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Passings: Joe Lala, Co-Founder of Blues Image, Drummer, Actor (1947 - 2014)

Joe Lala, who turned a successful stint in the band Blue Image into years of studio work along with an acting career, died on Tuesday due to lung cancer at the age of 66.

Lala played with a number of bands around his native Tampa, FL before forming Blues Image in 1966 with Mike Pinera, Manny Bertematti, Emilio Garcia and Malcolm Jones.  After a couple of years in the Tampa music scene, the band moved to Miami where they became the house band for one of the most popular clubs in the city, Thee Image.

A year later, they moved again, this time to Los Angeles, where they signed with Atco Records and released their first album. In early-1970, their second album, Open, was released which included their big hit Ride Captain Ride (1970 / #4).

Only one other song by the group charted, Gas Lamps and Clay (1970 / #81) and, in late 1970, they released their third and final album, Red, White and Blues Image.

Lala quickly transitioned from Blues Image into drumming for Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young and Steven Stills as an original member of Manassas. He went on to play with such acts as the Bee Gees, Whitney Houston, the Allman Brothers, the Eagles and many more, playing on 32 gold and 28 platinum records.

Eventually, carpal tunnel syndrome forced Joe to stop playing drums but he easily transitioned into acting where he appeared on such shows as Seinfeld, Melrose Place, Miami Vice and Who's the Boss? along with the films Havana, On Deadly Ground, Out For Justice and Born in East L.A.  As a voice actor, he could be heard on Batman: The Animated Series, Pinky and the Brain, Johnny Bravo and Superman: The Animated Series.

An official rememberence of Lala was posted on his official website by Tedd Webb:
Legendary percussionist Joe Lala who gained fame with Blues image, and Stephen Stills Manassas, plus hundred of other groups, passed away Wed March 18th at 7 am in Tampa’s St Joseph’s Hospital. Lala was 67 years old.

He started out playing in his Jr high and high school bands, not a great drummer just average. But over time he went to play with several Bay area groups before co founding Blues Image with Mike Pinera.

Blues Image went on to stardom with a single called “Ride Captain Ride”, Pinera went with Iron Butterfly and Joe Lala started out what turned out to be a fantastic recording career, playing on records for The Bee Gees, Henry Paul, and many other huge acts.

Joe’s living room was well adorned with Gold and Platinum LP awards from RIAA recordings which he was featured.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome gave way to a new career, acting. Joe’s credits are large in this field as well, high-lighted by his starring opposite Robert Redford in the motion picture Havana.

Joe gave up the Hollywood lifestyle to return to Tampa 10 years ago to take care of his aging mother Jennie. He took of his Mom until her death earlier in 2013, and was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer shortly before his Mom passed.

Joe fought hard, chemo and radiation, but the damage done by the cancer proved to be too much.

We lose a great musician, fantastic actor, and the world’s best friend. Here’s to a great career, from a man who came from meager means, and rose to Hollywood stardom.

Rest in Peace Joe Lala
A list of just a few of Lala's credits:
  • Pacific Gas and Electric - Pacific Gas and Electric (1970)
  • Manassas - Stephen Stills (1972)
  • All American Boy - Rick Derringer (1973)
  • Smoker You Drink, the Player You Got - Joe Walsh (1973)
  • Chicago VI - Chicago (1973)
  • Souvenirs - Dan Fogelberg (1974)
  • Beautiful Noise - Neil Diamond (1976)
  • Night on the Town - Rod Stewart (1976)
  • Children of the World - Bee Gees (1976)
  • Saturday Night Fever - Soundtrack (1977)
  • Shadow Dancing - Andy Gibb (1978)
  • Enlightened Rogues - Allman Brothers (1979)
  • John Cougar - John Mellencamp (1979)
  • McGuinn, Clark and Hillman - McGuinn, Clark and Hillman (1979)
  • Spirits Having Flown - Bee Gees (1979)
  • Guilty - Barbra Streisand (1980)
  • Replay - Crosby, Stills and Nash (1980)
  • Innocent Age - Dan Fogelberg (1981)
  • Stop and Smell the Roses - Ringo Starr (1981)
  • Daylight Again - Crosby, Stills and Nash (1982)
  • Trans - Neil Young (1982)
  • Whitney Houston - Whitney Houston (1985)