NEW BRUNSWICK — State Theatre New Jersey and WillJam Productions present the Rock and Roll Spectacular on Nov. 2 at 7 p.m.
The four act Rock and Roll Spectacular features Chubby Checker & The Wildcats, The Duprees, Jay Siegel’s Tokens, and The Capris. Tickets range between $35-$85.
The legendary Chubby Checker grew up in South Philadelphia and formed a street-corner harmony group when he was just 8-years-old.
He learned piano at Settlement Music School and went to South Philadelphia High School, where he entertained classmates—including Fabian Forte—with vocal impressions of Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis, and Fats Domino.
After school, he worked at Produce Market, where his boss was so impressed with his customer’s enjoyment of Checker’s singing impressions that he had him record a version of “Jingle Bells” in which he imitated popular recording stars.
Dick Clark sent it as a Christmas greeting to his business associates, and Cameo Parkway records signed Checker. In 1959, “The Class” was his first hit. “The Twist” was originally a “B” side, but Checker tirelessly promoted it on TV, in interviews, and in performances. By the summer of 1960, “The Twist” became a #1 hit, introducing the concept of couples “dancing apart to the beat,” and leading to a revolution in dancing with one dance craze leading to another (the Jerk, the Hully Gully, the Boogaloo, etc.), and Checker was at the forefront with “The Fly,” “The Pony,” and “The Hucklebuck.”
Co-headlining the show is one of New Jersey’s own, The Duprees. Known throughout the world for their romantic interpretations of some of the most beautiful love songs ever written, The Duprees possess a smooth yet powerful vocal quality, and heavenly harmonies, evidenced in their many hits, including the blockbuster smash “You Belong to Me.” Other hits include “My Own True Love,” “Why Don’t you Believe Me,” “Have You Heard,” and “Exodus.” Their unique arrangements feature doo wop harmonies combined with big band orchestrations.
Jay Siegel’s Tokens started as the Linc-Tones in 1955 at Abraham Lincoln high School in Brooklyn. Jay Siegel was the lead singer and Neil Sedaka was also in the group. They evolved
into The Tokens in 1960, had a top 15 hit song, and a million copies sold in 1961 with “Tonight I Fell in Love.” Their international #1 smash hit, “The Lion Sleeps Tonight,” followed. Unique in the history of pop music, “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” re-entered the charts 33 years later, and went to #1 worldwide again, stoked by its use in The Lion King movie. Their last big hit was “Portrait of My Love.” The multi-talented Jay Siegel and the Tokens also produced many hits for The Chiffons, The Happenings, and Tony Orlando and Dawn. In 1962, they were the first vocal group to produce a #1 hit for another vocal group (“He’s so Fine” by the Chiffons). They also sang on many commercials for Pan American, Ban, Clairol, Cool Whip, and Chesterfield cigarettes.
Opening the show will be The Capris. The Capris are a doo wop group from the Italian-American community in Queens, New York whose name was derived from the Lincoln Capri automobile. In 1961, they had a smash hit, “There’s a Moon Out Tonight.” Their second hit, “Morse Code of Love,” was covered in 1984 by the Manhattan Transfer, and became a big hit again. The Capris were inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2007.