Just last night I was talking about how lead singers of bands usually grab much of the spotlight, but what about the guys who actually played the music? There’s been so many classic pop and rock groups through the years whose popularity still endures, and the demand to see and hear it performed live is still there. Think back to your favorite groups. Maybe you really dug the guitarist, or the guy on the keys. Perhaps you were a obsessed with the drummer or maybe you were such a huge fan of the band that you even became a fan of the band’s producers. These are the band members who may not have got the same type of notoriety that the lead singers did, but they are just as accomplished and in this case, even more! Comprised of various performing and recording members of groups like Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, Tommy James and the Shondells, Cat Stevens, Jim Croce, Elton John and others, The Hit Men are the Super Friends of classic pop music. Let me run down The Hit Men roster:
Lee Shapiro – One of the Four Seasons and co-produced the score to Copacabana the Musical with Barry Manilow. Inventor of Rock N Roll Elmo for Fisher Price.
Don Ciccone – Only Don can say he was a Critter, a Four Season, a Shondell with Tommy James and then enjoyed a solo career as well.
Larry Gates – As a composer, lyricist, and studio vocalist Larry has collaborated with a slew of familiar names. Gates has worked with Rick Derringer and co-wrote songs with Desmond Child among many others. His talents can also be heard on local and national commercials including Hasbro and Toys R Us.
Gerry Polci – You know this drummer and former Four Season as the lead vocalist on The Four Seasons mega hit “Oh What a Night.” This graduate of Montclair State University is a music teacher in New Providence, NJ.
Jimmy Ryan – The former lead guitarist and vocalist for The Critters has worked with Carly Simon Jim Croce, Paul McCartney, Rod Stewart, Mick Jagger, Elton John, and Kiki Dee. He has scored 38 films and 2 NBC documentaries and all kinds of music you hear while channel surfing. You know that “Gotta Go to Mo’s” Jingle for Modell’s Sporting Goods? You can thank Jimmy for getting that stuck in your head!
Russ Velazquez – Emmy nominated singer, composer, arranger and producer who has worked with Sting, The Ramones, LL Cool J, Luther Vandross, Korn, and Paula Abdul. In addition to working on TV theme songs and Sesame Street, Russ had a #1 record on the children’s charts and Radio Disney for his track “2BA Master” the Pokemon CD title song.