1963 Rocky Fellers – Killer Joe
Filipino Doroteo “Moro” Maligmat and his four songs (Albert, Eddie, Junior, and Tony) formed the Rocky Fellers and began appearing live and on television on the Dinah Shore Chevrolet Show in the late fifties. The father and the two oldest brothers played instruments while the next brother sang lead and played guitar. The youngest brother sang backup vocals and provided some comic relief.
Their first single on Parkway Records was a 1961 cover of Long Tall Sally. The record didn’t sell well, but the sight of the five of them in shiny suits was enough to earn them a spot on The Jack Benny Show the next year.
In 1962, the group began recording for Scepter Records. Their first single with the new label was a Christmas song written by Neil Diamond, Santa Santa.
The next few singles were not successful, but in 1963 they released Killer Joe, a single co-written by Bert Berns (who used the pseudonym Bert Russell, the same name he had used when he co-wrote A Little Bit Of Soap). The record peaked at #16 on the Hot 100.
The antics of Frank “Killer Joe” Piro inspired the song. While still a teenager, Frank hung out at the Savoy Ballroom in Harlem and perfected his dancing styling in the early forties. He won several dance contests, including a jitterbug contest in 1942 while he was in the Navy. After the war, Frank began teaching dancing primarily to High Society dancers. He appeared on the quiz show To Tell The Truth. He filmed dancing instruction videos. He was also a guest on That Was The Week That Was in 1965, where he showed some of the popular modern dance steps. Rumor has it, the John Travolta part in Saturday Night Fever owes a debt to the history of Killer Joe.
The Rocky Fellers recorded an album and released a second single, Like The Big Guys Do. The record faded after peaking at #55 on the Hot 100, and the group never charted again.
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