During the start of the rock music era in the mid 1960s one of the first clubs in Western Pennsylvania to host Pittsburgh bands who played original music was Mancini’s Lounge in McKees Rocks. It also became one of Pittsburgh’s first clubs to showcase national blues and rock acts in the late 1970s. Mancini’s was located at the foot of the McKees Rock Bridge at 826 Island Avenue in the Rocks.
As early as 1964 Mancini’s was advertising itself as “the best show in town” featuring acts likes Wilson’s Debonaires and Kitty Lanie. The Jaggerz, the Racket Squad, and Sweet Lightning, who went on to record and tour nationally, became regular performers at Mancini’s beginning around 1968. With members Jimmy Ross and Donnie Iris the Jaggerz scored a number 2 national hit with the “Rapper” single in 1970. The Jaggerz made several live recordings at Mancini’s from 1968 through 1971. "Sonny" DiNunzio’s hard rock psychedelic band the Racket Squad released two albums on Jublie records before breaking up in 1970. The Racket’s Squad’s drummer Joey Covenington went on to a career with the Jefferson Airplane, Hot Tuna, and the Jefferson Starship. The band Sweet Lighting that included singer Pete Hewlett (of the Billy Joel band), guitarist Sid MGinnis (now with the David Letterman band), drummer Ron Foster (of Diamond Reo, the Silencers, and Roy Buchanan), bassist Harry Turner and keyboardist Fred Delu began playing at Mancini’s around 1969. They released their album “Sweet Lightnin' on RCA in 1972.
In December of 1970 R&B artist Walt Maddox became the house band at Mancini’s playing every week night. B.E. Taylor and the Establishment were the Saturday night Regulars. Other bands who performed in 1970 were the Katz and Jammer Kids and the Three River Blues Band. Billy Price and the Keystone Rhythm Band were regulars at Mancinis during the 1970s and 1980s. During the late 1970’s other Pittsburgh bands who went on to record on national labels appeared at Mancini’s including Diamond Reo, the Granati Brothers, the Iron City Houserockers, Gravel (Corbin Hanner) and Norman Nardini. Diamond Reo recorded a live album at Mancini’s on April 21, 1979. It was one of their last shows before they broke up. Norman Nardini shot a video of his song “You Don't Want Me, Somebody Will" at Mancini’s on January 4, 1985 for his CBS Records release. Other Pittsburgh bands who worked at Mancini’s included Red Hot and Blue, Bon Ton Roulette, Tumblin’s Dice, Force Field, Sebastian. Empire, and 8th Street Rocks. The last band listed in an ad for Mancini’s was Smash Alley in 1991.
Blues and Rock Showcase
Mancini’s became a showcase for national blues acts in 1979 and began offering a Thursday Blues night in 1980. Blues artists who appeared in the Rocks included B.B. King, Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, Albert Collins, Albert King, Buddy Guy, Willie Dixon, Koko Taylor, Eddie Shaw, Jimmy Johnson, Mighty Joe Young, Junior Wells, J.B.Huto, the Bobby Blue Band, Son Seals, Jimmy Dawkins, Robert Luther Allison, the Nighthawks with Pittsburgh native Jimmy Thackery, the Fabulous Thunderbirds, George Thorogood and the Destroyers, and Roy Buchanan. Muddy Waters appeared at Mancini's four time during 1980 and 1981. Drummer Buddy Rick appeared at Mancini’s in 1980.
Mancini’s was also a showcase for rock acts such as the Pretenders, Pat Benetar, Bad Finger, the Joe Perry Project, the Ventures, Bobby Bare, Queensryche (Nov 11, 1984), The Ramones (July, 1986), Megadeth (Oct, 1986), and Novo Combo with hometown hero Pete Hewlett. In February of 1985 Rick Danko of the Band performed with a Byrds tribute band.
In October of 1988 Robert Mancini, the manager of Mancini's Lounge, was found at his home on Third Street in McKees Rocks slumped over his dinning room table with a bullet hole behind his right ear. Spread before him were gambling slips. Mancini, also a book maker, was working as an informant for the Pennsylvania State Police in a racketing investigation before his murder. No one was ever charged with his murder. Anthony Mancini, brother of Robert who helped run the night club with their father Anthony "Gassey" Mancini, died in a fight after a post Super Bowl card game on the South Side of Pittsburgh in January of 1995. No one was charged in Anthony's death.
In the Movies and the News
In the 1990’s Mancini’s became the all nude strip joint Club Erotica which has been featured in two movies. The movie Kingpin with Woody Harrelson and Randy Quaid shot there in 1995. A scene from "Zack and Mimi Make a Porno" was shot there in 2008. Club Erotica made the national news in when 8 St John’s basketball players were suspended for their late night trip to McKees Rocks.