Joe Lala

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Joe Lala
Lala (Manassas, TopPop) in 1972
Joseph Anthony Lala

November 3, 1947
DiedMarch 18, 2014(2014-03-18) (aged 66)
Tampa, Florida, U.S.
  • Musician
  • actor
Years active1966–2014 (musician)
1977–2006 (acting)
(m. 1996; div. 2004)
Musical career
  • Percussion
  • vocals

Joseph Anthony Lala (November 3, 1947 – March 18, 2014) was an American musician and actor. In 1966, he co-founded the rock band Blues Image.

Life and career[edit]

Lala was born in Ybor City, Tampa, Florida,[1] to parents from Contessa Entellina (an ethnic Albanian community in Sicily). His father was Sicilian, and he left the family when Joe was a child, so he was raised by his mother on her own. Lala's mother, Janie Cacciatore, an avid dancer, took her son to as many shows as she could. Lala spoke fluent Spanish and Italian.[2] He started out playing the drums in several Florida bands, before forming the band Blues Image. He also occasionally sang lead vocals, most notably on the song "Leaving My Troubles Behind". As a drummer and percussionist, he worked with The Byrds, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Manassas, The Stills-Young Band, The Bee Gees, Whitney Houston, Joe Walsh, Andy Gibb and many others. He played the trademark congas that drove the Bee Gees' 1976 US chart-topper You Should Be Dancing, subsequently included on the multi-million selling Saturday Night Fever soundtrack. Lala provided the wide selection of percussive effects on Barbra Streisand's 1980 worldwide No. 1 album Guilty, and contributed to Whitney Houston's eponymous 1985 debut album.[1] Throughout his career, Lala accumulated 32 gold records and 28 platinum records. He played on the movie soundtracks of Saturday Night Fever, Staying Alive, D.C. Cab, Streets of Fire, All the Right Moves, Breathless, Defiance, The Lonely Guy and Airplane!. A severe case of carpal tunnel syndrome[1] ended Lala's career as a percussionist. It kept him from performing full-time, but he continued to record with Stephen Stills, Graham Nash, the acoustic band Firefall, Dan Fogelberg, Dolly Parton, Rod Stewart and many others.[2] Joe Lala was the last in the drummer stool for the handful of concerts given in February 1973 by the disintegrating Byrds.

He made the most of his Italian-American background and his mastery of Spanish, Cuban and Puerto Rican accents with TV roles in Miami Vice, General Hospital, Melrose Place, Seinfeld,[1] Hunter, and Who's the Boss?, and starred in a summer replacement show named Knight & Daye. He portrayed another native of Ybor City, Dr. Ferdie Pacheco, in Ali: An American Hero, and co-starred with Andy Garcia in For Love or Country: The Arturo Sandoval Story. His films included Active Stealth, Sugar Hill, On Deadly Ground, Deep Sleep, Havana (with Robert Redford), Out for Justice, Marked for Death, Eyewitness to Murder, and Born in East L.A., plus many more.

Lala also guest-starred on several animated shows; Batman: The Animated Series, Pinky and the Brain, Quack Pack, The Angry Beavers, The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius, Danger Rangers, ChalkZone, Johnny Bravo, Ozzy & Drix, Superman: The Animated Series, The Woody Woodpecker Show (the 1999 version), and many more. Additionally, he voiced Kun Lan in the 2005 video game Killer7.

Lala was married to voice director Ginny McSwain from 1996 till their divorce in 2004.[3]

He had ultimately walked away from the entertainment business in the mid-2000s in order to care for his mother, who had dementia. Lala coached young actors at the Italian Club in his native Ybor City.[4] Joe Lala died from complications of lung cancer on March 18, 2014, at the age of 66.[5]


Year Film Character Notes
1991 Out For Justice Vermeer Movie
1992 It Came from the Desert Koolman Video game
1995 Pinky and the Brain Francois 1 episode
1995 What-a-Mess Additional Voices 3 episodes
1997 Demolition University Carlos Ramos Direct-to-video
1997 The Legend of Calamity Jane Additional Voices 13 episodes
1999 Golgo 13: Queen Bee Don Roccini / Gomez Video
1999 Our Friend, Martin Reporter #2 / Demonstrator Direct-to-video
1999 Batman Beyond Spike / Sailboat Captain 1 episode
1999 Johnny Bravo Raoul 1 episode
1999 The Brothers Flub Additional Voices 1 episode
1999 An American Tail: The Mystery of the Night Monster Bootlick Direct-to-video
1999-2002 Hey Arnold Miller / Cop #1 / Cop #2 2 episodes
2001 Static Shock Security Guard 1 episode
2001 Time Squad Leonardo da Vinci 1 episode
2001 Monsters, Inc. Augustus "Spike" Jones, Photo Couple #2 Theatrical
2002 Hunchback of Notre Dame II Guard #1 Direct-to-video
2002 Samurai Jack Passenger #1 / Owner / Engineer 1 episode
2003 Ozzy and Drix Hector's Dad 2 episodes
2004 Jimmy Neutron: Win, Lose and Kaboom Senor Estevez TV movie
2004-2005 The Batman Crime Boss 1 / Crime Boss 3 / Bomb Tech 2 episodes
2005 All Grown Up Enrique / Doctor #1 2 episodes
2005 Danger Rangers Hector Delgado / Joey Clams / Raccoon Dad 1 episode
2005 Killer7 Kun Lan Video game
2006 W.I.T.C.H. Guard #1 / Mayor 1 episode


With Gypsy

With Barbra Streisand

  • Guilty (Columbia Records, 1980)

With Stephen Stills

With Dionne Warwick

With David Crosby

With Joe Walsh

With Dan Fogelberg

With Don Felder

With Bill Wyman

With Ringo Starr

With Neil Diamond

With Jackson Browne

With Kenny Rogers

With Graham Nash

With Neil Young

With Rod Stewart

With Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young


  1. ^ a b c d Perrone, Pierre (May 7, 2014). "Joe Lala: Sought-after percussionist who switched careers when illness struck to become an actor and voice-over artist". The Independent. Archived from the original on 2022-06-09. Retrieved April 14, 2015.
  2. ^ a b Meacham, Andrew (March 19, 2014). "Legendary Tampa percussionist Joe Lala dies at 66". Retrieved April 15, 2015.
  3. ^
  4. ^ Jeff Giles (March 19, 2014). "Drummer Joe Lala Dead at 66". Ultimate Classic Rock. Retrieved April 15, 2015.
  5. ^ "Drummer Lala, who teamed with a generation of rock stars, dead at 66". Archived from the original on 2014-03-19. Retrieved 2014-03-19.

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