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"The Unique Joyriders" - Johnny Saint

The House-Rockin’ Back Beat keeps rolling-on!


Just a short walk through the corridors of time will put you in touch with some of the most versatile musicians, vocalists, and composers who gave us what the music world is proud to call the birth of JAZZ

Since my personal comprehension of JAZZ is really a culmination of various styles of music from Rhythm & Blues, Mainstream & Straight-Ahead Jazz plus the swinging Big Band sounds from past decades; in reality . . . it is my belief, that the vocal harmony and R&B music that is rooted in the early days of Rock n’ Roll and DOO-WOP.

My musical career began during 1956 with first lessons in high school playing saxophone being coached by a music teacher who was proficient violinist with some knowledge of reed instruments. After a short time; since he noticed I was a fast learner understanding the instrument and music theory, he suggested that it was time to find a professional saxophone teacher by the name of Mike Guerra to advance the technical attributes plus music reading skills that were needed in- order to pursue a musical career. During that time, he was credited in the teaching aspects of Gerry Mulligan, John Coltrane, and other members of the Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra. 

The later practical teachings and many shared experiences from the music business came from tenor saxophonist Joe Fortunato who became a very close friend and older brother in music; he always stressed an important fact, to play the instrument with feeling and expression whether playing a ballad or swing such as the old masters from past decades.

At an early age my exposure to music was listening to the big band sounds of Benny Goodman, Tiny Bradshaw, Louis Prima’s original big band prior to Keely Smith with Sam Butera & the Witnesses and many of the Rhythm & Blues record hits of Bill Doggett’s “Honky-Tonk,” “Hand Clappin’” by Red Prysock– Jimmy Forrest’s “Night Train,”- “Harlem Nocturne” by Georgie Auld, Earl Bostic playing “Flamingo” and his version of “Harlem Nocturne” - “So Rare” by Jimmy Dorsey plus the mainstream jazz sounds of Charlie Ventura, Coleman Hawkins, Lester Young and many others on the radio and being fortunate to have access to many recordings from a vast collection of original 78rpms’ - plus vinyl 45’s and 331\3 LP recordings of a vintage collection from Mr. Nick’s Jazz Corner.

My inspiration came from the sounds of Illinois Jacquet, Red Prysock, Gene Ammons plus Sam ‘The Man’ Taylor. Staying true to this path, I organized various Trios, Quartets plus Quintets & Sextets early in my career. During this time “The Battle of the Saxes” a House-Rockin’ revue was formed with other close friends featuring 4 tenor saxmen from Philadelphia. The swinging Rhythm section was formed by my friend Johnny Saint on drums the leader of The Joyriders.

Ironically, it was George Sarkis saxophone repairman known as . . .

                   “The Doctors of Horns” who gave us the name “The Philadelphia Four Brothers” featuring Joe Fortunato, Stan Ross, Ray Fern and myself. 

Another musical experience in my career, I had the opportunity to be a sideman with “The Unique Joyriders”

a talented 5pc. combo from the early days of R&R with the attributes of vocal harmony and music ability in conveying the enjoyable sounds to their fans and audiences throughout the United States & Canada.

Their leader John “Johnny Saint” Fiedler contacted me to fill the vacant position since their saxman was leaving the music business to pursue another career. This was a great time with the Joyriders as we played many venues in the country. We all shared a camaraderie as brothers and friends. The Joyrider experience had a great team spirit that gave each member a time to shine in their own musical talent of playing ability, vocal stylings plus arranging and composition. Unforgettable memories of the four-part harmony, drum solos and the showmanship of swinging to the house-rocking backbeat rhythms plus Bar-Walking antics that generated standing-ovations from audiences throughout each nationwide performance.

These memories will never be duplicated and most of all never be forgotten, even though Johnny Saint passed away on November 17, 2014.

This inevitable quote from Johnny Saint “We Did It Our Way” will always be remembered by musicians, friends, and family.

As a few years rolled by . . . Recently I received a call from Steve Fiedler son of Johnny Saint, explaining that he was contacted by a gentleman Bob Bosco, author and contributing writer for national magazine called “ECHOES of the PAST.”

Bob Bosco was interested in doing an extensive article about "The Unique Joyriders" and their nostalgic recordings and band members from the early days of Rock n’


<> This magazine is on display in the Library/Archive section of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio <>

"Since I have very fond memories of the past playing at the Versaille Hotel, 2901 Euclid Avenue in Cleveland, Ohio."

 . . . I thought it was a great idea and agreed to have a lunch meeting for an interview that took place in the later part of 2017 at my home. After a few hours of talking during lunch and looking through scrapbooks of memorabilia from the past I was very impressed with the comments and ideas that Bob Bosco had in mind to write about.

He is a true gentleman and has great knowledge of nostalgic music from the early days of Rock n’ Roll plus other prominent Rock n’ Roll personalities that shared a collection of musical moments on & off the bandstand with “The Unique Joyriders.”

The history of “The Unique Joyriders” is reminisced in

> "Echoes Of The Past" Issue No. 123 <

e-mail. . .

 Click here: Subscriptions Available From *Echoes Of The Past*




                                      In a recent Skype conversation I had with my friend Stan Ross 

. . .We often talked about and reflected upon his close friend’s
  saxophonist Buddy Savitt and jazz guitarist Dennis Sandole
BUDDY SAVITTSince I had the opportunity in meeting Buddy Savitt at one time               or another, ironically,   Buddy happened to be a related cousin to John & Evelyn Fiedler  (aka. Johnny Saint and his wife Evelyn)
Johnny Saint was my close friend and the leader\drummer of a popular recording vocal & instrumental group called "THE UNIQUE JOYRIDERS" which toured internationally during the 1960s & 1970s.
During this time, I had the opportunity to share the bandstand as a member of the unit replacing the vacant spot when the very talented saxophonist and friend Bobby Borda who was in the process of forming his Top-40 combo to travel the entertainment circuit on the East Coast. 
Stan Ross, Johnny Saint and I talked about Buddy Savitt and the many popular recordings of Cameo/Parkway Records. As a sideman, Buddy’s tenor sax solos on a majority of the top singles highlighted eachClick For Sample Billboard Chart hit recordings that included Chubby Checker, Dee Dee Sharp, Bobby Rydell and many other hit recordings of the era.   
   - The friendship between Stan Ross, Buddy Savitt and Dennis Sandole through the years was a special sharing of inspiration, Jazz techniques and musical knowledge always remembered. -
South Philadelphia, also known as "South Philly" . . . is a small community of various ethnic groups. In the past from this area, many singers, performers, actors, comedians and jazz musicians have emerged. Because this area being a close-knit community, neighbors living on the same block and even from surrounding areas would often stop by during a rehearsal to encourage the young musicians and performers to follow their ambitions. Tenor saxophonist Charlie Ventura, jazz violinist Joe Venuti, his cousin guitarist Joe Sgro, clarinetist Buddy DeFranco, guitarist Eddie Lang, trombonist Willie Dennis who later married singer\actress Morgana King, pianist Elliot Lawrence plus many vocalists including jazz pianist Buddy Greco and many others all have a part of the      
                              "South Philly" environment ingrained in their warm character and personality. 
Click for SampleA family relative Cousin of mine, was guitarist Joe Morabito; we also, often spokeJOE SGRO about two of his friends from the same South Philadelphia neighborhood. Jazz guitarists Dennis Sandole and Joe Sgro both known for their musical teaching techniques for the guitar and Jazz improvisation.
Joe Morabito and his brother Rocco formed a popular commercial five-piece combo named “THE TOWNSMEN” which featured many vocal & instrumental renditions of top songs that were favorites of their large following within the Delaware Valley area. Members of this unit were Anthony (Corkey) Borasso-bass Joe Gilletta-drums Rocco Morabito-keyboard plus . . .Joe Sgro’s Brother Pat Sgro guitarist & arranger
              for all their musical compositions.
               Also saxophonist Joe Rotelle would appear on many occasions.
There were many times, that musicians and vocalists would stop-by to sit-in and join a late night jam session. The discussions after hours at the club or at the all-night Melrose Diner would continue to early daylight and reflect upon the many experiences each shared in the music business.  The nightclubs in the South Philly & Center City area such as; The Venus Lounge, Palumbos Restaurant, Broadway Theatrical Lounge, Latin Casino, Club 13 were the places where musicians would congregate.  In addition, many of the South Jersey venues there was – The Dreamland Club, Loretta’s Hi-Hat, Whipppoorwill Club, and Wilcox’s Cafe all located within “The Lawnside Music District” on Rt.30 White Horse Pike.  The Cherry Hill area on Rt. 70 was another entertainment section of venues, LaMania’s Cocktail Lounge was next door to The Latin Casino Theater.  A short driving distance Andy’s Log Cabin Restaurant and The Honey Dew Club were some of the places . . . that it was possible; where on a nightly basis you were able to experience a line-up of many Jazz musicians that included Joe Fortunato, Larry McKenna, Johnny Belmont , Henry Ceccola, Red Rodney, Charlie Ventura and his brother Benny plus Buddy Savitt. These jam sessions lasted until the closing hour of 3:00am in the morning.  
Stan Ross has given me the opportunity to share some brief unforgettable nostalgic moments from his career and personal memorabilia archives of a jazz musician.