Thursday, May 16, 2013


Well where do I start with Jack Belle ? Lets take a look at Jack's musical beginnings in Central New York and that goes to the late 1950's. Syracuse bands were expanding not only playing popular instrumental hits of the days from Link Wray, The Ventures, Duane Eddy and others. One of CNY's most popular bands was "The Continentals" from the cities south side that included  Jack Belle (guitar) , Mike Money (guitar, lead vocals) & Dave McQuillan (drums). After winning many "Battle of the Bands", making appearances live on WNDR Radio and playing at Hewiitts, Fayetteville Inn, P.L.A.V (West Genesee), Drumblins, Sports O Rama,, Grant Junior High Talent Shows, CBA, Three  Rivers Inn (June 10, 1962- with national recording stars Frankie Lyman & Timmy Yuro) and many college fraternity parties.....With the departure of Mike Money the band teamed up with Hall of Fame vocalist Don Barber to former Don Barber (had hit with I'll Be Blue") & The Continentals and a full summer playing at Lake George resorts. Following that great summer a new Continentals formed (with Ron Belle, Jack Belle & Dave McQuillan) managed by a third brother Dick Belle.

After some time in college in northern New York State, Jack Belle returned to CNY. It was at this period I met Jack while employed at J.D. Shaver repairing radio & TVs, and also more importantly tending bar at "The Big O". Well...then on to Jack's involvement in concert promotion.

The  "BIG O" is where Jack inched into the concert business with owner Carl Williams teaming to bring to the Syracuse War Memorial- Savoy Brown (Kim Simmonds) & Al Kooper (former Blood Sweat & Tears lead vocalist) September 18, 1971. After that successful venture they tried Jose Feliciano (November 10, 1971) but were disappointed with very poor attendance.

Jack and Carl went their different ways, with Jack staying in the concert business (Eastern Artists)  bring to Syracuse- Canned Heat (June 12, 1972). Well it was all upwards for Jack Belle & Eastern Artists from that point. Next came rock superstar Rod Stewart & The Faces with Badfinger (July 6, 1972), Cactus w/ Duane Hitchings (July 28, 1972) and  Frank Zappa (Oct 28, 1972).

1973 brought more highs first Feb 2, 1973 a sold out ELF Show (Dio, Feinstein Driscoll, Soule) with Dove (Rick Cua, Dave Hanlon, Howie Bartolo, Larry Serifini) & Bib N Tucker (Bob Perry, Dick Murphy, T.J.  Condon, Joe Donelan) at the Shoreline Club in Liverpool.. Then another ELF /Dio show with headliner Fleetwood Mac at the Landmark Theater (March 18, 1973). The remainder of 1973 - King Crimson (Apr 30), Spooky Tooth,  Jo Jo Gunne & ELF (May 15), Leslie West Wild West Show (July 30) and ended the year with Slade (Sept 23).

1974- Johnny Winter & James Montgomery Blues Band (Jan 10) Bad Company & Golden Earring (July 18), Foghat & Montrose (Nov 7) Joe Cocker (Dec 19)

1975- Jethro Tull (Feb 24), Robin Trower (Apr 17), followed by  Edgar Winter w/ Rick Derringer (Feb 6), James Cotton (Feb 5), Gary Wright (Sept 6), Average White Band (Sept 8), Z Z Topp & Slade (Sept 25), Black Sabbath, Santana, J. Geils, Black Oak Arkansas & Foghat..

1976- Santana, Robin Trower, Rick Derringer (June 1976), Freddie King (Aug 15)

1977- Bruce Springsteen (Feb 10 in Utica)

1978- Santana (Feb 19), Doobie Bros & Eddie Money (Aug 26), Bruce Springsteen (Darkness Tour- Syracuse War Memorial  Sept 12), Patty Smyth

1979- J Geils Band (Jan 10 in Albany), George Thorogood (Jan 19), Good Rats (Feb 23), The Police (Mar 23), Ramones w/ Flashcubes (July 23), Peter Frampton (Sept 27 in Albany), Edgar Winter (Sept 17), Peter Frampton (Sept 27)

1980- Humble Pie (June 28), Santana (in Albany- Aug 5), Journey (Aug 12), John Cougar Melloncamp (Oct 4), The Cars (Utica Nov 18).

1981- REO Speedwagon (Mar 22), Todd Rundgren & Utopia (Apr 12), Santana (Apr 25), Judas Priest & Iron Maiden (July 19), Styx (July 3, Carrier Dome Syracuse ), Foghat,  (Aug 23), Pat Benatar (Sept 8) Journey & Loverboy  (Oct 9), Rossington Collins (Nov 14), Molly Hachett (Nov 28), 38 Special, Van Halen,

1982- J. Geils (Feb 26), Elvis Costello (June 18), Van Halen (Oct 9, Carrier Dome), 38 Special, Triumph, Billy Square & Nazareth (Oct 28), Barry Manilow (Nov 2- Binghamton), The Who (Dec 10 at Carrier Dome)

1983- Tom Petty, Eddie Money (3 times),  Dio (Oct 22, Rochester, NY)

1984- Dio & Dokken (Glens Falls- Nov 4, 1984), Jethro Tull (Binghamton, NY- Oct 14, 1984)

1985- Bruce Springsteen (Jan 26-27, 1985- Carrier Dome- Syracuse, "Born in the USA Tour". Dio (Troy, NY- Sept 4), Supertramp (Oct 6- Lake Placid), Santana, Saga, Barry Manilow (Oct 16, Syracuse War Memorial)

1986-  Point Blank

1987- U2 & Los Lobos (Syr- Carrier Dome- Oct 10, 1987)

Others still working on dates- Boston, Cheap Trick & Bob Segar..if you know the date pass it on..

The final concert that Jack was involved with was U2 & Los Lobos held before some 39,000 fans at the Carrier Dome- October 10, 1987. This event was staged some five month after his death

Jack Belle's / Eastern Artists Company shared an office and secretary with DMR Enterprises for over 10 years, first in the Wilson Building (downtown) and later in Fayetteville, NY.

David Rezak (DMR) maybe the one of all of us that knew Jack the best, here's some of his quotes "I can say without a doubt he was a "Master of Promotions".  There was a reason he had such great track record of successful shows.  Jack brought in acts he believed in, cut deals he knew would be successful and them marketed the heck out of those show brilliantly. He used great professional voices on all his radio & television spots such as Howie Castle, Jim Sims and Rick Charles. They all had a great knowledge of the music industry and he trusted all of them. Jack was meticulous and was involved in every facet of his shows promotion." PS- Look at his list of concerts above- is it amazing or what....

In his concerts, Jack Belle included many local CNY bands as Sandy Bigtree Band, Alecstar, Bib N' Tucker, Dove, Elf w/ Ronnie James Dio & Rock Feinstein, Darlin, also The Velcros and Joe Whiting with Jack's help  became opening acts touring with Van Halen. Velcros were featured on two-segments with Van Halen, while Whiting graced the stage on 32 dates ranging from the Spectrum in Philadelphia (October 19, 1982) to Jacksonville, Florida (Dec 11, 1982). Belle also did studio sessions with producer Ron Wray at George Day's Dayson Studio playing bass on local releases by Nanci Hammond & Max in the mid 1970's. Always giving back, Jack also taught a Music Industry Class at Syracuse University.

Jack Belle was inducted into the Syracuse Area Music Hall of Fame (SAMMY's) by his good friend David Rezak at the Landmark Theater  April 22, 1994. Known as Central New York's greatest concert promoter our good friend Jack died on May 1, 1987 after a long illness, he  is buried in Onondaga Valley Cemetery. He was survived by his wife, a sister, and four brothers. Jack my great friend is deeply missed by me every day.. Mostly miss his laugh box calling me at 3 AM and laughing at me.....PS- In the late 70's and early 80's Jack Belle also published "The Wine Times" another one of his great passions.

Some on my great memories of Jack
Drove with Jack through sleet, rain, sometime blinding snow to get to Glens Falls, NY (Nov 1984) to see Dio perform his "Last in Line Tour". We arriving just five minutes before he took the stage. After the show said hi to Ronnie (who was very surprised to see us on such bad night) and drove back though the same bad weather conditions. This event was one of Jack's Eastern Artist shows.

Made the trip to Toronto (May 9, 1976) with Jack, David Rezak, Howie Castle, Sid Marshall, Rick Barry, Bob Perry and I to see Paul McCartney & Wings (w/ Joe English on drums) "Wings Over America Tour". Then after the concert Jack and I drove all night back to Syracuse.

Did Jack & I speak everyday for years....almost.

And then there was Bill Graham and the Rolling Stones...well that's another story.

Jack Belle was a great personal friend, and true legend in our entertainment industry. Through his efforts made Syracuse a better place for all of us to live. - Ron Wray

Those who worked with Jack though the years include-  Special thanks to David & Linda Rezak, Donnalee Peden. Mike Peden, Chuck Chao, Howie Castle, Rick Charles, Jim Sims, Ronnie James Dio, Terry Mulhauser, Pete Shedd, Ron Howe, Sid Marshall, Rick Barry, Carl Williams, Ron Wray, Bob Perry, Gary LaVancher, Dick Murphy, T.J. Condon, Sandy Bigtree, Bill Baldwin, WOLF Radio, WAQX 95X, WSYR FM 94 Rock, and all the folks though the years at DMR Enterprises and Eastern Artists.... more names to be added....

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for posting this loving memoir, Sir!

    I'm close friends with Joe Belle (Ron's son and Jack's nephew), and - because of my long experience in shows production - Joe had been telling me about his pioneering uncle for years.

    Now I have been writing about wine (on an Italian magazine) for years, which makes me even sorrier Jack's no longer around. I would have loved to uncork something nice with him, talk about our mutual passions, and then maybe even contribute an article to his (ground-breaking I assume) publication. Should I ever make it up to Syracuse, the invitation is still open for you.

    All the best,

    Marco Melzi