One of the joys of writing artist stories on my website is that
I get to spotlight artists who have done great work and didn't
get the success and recognition they deserved. I've
written about many such artists, who with some promotion and a
little luck could have had hit records. Jack D'Amore is
another such artist. These stories need to be told and
these artists and their music should not evaporate into the
mists of time and be forgotten.
Jack D'Amore is an
Italian-American who grew up in the El Sereno district of East
Los Angeles among Chicanos. He became a part of the
legendary East L.A. music scene of the late '60s and early '70s
as a drummer. In 1979, he was a lead vocalist/drummer with a band who recorded
an album for Columbia Records. In 1981, he recorded an
album as a solo artist and front man of his own band on RCA Records, produced by the legendary
songwriter/producer Dennis Lambert.
Jack D'Amore came from a musical family. His father played
piano and sang. His uncle Danny was a sax
player/vocalist/entertainer. His brother Joseph played sax
and is in a barbershop quartet. His uncle Don was a
drummer, who set Jack on the path of being a drummer himself.
Don first taught Jack to tap out beats on coffee cans and
eventually let him play his drums. Jack learned piano by
ear by pounding on his dad's piano at the family home.
When Jack was eleven he was a member of his school's glee club.
Another boy in glee club by the name of Rick Chavez, heard Jack
tapping out a beat on his desk. Out of the blue Rick asked
Jack if he wanted to form a band. (Rick Chavez became an
excellent guitar player, who currently lives and performs in Las
Vegas.) That was the seed that started Jack's musical
journey. Jack entered a mural contest in El Sereno which
he won. The prize money was $250, which paid for his
first drum set, a Slingerland kit. He
and Rick did form a band and began to play gigs around town.
In the late 60s, Jack became the drummer for an East L.A. band
called The Runabouts, who were managed by Eddie Torres.
Torres was also the manager of the most popular band in East
L.A., Thee Midniters. The lead singer of The Runabouts was
Bobby Torres, brother of their manager. The Runabouts
played the "Eastside circuit," venues such as Kennedy Hall, the
Little and Big Union Halls, and Montebello Ballroom. At
some of those venues they also backed many artists such as The
Drifters, The Coasters, and the Shirelles. They also did a small
tour of California via small aircraft on the bill with Rene and
Rene, a popular Latin pop duo from Loredo, Texas who had scored
two national hits, "Angelito," and "Lo Mucho Que Te Quiero."
The next band Jack joined was The Emeralds, who were one of the best
bands in East L.A. They were known for "sounding just like the
record." Led by Anthony Baray they were meticulous,
not only in regard to playing the right chords and doing the
right harmonies, but also in matching the sounds and
tones of the instruments as they were heard on the recordings.
The Emeralds had been popular since the mid-60s, but Jack became
a member during the last stage of the band's run starting in 1970.
When he first joined the band the members were Anthony, Jack,
Sammy "Bones" Ramos (guitar/vocals), and Ray Nunez (bass). It so
happened that I also joined The Emeralds later that same year,
replacing "Bones" Ramos, and
played with them for about six months. That's when I first
met Jack. The members of The Emeralds at this time were Anthony Baray (leader/guitarist/keyboardist/vocalist), Jack D'Amore (drums and
vocals), Johnny Joe Ramos (bass), and yours truly on guitar and
vocals. The band was great! We had three lead
singers, great harmonies, two lead guitarists, a solid rhythm
and a tight sound. Jack was a great drummer and nailed all the
songs regardless of the style. Our repertoire included songs by bands such as The Beatles,
Grand Funk Railroad, The Guess Who, and Emitt Rhodes, and Crosby, Stills, Nash &
Young. My favorite song we did was "She Said She Said" by
The Beatles. It was "spot on" as the English say.
played some East L.A. venues as well as venues around the
Greater Los Angeles area, which included colleges, dance halls,
and even a wedding. The highlight was playing the
annual Rock & Roll Show at East Los Angeles College
Auditorium. We came up playing on the rising stage and
played for a packed house of enthusiastic teenagers. I
recall singing lead and playing lead guitar on "Ohio" and
"Southern Man" by Neil Young. We weren't included on the
"live" album they recorded that day because I was signed
exclusively to a major label at the time, Ode Records. Ode
was producer Lou Adler's label, which was distributed by A&M
Records. I left the band in March of 1971 because I
started to do recording sessions for Ode. I have great
memories of playing in that band and regret I didn't stay
Jack played with The Emeralds until the band broke up around
1973. Throughout the rest of the '70s he played in several night club bands such
as Shine On, with his old friend and first bandmate Rick Chavez
and Ener-Jive, led by the former leader of The Emeralds, Anthony
Baray. Both bands played some of
the top clubs in Southern California. Ener-Jive also
played a stint in Hawaii. In 1975, Jack was in a band
called Burlesque. The most memorable experience for Jack
with this band was a tour of Texas and Louisiana backing up the
great Jackie Wilson. It's a testament to Jack's drumming
ability that he was able to lay down the grooves for the great
rhythm & blues artist. The members of Burlesque would
later back Jack up on his RCA solo album in 1982.
In 1978, a band called the Frisco Kids had seen Jack play drums
with Shine On and asked him to join their group. They were
soon to secure a record deal with
Columbia Records. The band, whose name was changed
to Rock Rose for their album, was produced by the hit songwriting team of Dennis
Lambert and Brian Potter. Lambert and Potter wrote such
hits as "Ain't No Woman Like the One I Got" by The Four Tops
"One Tin Soldier" by Coven, and "Don't Pull Your Love" by
Hamilton, Joe Frank & Reynolds. As producers they hit big
with "Rhinestone Cowboy" by Glen Campbell and "Baby Come Back"
Rock Rose's Columbia album was released in 1979. The band
members were Chris Barr (keyboard/guitar/vocals), Frank Demme
(bass/vocals), Carl Johnson (lead guitar), and Jack D'Amore
(drums/vocals). Jack sang the lead vocal on six of the
nine tracks and contributed the cover concept, but didn't write
any of the songs. He wasn't writing yet. The songs
were written by the other band members with the exception of one
Lambert and Potter song.
In 1982 Jack had a solo album out on RCA Records produced by
Dennis Lambert. Lambert obviously liked Jack's voice and
talent to continue on with him, especially as a slol artist.
For the album Jack's name was changed to Jack
Street. Jack is an excellent rock singer with a voice that
has a certain Rod Stewart rasp and edge. He can do
ballads and hard rock songs with equal ability and
effectiveness. On this record Jack wrote or co-wrote eight
of the ten songs. One song was co-written with Peter
Becket of Player and Dennis Lambert. Three others were
co-written with Lambert. I sang background harmony on one
of the songs, "Annie," written by Jack and J.C. Crowley.
That happened to be my favorite song on the album. Other
favorites are "Jupiter's Theme," written by Jack and his old Rock
Rose band mate Carl Johnson, and "Two Hearts," written by Jack and Dennis
Lambert. The album also featured a ballsy version of "Baby
It's You," the classic Burt Bacharach/Hal David/Barney Williams
song. Around this time, Jack did a "live" showcase at the
Hollywood Palladium backed by the musicians who played on his
album. I was there to see them play the Jack Street album in its entirety.
It sounded as good as the record. Aside from Jack's strong
vocal performance, he showed that he's a dynamic front man.
Following the Jack Street album, Jack formed a band called The
Rockaholics with the former drummer of Player, John Friesen.
In 1981, Jack and I wrote a love song
together called "Next Time." Jack came to me with the
title and the verses. I wrote a bridge and re-wrote a few
of the lines in the verses. We cut a demo of the song at a professional 24-track studio with John Friesen on drums. We
also had an excellent bass player, Dave McDaniels, and session musician
extraordinaire, Gabe Katona on acoustic piano. I played acoustic guitar on the
track and sang harmony on the bridge. Jack did the lead
vocal. The idea of the song is the man in the song is
going to take his time next time with love. He knows he
can be hurt, but love is worth taking the chance. Jack and I really like
this song and believe in it to this day. You can hear the
mp3 below. We also wrote a song called "Save the Human,"
which is about how we try to save various animals from
extinction forgetting that we ourselves are endangered species
In 1987, Jack was an actor in a motion picture called "Body
Slam." Jack comes in about a half hour into the movie and
appears throughout. He worked for 2 weeks on
it and had a great time. Also in the movie was pro
wrestler Lou Albano, who was also Cindy Lauper's manager at the
time. Jack and Peter Becket of Player wrote a song that
appeared on the movie's soundtrack called "Rock & Roll Heart."
The film ran in movie theaters at the time and still appears on
cable television occasionally to this day.
I mentioned earlier that Jack won a mural contest when he was a
teenager. Well, he used his artistic talent to become a
tattoo artist. Jack owned a successful tattoo studio in
Colorado Springs for many years. He's currently working
as a tattoo artist in Mesa, Arizona.
In 1990, Jack recorded and released an E.P. protesting the new
motorcycle helmet laws. Jack and his band, The Pigeon
Trainers, are on the cover with their Harley's and leather gear.
Jack had written the songs while spending some time in Hawaii.
He then moved to Northern California and recorded them.
The name Pigeon Trainers came when Jack and the guys in the band
were painting houses. A kid came up to them and asked if
they were pigeon trainers because they white coveralls were
spotted with paint which looked to the kid like bird droppings.
The band had found their name. In 1995, Jack wrote and recorded "Angel of the Christmas Trees"
in Colorado Springs. The song was inspired by Jack's
childhood memory of shopping for Christmas trees and feeling bad
when his mother said "look at that little Christmas tree, no one
In 2010, Jack moved to Nashville where he wrote a group of songs
with Bill Cuomo. Cuomo is best known for his keyboard work
and arrangement on "Betty Davis Eyes" by Kim Carnes.
D'Amore has accomplished a lot in his musical
career. He's had two major record deals, played with many
great musicians, worked with major producers, co-written songs
with top songwriters, and made some great music. The proof
is in the pudding. Listen to the sound bytes below and
hear for yourself.
This article is
based on audio taped telephone interview by Mark Guerrero with
Jack D'Amore on September 2, 2013.