Straight outta Beaver Falls, PA, came Dominic Ierace, playing in local combos until he and his band The Jaggerz hit number two in the â€˜70s with â€œThe Rapperâ€. After The Jaggerz dissolved, Ierace played with Wild Cherry, who had a hit with the ubiquitous â€œPlay That Funky Musicâ€. Then by 1980, Wild Cherry hit the pits.
Thatâ€™s when Dominic Ierace, R&B/funk band sideman, became Donnie Iris, power pop/new wave hitmaker.
Teamed with keyboardist Mark Avsec, Iris had a decent run of chart singles in the early â€˜80s, his biggest Pop hit being â€œMy Girlâ€, a sickly sweet â€˜60s-tinged Beach Boys-ish rip which peaked at #25. But thankfully, history won out over chart positions and Iris is better known these days for a brilliant 3:42 blast called â€œAh! Leah!â€
â€œAh! Leah!â€ was huge in the Cleveland/Pittsburgh markets where Iris made his home(s), played in constant rotation in 1981, and spilling over nationally. It was deserved. â€œAh! Leah!â€ is classic power pop, all crunchy chords, harmonic backing vocals and an echoing â€œAh! Ah!â€ bridge that still gives me goose bumps. â€œAh! Leah!â€ struggled up to #29 on the charts which is a shame â€“ so many people still remember and love this song â€“ in fact, I got an e-mail about it today that inspired me to finally finish this post Iâ€™ve been puttering around with for months (thanks, Mark!).
Iris returned to the Top 40 a year later with â€œLove Is Like a Rockâ€, another regional smash that if recorded by, say, Rick Springfield (ahem), would have been a Top Ten smash. As it is, it barely squeaked into the Top 40. If I asked you if you remembered this song, youâ€™d look at me blankly â€“ however, if I played it for you, youâ€™d say, â€œOhmigod, who did this song! I used to LOVE it!â€ Gâ€™head, try it.
Another year later, Iris and MCA Records wanted some of that MTV video action the kids were all hot about. Riding the new wave bandwagon, Iris released â€œDo You Computeâ€, a very timely play on TRS-80s, Timex Sinclair 1000â€™s, and romance. The video is HYSTERICAL, with Donnie attempting to build a perfect woman via computer, (years before â€œWeird Science!â€), only to end up trapped in the computer himself. I wish I had it â€“ Iâ€™d post it so you could see if my theory that the woman in the video is indeed Joanna Lumley aka Patsy Stone from â€œAbsolutely Fabulousâ€. I swear it is.
Whatâ€™s Donnie up to these days? Still playing dates here and there, andâ€¦well:
I would KILL to have Donnie Iris as my mortgage broker.
Get Donnie Iris CDs here…and you should, they’re great.
â€Ah! Leah!â€ peaked at #29 on the Billboard Pop Singles chart in 1981.
â€œLove Is Like a Rockâ€ peaked at #37 in 1982.
â€œDo You Compute?â€ peaked at #64 on the same chart in 1983.