Donnie Iris Biography

Dominic Ierace, Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, USA. Iris is an accomplished singer and possibly one of the leading perfectionists in the American hard rock idiom - his first hit record, 1981’s ‘Ah! Leah!’ was completed only after 80 vocal overdubs. Iris, a child prodigy, was formerly the lead singer, songwriter and guitarist for Pittsburgh rock group the Jaggerz, and had also toured with the R&B band Wild Cherry. He formed the Cruisers at the turn of the 80s with co-songwriter and producer Mark Avsec (keyboards; ex-Wild Cherry), Marty Lee (guitar), Albritton McClain (bass) and Kevin Valentine (drums). ‘Ah! Leah!’ was included on the band’s debut, Back On The Streets, which was originally released on the small Midwest Records label in 1980. In 1982 Iris charted in the US Top 40 once more with ‘Love Is Like A Rock’ and for a final time later that year with ‘My Girl’. Despite a reduced commercial profile, Iris’ albums continued to inspire his devoted American audience with their consummate musicianship and sharply observed lyrics. Following the end of his major label contract with MCA Records, Iris and the Cruisers released one more album for the HME label before splitting up in the mid-80s. Iris got involved in real estate while Avsec went to law school.

Iris and Avsec reunited in the early 90s with a new look Cruisers, featuring Lee, Scott Alan (bass) and Steve McConnell (drums). Footsoldier In The Moonlight was tamer sounding than their earlier material, and featured Avsec originals alongside cover versions of material by Marvin Gaye (‘Mercy Mercy Me’), Cab Calloway (‘Minnie The Moocher’) and Van Morrison (‘Gloria’). McClain and Valentine returned to the fold on 1997’s Poletown, which was comprised solely of Avsec originals. The following year’s live album featured Iris, Avsec, Lee, Paul Goll (bass) and Tommy Rich (drums).

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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