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Inductees  

The Rhode Island Music Hall of Fame Inaugural Class of Inductees

Class of 2012

Anders & Poncia John Cafferty & the Beaver Brown Band

This Providence-born duo first achieved success in 1960 when their doo-wop group, The Videls, went national with an Anders & Poncia original, “Mister Lonely.” They parlayed their success into a decade-long career as staff writers whose songs were recorded by artists such as Elvis Presley, Jackie Wilson and The Ronettes. They were also producers and performed themselves under the names The Tradewinds (“New York’s A Lonely Town”) and The Innocence (“There’s Got To Be A Word.”) After splitting in 1972, each continued on to even greater heights. Vini Poncia, working as an associate producer and songwriter for Richard Perry, was involved with all four Beatles during the solo years composing the smash hit “Oh My My” for Ringo Starr and became a Grammy winner for writing and co-producing Leo Sayer’s #1 hit “You Make Me Feel Like Dancing.” He won many platinum awards for producing major acts such as Melissa Manchester and Kiss. Peter Anders released a solo album in 1974 and then concentrated on his songwriting career with compositions covered by dozens of artists including Phoebe Snow, Dion, and Joan Jett & The Blackhearts.

After ten years on the bar-band circuit during which they became one of the most in-demand unsigned bands in the country, Beaver Brown finally broke through nationally with leader John Cafferty's score to the motion picture, "Eddie and the Cruisers." The soundtrack was awarded triple Platinum certification by the RIAA and led to their own recording contract with Columbia Records. Their second album, "Tough All Over," was a Platinum-seller and gained them an international audience. After 40 years, John Cafferty & The Beaver Brown Band are still an in-demand attraction and are one of the best-selling Rhode Island acts of all time.

Eileen Farrell Gerry Granahan Ken Lyon

Although a native of Connecticut, Eileen Farrell spent her teenage years at Woonsocket High School where she prepared for the further studies and experiences which would lead to her becoming considered one of the finest American sopranos of the 20th century. For more than 30 years, she performed with every major opera company and symphony orchestra in the United States including the Metropolitan Opera and Arturo Toscannini's NBC Symphony Orchestra. She was one of the best-selling classical artists of all time and, equally at home with the standards and show tunes she loved, she also recorded four albums of popular music for Columbia Records. She devoted the last decades of her professional career to teaching. Eileen Farrell died in 2002.

Hailing originally from Pennsylvania, Gerry Granahan has been a Rhode Island resident for the last 50 years. In just three short years, from 1957 to 1960, Gerry reached the heights of the music business as a performing singer-songwriter and producer earning three Gold Record awards along the way: "Click-Clack" by Dicky Doo & The Dont's, "You Were Mine" by The Fireflies, and "No Chemise, Please" under his own name. He then moved behind the scenes to become one of the youngest record executives in history, first at his own Caprice Records and then at two major labels, United Artists and Dot, where he continued to produce dozens of hits in the '60s and early 1970s including smash hits by Jay & The Americans and Patty Duke and a series of best-selling albums by comedian Pat Cooper.

A Newport native and a lifelong Rhode Island resident, Ken Lyon's career spans five decades beginning with his days as a folk-blues singer on the Greenwich Village scene of the early 1960s. The “folk” phase of his career was capped by the nationally-released Decca Records album “Ken Lyon In Concert” in 1970. Beginning in the late ’60s, Ken experimented with various electric/acoustic combinations culminating in the Columbia Records album “Ken Lyon & Tombstone” in 1973. Along the way, he achieved legendary status in southern New England as a “godfather” of the blues. His selfless approach as a band leader provided the launching pad for dozens of other R.I.-based musicians including tenor sax legend Scott Hamilton, blues & swing guitarist Duke Robillard, Brenda Mosher of Prince’s Vanity Six and Apollonia Six, and many others.

Dave McKenna Roomful of Blues Oliver Shaw

Bursting onto the post-war jazz scene in the late 1940s, Dave McKenna, of Woonsocket, was almost immediately recognized as one of the finest pianists to ever set fingers to keyboard. His amazing technical proficiency served only to raise his art to the highest interpretive levels as a sideman, accompanist and soloist. His left hand alone would have guaranteed him a place in the pantheon of great jazz pianists, but his depth of feeling guaranteed his place as one the greatest improvisers in the history of jazz. Dave McKenna died in 2008.

For more than 43 years, Roomful of Blues has earned top accolades from music fans as well as from the music industry itself. They are one of most successful blues acts of the second half of the twentieth century with more than 20 albums in their catalog and have garnered five Grammy nominations as well as dozens of other awards over the course of their career. Even with dozens of personnel changes over the decades, the band has not only managed to remain a top touring and recording act, but they have served as the launching platform for some of the country's top blues artists including Duke Robillard, Al Copley, Fran Christina, Preston Hubbard, Lou Ann Barton, Ronnie Earl, Sugar Ray Norcia, Greg Piccolo and Curtis Salgado. With guitarist Chris Vachon leading the band for the past two decades, Roomful continues to play its distinctive brand of up-tempo horn driven R&B.

Based in Providence during the early 19th century, Oliver Shaw was an exceptionally successful musician by the standards of any era. He was a highly sought-after teacher providing lessons to upward of 40 students at a time; he ran a retail and mail order music shop selling instruments and sheet music; and he also ran his own publishing company. But it is as a composer that Shaw is best remembered. He was a major composer of sacred, brass band and topical music as well as popular songs and his "There's Nothing True But Heaven" became the first national hit by an American-born musician in 1829. Oliver Shaw died in 1848.

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