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Johnny Contardo (born December 23, 1951) is a former singer with the musical group, Sha Na Na which he left in 1983. In 1978, he appeared with Sha Na Na in the movie musical Grease as Johnny Casino and the Gamblers. His performance of the song "Those Magic Changes" was featured in the movie and on the soundtrack for Grease.
His mother took him into night clubs when he was a teen to perform for audiences. She discovered that he had stage presence and personality in addition to his singing talent.
At age 19, Johnny took a minor role in a Boston production of the musical Hair. After six months, he played the lead role. He then received an offer to be understudy for the lead role on Broadway, and an offer to join Sha Na Na.
The Sha Na Na years
The show was primarily made up of 1950s song covers, and featured musical and non-musical guests and comedy sketches. Johnny performed many ballads, doo-wop, and rock and roll songs on the program.
Eventually, he left the business and worked in advertising for a number of years. He taught voice lessons as well.
In 2005, Johnny returned to show business at the urging of his fans. He rehearsed in his garage, then made his comeback in a show in Florida, with headliner Frankie Avalon, who had also appeared in Grease.
Johnny's comment about his return to the business was, "My fans are unbelievable. They pushed me to do this. When I got on that stage again, it was like I never left Sha Na Na."
As of July 2008, Johnny is performing as a solo artist in concerts around the U.S. He holds an occasional Meet and Greet, which consists of a performance, followed by a gathering of his fans. At these events, there are photo opportunities, a chance to get Johnny's autograph, and to talk with him. Contardo also enjoys cooking and runs a catering business in California.
In the early 1970s, guitarist Joe Jammer, who worked with many classic groups including Led Zeppelin, assembled a group of musicians to record an album of funk/rock tunes called "Headway," with Johnny on vocals. The album sat on the shelf for years but was finally released in February 2015.
Johnny married Cheryl Valenzano on December 23, 2012. As of 2019 they are no longer together.
Johnny received a Grammy nomination, as well as a Platinum Album, for the soundtrack from the movie Grease. He also received a Gold album for The Golden Age of Rock n Roll.
- 1972: Dynamite Chicken (with Sha Na Na) - as himself
- 1978: Grease (with Sha Na Na) - as Johnny, of Johnny Casino and the Gamblers
- 1978: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (with Sha Na Na) - as himself, in the all-star finale recreation of the famous album cover
- 1983: Scarface - as Miguel Echevierra
- Orange Coast article
- OCRegister news article and video interview
- Jon "Bowzer" Bauman's site
- Rock and Roll Gourmet