PORK THE TORK FULL HOUSE CRAMS INTO MOSQUE TO HONOR DJ CHEDWICK
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (PA) - Saturday, February 23, 1991
Author: PETER B. KING, THE PITTSBURGH PRESS
It seemed like the entire pop music world from 1950 to 1965 paid tribute to Porky Chedwick in a 4 1/2-hour benefit at the Syria Mosque last night.
The pioneering disc jockey recently underwent surgery for a benign brain tumor. Many singers came in person to perform: Hank Ballard and the Midnighters, the Moonglows, Lou Christie, Jimmy Beaumont and the Skyliners, the Vogues, the Marcels, the Cleftones, Johnnie and Joe, Bobby Comstock, the Contrails and the Elmonics.
Porky's colleagues from radio turned out as well. Wolfman Jack emceed the show. Jim Quinn, Bob Livorio and Charlie Appel said a few words.
Pittsburgh managers and producers were on hand, like the Skyliners' Joe Rock, and Nick Cenci, who worked with the Vogues and Lou Christie. Oldies producer Richard Nader spoke.
Many others sent best wishes by videotape, audio tape and letter. The list is almost too long to get through: the Coasters, Bo Diddley, Dick Clark, the Chirelles, Bobby Vinton, the Penguins, Danny and the Juniors, the Cadillacs, the Chantels, Marv Johnson, Phil Phillips, the Tune Weavers, Lenny Welch, Jerry Blavat, Jay Michael and Barry Kaye.
A sold-out crowd of 3,774 watched the event, according to DiCesare-Engler Productions. Thousands more tickets could have been sold if there were space, Pat DiCesare told the audience.
The performers were giving something back to a jive-talking DJ who helped make them stars by following his ears and playing their records before anyone else did. Like Alan Freed, Chedwick moved black rhythm and blues and early rock 'n' roll into the American mainstream.
"You and your audience here in Pittsburgh are responsible for my career," said Hank Ballard, who closed the show with a finger-poppin' set of authentic early rock 'n' roll, including "Work With Me Annie" and "Annie Had a Baby," the risque numbers Chedwick spun when no one else dared. Ballard, a slight man in a dark-green crushed-velvet jacket, resembled nothing so much as a funky leprechaun as he grinned and spun and barked R & B over the rich harmonies and punchy horn bursts of his backup men.
Another musical highlight was Christie, who was resplendent in a canary yellow suit and Cuban-heeled boots. The Glen Willard native is a ham and a half -- a supremely confident, comfortable performer who went into a campy, 20-second crouch, his hands over his eyes, while he "recovered" at the end of "Never My Love." The guy can really sing, from a delicate tenor to that signature, nasal falsetto.
While I haven't got space to detail many good performances, the Moonglows demand mention. Led by relatives of the original members, these guys delivered smooth, intricate harmonies on songs like "Sincerely" and the sweet, goofy ''Ten Commandments of Love." They looked impossibly elegant with their graceful moves, lilac jackets and white gloves.
And did you know Wolfman Jack could sing? Maybe he shouldn't quit his day job, but he put across "Old Time Rock & Roll" and "Shake, Rattle and Roll" in the same unmistakable voice he speaks with.
Fans in the audience owed Chedwick a debt, too -- for some great memories:
"He was youth, love, happiness, music, the wonderful teenage life, peace -- 'cause there was peace at the time," Lorraine Ciorra of Morningside told a reporter.
"It brings back memories of high school, being a majorette, old boyfriends, old movies, just memories," said Nancy Lisak of West Mifflin.
"I was in seventh grade, and an eighth-grader told me if I really wanted to know where it's at, I should start listening to Porky," said Pat McArdle of Wilkinsburg. "In my high school yearbook, it says 'Rates Porky as Boss.' ''
"He's the originator," said Jim Dorazio of McKeesport. "He just broke the ground on the black records. That was what the white kids wanted to hear."
"It was music to make out by," said Carol Swope of Mount Washington.
The Daddio himself, in shades and a loud shirt, walked onto a stage decorated with vintage automobiles and jukeboxes to accept a plaque. He made a few trademark comments: "I shouldn't ask you, but I will anyway -- are you Porkified? My name's not George Washington, it's Pork Torkington."
Then he waxed religious: "It's an honor to be here and be surrounded by all these wonderful people. You probably didn't realize it, but there was someone in the seat with you. The person in the seat with you, and you didn't realize it, was God."
At the end of the concert, Wolfman Jack said what everyone, Chedwick included, was probably thinking: "It's been a great show -- something I'll always remember."
CHEDWICK SHOW RAISES $20,854
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (PA) - Thursday, February 28, 1991
Author: PETER B. KING
Last Friday's Porky Chedwick benefit raised $20,854 for the veteran DJ, who recently underwent surgery for a benign brain tumor.
The total take for the sold-out show was about $50,000, according to DiCesare-Engler Productions and Chedwick's attorney, Martin Lazzaro. The balance went to advertising, the city's 10 percent amusement tax, the mercantile tax, auditorium rental, and travel and hotel expenses for nine acts, all of whom performed free-of-charge.
The concert was filmed by GTV Teleproductions of New Kensington, which donated its services. The concert will be available on videocassette and possibly aired on TV, with the proceeds going to Chedwick. A cassette/CD of the concert also might be released.
Besides helping Chedwick pay bills, the concert gave him an emotional boost.
"It was such a high, I didn't want to come down," Chedwick said.
"It would be great to see a radio station come and give him a great job now," commented Rich Engler. Chedwick is not on the air at the moment.