Skyliners

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Jimmy Beaumont is the lead singer of Jimmy Beaumont and the Skyliners.

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CHS 1958 - Jimmy Beaumont Skyliner Fame


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CHS 1958 – Joe Verscharen – Original member of the Skyliners (he is deceased)

They have been a force in the record industry since 1958. Their song, "Since I Dont Have You," is one of the ultimate songs of the 50s and 60s.

They still preform today. In fact, they celebrated their 50th year in music at the Roots of Rock and Roll Concert in February, 2009 at the Benedum Center Downtown Pittsburgh.

"MORE DOO WOP CLASSICS,"THIS I SWEAR" AND "SINCE I DON'T HAVE YOU" RECORDED LIVE MAY 11 AND 12,1999 AT THE BENEDUM CENTER FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS IN DOWNTOWN PITTSBERG,PA."

Stevie Wonder takes Skyliners by surprise at Consol

October 20, 2015 11:23 AM

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The Skyliners, from left, Nick Pociask, Frank Czuri, Donna Groom and Jimmy Beaumont, perform with Stevie Wonder at Consol Energy Center Monday night.

By Scott Mervis / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

It seemed as though the Skyliners were missing their cue Monday night during the encore of Stevie Wonder’s marathon concert at Consol Energy Center.

Wonder started into the Skyliners’ “Since I Don’t Have You,” which he’s documented as one of his favorite songs from the late ’50s, and called the Pittsburgh group to the stage. An awkward minute or two went past, during which he toyed with the song, wondering where they were.

The amazing thing is, the members of the Skyliners were sitting in the crowd with no idea they were going to be summoned to the stage.

They were expecting to simply meet Wonder at the post-show gathering. The spark of the encounter meeting was Wonder performing “Since I Don’t Have You” the last time he was here, in 2007 at the Civic Arena.

The Skyliners were aware that he had also talked to Rolling Stone in an old interview about how much he loved the 1959 hit.

About a month ago, Skyliners’ bass singer Nick Pociask managed to get an email contact for Wonder’s entourage and contacted them about meeting at Consol.

He said of Skyliners singer Donna Groom, “It was on her bucket list to meet and say hello and tell Stevie that she loved him.”

Mr. Pociask never heard anything back until Sunday night, when the Skyliners got home from a gig in Denver. In an email, Wonder’s manager invited them to the meet-and-greet, saying, “As you know, he loved ‘Since I Don’t Have You,’ and looks forward to meeting you.”

So the group bought five tickets in “peanut heaven,” which were upgraded closer to the stage when they got there.

After Wonder finished performing the entire “Songs in the Key of Life” album, around 11:15 p.m., he started in on his Skyliners tribute, talking about hearing Jimmy Beaumont’s great vocal when was a “nappy-headed boy.” (He would have been about 9.)

“We never expected to have him recognize that the Skyliners were there, let alone be brought up to sing,” Mr. Pociask said.

As for the delay, he said, “There were so many people there and we were right in the middle of the aisle. We almost didn’t get there fast enough. I heard him saying, ‘Are they coming?’ ”

So what was it like being called to the stage by Stevie Wonder?

“I thought he’d mention it, but my heart jumped when he invited us up!” said Frank Czuri, who joined the Skyliners several years ago after having performed in Diamond Reo, The Silencers and Pure Gold, among others.

Mr. Beaumont, who turns 75 on Wednesday, showed grace under fire, taking lead on the song he’s sung thousands of times over the past 56-plus years.

“Oh, Stevie, he’s the greatest. There’s no one like him,” Mr. Beaumont said. “I wasn’t nervous because of his presence and I know he likes our group. When he said, ‘What key?’ it was just us and Stevie.”

They ended the night with a post-show gathering for photos and handshakes in the visitors locker room.

“I said, ‘Stevie, you make people feel so good. That’s all I could think of,” Mr. Beaumont said. “He said, ‘Jimmy, did you know Jesse Belvin?’”

He was a late ’50s singer who co-wrote “Earth Angel” and died in car accident in 1960.

“Stevie’s face lit up like a Christmas tree when Jimmy said yes, he had been to Jesse’s house for dinner,” Mr. Czuri said.

Ms. Groom got to do just what she wanted to do. “I threw my arms around him and said ‘Stevie, I love you.’ He said, ‘I love you, too.’” Four years ago, she recorded a CD of Stevie Wonder songs called “Just Wonderin’.” “I put one right in his hand. My life has come full circle.”

Scott Mervis: smervis@post-gazette.com; 412-263-2576. Twitter: @scottmervis_pg.

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