By Chris M. Junior
Philadelphia Music Alliance chairman Joe Tarsia said it best: This was a day to honor “the people behind the scenes” who have contributed to the city’s rich musical heritage.
On Oct. 24, the nonprofit PMA presented nine new replica Walk of Fame plaques during an induction ceremony held at the DoubleTree hotel on South Broad Street. (The actual bronze plaques will be installed in the near future.)
The 2013 honorees were MFSB, the Salsoul Orchestra, John Davis and the Monster Orchestra, Vincent Montana Jr., Gene Shay, Joel Dorn, John Madara & David White, Jerry Ross and Peter Richard Conte.
Prior to the outdoor induction ceremony, the honorees and other notable Philadelphia music figures participated in an indoor press conference, during which they shared memories and offered thanks.
Unexpected drama developed when Philadelphia International Records cofounder Kenneth Gamble (who later inducted Ross) referenced a recent news article in which certain musicians who played on his label’s recordings claimed they didn’t get enough credit for their efforts.
One of those musicians, MFSB drummer Earl Young (who also played with the Salsoul Orchestra), interrupted Gamble and asked for a chance to reply. Young said he never really heard Gamble or PIR partner Leon Huff say MFSB was part of the extended family.
The quick-reacting Tarsia — whose Sigma Sound recording studio was frequented in the 1970s by the songwriting/production tandem of Gamble and Huff, as well as Young — managed to steer the potential confrontation back to a celebration.
“We’re here to embrace everybody,” Tarsia said. “What [Gamble and Huff] did was a unifier. They didn’t care what you were if you could play, and I respect that.”
Afterward, White spoke to Goldmine about the upcoming film called “At the Hop,” named after the hit he and Madara wrote (along with Artie Singer) for Danny and the Juniors.
Based on a story by Madara, White and screenwriter Michael Killeen, the movie will be “a dramatic portrayal of the ’50s, when rock ’n’ roll was born,” according to White.
“It’s fictional,” White added, “but it’s based on our experiences in Philadelphia.” He anticipates filming to begin within the next six months.