New fan-made documentary explores Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes’ early years

A vintage image of Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes, used in the documentary, "History of Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes, Part 1."

A vintage image of Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes, used in the documentary, “History of Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes, Part 1.”

Dennis Laverty was frustrated that there is no Southside Johnny &  the Asbury Jukes documentary. And so he created one himself — or, at least, he has completed the first part in a projected three-part series, “History of Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes.”

Now viewable on Vimeo (and embedded below), the extremely low-budget film uses vintage photos and video footage from various sources to tell the story of Southside’s Ocean Grove childhood and adolescence; the years he spent honing his musical skills in Asbury Park nightclubs; and his breakthrough successes of the mid-’70s. It also includes discussions about, and performances of, many of his signature songs, and wraps up with the end of his association with Epic Records, in 1979.

At two hours and 11 minutes, it provides an unprecedentedly thorough look at those early years. I think any Southside Johnny fan will enjoy it immensely.

Laverty, a former Old Bridge resident who now lives in Staten Island, first became a fan of the band in the early ’80s and, for a few years in the late ’80s, published his own Jukes newsletter, “Jukes News.”

The genesis of this project came when he started noticing lots of old interviews on YouTube. “They were telling the story, but nobody was putting it together,” he said.

Through Facebook, he connected with memorabilia collector Billy Smith, who sent him some early photos and pointed him in the direction of Linda Tartaglione Thebold’s Facebook page, Jukebox, where he connected with other fans who had old photos. (They are all credited in the video.)

In some cases, he got very creative. There is a short clip in the documentary, for instance, of Southside going to his high school prom; Laverty got it from Bruce Springsteen’s 1984 “Born in USA” video.

He also uses, as sources, radio interviews; a bonus interview from the 1993 DVD “The Fever,” in which Southside discusses various songs in great detail; the coffeetable book “Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes,” which is sold on the web site southsidejohnny.com; and Mike Saunders’ intricately detailed liner notes for the 2007 rarities boxed set, Jukebox.

He says he has no intention of ever releasing the film, commercially, but wants to get it out to as many people as possible, for free, via the internet.

“My hope is that people like it,” he said. “I would like to do a Part 2 and a Part 3. Part 2 would be from the Mercury years, 1979, up to the Better Days album. And then Part 3 would be 1992 to the present.

Here’s the documentary:

History of Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes Part 1 from Dennis P Laverty on Vimeo.

And here is the video for Springsteen’s “Born in the USA.,” in case you’re curious. Southside’s high school prom footage appears at the 1:44 mark.

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