Dennis Greene

In the NYT on the 10th, an obit (by Daniel E. Slotnik), “Dennis Greene, a Singer With Sha Na Na, Dies at 66”. As it happens, I’ve posted before about Sha Na Na (“More na na na” on 4/3/15) and the song (“Get a Job”) that gave them their name, but without singling Greene out. Here’s the group in their heyday:

Greene is in the back row, fourth from the left. Yes, the black guy.

From the NYT story:

Dennis Greene, a founding member of Sha Na Na, a band that became famous in the 1970s for its simultaneously nostalgic and comedic approach to the rock ’n’ roll of the 1950s, died on Saturday at a hospital near his home in Dayton, Ohio. He was 66.

Sha Na Na, which started as an a cappella group while Mr. Greene was an undergraduate at Columbia University, drew a large following after playing at the Woodstock music festival in 1969. Mr. Greene often performed wearing a gold lamé suit and sang lead on a number of the group’s songs.

Mr. Greene left Sha Na Na after 15 years to get a master’s degree at Harvard and a law degree at Yale. He told an interviewer in 1998 that he did not regret the decision.

“Being a rock star was never something that was particularly interesting to me,” he said. “It was a great job. I loved the singing part. [He was also a skilled dancer.] The byproducts, unfortunately, were exhausting travel and the ongoing-forever politics of being in a business controlled by young adults.”

His Wikipedia article tells us that he was Frederick “Dennis” Greene, who performed as Denny; and that he had a long career as a law professor, at several institutions.

From December 2007 until his death, Greene was a Professor of Law at the University of Dayton, Ohio School of Law, teaching classes such as Torts, Entertainment Law, and Constitutional Law.

Wikipedia on the band tells us that early members included not only law professor Greene, but also a linguistics professor (specializing in forensic linguistics), a professor of Jewish studies, a professor of English, two MDs, and a lawyer. Well, they started as a singing group at Columbia — not exactly tough street kids, despite their stage personas.

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