The Buffalo Music Hall of Fame has announced its Class of 2020: An early rock ‘n’ roll pioneer whose high-energy shows were popular in WNY clubs and on TV in Buffalo; a sought-after guitarist in Buffalo whose Bills jingles became mainstays on radio stations in the ’80s; a songwriter, producer, arranger, vocalist and one of the founding members of The Vibraharps; owner of the Lockport Music Center and the “first-call” guitarist for many famous touring performers and recording artists; a jazz trumpeter, pianist, actor, singer and songwriter, restaurant owner, filmmaker, poet, chef, the author of four books, historian and one-time candidate for mayor of Buffalo; a talented guitar player and recording artist who played in some of the most popular bands in Western New York; and a violinist whose playing can be heard on some of the most beloved movie scores and recordings of all time.
The Buffalo Music Hall of Fame Class of 2020 includes:
•Tom Bucur, who was a lifelong musician. His career spanned multiple decades. He was a sought-after guitarist in Western New York for studio work and spent the majority of his career on the road touring with various in-demand show bands such as Time Square, Easy Living Band and original bands Sundance and Cheeks. He recorded a series of Buffalo Bills jingles that became mainstays on numerous local radio stations in the early 1980s.
•Donnie Elbert was one of the original founding members of the national recording group The Vibraharps, as well as a successful songwriter, producer, arranger and vocalist playing piano and guitar, often combining all those talents to produce his own recordings. During his career, Donnie worked with many labels, including Red Top, Vee-Jay, Parkway, Cub Checker and Gateway. Throughout the 1970s, he released hits of varying degrees on labels including Rare Bullet and All Platinum, and a 1972 hit, “I Can’t Help Myself,” at Avco Embassy.
•Ralph Fava was an accomplished musician, a member of the Lockport Federation of Musicians Local 97, and started the Lockport Music Center. He was the “first-call” guitarist for recording artists who came to WNY, including Rich Little, Wayne Newton, Mary Wilson, Bobby Vinton, Debbie Reynolds, Donald O’Connor, Tennessee Ernie Ford, Jim Nabors, Connie Francis, The Drifters, Al Martino and Jerry Vale, as well as WNY greats including BMHOF inductees Bobby Militello (1995) and Bobby Jones (2004).
•Bobby DeSoto was always proud to be called “Buffalo’s Own Bobby DeSoto” and considered himself a pioneer in rock ‘n’ roll music in Buffalo. Playing in clubs all over Western New York, Bobby’s first band, The Rockits, recorded a demo that sent him to NYC where he recorded The Cheater and Don’t Talk at Claro Records. WKBW-TV’s Dan Neaverth and Tom Shannon helped his record go as high as No. 1 on the hit record charts. Bobby played live and TV dance shows up and down the East Coast and continued to perform in local clubs throughout the 1960s and 1970s.
•Joey Giambra was a self-taught jazz trumpeter, a pianist, an actor, a singer and songwriter, a restaurant owner, a filmmaker, a poet, a chef, the author of four books, a historian and a one-time candidate for mayor of Buffalo. Through the late ’50s and early-’60s, Giambra played at many clubs in Buffalo, behind many big names who came to town to perform, including the great Louis Armstrong. Joey’s 2017 CD, “Legacy,” was a “who’s who” of area musicians and featured the song “I love Buffalo,” which Joey wrote to honor his hometown.
•Sal Perello played in some of the most popular bands in WNY – The Lonely Souls, The Chenengo Band, Good Tymes, Act II, and the 17-piece Pyramid Swing Band. With longtime friend and BMHOF inductee Nick Veltri, he formed the group Pressure, which later became The Conqueroos (known for southern blues and rock). Sal toured across the country with The Jamie Morad Revue, recorded at A&M Records, Columbia Records, and performed for Buffalo Bills quarterback Jim Kelly’s wedding. He opened for many recording stars, including Roy Orbison and Herbie Hancock. Throughout the 2000s, Sal continued to play and was a member of the group The Soul Providers.
•Eudice Shapiro was the concertmaster at RKO Studios and Paramount Studios from 1941-65. Her playing can be heard on some of the most beloved film scores and recordings of all time, including the movie “Step Lively” with Frank Sinatra, “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” “The Apartment” and “For Whom the Bell Tolls.” Her musical recordings include: “Stardust: The Complete Capitol Recordings 1955-1959 by Nat King Cole,” “The Complete Capitol Singles Collection by Frank Sinatra,” “Get Happy” by Ella Fitzgerald (written by BMHOF inductee Harold Arlen/Class of 1997), and recordings by Peggy Lee, Pat Boone and Chet Atkins. She performed with some of the most famous musical names in history, including Russian American violinist Jascha Heifetz, cellist Gregor Piatigorsky, and pianists and conductors Igor Stravinsky and 2007 BMHOF inductee Leonard Pennario. She proudly taught at the USC Thornton School of Music for over 50 years.
These seven inductees officially entered the Buffalo Music Hall of Fame during a “virtual" induction ceremony on WKBW-TV Channel 7. A private (by-invitation-only) “viewing party” was held at The Sportsmen’s Tavern.
“We weren’t able to hold the 2020 induction ceremony last year due to the COVID-19 Pandemic,” said Anthony Casuccio, president of the Buffalo Music Hall of Fame. “We are truly honored at this time to be able to present this amazing class of incredible individuals and recognize their musical contributions to the Western New York region.”
Buffalo Music Hall of Fame Board Member Carolyn Moser served as the chairperson and production coordinator of the Buffalo Music Hall of Fame 2020 induction ceremony. JPV Video Productions is the official videographer of the Buffalo Music Hall of Fame.