Are there any musicians or sports legends in New York City that ‘Scrappin’ Jack Scarangella doesn’t know? One would be hard-pressed to find on. It really does appear that Jack knows virtually everyone. I’m exaggerating some, but he has a far-reaching reputation that goes way back to his early childhood. Simply put, Jack has a lot of friends. One of them is legendary bassist Harvey Brooks. He gave Jack the moniker ‘Scrappin Jack’ way back in the 1970s when they played together in The Fabulous Rhinestones.
"It is certainly clear that you were influenced by Buddy Rich” ~ Johnny Carson
Between hanging out with Buddy Rich, and practically everyone at Yankee Stadium including George Steinbrenner, Mickey Mantle, and Whitey Ford…Jack had, and still has quite the respected reputation in many circles of endeavor. How does one achieve such notoriety? Well, besides being an amazingly talented drummer…Jack is a super-nice guy. He has a congenial and outgoing personality which is, by most accounts, second to none. Jack has many friends because everyone enjoys being around him. Always smiling and happy, he exudes a friendly vibe that can fill a small room or a large concert hall.
Growing up in New York, Jack had a passion for both sports and drums. While eagerly saving up money for a snare drum and cymbal as a kid, he was also striking out hitters with his blazing fastball in Little League. One night after the game, a police officer let an eager Jack sneak into Memorial Stadium to hear Buddy Rich in concert.
“Buddy was the father figure I had so longed for… That moment changed my life forever”.
Similar dream-like encounters kept occurring. Whether by divine provenance, or just plain luck, Jack was meeting living legends: sitting with Leonard Bernstein while he conducted the recording of ‘The Mass’. Paul Terry, creator of Mighty Mouse while taking art lessons on Sundays. Jack becoming close friends with New York Jets quarterback, Joe Namath. After Jets games, the players would just go over to Jack's house and play music for hours.
Jack has an incredible resume. Hanging out at The Rascals’ Felix Cavaliere’s house while still in high school and, soon afterward, gigging and recording with Felix. They have worked on numerous projects together over the years, and are still friends to this day. In 1975, Jack was playing with The Fabulous Rhinestones releasing their now legendary album on 20th Century Records. Jack locked in tightly with bass player Harvey Brooks… A classic example of how a drummer and bassist should groove powerfully, yet effortlessly.
As time progressed Jack was working with a number of A-List musicians, recording with Richie Havens, Treasure, Aztec Two-Step, and Lance Larson. Jack also has two self-titled CDs - ‘The Hero In Us All’, and ‘Sacred Angel’.
On Jack’s drumming over the years the accolades kept rolling in… Close friend Buddy Rich called him ‘the best’. James Cotton referred to him as “Funky Foot’ while Muddy Waters called him a ‘great, great drummer’. Bob Cato said: Jack was “the drummer of drummers’. Chuck Berry gave him a drum solo during Johnny B. Goode
He was also hanging with Buddy Guy, Junior Wells, and Lonnie Brooks. Miles Davis sat Jack down at the piano to play him a song. He played ‘Pinball Wizard’ with Pete Townsend’, and ‘Time Has Come Today’ with the Chambers Brothers, and gigs with Matt "Guitar" Murphy. Touring with Blood, Sweat and Tears and David Clayton Thomas, The Band, and Paul Butterfield. Recording sessions with Felix Cavaliere, James Greene, Laura Nyro, Cissy Houston, Luther Vandross, Joe Farrell, and Leslie West.
Buddy Rich told Johnny Carson on the Tonight Show, "Jack will do what I do." All the while always coming back to a place he called home…Playing his drums in ‘The House That Ruth Built’, with his friends throughout his life, ‘The New York Yankees’. Jack was let into the inner sanctum of the stadium through his friendships with Jim "Catfish" Hunter, Thurman Munson, Bobby Bonds, Roy White, Billy Martin, Willie Randolph, Joe DiMaggio, and would play drums before games with his friend Ron Guidry. "The Drum Room" became a place where many of the great Yankees and visiting players would gather, listening to Ron and Jack drum and play music. Phil Rizzuto mentioned this story more than once during his broadcasts.
In 2005, Jack asked many of his friends in both sports and music to participate in his CD project. 'The Hero In Us All' would become drummer Jack Scarangella's personal tribute to all who inspired him.