Gold record hurt Jaggerz
North Hills Record
Oct 25, 1977
Though "The Rapper" brought Pittsburgh's Jaggerz a gold record in 1970, it ultimately "hurt us more than it helped us" in the
opinion of the group founder.
"If we had stayed at what we were best at doing." says Benny Faiella. "we could have been another Average White Band. The talent
"Before The Rapper.' which sold almost two million copies, we were known as a soul group, white guys doing a lot of "rhythm and blues,
mixing rock and soul."
After the big single, penned by former member Donny lerace now a recording engineer in New Brighton , the act was branded in the
pop bag, and was booked to play for a young following. "Before the record," Faiella tells "Vibrations," "we were doing college
concerts. After it. they weren't buying that type of group at the colleges. The group was mainly a soul group. People who weren't
familiar with us didn't know that's what we were all about.
"If they were booking a college show and someone mentioned the Jaggerz. they would say. 'Oh, that's the group that did The Rapper.'
They would book a band they thought was heavier."
Despite any problems the song may have caused the band, the number still draws requests at clubs. And it probably will be played
nightly at Baron's Pub Holiday Inn, New Kensington where the act opened Tuesday night.
The Jaggerz will be featured there through Oct. 29, performing Tuesdays through Saturdays. 9:30p.m.-1:30 a.m.
The sextet includes original members Faiella (now playing bass and singing vocal harmony) and drummer Bill Maybray.
Other members are brothers Gene, lead guitar, and Robert, keyboards and harmonica, Vallecorsa; lead singer Sam Ippolito and and Mark
Zeppuhar, who plays saxophone, flute, congo and keyboards
Besides Ippolito, lead singing also is done by Maybray, Zeppuhar and Gene Vallecorsa. Several members are writing songs and Robert
Vallecorsa does most of the arranging. The Jaggerz concentrate on rock and pop in club sets. The age span in the group is from 27
to the early 30s.
Faiella, 32, believes the new Jaggerz lineup is the strongest in the group's 12-year history. Faiella: "The original group was mainly
a strong vocal group, but we were average musicians. This group excells in vocals and as musicians. The band is capable of doing a
great deal more. The range of music we can do is just unlimited."
The Jaggerz originally recorded on the Gamble (of Gamble and Huff fame) label out of Philadelphia. The act's singles, "Baby I Love You,"
and "Got To Find My Way Back Home" were produced bv Gamble and Huff.
Moving to Buddah Records in 1969, the band also made the transition to the pop field. The followup records to "The Rapper,"
"Call My Baby Candy" and "What a Bummer," did not achieve significant sales. The musician's second album, containing "The
Rapper." sold about 150,000 copies.
The group played some major dates across the country, including bills with the Beach Boys and Supremes, and appeared on
Dick Clark's "American Bandstand". The Buddah contract eventually expired and the group was without a label until releasing
an album for RCA in 1975. A single off that LP, Mac Davis' "Two Plus Two," received minimal airplay.
Faiella advises that "any group that wants to make it on a major label must be prepared and ready to have a followup record, and we
weren't after The Rapper. We were rushed." He also stresses the need to have strong management and "a record company that is behind
you 100 percent."
He says that despite the ups and downs of the Jaggerz' history, "there were more good times than bad times. At one period we
worked for two years almost seven nights a week. You would think you would get tired of it. We used to go to work every night and
couldn't wait until we got up there on stage to harmonize."
He remains enthusiastic about what he is doing, saying, "I still get that buzz about it. going and playing. I still love it."
Faiella feels the new Jaggerz will have a recording contract by February "If we could get back up on the charts." he vows,
"I know we could stay there."
"I dig the summer and the sticky sheets... the traffic and the litter and the jukebox beats..."