Welcome to Beaver County Memories, a look back at the people, places and events that have made Beaver County a special place, presented by St. Barnabas. In this second segment about Beaver County musicians, you might feel the need to sing along as we highlight some of the musical groups and performers that have called Beaver County Home
In part one of our look back on Beaver County musicians, we took a look at, or maybe we should say, a listen to, several great artists and groups to have started their careers in this area including Henry Mancini, Melvin and Mervin Steals, The Jaggerz and The Stringfield Family band, who also performed as the El Pooks. In part two, the timeline moves closer to present day as the spotlight shines on local performers whose music was made here, but heard by people everywhere.
There must have been something in the water in Aliquippa because many of the musicians profiled in part one had their roots in the town and this next gentleman also spent his formative years in “the Quip”, as it is affectionately known. William Edward Taylor, or more commonly known as, B.E. Taylor, began performing while still in high school with a band he formed called B.E. Taylor and the Establishment. The obvious talent of the group’s lead singer didn’t go unnoticed and soon the band was playing in night clubs all over the Pittsburgh area in the 1970’s covering popular tunes already recorded by others. In the 1980’s B..E. Taylor formed the B.E. Taylor Group and decided to sing and record his own music. This lead to several nationally released songs, and a billboard top 100 hit, “Vitamin L”, in 1984. In recent years, prior to his passing in 2016, B.E. Taylor had reinvented himself again, and had focused on producing popular annual Christmas concerts, accompanied by the release of several Christmas and Contemporary Christian albums.
One of the members of B.E. Taylor’s entourage that would pack auditoriums for the beloved Christmas concerts was, and continues to be, one of the area’s most accomplished piano players, Hermie Granati. Hermie, and his brothers, Ricky, Joey, and David, along with cousin Tony Bonomo, made up Beaver County’s version of a cross between the Ramones and The who, or Rolling Stones. The hard rocking band of brothers, who appropriately referred to themselves as “The Granati brothers’, were all adorned with long flowing locks of jet black hair, and looked much like the punk rockers of the 1960’s, but had an edgy, modern, hard rock sound. The “Granati Ranch”, as it was called by those close to the family, otherwise know as the family home where they grew up, was in Patterson township, and it was there that the boys began playing together as a band. Success was quick for the Granati brothers, who in 1979 found their music receiving airplay on radio Pittsburgh after the release of their album “G-Force”. A national tour as the opening act for Van Halen followed, and a national recording contract was signed. The Granati brothers still perform together today, and are all still in the Beaver County area. Hermie Granati also serves as the current piano and keyboard player for the Jaggerz.
One of the places that the Granati Brothers would perform at was known as Arthur’s Lounge, and before that, it was known as Morry’s Speak Easy. The place was a vintage night club designed for large scale performances which were much more common thirty or forty years ago. The venue, which was closed down many years ago, was located along Junction Stretch, route 65 in Rochester. That brings us to the next Beaver County musician, Christina Aguilera, who spent many of her early childhood years in the town. Aguilera, who has gone on to sell over thirty seven million songs, recorded eight albums, and appeared in numerous television and movie projects, was first heard in Beaver County as a little girl attending school in Rochester. One of her earlier performances as a young child protege was reportedly the singing of The National Anthem prior to a Geneva College basketball game at Metheny Field house in the late 1980’s. Bruce Frey was a color analyst for WBVP, that evening, and he was amid the pregame show for the upcoming Geneva College basketball game broadcast when he remembered hearing the talented young girl from Rochester. Though it can’t be verified, Frey wonders even to this day if that might have been the first time that Aguilera’s powerful voice was heard on the radio. Christina Aguilera also began to sing The Star Spangled Banner prior to Pittsburgh sporting events and appeared on local TV stations before her talents eventually led to her on to bigger cities and brighter lights. In 1996, she recorded a song used in the movie, “Mulan”, and shortly there afterwards, she signed a national recording contract.
This has been part two of Beaver County Musicians, part of Beaver County Memories, presented by St. Barnabas. In Part 2, we will shine the memory spotlight on other great musicians who first performed right here in Beaver County. Tune in everyday for a another memory on Beaver County Radio, or visit beavercountyradio.com for a complete transcript of this and other archived editions of Beaver County Memories.