The Hit Men Honored as Rock Legendary Side Men Supergroup [Interview] [Video]

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Photo Coutesy of Randex Communications

The unique supergroup, The Hit Men, have embarked on a tour in celebration of receiving a special reward of recognition by the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville. Set to perform to honor their Road Warrior Award, are the legendary sidemen members known as unbelievable talent who recorded or performed backing famed front men and women.

The Hit Men Receive Award

This talented group, made up of otherwise unnoticed musicians, have played on the most recognized recordings by classic rock, pop, and disco greats. For their contribution to the music world, The Hit Men are being recognized by the Nashville museum.

The Hit Men
Photo Courtesy of Randex Communications

The museum grants the honor for talented but often overlooked, musicians who played on the greatest recordings of all time. As stated by the Nashville Museum, the accolade is bestowed “for their years of dedication to the music, and the countless miles … that they have traveled in delivering so many hits throughout the world.” As a premier Nashville attraction, Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum is the only exhibition hall in the world to give this recognition.

Joe Chambers, founder and CEO of the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum, explains how the Road Warrior recognition is a different type of honor:

“Night after night, month after month, year after year, they are out there keeping the music alive and keeping it real, seldom getting the recognition that they all richly deserve. The Musicians Hall of Fame takes great pride in recognizing The Hit Men for their years of dedication to the music, and the countless miles ― which nobody sees ― that they have traveled in delivering so many hits throughout the world.”

The Hit Men Musicians are Class of Their Own

Prior to forming a group of their own, The Hit Men members earned their right to fame recording or performing for decades going back to the 1970s. The bandmates are known for their individual work with Paul McCartney, Elton John, Rod Stewart, Mick Jagger, Carly Simon, Cat Stevens, David Bowie, Lou Reed, and members of The Who, Cheap Trick, Foreigner, Toto, Journey, The Ramones, among dozens more.

With first-hand experiences as eyewitnesses to rock history, The Hit Men is comprised amazing talent: Lee Shapiro (keyboards/vocals, and Frankie Valli’s former musical director), Jimmy Ryan (lead guitar/vocals, and Carly Simon’s former musical director), Russ Velazquez (keyboards/percussion/vocals), Jeff Ganz (bass/vocals), and Steve Murphy (drums/vocals).

Shapiro, founding member of the group extols:

“It’s an incredible honor to be recognized for the work we’ve each put into our careers supporting the greatest names in the music industry.”

Talking with The Hit Men

Excitement is in the air as The Hit Men embark on a tour to celebrate being road warriors. Speaking with The Hit Men member Lee Shapiro one can feel the groups’ true love for their music.

Carol Ruth Weber: How did you all come together to form The Hit Men?

Lee Shapiro: Having been one of Frankie Valli’s 4 Seasons in the 70s, the success of “Jersey Boys” prompted my idea to tour with a band that would recapture our youth and that of audiences across the country. I met with my friend of 46 years, Frankie Valli, who encouraged me to do it. So, I called my musician/ performer associates who all had impressive resumes and put together a group of guys who had all been a part of major pop/ rock acts and The Hit Men were formed. The name “Hit Men” refers to the many hit records we have been a part of collectively.

CRW: Have any of you ever played together professionally before forming your own group?

LS: We played together over the last three decades in recording studios in NYC on various projects for other major recording artists. The Hit Men is our first endeavor together as a group.

CRW: What are all your backgrounds – have any of you had formal music training?

LS: All of us have been professional musicians and singers all our lives. I was attending NYC’s Manhattan School of Music as a composition major when the opportunity came to be one of The 4 Seasons – I was 19 years old. The other guys all have some formal music training but the magic comes from the interplay we share on stage and in the studio.

CRW: So, what juicy stories from your travels with headliners do you have to share?

LS: In our show, we tell a lot of behind the scenes stories about the artists and songs we perform that only we would know because we’re not a tribute band, nor are we a scripted musical play. We were actually there!  I don’t want to give away too much about the stories we tell on stage but I can tell you I was in the room with legendary hit songwriter/ producer, the late Bob Crewe, when he changed the name of the song, “Sweet Eyes of Georgia” to the now classic hit, “My Eyes Adored You.”

CRW: What are the ambitions for The Hit Men?

LS: We intend to tour as The Hit Men for as long as audiences want to experience the authentic nostalgia that we present. We are having a blast reliving the past. I always tell people that when they come to a Hit Men show, they will leave the theater happier and younger than when they arrived!

The Hit Men Embark on Tour

Classic rock’s, The Hit Men, the unique Supergroup of legendary sidemen, is celebrating the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum award by singing out to fans on tour. Among the tour dates will be an especially intimate New York homecoming show in New York City at renowned The Cutting Room.

In a perfect way to show gratitude for their Road Warrior Award, The Hit Men are hitting the road for the special 2019 tour. Their goal is to deliver to fans the music hits that they first played backing the original superstar giants. As the show travels on The Hit Men aim to add even more classics to their repertoire.

Tour dates are scheduled at major venues throughout the United States. Along with music, fans will get to hear stories from the men who have seen and heard it all. The Hit Men New York homecoming show at The Cutting Room on 44 E. 32nd St. is Saturday, April 27 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $35-$75. Other area shows include: The Mayo Center in Morristown, NJ, on April 20; The Paramount in Huntington, NY on June 13; and The Broadway Theater in Pitman, NJ on June 15.

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