Dominic Ierace grew up in Pennsylvania and was began singing at weddings when he was only five years old. By the ripe old age of eight, he was also singing on television and in talent shows. He formed the Fabutons in high school and then Donnie and the Donnells while he was in college. He used the stage names Dominic Ierace and Don Ierace at various times in his career before settling on the more easily remembered (and spelled) name, Donnie Iris.
In 1964 he formed the Jaggerz, the group responsible for his earliest success. In 1970 he wrote The Rapper and the group took the song to #2 on the Hot 100. After another album went under-appreciated, it appeared the group was unlikely to record another hit single and the Jaggerz disbanded.
Wild Cherry had a hit record in 1976 with Play That Funky Music, White Boy and Donnie accidentally ended up engineering their third album in 1978. He joined the group as their new guitarist and toured with them and played on their fourth album in 1979. The keyboard player in the group was Mark Avsec, and Donnie and Mark decided to form a new group and work on music that was more rock-oriented. They recruited three members of the group Breathless and became Donnie Iris and the Cruisers.
The new group’s first album came out in 1980, and the first single from the album was Ah Leah. The single reached #29 on the Hot 100 in early 1981 and also got into the top 20 on the Mainstream Rock chart.
Later that year, the group reached #37 with the single Love Is Like A Rock (which also reached #9 on the Mainstream Rock chart). Their last top forty single came in 1982 when My Girl peaked at #25. Four more singles made the top forty on the Mainstream Rock chart by 1985 without any significant showing on the Hot 100.
The group released nine more albums over the next twenty-five years and survived a number of line-up changes.
In 2010 the group released their most recent album, a fairly traditional collection of Christmas songs on an album that was cleverly entitled Ah! Leluiah!
The group is still active and maintains its own website.
My latest book has articles with music history and trivia for more oldies that the radio doesn’t seem to play and includes links to over 150 videos as well: