This interview is in memory of William Maybray, Sr. who passed away on December 5, 2004. He was a member of the 1970s band, the Jaggerz, best known for the 1970 smash hit, "The Rapper." Formed in 1965, the Jaggerz included William Maybray, Dominic Ierace, Jimmie Ross, Jim Pugliano, Thom Davies, and Benny Faiella. Dominic Ierace (a.k.a. Donnie Iris) later joined Wild Cherry.
The following is an interview with his son, William Maybray, Jr. He gives a history of the Jaggerz starting from when they were first formed. He also sets the record straight regarding the true meaning of "The Rapper" song lyrics. (This interview was conducted by e-mail from June 20 - July 6, 2005.)
For more information, visit the Jaggerz official website.
Amy Gold: When "The Rapper" first came out on the radio there was some speculation that the song was about rapists and Jack the Ripper, which I now know is not true at all. Please tell us some more about what the song's lyrics really mean.
William Maybray, Jr.: "The Rapper" was written by Donnie Iris and featured Bill Maybray, Sr on drums. The song's premise was that of a guy who was your stereotypical self proclaimed 'God's gift to women.' The song was simply what Donnie and the rest of the Jaggerz saw in the clubs night after night. Guys trying to hit on women and using their best lines. Hence the now famous line of "Come Up To My Place, For Some Coffee, Tea, or Me....". And as the song states they're everywhere - "On A Bus, In A Bar, In A Grocery Store."
Any speculation that the song had any relation to Jack The Ripper or suggested the act of finding a girl and raping her is completely and totally false.
AG: Were you around in 1970 when "The Rapper" first came out on the radio?
WM: I was not born until January 1971, and by that time the notariety from The Rapper's success was beginning to wear off. The closest to The Rapper chartwise was the follow up, "Call My Baby Candy", which didn't break the top 50 of either Billboard Charts or Record World Charts where as The Rapper charted as high as #2 and #1 respectfully.
My oldest sister was about 6 when The Rapper was on top. She was used as their poster child for media events and such. My mother would say that when she traveled with the other 'Jaggerz wives' and do something as simple as shop people would ask for her autograph simply because her name was Maybray on the credit card she used to pay.
What people on a national scale hadn't seen up to The Rapper's release was a hard working R&B/Deep Soul group that had 2 hour long Vegas style shows with syncronized dance steps and microphone tosses. And I mean they would pull each other thru their legs and on to their feet while tossing the mics over their shoulders. As they toured the East Coast (just prior to The Rapper) the bands they had covered would come see them play because of how good the group was. And one notable celeb was James Brown himself.
When The Rapper did hit the charts it peaked the week of March 21, 1970. And it stayed on the charts for more than 13 weeks. During this time they toured the West Coast appearing on shows such as Dick Clark's American Bandstand and sharing concert billings with The Beach Boys and Diana Ross, among others.
As the Jaggerz fame grew from the success of The Rapper they made every effort for fans to get a piece of them. They had a national fan club, stock on the New York Stock Exchange called 'SIXUVUS.' Their national headquarters was in New Brighton, PA (home of Bill Maybray Sr). In addition, each member was given a Lincoln Continental by a local dealership in Beaver Falls, PA.
AG: How and when did the Jaggerz first get started?
WM: The Jaggerz began as a group in 1965 as The Jaggers (with an 's') out of Beaver County, PA. All the members lived within 30 miles of each other. But the original 6 members almost weren't. Bennie Faiella was already in a group with Jimmie Ross and Jim Pugliano. He decided he was going to start a new group and started looking for new members in addition to J Ross and J Pugliano.
Donnie Iris was in his own band called Donnie & The Donnells but soon joined Benny, Jimmie and Jim. But Donnie was in the service and soon was leaving for a 6 month tour. Benny still wanted to put the group together and planned on replacing Donnie. That's when he was told about this Billy Maybray kid who was in his own band. So Benny and the guys went to see him and offered him the job after one set. My dad of course accepted.
During the Summer of 1965 the Jaggers (consisting of Jimmie Ross, Jim Pugliano, Benny Faiella and Bill Maybray) auditioned for a Summer gig at Geneva On The Lake. They were competing against several other bands. That was the same time Donnie was expected home from his tour of duty and Benny asked him to come see The Jaggers audition. He did.
Well the group ended up winning their first of many Summer long gigs at Geneva On The Lake which included The Cove and The Sunken Bar. After the audition Benny asked what he thought and Donnie was impressed and felt he wouldn't have been able to compete. But after talking about it, Benny decided to offer Donnie a spot instead of replacing him. After adding Thom Davies the original group was born.
In the early years The Jaggerz (now with a 'z') played mostly Beaver County, PA clubs, Geneva On The Lake, OH, and Pittsburgh venues. Club Naturale, Mancini's, The Fountain, Staircase Lounge, The Yellow Submarine, The Villas, etc. are a few of the places they played regularly. Then in 1967 they were discovered and signed to Gamble & Huff out of Philadelphia.
AG: How did they come up with the band name?
WM: The name The Jaggerz came from the slang "jagger bush" describing thorns usually found on rose bushes and other bushes. They had an 's' on the end until they saw an ad in a magazine for drum heads that had the word 'Jaggers' on a base drum. So they changed it to the now known Jaggerz (with a 'z').
AG: Did the Jaggerz ever go by any other name (i.e., besides the Jaggers)?
WM: The Jaggerz as a group were never known by another name. However, before the group formed Donnie was in a group called Donnie and The Donnells and Bill Maybray was in a couple groups. One of which was called Billy Richardson Trio in which he used his first and middle name, Bill and Richard.
After the group, meaning after the entire group split in 1975, the guys went in a bunch of different ways. Jimmie Ross joined The Skyliners while Donnie Iris joined Wild Cherry. Bill Maybray formed a group with the last of The Jaggerz' members, Robert Peckman called Jaggerz 76'. This group was not authorized to use the Jaggerz name and ultimately disbanded after a short time. In 1977, Bennie Faiella and Bill Maybray reformed another 'Jaggerz' group minus Jimmie Ross and Donnie. This too only lasted a short time.
Coincidentally, in England, there is another group that used the name The Jaggers. This group was known for two songs, Feels So Good/Cry, that is very much British Invasion sounding. A book called 'Acid Fuzz & Flowers', focused on garage bands from 1964 - 1975, misidentified The Jaggers(z) from Pittsburgh as the English group called The Jaggers. Author Vernon Joynson said "The Jaggerz, prior to a name change recorded two songs called Feels So Good & Cry in 1964." This was incorrect.
AG: Tell us some more about what became of the Jaggerz after 1975.
WM: The Jaggerz regrouped in 1989 after 3 of the original members were attending Bill Maybray's daughter's wedding. The DJ, being a huge fan, played Jaggerz songs throughout the night. During one such song the guys were all on the dancefloor. They jokingly started to sing along. And as they kept singing it was apparent they hadn't lost a step. So they sat down that day and started a reunion tour. The tour was a huge success that had tickets sales of 10,000 plus for the first show alone.
After several shows and appearances, in 1997 they began work on their first album in almost 25 years. Also, in 1997 the Jaggerz performed for the 50th anniversary of a local curb service called Jerry's Curb Service. It was here Donnie Iris joined the Jaggerz and the original 5 members performed for the first time in 25 years. Of course they sang The Rapper.
AG: Bill, it has been a pleasure interviewing you, and thank you so much for correcting certain errors regarding the Jaggerz history and for bringing us all up to date.
WM: You're welcome, and thank you.