The film 'Eddie and the Cruisers' celebrates 25 tender years
LAST MONTH DURING ITS SET at the Somers Point beach concert series, Jersey Shore rock trio the Billy Walton Band broke into "On the Dark Side," the 1984 John Cafferty hit from the 1983 film Eddie and the Cruisers.
The beach-chair crowd strewn along the bayfront recognized the opening chords immediately. Swaying in unison as the first sounds rang out from Walton's guitar, people began to clap along and jump up to dance at the foot of the stage. As was apparent that night, the song has become something of a standard at the Jersey Shore. It connects people not only to the film it's from -- which was based on the P.F. Kluge novel of the same name -- but also to the late 1950s and early '60s, when Somers Point's Bay Avenue was a hotbed of music activity each summer with now-defunct venues such as Bayshores and Tony Mart's packing in crowds nightly.
This is the Jersey Shore that Kluge based his book on and the one captured on film in Eddie and the Cruisers.
Many things inspired novelist, freelance writer (Rolling Stone, Life) and northern New Jersey native Kluge to pen the 1980 novel.
"Two or three things came together," says Kluge from his office at Ohio's Kenyon College where he has been a teacher for more than a decade. "I always loved early rock 'n' roll ... doo-wop groups basically. ... Those songs just kind of worked their way into me and I've never lost them. I carry them with me [and] the way that they could come back to you all through the rest of your life and haunt you intrigued me. And the second thing was wondering about what happens to the survivors of a group after its star, its leader, perishes."
"[Eddie] is about some tapes that were supposedly made way back when [and] going back into the past to retrieve something, to consider what happened to other people, and what has happened to you and what might have been," says Kluge.
Another inspiration for Kluge's book (which is being re-issued by Overlook Press this fall) was southern New Jersey, a landscape the young writer caught only a glimpse of one summer, long ago.
"In the summer of 1962, I worked as a reporter -- a sort of summer job -- on the Vineland Times Journal," says Kluge. "And this acquainted me with a New Jersey that was quite different from the New Jersey I knew. Because the northern part of the state is sort of within the field of force of New York City. ... the southern part was entirely different. It was rural. It was eccentric. It was a little mysterious to me: the diners, the traffic circles, the little crossroad towns, the odd pockets of ethnic groups."
Although Kluge says his only visit to Tony Mart's -- where many scenes in the film were shot -- was for a single day of shooting in 1982, he got an idea of what the place was like and what attracted Martin Davidson to shoot his film there.
"Tony Mart's [seemed like] a labyrinth of beer and barrooms and music and quite a place," says Kluge. The author says he was happy about a couple of other important decisions made by Davidson with regard to the film and the original novel.
"I always liked the fact that the filmmakers did two things," says Kluge. "They stuck with the flashback structure [of the novel] -- so you're cutting back and forth between the present time, where Frank Ridgeway, the Wordman, is a high-school teacher in early middle-age, and going back to the summer on the Jersey Shore maybe two decades or so before. ... I like that they had the integrity to stay with that so that the past and present could play off each other.
"The other thing is [they] could have made it about a surf group in California and they made it in New Jersey," says Kluge. "That pleased me."
Kluge always wanted his main character to be from South Jersey. "I think when I sat down to write Eddie in 1980, I realized that I didn't want him to be a suburban kid who was going into Greenwich Village on weekends," says Kluge. "I wanted him to be from that New Jersey 'down south.' And I thought Vineland was a good town for him to be from."
Levon and the Hawks were about to hit the stage when the band’s bass player, Rick Danko, seemed to be missing. When Frye discovered that Danko was in an Ocean City jail — busted for smoking marijuana — he had the sergeant of police in Somers Point, Lyn Bader, contact the Ocean City Police Department and persuade them to let Danko come to Tony Mart’s so the band could perform.
“The location was the key. A beautiful backdrop of the bay, with all types of boats cruising past, and the Ocean City skyline [across the bay].”
Plus the Viking Cooking School's Hot Summer Line-up, Atlantic City's International Nights concert series and Drew Toonz
“We’ll play anywhere they’ll have us. The more places, the better. After all these years it’s still something I desperately want to do. You want to keep having fun.”
Greetings and salutations. As you are aware, next weekend the Geator, the Bubba Mac Blues Band, Pinky Kravitz, and the entire Longport Media group, WOND and WTKU and my man, Dave Coskey, will be heading down to the Seminole Hard Rock Casino in Hollywood, Fla., for South Jersey “Boardwalk Live” weekend. Also joining the Geator will be my pal Frankie Valli, who’s performing at the Hard Rock Live. We’ll dance starting at 5pm Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, March 1, 2, and 3, and I know we’ll see lots of our Florida fans, like Carlos & Vicki, Judi & Jim, and Ed & Linda, down there — hope to see you, too. Before we get to your questions, one of our readers was able to answer a question posed by Joe Breitner in this column a couple months back. The name of the song, from...
Once again, greetings and salutations to all who had a ball with the Geator at the Kimmel. Fabulous show, so nice that we’re going to do it twice. Mark the date: Saturday, April 7, and this will be a doo wop reunion, bringing back some of the classic stars who’ve been with me over the last 10 years — folks like Little Anthony, the Duprees, the Harptones, the Skyliners, the Classics, the Dubs, and more of your favorites. Stay tuned and we’ll announce the complete lineup shortly. And don’t forget, the Geator and the South Jersey/Philly crowd heading down south to the Seminole Hard Rock Casino in Hollywood, Florida, on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, March 1-3. That’s got to be a blast, along with Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons’ appearance there, so make your reservations now. And yes, we...
The Mulgrew Miller Trio and Jimmy Cobb's Mob headline this year's 15th annual Cape Bank Jazz @ The Point Festival in March.
Even after this weekend, Rivers still won’t be able to include an Atlantic City casino on his impressive resume of performances in some of the world’s top venues. But he’ll be ever so close.
Once again, greetings and salutations. And wow, what a tremendous Memorial Day weekend. It all started off Friday night in Egg Harbor Township when we went live at 5 at Chickie’s & Pete’s on Cruisin’ 92.1 and KOOL 98.3, and then on to Mia’s at Caesars, the fabulous restaurant from Georges Perrier and Chris Scarduzio. Mia’s was packed — so much so that starting this Friday we’ll be going live on KOOL 98.3 from Caesars’ Pool Bar so that you Geator Gold guys and gals can have more room to dance after you dine at Mia’s. Over at Memories, the big 65th birthday party for Carol Kauffmann took place, with family and friends. Of course, Carol belongs to our dear friend Justice Bruce Kauffman. Some of the Who’s Who who came to pay respects: My old friends Lewis & Margie Katz,...
Sunday brings Barks on the Boards, a fundraiser for the Ocean City Humane Society that allows pet owners to strut their proud pooches down the city Boardwalk ...
So many sensational musicians have graced the 13-event, 17th annual Somers Point Beach Concert Series this summer, and the epitome of that lineup might be coming to the William J. Morrow Memorial Beach (New Jersey and Bay avenues) this Friday night (Aug. 14). The Billy Walton Band, fronted by the eponymous guitar virtuoso and including drummer Marcus Croan and bassist William Paris, will be showcasing some original material from their recently completed CD. The BWB has a fifth United Kingdom tour set for October and will be playing the Somers Point series for the third straight year. Also featured will be Michael “Tunes” Antunes, who may best be known as the saxophonist for John Cafferty & the Beaver Brown Band, which cut the hit song “On the Dark Side” from the 1983 movie Eddie and the Cruisers. A descendent of accomplished musicians from Cape Verde, Tunes...
In recent years, Marotta has been very busy carrying the torch from his father into the 21st century. Putting on several area benefit concerts as well as Tony Mart’s Reunion events, and booking the Somers Point beach ...