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Who should be the first inductee of the Pittsburgh Rock 'N Roll Hall of Fame?

Written by Scott Mervis on .

 

porkyRich Engler and Porky Chedwick www.richengler.comRich Engler is a great guy and one of the true legends of Pittsburgh rock ’n’ roll.

Our music scene, our music life, our memories would not be the same without the concert promoter, who took a lot of chances and brought thousands of great shows to our city over the span of 30 years.

There is absolutely no question that he should go into the Pittsburgh Rock ‘N’ Roll Hall of Fame.

Just not first.

On Jan. 23, he will be initial inductee into this symbolic hall created by the Hard Rock Cafe and the Cancer Caring Center. Inductees will be honored each year with a plaque mounted at the Hard Rock.

Engler, who in addition to being a promoter was the drummer for ‘60s band the Grains of Sand, will be celebrated with an all-star show featuring Donnie Iris, B.E. Taylor, Joe Grushecky, Scott Blasey and more.

On hand will be the actual president and CEO of the national Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Joel Peresman. It’s a testament to DiCesare-Engler Productions that Mt. Lebanon native Peresman got his start there as an go-fer.

The chairs of the Pittsburgh rock hall are Mary Ann Miller and Theresa Kaufmann, who both work in the public relations business. They conceived of the hall as a way to honor Pittsburgh music legends while raising money for the Cancer Caring Center, clearly a noble cause.

They are working on “a blue ribbon committee” to make decisions for the hall in the future.

Miller says that for now Engler was chosen because he is “where music came from in our lives — his name was on everybody’s list.”

As longtime Pittsburghers know, it didn’t start here with Rich Engler.

A legit Pittsburgh Rock ’N’ Roll of Fame should begin with Porky Chedwick, who started playing “race” records here in 1948, even before Alan Freed, who is credited with popularizing the phrase “rock ‘n’ roll.” It was the Daddio of the Raddio who launched rock ’n’ roll in Pittsburgh, played the forbidden black artists, broke records nationally and literally drove our teenagers wild in the streets (Stanley Theater 1953).

He’s still very much alive at 95, god bless him ...

jimmybJimmy BeaumontFrom there, you have to go Jimmy Beaumont. And Joe Rock. Beaumont was and is the golden-voiced lead singer of the Skyliners, who went to No. 12 on the charts in 1959 with “Since I Don’t Have You.” It was the first major Pittsburgh hit of the rock era. (You have heard the Guns N Roses version).

It was written by late Skyliners manager and producer Joe Rock, who also managed the Jaggerz (No. 2 in 1970 with “The Rapper”) and the Granati Brothers. He would have been the logical co-inductee with Beaumont.

There were other brilliant choices from the doo-wop era, including the Marcels (“Blue Moon”) and Del-Vikings (“Come and Go With Me”).

patdPat DiCesareBusiness-wise, the first inductee candidate is a no-brainer. It was, after all, called DiCesare-Engler, the DiCesare being the man who brought the Beatles to Pittsburgh in 1964. I would say that Pat was the Bill Graham of Pittsburgh, but he predated Bill Graham. A songwriter for doo-wop acts, he started booking concerts in 1962, mentored by his friend Tim Tormey, who was more of a Sinatra guy. DiCesare became the dominant promoter in town during the ’60s and when Engler came along as the new kid on the block in 1969, Pat didn’t try to squash him — he made him a partner!

So, your first class of Pittsburgh Rock N Roll Hall of Famers: Porky Chedwick, Joe Rock, Jimmy Beaumont and Pat DiCesare.

You can’t blame Engler for graciously accepting this honor. You can bet, though, that he will have a hand in making sense of this operation in the future.

 

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Mark Cuban raves about Pittsburgh-based Simple Sugars on 'Tonight Show with Jay Leno'

Written by Sara Bauknecht on .

Looks like 2014 is already off to a great start for Fox Chapel entrepreneur Lani Lazzari and her all-natural line of handmade sugar scrubs called Simple Sugars.

On Wednesday, the product was featured on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" when Mark Cuban, another Pittsburgh native, raved about the products to host Jay Leno and actress Vanessa Hudgens, another guest on the show.

Mr. Cuban, an investor on the ABC reality TV show "Shark Tank," invested in Ms. Lazzari's sugar scrubs when she appeared on the television show in 2013. Since her appearance on the show, her sales have skyrocketed. By the end of last year, she had $1 million in the bank, Mr. Cuban said.

Hear Mr. Cuban talk about Ms. Lazzari's success in the video clip above (at about four minutes into the segment). Learn more about Ms. Lazzari and the company she started when she was 11 years old at post-gazette.com, or buy some scrubs for yourself at simplesugars.com.

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'Eers in the NFL: 2013 showcase

Written by Stephen J. Nesbitt on .

West Virginia video man Doug Cross is back at it, recapping the 2013 NFL season with an eye on 16 former Mountaineers.

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Empty Netter Assists - 01-17-14

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

Penguins

-“I’m comfortable playing [in the NHL], but I’m trying to not get too used to it. I’m trying to stay on my game, not be too conceited or think that I’m going to be up here or anything like that.” - Zach Sill (right).

-Nick Drazenovic, Simon Despres and Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond were assigned to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

-EN Says: We wouldn't read too much into Despres' demotion. The Penguins don't play a game until Monday, he is still immune to re-entry waivers and Paul Martin is on the verge of returning to the lineup. It's no secret that management isn't completely enamored by Despres but there are immediate, practical reasons to send him to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

-"An opportunity to coach for your country. what more do you want?" - Dan Bylsma on coaching Team USA.

-Happy 33rd birthday to former Penguins forward the great Mike Zigomanis. Acquired early in the 2008-09 season in a trade which sent future consideration to the Coyotes, Zigomanis' Penguins' career amounted to 22 games and six points that campaign. After getting his name on the Stanley Cup as part of the franchise's third championship, Zigomanis joined the AHL's Toronto Marlies early in the 2009-10 season. He currently plays for the Rochester Americans of the AHL.

-Happy 34th birthday to former Penguins forward Milan Kraft. A first-round pick in 1998, Kraft spent parts of four seasons with the Penguins. As a rookie in 2000-01, Kraft appeared in 42 games and scored 14 points. He played in eight postseason games that spring and failed to record a point. He followed that up in 2001-02 by seeing action in 68 games and scoring 16 points. In 2002-03, Kraft played in 31 games and recorded 12 points. His final NHL season was 2003-04. He appeared in 66 games and scored 40 points. During the 2004-05 lockout, he joined HC Plzen of the Czech Extraliga in the Czech Republic. In 207 regular season games with the Penguins, Kraft scored 82 points.

-After the Jump: Tampa Bay's Steven Stamkos takes another step towards a return while Nashville's Carter Hutton comes through with a ridiculous save.

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Things are peachy for Plum this season

Written by Mike White on .

Four years ago, when Ron Richards was in his first season of his second stint as Plum's boys basketball coach, he said something to me that I always remember. Maybe all coaches should keep in mind Richards' comments.

"The big thing I thought about before I even came back was I didn't want to be the same coach as before," Richards said in 2010. "I didn't want to fight every battle, on and off the court. I'm aware of some of the problems I got myself involved in during the past with officials and even parental issues. I brought some of them on myself.

"I said to myself this time that if I'm going to do this, I want to enjoy it more. Anyone who coaches, I don't know if we take enough time to enjoy the good things about it. I'm not talking about just the winning and some of the other fun things. I'm talking about just enjoying being around kids. I really want to focus on the enjoyable things this time."

Is Richards enjoying things more now? Who knows. But he has to be enjoying what is going on with Plum this season.

This has the makings of one of the best seasons in Plum history. The Mustangs are 12-1, with the only loss coming to Gateway. Plum moved into the Post-Gazette WPIAL Class AAAA rankings this week at No. 5. Plum and Gateway are tied for first place in Class AAAA Section 2 at 6-1.

The top of Section 2 is filled with good teams this year, but there is a possibility that Plum might win only its third section title in school history. The others came in 2000 and 2010. Both of those years the Mustangs tied for the section title.

Richards was the coach of both of those section championship teams. He coached Plum for nine seasons before resigning in 2007. He had a record of 139-94 and won 20 or more games twice. He started his second stint in 2009. Look at his past record and successes and you have to put him with the better coaches in the entire WPIAL.

And no matter what happens this season, Richards also is looking forward to the future. He believes some of Plum's best teams might be in the next couple years. He plays a number of sophomores and even a freshman.

The return of Luther

I'm hearing there is a good chance that Hampton's Ryan Luther will play tonight against North Hills. Luther, a Pitt recruit, has missed the past three games with an ankle injury.

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