Born Joseph V. Rock, 16 May 1936, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Joe Rock was the manager of The Skyliners and wrote the words to their # 12 hit "Since I Don't Have You" (1959). Legend has it that he wrote the lyrics while at a traffic light in 1958, on the way to rehearsal a day after having his young heart broken by a girl who left him to attend airline school in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The lead singer of the Skyliners, Jimmy Beaumont, wrote the melody, and the duo also collaborated on the follow-up, "This I Swear", which went to # 24. "Since I Don't Have You" is a timeless ballad that has been covered through the years by an amazingly diverse array of acts: among them Chuck Jackson, Don McLean, the Brian Setzer Orchestra, Jay and the Americans, Lenny Welch, Johnny Mathis, Art Garfunkel, Patti Labelle, Barbra Streisand, Ronnie Milsap, Guns 'N Roses and the Broadway cast of "Grease." Four of these covers made the Billboard charts, the most successful being that by Don McLean, which rose to # 23 in 1981.
It was Joe Rock's talent as a manager that won the Skyliners a record deal, after thirteen rejections, with Calico Records, and a spot on American Bandstand. Rock also managed the Jaggerz, another Pittsburgh group, and landed them a record deal with Kama Sutra that resulted in a # 2 national hit with "The Rapper" (1970). Their lead singer, Dominic Ierace, would later score seven pop hits (1980-85) as Donnie Iris. As a writer, Joe Rock eventually would move to country, but not before his connections at Stax in Memphis led to him co-writing "I've Got Dreams to Remember" with Otis Redding. Rock and Redding were together the night before the soul great died in a plane crash. Through it all, Rock continued to manage the Skyliners, writing two new songs with Beaumont for an album they began recording in 1999. "He was always on our side, 100 percent," said Beaumont. "He was totally honest. And it's pretty hard to find people like that, that you can trust your career to and not have to worry about your finances. Plus, we wrote many songs together. We were family, you know. He's like my big brother." "His lyrics were so easy to compose to," Beaumont said. "It just seemed like sometimes the music would jump out at you from the page. I never had a problem." Joe Rock died in April 2000, of complications from quadruple-bypass surgery. Skyliners website: http://www.theskyliners.com/index.html Further reading: Stuart Colman, Joe Rock : the man behind the Skyliners. In: Now Dig This, issue 185 (August 1998), page 6-9.
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