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Layers of fun: Sha Na Na has found success in TV, film and music

For Jocko Marcellino, his journey in music started at Columbia University in 1969.

And it’s been nearly 50 years of fun.

“I can’t believe we’re entering such a huge year,” he says during a recent interview. “We did eight public shows in college, and then all of a sudden it became the real deal.”

After the shows, Marcellino and his band, Sha Na Na, would perform at Woodstock.

The exposure through Woodstock and the documentary, would eventually help the band land a TV show in the 1970’s – “The Sha Na Na Show.”

And one mustn’t forget the band’s role in the 1978 classic “Grease,” in which they played Johnny Casino and The Gamblers.

“We’re not an act that had to live on airplay,” he says. “We were able to cross a variety of mediums to keep our career going. Fans know us from different stages in our career. It’s humbling to look back and see how far we’ve come.”

Sha Na Na will perform on New Year’s Eve at Legends Theater at Route 66 Casino Hotel.

The group hasn’t been to Albuquerque in some time, and Marcellino is looking forward to the performance.

“It’s going to be a special night, because I feel like this show is opening the door for us to celebrate our 50th year in music,” he says. “We’re going to have fun that night.”

Marcellino says the show will happen thematically.

“We’ll start it at the hop and then go to the twist and the hand jive,” he says. “Doing those great songs that were about a dance. Part of the show is a capella and doo wop. It’s a real time travel kind of night.”

Marcellino is also excited about having thousands of songs to pull from for the set.

“We’ve done many of these songs either from ‘Grease’ or the TV show,” he says. “The songs truly represent what Sha Na Na is about.”

Looking back at the group’s career, Marcellino is quick to give Jimi Hendrix a lot of credit in getting the band seen at Woodstock.

In fact, the guitar legend saw the band playing in the Hell’s Kitchen area of Manhattan, New York City, before they the group was asked to perform at Woodstock. Janis Joplin also saw the band in New York City.

“There was huge buzz about Woodstock, and we wanted to perform it,” he says. “We got paid $350, and the check bounced. Jimi made sure that we performed despite the rain that had taken over the festival.”