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Meet the Asbury Park Musicians: The Jaywalkers



The 60s were a time of great musical expression all over America. With the popularity of the Beatles, new prospective bands began popping up across the country, hoping to make it big. Even in this sea of talent, many Asbury Park bands are  still remembered fondly to this day and one of those bands is the The Jaywalkers. The Jaywalkers were one of the premier bands of the shore night-club scene. Playing in clubs such as the Candy Cane Lounge, Steve Brody's, Groh's and Mrs. Jay's, and Big Bill's Bar, the Jaywalkers were not only known for expertly playing covers of the current radio hits, but also for their own originals like "Summer's Coming" and "Wild Surfer's Call." The Jaywalkers soon became very high in demand and sought after, famed throughout the area. 


The Jaywalkers were also a very progressive band for the time, being one of the first all white groups to play in an African American club. A community member, Mr. John Shaw, recently shared some stories with us about The Jaywalkers. Big Bill, the owner of Big Bill's Bar, wanted to hire The Jaywalkers to play in his night-club when the band had time off. Saxophonist of the band, Cos Consoli, remembers the experience of first playing at Big Bill's Bar vividly. He explains how some, at the time, were worried or hesitant about The Jaywalkers, an all white band, playing at Big Bill's Bar, an African American night-club. This tension was reflected by Bill's brother Andy, who was reluctant to even host the Jaywalkers. However, all tension and doubts were washed away when the Jaywalkers started playing, with their performance wowing the crowd. The Jaywalkers would soon become a regular at Big Bill's, with Consoli reminiscing especially how accepted the group felt there.


While The Jaywalkers continued to gain popularity in the shore area, their first real break would come when they became technical advisors for Danelectro. Danelectro, a guitar company founded in Red Bank, had just pitched their new "Corral" brand line of high-end equipment. The Jaywalkers' drummer and leader, John Shaw, had a connection in the company, and soon the band was able to become the official technical advisors for Danelectro and Corral. Using their helpful advice, both Corral and The Jaywalkers were able to gain fame and popularity, with the band being featured prominently in Corral's catalogs and records.


However, tragedy would unfortunately befall the band. In 1968, David Heth, the band's keyboard player, would sadly pass away in a car accident. Soon after the Jaywalkers would disband alongside the Corral brand and even eventually Danelectro. Despite this unfortunate conclusion, The Jaywalkers' legacy still continues to this day. Many people recount fond memories of the band, and one of the band's members, Billy Ryan, would continue his musical career becoming a prominent bandleader in the area. 



— written by Ahan Iyer 



 

About the Author


Hi! I’m Ahan Iyer, a high school student from Holmdel, New Jersey. My interests include playing the oboe, jazz and chess. I’m a classically trained oboist, but have become interested in exploring various aspects of jazz, including jazz history and jazz composition for the oboe. Apart from exploring the jazz oboe, I play and teach chess. I’m currently working on a research project where I analyze data sets to find patterns that help us understand the wider influences that jazz has globally.


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