1964: The Jaggerz

 Jan, 25 - 2014   no comments   1970s Music


The Jaggerz are a pop/rock band from Aliquippa, Pennsylvania. They are a one-hit wonder, their only major success being the single “The Rapper”. Released on the Kama Sutra label, “The Rapper” was #2 in the Billboard Hot 100 chart for two weeks in March 1970, and sold over one million copies with the gold record awarded by the R.I.A.A.. The band’s name derives from the Aliquippa English slang term, “jagger bush,” meaning a thorny bush.  They were managed by The Skyliners manager, Joe Rock.

Introducing the Jaggerz

Introducing the Jaggerz (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Early years and debut album (1964–1969)

While attending college at Slippery Rock State College, Donnie Iris (birth name Dominic Ierace) started a band called the Tri-Vels. The band became known as Donnie and the Donnells when the line up increased from three members to four. Shortly after dropping out of college, Iris found out that a band called Gary and the Jewel Tones needed a new guitarist, where Jimmie Ross was a member. This gave birth to a new band called the “Jaggers.” Forming around 1964, they began playing night clubs and the like for the next few years, gathering a respectable fallowing in the region. In 1968, the Jaggers signed with Gamble Records, and they began to record their debut album. While in the early stages of recording the album, Jimmie Ross saw a magazine advertisement featuring another band called “The Jaggers.” In order to avoid confusion, manager Joe Rock suggested that the “s” in “Jaggers” be changed to a “z.” In 1969, their debut album, Introducing the Jaggerz, was released and was a moderate success, achieving most of its airplay in the group’s native western Pennsylvania.

Second album and success with “The Rapper” (1970–1973)

In 1970, the Jaggerz left Gamble and joined Kama Sutra Records. There, they began recording their second album, We Went to Different Schools Together. The album was released in 1970. One of the singles from We Went to Different Schools Together became the group’s first chart-topping hit. “The Rapper”, written by Donnie Iris, was released that same year, reached No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 in March 1970, and was certified gold by the RIAA. Around this time, “The Rapper” was covered by Wolfman Jack. “The Rapper” was the only significant Jaggerz hit, later earning the group the one-hit wonder status. The Jaggerz continued to release singles through Kama Sutra until 1973, when they were dropped from the label.

Come Again (The Jaggerz album)

Come Again (The Jaggerz album) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Third album, new lineup and disbandment (1974–1977)

For a few years, the Jaggerz were an unsigned group. Then, in 1975, they signed with Wooden Nickel Records to record their third album. Come Again was released in 1975 and spawned more singles from it. However, this new release had none of the impact that We Went to Different Schools Together had. It was becoming clear that the Jaggerz were fading from the pop culture scene. To make things worse for the band, they were dropped from their third label in 1976. Sometime after being dropped from Wooden Nickel, the Jaggerz’ original band members began leaving. By late 1977, Benny Faiella and Bill Maybray were the only original members left. They were now joined by Gene and Robert Vallecorsa (lead guitar and keyboards, respectively), Sam Ippolito (lead vocals), and Mark Zeppuhar (saxophone). Even though they were now only playing at nightclubs, Faiella believed that the lineup was the strongest it had been in twelve years and that they would return to the charts. However, this proved false, and the Jaggerz finally broke up around 1977.

Separate projects (1978–1988)

After the Jaggerz began to break apart, members of the group went their own ways. Dominic Ierace, the band’s guitarist and vocalist, joined Wild Cherry. By 1976, they had been together for six years and had just recently rose to prominence with “Play That Funky Music.” There, he met keyboardist Mark Avsec. Ierace (continuing to use his “Donnie Iris” nickname more and more) was on hand for Wild Cherry’s third and fourth albums (I Love My Music and Only the Wild Survive, respectively). But Wild Cherry’s fate seemed to be similar to the Jaggerz’, and they broke up in 1979.

Iris then went solo with the help of Avsec, first with the non-album singles “Bring on the Eighties” and “Because of You.” These singles proved little influence, and Avsec and Iris decided to put a band together. The lineup consisted of Iris, Avsec, Marty Lee Hoenes, Albritton McClain, and Kevin Valentine. The new band, called Donnie Iris and the Cruisers, released their first album in 1980, Back on the Streets. The album’s first single, “Ah! Leah!”, began a series of moderately successful albums and singles. Donnie Iris and the Cruisers are still together to this day. Jimmie Ross, the Jaggerz’ bassist and vocalist, joined the Skyliners at the advisement of Joe Rock. He remained with the group until 1980. In 1982, he became a part of the duo Cooper & Ross with Cathy Cooper.

And the Band Played On... (album)

And the Band Played On… (album) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Regrouping and modern years (1989–present)

The original members (sans Donnie Iris) regrouped in 1989, released two CDs, and as of mid-2006, two of the original members were still playing twenty to twenty five gigs annually.

Original lead vocalist and bass player Bill Maybray died on December 5, 2004 at the age of 60. He wrote and sang the group’s debut single, “That’s Why Baby I Love You”. Their original drummer, Jim Pugliano, died on June 15, 2010, at the age of 63. 

In 2008, rap artist The Game released a track “Letter to the King”, produced by Hi-Tek, from his album, LAX, on which he sampled “Memoirs of the Traveler” from the Jaggerz’ album We Went to Different Schools Together. Other hip hop musicians sampling The Jaggerz music over the years, include Dilated Peoples in the 1990s and, more recently, Pede B (Denmark).

  • The Jaggers
  • Jimmie Ross and the Jaggerz
  • R&B
  • pop
  • rock
  • classic rock
  • Aliquippa, Pennsylvania
  • 1970
  • 1964–1977
  • 1989–present

Current members

  • Jimmie Ross – lead vocals, bass (1965–1976; 1989–present)
  • Benny Faiella – guitar (1965–1977; 1989–present)
  • Dennis McAbee – guitar
  • Hermie Granati – keyboards
  • Paul Martello – drums
  • Ron Levi – trumpet
  • Rich Mansfield – sax
  • Mike Caporizzo – sax

Former members

  • Dominic Ierace – guitar, lead vocals (1965–1976)
  • Bill Maybray – bass, vocals (1965–1973) D..2004
  • Thom Davies – piano (1965–1973)
  • Jim Pugliano – drums (1965–1976; 1989–1998) D…2010
  • Frank Czuri – keyboards (1973–1976)
  • Sam Ippolito – lead vocals (1976–1977)
  • Gene Vallecorsa – guitar (1976–1977)
  • Robert Vallecorsa – keyboards (1976–1977)
  • Hermie Granati – Keyboards (1975-1976, 1998)
  • Mark Zeppuhar – Saxophone (1976-1977)
  • 1969 – Introducing the Jaggerz (Gamble GS-5006)
  • 1970 – We Went to Different Schools Together (Kama Sutra KSBS-2017) US No. 62
  • 1975 – Come Again (Wooden Nickel BWL1-0772)
  • 1998 – And the Band Played On…
  • 2001 – Re-Rapped by Request
  • 1968 – “(That’s Why) Baby I Love You” / “Bring It Back” (Gamble G-218)
  • 1968 – “Gotta Find My Way Back Home” / “Forever Together, Together Forever” (Gamble 226)
  • 1969 – “Together” / “Let Me Be the One” (Gamble 238)
  • 1970 – “Higher And Higher” / “Ain’t No Sun” (Gamble 4008)
  • 1970 – “Need Your Love” / “Here’s a Heart” (Gamble 4012)
  • 1970 – “The Rapper” / “Born Poor” (Kama Sutra 502) US No. 2
  • 1970 – “I Call My Baby Candy” / “Will She Believe Me?” (Kama Sutra 509) US No. 75
  • 1970 – “What a Bummer” / “Memories Of The Traveler” (Kama Sutra 513) US No. 88
  • 1971 – “Let’s Talk About Love” / “I’ll Never Forget You” (Kama Sutra 517)
  • 1975 – “2 + 2” / “Don’t It Make You Wanna Dance” (Wooden Nickel PB/WB-10194)

The Jaggerz – ‘The Rapper’

(That’s Why) Baby I Love You – The Jaggerz

The Jaggerz – Memoirs of the Traveller

The Jaggerz “Gotta Find My Way Back Home”

The Jaggerz – With A Little Help From My Friends (1970)

The Jaggerz – Gotta Find My Way Back Home

  • Gamble Records (1968-1969)
  • Kama Sutra Records (1969-1973)
  • Wooden Nickel Records (1975-1976)
  1. http://www.jaggerz.com/
  2. https://www.facebook.com/thejaggerz
  3. http://www.allmusic.com/artist/the-jaggerz-mn0000768877

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