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Frankie LaRocka (April 17, 1954 – May 12, 2005), born Frank LaRocca, was an American rock musician and producer. He was a member of Scandal, playing drums on their debut EP, and, at various stages, played the drums with Bon Jovi, David Johansen, Bryan Adams, and John Waite. In the 1990s, he became an A&R man and producer with his most notable work being with the Spin Doctors on their breakthrough album Pocket Full of Kryptonite.
LaRocka started his career playing drums with David Johansen on Johansen's self-titled album from 1978. He joined Scandal in 1982 and played on their self-titled album of the same year as well as earning credit on John Waite's Ignition album.
LaRocka toured with Bryan Adams on his 1983 world tour, and was part of the band when they appeared that year live in concert on the legendary televised Rockpalast show (also broadcast live on European radio). Bon Jovi opened for Scandal in a 1984 tour which led to that band being signed to Polygram Records. La Rocka played drums on their 1984 Bon Jovi album. After parting company with Scandal, he returned to session work playing on sessions by John Waite and in 1985 appearing with him in his band on TV shows like Solid Gold. In the early '90s, LaRocka played drums with Company of Wolves, a straight-ahead rock band signed to Mercury Records.
Frankie also signed a girl group from London called NeverBlue Managed by Christopher Waller, Tasha Leaper, Lisa Hurley and Susan Motley. The group worked with Brian Rawlings, famed for Cher's Believe album. NeverBlue was signed to Straight Line Records under Atlantic Records.
A&R and production work
LaRocka's first stab at production was with Irish band Silent Running, whom he signed while working in the A&R department at Atlantic Records. He also played drums on their album Deep. He began working for Sony Music and one of his first signings was the Spin Doctors. He produced their 1991 debut Pocketful of Kryptonite. The album sold slowly at first but it eventually became a hit after their song Little Miss Can't Be Wrong started picking up airplay on MTV and radio. The follow-up single Two Princes was a top ten hit and the album reached a peak of #3 on the Billboard charts in 1993. LaRocka produced subsequent albums for the Spin Doctors but they failed to achieve the same success.
He produced the soundtrack for the 1993 movie Philadelphia. It reached #12 on the Billboard 200 album chart and featured a top ten single hit in the Bruce Springsteen song Streets of Philadelphia. Springsteen also won an Academy Award for Best Song as well as a Golden Globe. Neil Young was also nominated for an Academy Award for his track Philadelphia and the album also featured tracks by Peter Gabriel and the Spin Doctors.
By the end of his career at Sony, LaRocka was vice president of the A&R department. He was back playing drums for a New York band Hot Monkey Love and with Noel Redding on a 2002 live album recorded at Prague. He also had an independent production company, Straight Line Productions, and had signed the band happyendings to J Records where they were recording their debut record.
LaRocka died after undergoing heart surgery in New York in May 2005.
- Obituary of Frankie La Rocka
- Allmusic.com article on Frankie LaRocka
- Rolling Stone In Brief section on his death
- Extended biography @nyrocker.com