggerz polished their act into a two hour Vegas style show. Performing tight R&B/Soul tunes they danced in synchronized steps. The highlight of their shows was a number where they tossed each other through their legs while tossing the mics over their shoulders.
The Jaggerz became Pittsburgh's most popular band packing clubs throughout Western Pennsylvania. They played at the Beaver County venues Club Naturale, Morry's Speakeasy, and Villas. In the Pittsburgh area they gigged at Mancini's, the Fountain, the Yellow Submarine, the Thunderbird Boatel and the Staircase Lounge. Their regular Wednesday night gig as at Mancini's in the Rocks. On Saturdays people lined up around the block to get into the Staircase Lounge in downtown Pittsburgh to see Jaggerz.
The Jaggerz sought a record contact working with John Pergel and their manager Joe Rock, who also managed the the Skyliners.
Discovered by Gamble and Huff
In 1967 Philadelphia sound producers Gamble and Huff came to Pittsburgh the hear the Jaggerz perform at the Staircase lounge and signed them to a record contract. The Jaggerz released their first album, “Introducing the Jaggerz” in 1969 on Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff's label Gamble Records. The album featured the regional hit song "Gotta Find My Way Back Home” written by the Steals Brothers (Mystro & Lyric) of Aliquippa who were song writers for Gamble and Huff. The Steals Brothers later wrote the million selling hit “Could It Be I’m Fallng In Love” for the Spinners. The single received strong airplay on KQV, KDKA, and other Pittsburgh stations. It reached the top 10 on KQV.
Andrew Hamilton of the All Music Guide calls it an R&B classic “Steeped in R&B, The Jaggerz are absolutely thrilling rehashing the Intruders' "Together," the Temptations' "Ain't No Sun (Since You Been Gone)," Jackie Wilson's "Higher and Higher," and the Diplomats' "Here's a Heart." They also shine on originals "(That's Why) Baby I Love You," "Bring It Back," and Philly sounds like "Gotta Find My Way Back Home," a Melvin & Mervin Steals a.k.a. Mystro & Lyric composition -- the same brothers who later did "Could It Be I'm Falling in Love" for the Spinners.”
The Jaggerz scored a number 1 national hit with “The Rapper" written by Donnie Iris. It was the featured single from the second album “We Went to Different Schools Together” released in 1970 on Kama Sutra Records. Kama Sutra released the single “The Rapper” in December of 1969. KQV AM broke the record in Pittsburgh where it quickly reached the top of the charts. It was the number 1 song in Pittsburgh for four straight weeks during January of 1970 before it broke nationwide. The Rapper spent six weeks in the Billboard Top Ten from March 7 through April 11 of 1970. It peaked as the number 2 song on Billboard on March 21 beating out the Beatles “Let It Be” and spent 13 weeks on the charts. It reached Number 1 on the Record World 100 Top Pops Chart on March 21 1970 beating out Simon and Garfunkles’ “Bridge Over Troubled Waters".
Two additional tracks “What A Bummer” and “I Call My Baby Candy” reached the Billboard Hot 100 and the album went to 62 on the Billboard Top 200 chart. The album’s classic R&B tune "Memoirs of a Traveler" written by the Jaggerz was sampled by Wiz Khalifa, The Game, Slum Village and other hip hop artists.
The WolfmanIn 1973 the Jaggerz performed on the novelty album "Through The Ages". They backed up DJ Wolfman Jack who sang ""The Rapper". It was released on Wooden Nickel Records a subsidiary of RCA.
Around 1975 singer Franki Czuri and keyboard player Hermie Granati joined Jimmie Ross, Donnie Iris, Bill Maybray, and Jim Pugliano for their next release. The Jaggerz released their third album “Come Again” in 1975 on Wooden Nickel Records. It featured the song “I’ll Be Okay in the Morning” co-written by Donnie and Hermie Granati, along with the Donnie Iris song “Don't It Make You Wanna Dance?” After Jimmy Ross left to join the Skyliners in 1975, the Jaggerz broke up.
After the Break UpAfter the Break Up the members on Jaggerz went on to more success in the music business.
Singer Jimmie Ross performed with the Skyliners from 1975 through 1982. He recorded with them on their 1978 album release 'The Skyliners' In 1983 Ross and Cathy Cooper left the Skyliners to form the duo Cooper and Ross. They performed together for five years and released the album "Botton Line" on Sweat City Records / MCA.
Donnie Iris joined band Wild Cherry before he formed Donnie Iris and the Cruisers. He scored another number 2 national hit with the song 'Ah Leah". Donnie Iris landed 9 singles in the Billboard top 100 lists. He released ten albums with the Cruisers, five of which made it to the Billboard top 200 list.
Jim 'Pugs' Pugliano moved to Los Angeles where he became a session player and sideman. He recorded sessions with Leon Russell, Roger Miller, the Hudson Brothers,and Don Preston . He performed on commercials for McDonald's, Burger King, and other firms. As a sideman Pugs toured with J.J. Cale, Tony Orlando, Willie Nelson, Mel Tillis and John Davidson. Returning to Pittsburgh he formed a Jazz Fusion band with Donny Marsico and Joe Monroe in 1989.
Frankie Cruzi formed the Silencers, who signed a deal with CBS/ Precision Records. In 1980 their single "Shiver and Shake" reached number 81 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. They took their act across the country appearing with Hall & Oates, Foreigner, Heart, ACDC, and others. Early pioneers in music videos they were featured on the very first broadcast of MTV in 1981.
Hermie Granati join with his siblings to form Granati Brothers who released the album G-Force on A&M Records and toured the country opening 78 shows on two national tours with Van Halen in the 1980s.
Te Jaggerz reunited in 1989 to perform live. The reunited band included the original members Jim Pugliano, Benny Faiella, Bill Maybray along with organist Fred Dulu, sax player Robbie Klein and vocalist Donnie Marsico. Their first appearance was at a 25-year reunion concert on June 23, 1989 at the Beaver County College Golden Dome. The band has played 20 to 25 shows a year since then.
The Jaggerz released their fifth album "And the Band Played On" in 1998. The All Music Guide calls it"Heartfelt soul music". Performing on this release were Jimmie Ross, Eugene "Benny" Faiella, Jim "Pugs" Pugliano, Dennis McAbee, and Jamie Peck Former member Hermie Granati rejoined the band writing the orchestrations, performing on keyboards and vocals, and co-producing with Jimmie Ross. Recorded at Dave World Studio it features the Jaggerz arrangement of classic R&B tunes and Hermie Granati's original tune original tune "Feels Good".
The Jaggerz released their sixth album "Re-Rapped By Request" in 2001. It features a mix of the most requested songs that they have performed over their career including "Dancin' in the Streets", "Some Kind of Wonderful", "The Love I Never Had" and a live version of the "Rapper" recorded at the A.J. Palumbo Center.
And the Band Plays On...
The Jaggerz lost two of their original members. Guitarist and vocalist William Maybray Sr. died of cancer in December of 2004 and drummer James Pugliano passed away in June of 2010. Founding members Jimmie Ross and Benny Faiella continue performing the soulful sounds of the Jaggerz. The current roster of the Jaggerz also includes vocalist and keyboardist Hermie Granati, guitarist Dennis McAbee, saxophonist Chris Patarini, and drummer Paul Martello.