Featuring three of the original 12 members, Sha Na Na will perform their signature brand of vintage rock Saturday, April 4, at 8 p.m. at The Hanover Theatre in Worcester.

Even if you've never been to a sock hop, Jocko Marcellino promises "You can rock it, you can roll it, you can slop it, you can stroll it" when Sha Na Na cuts loose in Worcester next week.

"We're gonna kick butt," predicted the Bay State-born original drummer of the revival group that brought back '50s rock 'n' roll and pompadours to the Age of Aquarius. "We're gonna put on a real good show that we like to think of as organized frenzy."

Featuring three of the original 12 members, Sha Na Na will perform their signature brand of vintage rock Saturday, April 4, at 8 p.m. at The Hanover Theatre in Worcester.

From Woodstock to a television variety show, Sha Na Na transformed nostalgia for classic rock into their own theatrical version of the 1950s that influenced plays like "Grease" and sitcoms like "Happy Days."

The current band features Marcellino on drums, vocals and general rabble rousing, vocalist Donny York and pianist and vocalist "Screamin"' Scott Simon from the TV show, "Sha Na Na," which ran 1977 to 1981.

"We'll be wearing the pomps, leather and those good '50s bowling shirts," said Marcellino. "It's a great interactive show. We'll get the audience dancing along, doing the twist and limbo."

Marcellino said the Worcester concert is part of a series of more than 40 events celebrating the 40th anniversary of their founding and appearance at Woodstock which vaulted them into the national limelight.

Though musical tastes have changed over four decades, he said the songs Sha Na Na performs "have become America's folk music."

"What I really like about what we're doing is it's the audience's show. It's all about them," Marcellino said from his home in California. "Sha Na Na has a legendary name and we all try to live up to it."

The current eight-member group, he said, will likely play audience favorites including "At the Hop," popularized by Danny and the Juniors; "Whole Lot of Shaking," originally done by Jerry Lee Lewis and the Comets; the Big Bopper's "Chantilly Lace"; and Richie Valens' "La Bamba."

In addition to his drumming, Marcellino expects to sing Elvis Presley's hit "Hound Dog Man" and Little Richard's "Lucille."

And he expects the whole group to sing an a capella version of the Five Satins' 1956 smash doo-wop hit "In The Still of The Night."

For Marcellino, it's been a long, strange trip from the South Shore to Max Yasgur's farm and improbable fame as a sort of rock 'n' roll legend.

He was born John Marcellino in Quincy and didn't pick up his nickname until he went to Columbia University to study English and play football. After his kindergarten teacher said he had "musical talent," he started banging on his older brother's drums and has never stopped.

After his family moved to Milton, he split his time as an All-State football guard at Archbishop Williams High School and started bands with names like the Mill-Tones from Milton and The Pilgrims, which played at the popular Surf Nantasket.

In 1968, Marcellino left home to attend Columbia. A year later he was on stage at Woodstock, opening for Jimi Hendrix.

At Columbia, Marcellino said he was "the only drummer on campus who had drums with him" and he began playing with a university harmony group called the Kingsmen who wore blue blazers and white turtlenecks.

As a freshman, he also picked up the nickname "Jocko" for his twisted imitation of TV impresario Ed Sullivan interviewing singer Jack Jones.

Deciding to funkify their image in 1969, the group borrowed retro outfits from a nearby production of "Bye Bye Birdie" and went on stage with slicked hair as The Greasers and played '50s rock hits.

"I guess the audience was taking a break from the revolution," said Marcellino. "They loved us."

Since a West Coast group also called The Kingsmen, famous for their raunchy hit "Louie, Louie," had a prior claim to that name, the group called themselves, Sha Na Na after the refrain in a song by the Silhouettes.

Consisting of Columbia students, they soon played at the famed Filmore East, opening for the Grateful Dead.

In just their eighth gig, Marcellino and Sha Na Na were blind-sided by national fame.

They were invited to play a concert on a 600-acre farm in Bethel, N.Y., that came to be known as the Woodstock Music Festival which became a seminal moment in American music history.

On August 18, they took the stage at 7:30 a.m as the next-to-last act before Hendrix who closed the concert. Sha Na Na performed nine songs, including the "Na Na Theme" twice, "Yakety Yak," "Duke of Earl" and "Teen Angel."

"The stars were aligned for us. We were very visual and played a sort of theatrical rock," Marcellino said. "At that time we had no record deal. We were just thrilled to go on. We were euphoric realizing what a historic thing it was."

When the movie "Woodstock" was made, Sha Na Na's performance was distilled into 90 seconds in the film that earned them national fame and $1 to be shared by all 12 members.

"The was the best 8 cents I ever earned," said Marcellino.

For Sha Na Na, the roller coaster ride began - headlining concerts, a five-year-run on TV and an appearance in the movie "Grease" as "Johnny Casino and the Gamblers."

Over the next decade, Sha Na Na became a top concert act with Bruce Springsteen, the Eagles, Steely Dan and Jay Leno opening for them.

Looking back on those years, Marcellino recalled "the unbelievable era we lived through."

"We went from the 'Summer of Love' to the war in Vietnam," he said. "It was an intense decade and Woodstock was the exclamation point."

Marcellino has mixed feelings about the contemporary music scene.

"Our medium has changed so much. Back then, it wasn't a corporate thing. The idea was to keep cool and pull it off," he said. "Now it's a download world....But it's not going to stop rock 'n' roll."


Sha Na Na will play the Hanover Theatre, 2 Southbridge St., Worcester, at 8 p.m. on Saturday, April 4.

Tickets are $24-$36, with a 10 percent discount for 15 or more.

Tickets for all shows can be purchased at the Hanover box office, by calling 877-571-SHOW or online at www.thehanovertheatre.org.

To learn more about Sha Na Na, visit www.shanana.com.

The MetroWest Daily News