Straight outta Beaver Falls, PA, came Dominic Ierace, playing in local combos until he and his band The Jaggerz hit number two in the Á¢€Ëœ70s with Á¢€Å“The RapperÁ¢€. After The Jaggerz dissolved, Ierace played with Wild Cherry, who had a hit with the ubiquitous Á¢€Å“Play That Funky MusicÁ¢€. Then by 1980, Wild Cherry hit the pits.
ThatÁ¢€â„¢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 Á¢€Ëœ80s, his biggest Pop hit being Á¢€Å“My GirlÁ¢€, a sickly sweet Á¢€Ëœ60s-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 Á¢€Å“Ah! Leah!Á¢€
Á¢€Å“Ah! Leah!Á¢€ 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. Á¢€Å“Ah! Leah!Á¢€ is classic power pop, all crunchy chords, harmonic backing vocals and an echoing Á¢€Å“Ah! Ah!Á¢€ bridge that still gives me goose bumps. Á¢€Å“Ah! Leah!Á¢€ struggled up to #29 on the charts which is a shame Á¢€” so many people still remember and love this song Á¢€” in fact, I got an e-mail about it today that inspired me to finally finish this post IÁ¢€â„¢ve been puttering around with for months (thanks, Mark!).
Iris returned to the Top 40 a year later with Á¢€Å“Love Is Like a RockÁ¢€, 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, youÁ¢€â„¢d look at me blankly Á¢€” however, if I played it for you, youÁ¢€â„¢d say, Á¢€Å“Ohmigod, who did this song! I used to LOVE it!Á¢€ GÁ¢€â„¢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 Á¢€Å“Do You ComputeÁ¢€, a very timely play on TRS-80s, Timex Sinclair 1000Á¢€â„¢s, and romance. The video is HYSTERICAL, with Donnie attempting to build a perfect woman via computer, (years before Á¢€Å“Weird Science!Á¢€), only to end up trapped in the computer himself. I wish I had it Á¢€” IÁ¢€â„¢d post it so you could see if my theory that the woman in the video is indeed Joanna Lumley aka Patsy Stone from Á¢€Å“Absolutely FabulousÁ¢€. I swear it is.
WhatÁ¢€â„¢s Donnie up to these days? Still playing dates here and there, andÁ¢€¦well:
I would KILL to have Donnie Iris as my mortgage broker.
Get Donnie Iris CDs here…and you should, they’re great.
Á¢€Ah! Leah!Á¢€ peaked at #29 on the Billboard Pop Singles chart in 1981.
Á¢€Å“Love Is Like a RockÁ¢€ peaked at #37 in 1982.
Á¢€Å“Do You Compute?Á¢€ peaked at #64 on the same chart in 1983.