***** Johnny Contardo *****

Posted on June 3rd, 2012 · Music/Events/Other


***** Johnny Contardo *****

Now, I may be going out on a limb here… But one of the most underrated singers in Rock N Roll history has to be Johnny Contardo who was the lead singer of Sha Na Na from 1971 to 1983. Now many of you guys may think Jeff Eats has lost it, but as a huge fan of 50s & 60’s Rock N Roll music, Johnny’s singing prowess has to be rated right up there with that of Roy Orbison, Frankie Valli and other greats of that era. If you do some “You Tube” checking, you will find that although Jon “Bowzer” Bauman was known as Sha Na Na’s leader, it was Contardo’s tenor/falsetto leads that made the group a huge television, recording and concert act.

You can check Johnny Contardo’s website for audio/video/personal information.

In November 2011, the Woodfield Country Club in Boca Raton invited the semi-retired Los Angeles based Contardo to perform at the Club backed by local party band The Fabulons. Just so you know, I saw that 1-hour performance and suffice it to say Contardo absolutely killed it.

The reason that I am now mentioning this “old” story…I just learned that Huntington Lakes (condo community) in Delray Beach has signed Johnny Contardo to perform there on Saturday, October 20, 2012. I have no other details…

Like I said before, the Woodfield Country Club “brought” Contardo to Florida…apparently, Huntington Lakes is now doing the same thing. From what I can tell, Contardo isn’t on a circuit tour of South Florida.

All I know, is that in this day and age, it is getting harder and harder to “see” the true legends and greats of Rock N Roll.

If this type of thing is your bag, check with Huntington Lakes and see if you can get to see Johnny Contardo in this very rare public appearance.

105 Comments to “***** Johnny Contardo *****”

  1. IKnowMusic says...

    Contardo was Sha Na Na. Bowzer was the clown but it was Contardo’s lead singing that carried the group. To this day his original version of Magic Changes from Grease has in my opinion never been topped.
    In December 2011 I was on a Rock ‘n Roll cruise out of For Lauderdale andJohnny was one of the featured performers. Lovely personable guy and he can still sing. Back in the Sha Na Na hey days he probably weighed 120 and had a 28 inch waist. Well like the rest of us Johnny can’t wear those gold lame jumpsuits but the man can still really sing,
    By the way, you are right he has to be rated right up there with greats like Orbison.
    Hope Huntington Lakes opens this one up to non residents.

  2. Jim K. says...

    Jeff, as a teenager i was a huge sha na na fan. if i recall correctly they appeared at woodstock and i do know that johny joined them after that appearance. amazingly they never really had hits of their own but huge covers of others songs. looking back on the band contardo definitely was the voice of the group. all of the members could sing but contardo was usually on lead and was phenomenal.
    if i recall correctly the group was in the grease movie and contardo sang lead on magic changes.
    you are right contardo never really got is due for being a great singer.

  3. Linda Greene says...

    Just watched some Sha Na Na You Tube videos. Didnt until just now appreciate what a great voice Contardo has. The guy’s range is amazing. No question he was the voice of Sha Na Na.
    I see that Sha Na Na still performs but they dont have Bowzer or Contardo. Wonder why that is?

  4. Scott Mark says...

    I totally agree with Jeff. My family lives in Woodfield Country Club, and Johnny hit it way out of the park. He had everyone up and singing, and dancing, including myself. Im a big fan of Johnny, at 36 years old. He definitely made Sha Na Na, a hit..Dont get me wrong. I’ve seen Bowzer preform live, but hands down, Johnny hit it right on the money..

    • RDS says...

      Scott Mark,
      Like you my family lives at Woodfield.
      Every year I and my wife are invited to attend the Club’s 2 day season opening party. Over the years it has always been an amazing event.
      Last year Contardo headlined the Sunday BBQ party and was backed up by the Fabulons. As you mentioned he was terrific. The man can definitely still sing and is a very personable performer. What many missed that weekend was that Contardo also attended the Saturday night part of the weekend as a guest of the Club. During the evening he graciously joined one of the bands The Voltage Brothers and sang lead on both Under The Boardwalk and Fly me To The Moon, he also joined another band Brylcream that was also performing taking lead on THe Beatles’ hit “I Saw Her Standing There.” during both the Saturday and Sunday parties he took photos with guests and signed autographs. Interesting on that Saturday the Club had 4 bands performing and members of those groups took photos with Johnny as well.

  5. Music Lad 1947 says...

    Like you I’m a huge “oldies” fan.
    Without any question whatsoever, Johnny Contardo is one of the greatest Rock singers of all time.
    Johnny was in a very unique band that covered the great hits. It really is for that reason that he never really got his justly deserved fame.
    If your readers check his past performances on You Tube and there are tons of them they will see and hear a singer that back then was right up there with the greats.
    Bowzer made the group famous with his look and clowning bass but it was Contardo who made the group a tremendous sounding group.
    Really don’t know why Contardo left Sha Na Na. Also not sure why he seemed to drop out of the music business for years.
    From his site I see that in recent years Contardo sporadically makes appearances.
    Hats off to Woodfield for having him for a show.
    Hats off also to the cruise line that booked him for that trip.
    Hats off to Huntington Lakes for bringing him back to Florida later this year.

  6. Back in 73 I was 14 years old and had the biggest crush on Johnny Contardo. He was the cutest member of Sha Na Na and had the most gorgeous voice.
    Look at some of those old Sha Na Na shows and you’ll see the most perfect pop idol ever.
    Some 35 years and 2 kids later, I still think that Johnny Contardo was a singer’s singer.

  7. ZBOOKINGAGENT says...

    Type in Johnny Contardo singing Those Magic Changes on You Tube.
    Now be honest and tell me that you don’t think that Johnny Contardo back then was one hell of a singer.
    Johnny’s career problem was that Sha Na Na was essentially a covers band. They were huge on tv but didnt have original hit records.
    I suspect that the reason why reruns of Sha Na Na are not on tv is because the royalty rights to all of their covers is probably a nightmare to obtain and very costly.
    I am a South Florida talent booking agent. I’ve been in this business for over 40 years. Ive seen all kinds of bands, singers, acts.
    I am telling you that Johnny Contardo in his prime had one of the finest most perfect pop idol voices in the business.
    From what I can tell, Johnny makes a few appearances with Bowzer’s Sting Ray act and a few here and there personal appearances.
    Not sure why Johnny hasn’t been hooked up with a nice sized oldies circuit, but he definitely could be promoted.

  8. Ed Wasserman says...

    In recent years, the Woodfield Country Club has matched up some “stars” with bands to make for some very interesting appearances.Most clubs in our area don’t do this, but WCC seems to have a knack for putting this type of thing together.
    At WCC I saw Sonny Geraci who sang lead on Time Wont Let Me and Precious & Few play with The New Invaders.
    At WCC I saw Johnny Contardo of Sha Na Na fame sing with The Fabulons,, The Voltage Brothers and Brylcream. Three terrific performances.
    At WCC I saw local “star” musician Jamie King Colton matched up twice with the incredibly good The Bronx Wanderers.
    At WCC I saw Brett Lowenstern of American Idol matched up with local group Whitestone.
    At WCC I saw Mark Dawson the leader singer of The Grass Roots appear with a American Pop 60’s.
    At WCC Ive seen the word famous Persuasions
    perform joined by Club members for a handful of acapella songs.

  9. das says...

    jeff, a bit of a stretch there putting johnny in with orbison. orbison was one roks’ greatest singer/songwriters. will give you that contardo has a great voice but definitely nowhere near roy’s.

    • Gary says...

      I totally agree, he’s good but not in the same league as Orbison.

      • SOS876 says...

        personally i think that contardo as sha na na lead singer was better than most of the leads of the 50s and 60s groups. the guy never really got credit for being as good as he was. bowzer dominated the group but it was contardo who really carried the vocals. it really is a shame that contardo didnt become a huge star because his good looks and fabulous vocals would have made him a fortune.

  10. Ed L. says...

    Watched the Sha Na Na tv show as a teenager.
    Always found them to be fun and very entertaining. They definitely weren’t anything cerebral or heavy. Light easy going group.
    I just took a look at some Sha Na Na tv clips and there is no question Contardo could really sing. The problem for him was that he was in a cover tv show band and not a hit making band. He really did some nice vocals on some huge songs.

  11. GA says...

    Real good singer.
    Wonder if his voice was is as versatile as it was when he was 30 years younger? Cant really tell from current video out there.

  12. Hi Jeff – once again thank you for getting The Fabulons involved in playing and backing up Johnny at Woodfield CC. He can still take it to the max – strong singer, nice guy, funny – it was an honor to back him up – which we rarely do – but we knew a lot of his songs, and although we do 5 songs from Grease, we had to learn Magic Changes. His voice is still strong, and what was really impressive was how he handled the crowd in what would be descibed in band land as a difficult set-up. The stage was somewhat removed from the audience, daytime, hot (what a surprise) – but Johnny drew them in and really had something special going on as he performed “in the audience” pretty much. Your support of entertainment is appreciated.

  13. ASKER says...

    Contardo was a great lead singer.
    No question he could out sing most.

  14. Johnny Contardo says...

    A friend recently sent me these comments and I was blown away by all the kind opinions about my voice. I wish you all could feel the joy that I was experiencing reading them. I would never compare the amazing success and talent Roy had to my own but I have to admit my ego is getting in the way a little in regard to comparing my voice to his. I say this because when I left Sha, Roy was doing a gig with them and he went into their dressing room assuming I was still in the group and he expressed to the group that he heard my version of Cryin and liked mine better than his. Blown away again! FYI, I have been teaching voice for 22 years and in the next few weeks will be offering an on going webinar on voice instruction. If you go to vocal it will take you to the site. Take care and thanks again, Johnny.

    • Leon Kurt says...

      Growing up in the 1960s I was a huge Roy Orbinson fan. He had a great voice. Throw in the fact that he wrote all of his songs and you got one fabulous talent there. As far as stage personality, Roy wasn’t exactly Mr. Personality. Sort of like Johnny Mathis. Great singer but boring on stage. I once caught Roy at the Westbury Music Fair and he definitely had the pipes.
      Sha Na Na was a great band. You guys had a great tv show. I dont have to tell you that Sha Na Na wasn’t exactly a hit maker but rather the consummate cover band. You guys did great covers and were great personalities live and on tv.
      On the singing front, your voice in the Sha Na Na hey days was fabulous. I seriously doubt that the band would have been as popular as it was if you weren’t on most of the leads.
      As far as the Roy comparison, two different things here. Personally I think that you could out sing him any day. Roy on the other hand is a rock legend because he wrote and sang original music.
      Hopefully the intervening years since your Sha Na Na days have been good to you.
      Not sure how you sound today but I the bet is that you can still get the job done.
      Take Care,
      Leon Kurt

    • JeffEats says...

      Johnny Contardo:

      Just had a chance to read your comments.

      Don’t be modest, you could hold your own against any of the top lead singers of the 50s & 60s.

      Thanks for reading…

  15. Jim D. says...

    Let’s do it this way.
    now, who would you prefer hearing on lead, Johnny Contardo or Roy Orbinson?
    No contest whatsoever, Johnny Contardo would sing Roy Orbinson under the table.

    • KLKL12 says...

      great example.
      great songs by different artists.
      contardo could sing everyone as good if not better than the original lead singer while orbinson wouldn’t have come close.

  16. Johnny Contardo says...

    Okay it’s official. I am hiring all of you to do PR for me. Leon, you were spot on and I still have the pipes. Take care, Johnny.

  17. xds says...

    when i was a teenager i loved the sha na na tv show. johnny contardo was a great lead singer for them.

  18. Johnny Contardo says...

    FYI. I have three concerts in Florida in October, Del Ray, November in Jupiter and with Bowzer on Dec 7th in Clearwater.

    • Tony D says...

      Hey Johnny, besides Hunters Run where else will you be in fl in oct 2012, some us folks would love to see you perform.

  19. Johnny Contardo says...

    One more thing, Roy was a legend and I am a legend in my own mind.

  20. PopeyeGomez says...

    Johnny Contardo had a huge voice.
    I have heard numerous covers of his Magic Changes and I seriously challenge anyone to show me a better version than his original!

  21. Irv K. says...

    Let me add my two cents here.
    I’ve been following Rock N Roll since the beginning. I just turned 75 and saw the start from Bill Haley and Elvis right up to the current day.
    To my ear the doo wop era was the best. For sure the 60s were great with the British Invasion but the doo wop songs were sweet, understandable and easily remembered.
    Be honest and tell me that songs like Only You, Since I Don’t Have You, Earth Angel, You Belong To Me, I Only Want You don’t bring you back to a simpler and easier time.
    The 50s and 60s had some great singers.
    You do remember Valli, Orbinson, JImm Gallagher, Emil Estucio, Ronnie Spector, Leslie Gore, Smokey, Marvin Gaye, Bobby Lewis, Jackie Wilson, Sam Cooke, Jimmy Beaumont, Maurice Williams dont cha? Sure you do.
    Rock N Roll forever has had great singers and lead singers.

    I remember these Sha Na Na Guys. Cute act. More of a variety show than a really recording band. You do know that they really didnt have any real hit records but had hits with covers, sure you do?

    When history examines where Johnny Contardo fits in all of this it will remember that he was a terrific lead singer of a cover band that had a tv variety show.

    In my opinion Johnny Contardo back in his prime could sing right up there with the best of
    lead singers in Rock N Roll. He had a great look and had some nice dance moves.

    Unfortunately Johnny never really had an original group behind him. So he never got the fame that such a great voice should have commanded.

    Its now many years later and many of the great lead singers have passed. Many of the groups with names like The Platters, The Juniors, The Marvelettes, The Temps, The Four Tops have maybe one original member in the group but that guy or girl wasnt the lead on the records.

    Do yourselves a huge and I do mean a huge favor and go and see original groups with original members because Father Times is real moving fast now on the greats of Rock N Roll.

    Go see Ronnie Spector, Jay Siegel, Jay Traynor, Beverly Lee, Shirley Alston Reeves, Jimmy Beaumont, Jimmy Gallagher, Jimmy Stephens, Leslie Gore, Bobby Rydell, Frankie Valli, Jay Black, Charlie Thomas before its too late and you wont ever be able to see them. For example, Bill Medley is coming to Seminole Casino in July 2012. Go see him. You cant see Bobby Hatfield but you can see a living legend who is the surviving member of the Righteous Bros. Go see Johnny Mathias and Gary Puckett.

    They may not sound like they did when they were 20 but they are what history is all about.

    In ending, Im going to make it my business to see Johnny Contardo when he gets down here later this year. Though he wasnt as huge as he should have been he was the VOICE of a legendary band that made millions of people every week turn on their tv and relax and put their troubles behind them for a good solid hour.

    I took a quick look at some recent Johnny Contardo videos. The boy can still sing. No question he cant get into that gold lame jumpsuit that he wore back in his Sha Na Na days, but I cant get into my 32 pants either.

    Be smart, check Johnny Contardo out when he is here. Im sure he’ll do a meet and greet and you may get some interesting conversation from here.

    Long Live Rock N Roll

    • PS139BROOKLYN says...

      irv k,
      loved your post.
      i agree with you 100% that people should make it their business to see the greats before its too late.
      in recent years ive seen, bill medley, charlie thomas, shirley alston reeves, dee dee kennebrew, sonny geraci, charlie thomas, leslie gore, gary pucket, little peggy march, davey jones, mickey dolenz, rob grill, jay black, jay siegel, jay traynor, terry johnson, jimmy gallagher, jimmy beaumont, jay black,. though not originals ive seen groups like The Drifters, The Mystics, The Salutations, The Duprees, The Vogues, The Monkees, The Association, The Swingin Medallions, The Turtles, The Grass Roots.
      South Florida gets some great “oldies” acts here. People should go to them and enjoy them. Nice way of remembering the past.
      Like you Im going to find out where Contardo is playing and make my business to see him.

    • Buster Mathen says...

      Great comments and thoughts.
      Thank you.

  22. ttre says...

    the most underrated lead singer in rock n roll history was jimmy stephens of the safaris. their song Image Of A Girl is my favorite song of all time.

    • VVVoltage says...

      Image of a Girl is a great song. The Safaris only had one big hit and that was the song. Stephens lives in LA and still performs.
      He is a terrific singer but Johnny Contardo is in a very exclusive class and far better.
      I would love to hear Johnny sing Image of a a Girl.

  23. LeoFromQueens says...

    friends told me about this discussion.
    contardo was very good.
    as a matter of fact much better than most of the leads of the 50s songs.

  24. JUNOBEACH098 says...

    Johnny, where are the 3 fl dates?

  25. Johnny Contardo says...

    My dates in Fl are in Del Ray on Oct 20th, Huntington Lakes. Nov 2nd Jupiter, Italian Fest and Dec 7th with Bowz in Clearwater at Echert Hall. Please spread the word about my Vocal Academy. If you and others could go to and leave your email info it would be appreciated. Take care, Johnny.

  26. AP says...

    I saw Johnny at the Woodfield Country Club in Boca last November. He put on a terrific show.
    Looking forward to catching him again in October.

  27. Gary says...

    Great comments about Johnny, I am 37, I am a professional videographer and have had the pleasure of taping a ton of singers from present day to acts such as the great Kenny Vance and The Duprees. I never realized how great Johnny Contardo was until I was watching Grease again. Now after looking at all of the youtube videos, I think that Johnny’s voice was the best. His range, and the way he took a cover and made it his own was incredible back then. He also had stage presence and the look to go with the voice. One of the best, talented singers of all time. Thank you Johhny! Gary: “Dance Music TV” show.

  28. RON B says...

    Jeff, nice talking to yesterday. I always thought that Bowzer was the main reason that Sha Na Na was so successful. I took your suggestion and watched a load of Sha Na Na videos and was amazed as to how Contardo really was the voice of the group. Bowzer was the comic frontman but Contardo was the main singer. I also got to agree with you that Contardo has to be ranked right up there with the great leads.

  29. JeffEats says...

    Just something that some of you folks might be interested in.

  30. HNA says...

    Hadn’t really thought about Sha Na Na in years.
    Your comments along with those of others here got me looking into the group. Never really appreciated what a talent Johnny Contardo is. Man! This guy can sing.

  31. Johnny Contardo says...

    FYI. After my gig on Nov 2nd at the Italian festival in Jupiter Fl I will be performing the next night on Nov 3rd at the Gap Theatre in Wind Gap Penn. Thanks again for all your kind words. It is a joy to check back now and then and listen to the comments. Every day we are adding more to my new site on learning how to sing at vocal Check it out. It has a lot of free info. Take care everybody and I will check in soon, Johnny.

    • Sheldon A says...

      Hey Johnny, if you promise that after taking your course I will sing like you did back in 1971 I’m in.
      You were an incredible singer back then. You still got the pipes but man back then you were something else.
      Going to try and catch you when you get to Florida in the Fall.

  32. Lola J says...

    Looking forward to seeing you in Florida next month.
    Way back when didn’t fully appreciate wht a great voice you had.

    • Lola J says...

      Loved him.
      Johnny has a beautiful voice.

  33. The Rocker says...

    Johnny was definitely one of the greatest lead singers in rock n roll history

  34. GGG Brooks says...

    Really looking forward to seeing Johnny this weekend in Delray Beach.

  35. GGG Brooks says...

    Caught him last weekend.
    The man can really sing.
    Really just that simple!!

  36. Ed Krause says...

    Johnny is going to be performing in Jupiter on 11/2 at the Italian Festival.

  37. Johnny Contardo says...

    Many thanks for all your support at my concert last week at Huntington Lakes. Kicking back at my home in Ca and will be back in Fl on Friday at the Italian festival and back on November 10 th in Del Ray. Looks like I will be performing a lot in Florida in the coming months. Truly appreciate the work. My Internet site teaching voice is coming along. Really enjoy being able to guide young talent to sing the right way. All of you on the East Coast stay safe and let’s hope that Sandy takes a fade. Till we meet again.

  38. Johnny Contardo says...

    My show on November 10th is at the Venetian Isles, not Del Ray.

  39. SHARON GLASS says...

    I am really looking forward to seeing Johnny perform on 11/10/12 in Jupiter at the Italian Festival.
    I loved Sha Na Na.

  40. Al K says...

    Johnny Contardo is one of the best lead singers that Rock n’ Roll has every produced. He made Sha Na Na the powerhouse that they were.

  41. Don G says...

    Saw him last night and Johnny put on a terrific show.

    • andy says...

      Johnny is going to sing at my 20th anniversary. We are Geeked lol. My
      wife followed him throughout his whole career. I am new to his music but listening to him on Youtube he is the real deal. I’m going to load up the mp3 with his stuff until we get to meet him!

  42. RK says...

    Saw Johnny last weekend. The man has a terrific voice and a very engaging manner with the audience.

  43. Johnny Contardo says...

    I’m in Tampa doing Bowzer show and wanted to thank all Floridians for their kind words and support at my shows. Good health to all and stay safe. Thanks to all of you I will be back in the near future belting out a bunch of tunes. Take care, Johnny.

  44. andy says...

    Hey Jeff!

    Johnny was truly great at our anniversary!
    He sang “It’s always been you” to my wife and I.
    It was beautiful. He is an awesome entertainer.
    He absolutely rocked and sang several other songs and was wonderful for us and our guests.
    I know how fortunate we were for this blessing.

  45. Dennis DeFalco says...

    Please see attachment for flyer

    Special Parking for Classic Cars

    Elvis Presley Continentals Is having a Fundraiser to benefit the Russell Home of Orlando for severely disabled children on Jan 25,2013 doors open at 6:30pm show starts at 7pm in the City of Mount Dora Community Building Auditorium ,520 Baker St,Mt Dora 32757.

    Remem mem mem remem meber those oldies but goodies enjoy a night of Golden Oldies rock and roll with your favorite legends performed by some of our best tribute artists.

    Sha na na Tribute Band the Studebakers will be performing and hosting our tribute to Elvis Presley,Buddy Holly,Ricky Nelson,The Everly Brothers,Dion,The Royal Guardsman,Jay Black,The Big Bopper,Shelley Fabares,Sonny and Cher,Gene Pitney,Bobby Boris Pickett and more. Starring Jim E,Jeremy Ewbank,Tom Burkhead,Cody Lent,Steve Demetrius,Onie Casanove,Jerry Gibbs,Miriam Medina,Bill Langston,Karen Langston,Diane Barrett,Nancy Tint and Dennis DeFalco. Dress up as a greaser or pink lady,Special parking for Classic Cars. Admission is $15.00,10% discount for EP Continental members.Proceeds to benefit the Russell Home of Orlando for Atypical children .All portions of show subject to change. No refunds. For further info call(407)962-0263,

    • Ron D. says...

      After watching video of this Sha Na Na tribute band you can really appreciate how great Johnny and the rest of the group really were. Hope you raise a ton of money for your charity.

  46. Gigi says...

    I’ve loved Johnny’s voice ever since I was in high school (many moons ago), and had the absolute pleasure of realizing a dream and meeting him in 2008 when he performed in Philly. He hasn’t lost an iota of his superb talent; if anything, he has gotten better and his voice even more sexier. Hope to see you in Philly or Atlantic City again real soon, Johnny. Your East Coast fans love you lots. Johnny C. 4-ever!!!!

  47. Mark Barleta says...

    I have been a Sha Na na fan since 1973 they were all great I agree with a lot of other posters Johnny had as good a voice as any of the greats.I hve several of his CDs he still has it.Bowzer sang I cant help falling in love with you on the TV show and I thought he did it wonderfully Sha Na Na has provided great entertainment for over 40 years . I am going to see Bowzer’s show in Connecticut on 20 Jan 2013 Johnny will be there as well as Lenny Baker sax player from Sha Na na really looking foward to it

  48. Mark Barleta says...

    My wife and I are planning on Moving to South Floridda this year. My Daughter is already there looking foward to the move

  49. Kathy H. says...

    I’ve been a fan of Sha Na Na since I was 10 (and I was born when Sha Na Na first started in Woodstock!)
    I saw Johnny at “Bowzer’s Holiday Rock & Roll Party” in Tampa in December & he was WONDERFUL! His wonderful tenor voice hasn’t changed at all since the days of Sha Na Na. He sang “Those Magic Changes” & a couple of other oldies. He & Bowzer did one song that they had done in Sha Na Na together (Those that will be seeing the 2 with Lennie Baker later on this year will hear it. It’s “Lovers Never Say Goodbye”) Johnny also sang “O Holy Night ” with Bowzer & his group & it sounded SO beautiful! Those waiting to see him WON’T be disappointed!

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