They needed a name — something that would grab people and one they would always remember. And so even though a tramp was a name that included the likes of hobos and bums, it was decided to give them some “class” by adding an extra “m” to their name. And so, back in the early ’70s, The Trammps were born.
So says Doc Wade, one of the members of today’s Trammps set to perform tomorrow at Verizon Hall as part of Jerry Blavat’s 10th Anniversary Extravaganza featuring a star-studded lineup of some of the best of rock and roll from the late ’50s through the ’70s.
The original Trammps began in Philly in 1972, and their first recording was a remake of the popular Judy Garland tune, “Zing Went the Strings of My Heart.” The popular group went on to make many more chart-topping hits. But it was their Atlantic soundtrack, “Disco Inferno,” in 1977 that became one of the hottest songs on the international disco scene and catapulted the group to instant stardom.
“That record earned us a gold album, as well as the single which earned us a Grammy for the soundtrack to ‘Saturday Night Fever,’” Wade remembers. “Actually, it was a club in New York called 2001 Odyssey that played our song a lot that’s responsible for our success. When the filming for ‘Saturday Night Fever’ started, they asked club managers what was the most popular song they played and it happened to be ours. And that’s how we wound up having our song on that soundtrack.”
Today, the Trammps consist of Doc Wade, Robert Upchurch, Stanley Wade and Dave Dixon. And, of course, wherever they go, audiences demand “Disco Inferno,” a song, Wade acknowledges, he sometimes gets sick of playing. “But you do what you’ve got to do. And one thing we’ve always got to do is keep our audiences happy.”
You know, he continues, “That song wound up almost being the beginning of the end for us because how could we top a song like that?”
Back before he helped organize and play with The Trammps, and hit such a high note with a song like “Disco Inferno,” Wade was a founding member of the Volcanos, which had regional hits in the 1960s with “Storm Warning” and “Ladies Man.”
But no matter what he did, Wade says he never dreamed of stardom or that he’d last so long in the music business.
“In the beginning, I think we just played because we liked playing and enjoyed the camaraderie with all the other guys,” Wade says. “No one really knew who the Trammps were, but we were having a good time and that’s all that mattered.”
But with more releases, their success grew, and today their songs continue to be ranked as some of the most recognizable of the era. Other Trammps hits on Atlantic included “Disco Party,” “Body Contact,” “I Feel Like I’ve Been Livin’ (On The Dark Side Of The Moon)” and many more.
Throughout the years, the Trammps have made many tours throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, Asia and South America. Soon, Wade says, they’ll be off to Naples, Italy.
“Traveling is one of the toughest things we do,” he says, “and so we seem to be doing less and less of it. But we never want our audiences to forget us. There are some younger people who come to our shows and they’ve never seen us before and might not know who we are. But their parents bring them — people who were around in the day and are still around today. And once the younger ones see our shows, we’ve got loyal followers from then on. So now we have a wider generation fan base.”
With no plans to ever retire, Wade says he thinks the Trammps will go on forever. “And we’ll go on playing our music wherever and whenever we’re needed.”
For times and ticket information, call (215) 893-1999.