His music has powered movie soundtracks from “Eddie & The Cruisers” to “Rocky IV.”
“Never played The Hamilton, but D.C. back in the day … we were a staple down there in the D.C. area playing down at The Bayou over in Georgetown,” Cafferty told WTOP. “We played the area quite a bit, had so many friends in the D.C. area, still do. I would imagine there’s gonna be a guest list down there, but we’re very, very much looking forward to it.”
Raised in Rhode Island, Cafferty was inspired by The Beatles film “A Hard Day’s Night” (1964).
“There was just something about the look in the eyes of those guys on screen that made it look like so much fun and you could do it with your buddies! So my cousin, Stevie Smith, and I started a band, we had to be 13 or 14 years old, and never turned back,” he said.
In 1972, they got a gig at the University of Rhode Island but needed a name for the poster.
“We didn’t really have a name, so we got a case of beer, sat down and started drinking, thinking and looking around, naming things we saw in the room. Somebody said, ‘Beaver Brown.’ It was a can of paint we’d used to paint one of the walls in the rehearsal space,” said Cafferty.
After the self-released “Wild Summer Nights / Tender Years” (1980), the band was asked to record original songs for the fictional band in the movie “Eddie and the Cruisers” (1983) in the style of Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band, including the single “On the Dark Side.”
“Kenny Vance, who was in Jay & The Americans, [was] walking down the street one night in Greenwich Village and heard the sound of our band playing in New York City for pizza and beer,” he said. “A year later, he called us up and said that he had a movie script called ‘Eddie and the Cruisers’ and he thought that our music might fit the movie well.”
They left their movie moniker behind for the original album “Tough All Over” (1985). “I went in a different direction and started writing songs that were a little more crafted towards the radio but still had something to say,” Cafferty said. “We got ourselves out there without the aid of any movie soundtracks. We were just a band standing on our own two feet.”
Ironically, Hollywood came calling again when Sylvester Stallone asked him to record “Heart’s on Fire” for the training montage in “Rocky IV” (1985) as Rocky Balboa climbs the Russian mountains in rugged workouts that contrast with the high-tech gym of Ivan Drago.
“I got a call from the record company saying Sly wanted me to come to the studio and sing a song for ‘Rocky IV,'” he said. “I walked into the studio, he was there and played me ‘Heart’s on Fire.’ … He wanted that big scream from the bottom of your toes to the top of your head, that big raspy sound, so I sang the chorus for him. … He liked that song a lot.”
Looking back at his career, Cafferty remains amazed: “My whole life has been surprising. What we’ve accomplished over the years having a band that’s been together as long as we have, having taken a rollercoaster ride through the music business and having come out of it with smiles still on our faces and guitars still on our hands, we’re pretty fortunate.”