Gary James' Interview With Nick Pociask of
Jimmy Beaumont and The Skyliners are perhaps best known for their song "Since I Don't Have You". In March of 1959, that song hit the national Pop charts in a big way. The group soon found themselves performing onstage with Jackie Wilson, Fats Domino and Bobby Darin. Dick Clark took Jimmy Beaumont and The Skyliners on the road with his Caravan Of Stars tour.
Skyliners member Nick Pociask talked with us about the history of the group.
Q - Nick, you are from Pittsburgh?
A - Yeah, a little area outside of Pittsburgh. Actually it was called McKeesport.
Q - When did you join the group?
A - It was probably around 1992.
Q - How did you first get interested in singing?
A - When I was five or six years old. I had an Aunt and Uncle that played a little bit of Country, a lot of Bluegrass and they did it professionally, especially in the '30s and '40s. Then they would come to visit. They lived in Baltimore, Maryland. They would bring their instruments. The two of 'em would harmonize and so forth. I would sit there on the living room floor and watch them do this. I was just in awe of it. I think that's really what sparked my interest. My Mom also played piano and liked to sing.
Q - I take it you were in other groups for quite a while before you joined forces with Jimmy Beaumont?
A - That's correct.
Q - So, how did you get to be a member of The Skyliners? Did you have to audition?
A - From the early 60s on, I knew of Joe Rock (Jimmy Beaumont and the Skyliners' manager) and Joe Rock knew of me. The Skyliners were in need of a second tenor at the time. I used to shoot pool with Jimmy at the American Legion here in Pittsburgh and I'd see him out on the golf course periodically. So, we had a lot of interests in common. When the need came to replace one of the guys in the group, he asked me if I'd be interested. He knew I was between groups at the time. Actually, I was just supposed to fill in for one of the guys. It came about where the bass baritone was leaving the group and Jimmy asked me if I'd come and take that spot full-time. I guess knowing Joe Rock for a while, he knew I had a pretty good range and I guess they felt I could handle it with no problem. They basically asked me if I would be interested in joining the group.
Q - What kind of venues are you performing in these days? Do you perform in casinos? Do you play Las Vegas, Tahoe, Reno?
A - You just named all of 'em. (laughs) We just signed up to do a cruise, which is probably the first one we're going to do. That's coming at the end of September (2006). We're going to San Juan, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Island, St, Thomas and the British Virgin Island. It's an eight day cruise. We're going to do two shows on the ship and a cocktail party. We've been in Atlantic City. We were there for a month when Merv Griffith had the Resorts International. It was a Rodger Minami show. It was really kind of nice 'cause what they did was, they had ten female and ten male singers and dancers. What they tried to do was depict a high school class and how they prepared for their prom and what they did to raise money. As an example, they would have a bake sale and they would be doing songs throughout this skit. They would have another skit with the hairdresser to the girls just prior to the prom. They would be doing songs and dancing...that type of thing. Towards the end of the show, they would have a scene where the high school president would come out and say "Hey boys and girls, we raised X number of dollars from the bake sale and guess what we did? We got The Skyliners!" And we'd come down and do five songs and we'd be done. (laughs) We did that for a month.
Q - That sounds pretty entertaining for an audience.
A - It was very. These girls and boys, and I'm not taking young kids, they were probably in their early twenties. The way they dressed in the pom poms. That what the show was called..."Rodger Minami's Pom Pom".
Q - Why is the group called Jimmy Beaumont and The Skyliners? Why not just The Skyliners?
A - That's the way it started out. It started out as The Skyliners and at that point in time, in the late 60s, early 70s, The Skyliners kind of broke up. By the time they got back together, there was another group that was starting to call themselves The Skyliners. This was long after "This I Swear" and "Since I Don't Have You"...the big hits etc. Joe and Jimmy, when they decided to put the group back together, basically had to go back and get the name. So that would not happen again, they said we're just going to make it Jimmy Beaumont and The Skyliners. That way, somebody can't steal the name.
Q - Who discovered this group? Where did the big break come from?
A - Well, that started out as several groups. If I recall correctly, it was Joe Rock that basically knew of Jimmy Beaumont. He knew of Janet Vogel. He knew of Joe Ver Scharen. They were all with other groups. They basically, with Wally Lester, approached all of these individuals and asked if they wanted to form a new group called The Skyliners.
Q - What label did the group record for?
A - Calico.
Q - This group was made up entirely of singers? Didn't anyone play an instrument?
A - At the time, no...that I know of. Jimmy eventually learned how to play guitar. I think, and I'm not positive about this, Janet may have played keyboards.
Q - Jimmy wrote the big hits?
A - Jimmy wrote the music for it. Joe Rock wrote the lyrics.
Q - The Skyliners were the first teen group to enter the national Top 40 charts?
A - It's billed like that and I'm sure it's correct, but, to dwell into it any further, I couldn't do it.
Q - Do you know the year the group was formed?
A - They started the group in early '58. The song "Since I Don't Have You" was finished in late '58, December and it really didn't come out nationally until early '59.
Q - Is it true that The Skyliners were the first artist signed to do the very first Dick Clark Cavalcade Of Stars Tours?
A - I know Jimmy was on that, but as far as being the first to sign up for it...I don't know anything about that.
Q - These days, you probably record your own product and sell it at your shows?
A - Yes. We also sell "The Skyliners Greatest Hits", a 40th Anniversary CD that was put together, a double CD. We have just come out with and it was three years in the making, a new CD called "One More Mountain". It's got ten cuts on it. The title song, our female vocalist Donna Grimm does the lead on, and in my opinion, it's a cross between an Enya and a Barbara Streisand song. It is one very strong song. I personally do a lead on a song called "If You Want To". It was originally done by The
Carousels...really high. Because it's an old Doo Wop thing, there's been a lot of interest from the Doo Wop sector about that particular song.
Q - You're also the business guy for the group, aren't you?
A - Yes, I've been doing the bookings for the group.
Q - That must keep you on your toes.
A - (laughs) Yeah. There's a story about how that came about too.