It all began in the Chicago suburb of Oak Park, Illinois in May of 1973. Joe Cantafio was asked by his Oak Park and River Forest High School (OPRFHS) history teachers to perform a set of rock and roll music from the 1950’s for the school’s week long 1950’s history lesson, which ended with a “sock hop.” To seal the deal, Cantafio and his band “Jade” were promised the day off of school. The planets all seemed to line up for Joe and the band that day as the entire school of over 5,000 students witnessed a musical phenomenon.
Cantafio and the band greased up their hair, wore leather jackets and performed a set of music during the schools four lunch periods and after school, but the students never left the Student Center and the audience just kept building and building; even the teachers skipped class that afternoon. The Chicago Daily News sent a crew to Oak Park, took photos of Joe and the band, and published an article about the schools successful “1950’s Decades Week” history lesson.
Within a week letters from area high schools and colleges began to flood OPRFHS, with requests to repeat exactly what OPRFHS had done … and they wanted that band! And just like magic, JADE 50’s was born!
Soon after that, JADE 50’s began performing at high schools and colleges, and then began performing in night clubs and within a few years they were setting attendance records across America. Soon they were performing at large concert venues nationally, and when the movie “Grease” premiered in Chicago, JADE 50’s was hired to perform at the films opening, and at the cast party at Chicago’s Navy Pier, where everyone attending the film was invited, including the cast.
A few months later, broadcast pioneer, Dick Clark, host of American Bandstand, recruited JADE 50’s to perform with his live touring Rock and Roll Show, when he came to Chicago to perform at ChicagoFest. Clark immediately loved the band and named Cantafio his “music director.” JADE 50’s performed with “Dick Clarks Good Ol’ Rock and Roll Show” for over four-years, opening the show with a 20/30 minute set, and then playing backup for Rock and Roll pioneers, Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Del Shannon, The Shirelles, The Crystals, Johnny Rivers, Jerry Lee Lewis, The Coasters, The Drifters, The Marvelettes, Freddy Cannon, Ronnie Spector, and many more.
Rock and Roll legend Wolfman Jack also hired JADE 50’s, and toured with them, appearing on-stage as special guests on shows with Tommy James, Dion, The Crystals and Bo Diddley.
After 13 years, 2-record albums and 3-singles, and widespread national airplay, JADE 50’s un-greased their hair, shed their sequins, and each member moved in a different musical direction. However, they never lost touch with each other.
In 2022, a night club that JADE 50’s performed at in 1976, contacted Cantafio and asked if he would come to Peoria, IL and perform a few songs at a 45-year reunion of the opening of the club. Joe said, “Let me contact my former band members and see if they’d like to join me one more time.” They all answered with an enthusiastic “YES.”
The older, wiser and musically polished JADE 50’s took the stage to thunderous applause. They knocked it out of the park, performing the songs that JADE 50’s became famous for; “Remember Then,” “Little Darling,” “Pretty Little Angel Eyes,” “Come Go With Me,” “Runaway,” and songs made famous by Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry and Dion.
During the days that followed, people attending the show began to post photos and videos of the JADE 50’s’ performance. Soon Cantafio’s phone began to ring with offers to hire JADE 50’s, and after a series of phone calls, just like the Blues Brothers, they put the band back together again.
Joe Cantafio will front the band once more, and be joined by former JADE 50’s members Keith Grant (guitar/vocals), Mike Arturi (drums) Joey Giovanini (bass guitar/vocals) Mike Finn (saxophone/keyboards/vocals) and Mike Miosi (keyboards/vocals.)
Get ready America … Chicago’s Own West Side Story rides again!
©2023 JADE 50'S • EMAIL • 847-322-3777