Season Champs on Star Search
Chuck Cantalamessa and his group Wind Star auditioned for Ed McMahon’s popular TV program Star Search at Criteria Studios in Miami during the summer of 1984. Competing against more than 20,000 other acts they were selected to appear on the show, which was taped in December 1984 and aired during the Super Bowl in January 1985.
During this first appearance Chuck and Wind Star sang Mystical Lady one of Chuck’s original compositions, and they won. Chuck and Wind Star returned for their second appearance, which aired the following week, and sang Love Don’t Go Away, another of Chuck’s compositions. This performance gave them their second win. With this being the last show of the season, Chuck and Wind Star were carried over as reigning champions into the next season.
In September 1985 Chuck and Wind Star made their third appearance on Star Search. They sang Don’t Ever Give Up, a prophetic composition by Chuck, but the judges favored the competition. Wind Star lost this heartbreaking competition by a slim 1/4 point to the group that eventually went on to win the grand prize of $100,000.
Unlike today’s version of Star Search, which is broadcast live, the original program was video taped in front of an audience at the Aquarious Theater on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood. Chuck said, “There’s no doubt that today’s performers have more pressure on them in a live broadcast, but in my opinion the original Star Search was overall a more professional production. For example, today’s artists are for the most part singing covers of other people’s music. We sang all original songs”
Chuck likes to tell the story of his last appearance on the show. It was Ed McMahon’s 35th Anniversary in TV, and Johnny Carson was there to introduce him at the beginning of the show. Kenny Rogers was also on the show. He was interviewed along with the grand prize winners from the previous year Sawyer Brown, who were touring with Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton at that time.
When Ed McMahon introduced Wind Star, the curtain opened and knocked down Jim Null’s microphone stand! Taping was stopped then a second take. This time as the revolving carousel stage turned and locked into place-front and center, the large emblematic star above the stage came crashing down with a loud clatter. Finally, after two false starts, which were edited out of the program that aired, Chuck and Wind Star went on like the troopers that they are.
Had that been a live broadcast, there is no telling what would have happened. Would the two false starts make the judges more sympathetic? Would the outcome be the same? No one knows, but Chuck has no regrets. He said, “We gave it our best and could not have done any more, but the song we sang says it all … “Don’t Ever Give Up”.
Star Search Photos
Opening for the band Kansas
Recently, Chuck opened a concert for the classic rock group Kansas. This private show was staged at a palatial estate in Saratoga, California overlooking the Silicon Valley. (Photos courtesy of rheebevere.com)
Opening for Huey Lewis and the News at Seven Springs in Champion, PA
Chuck opened a concert for the band Huey Lewis and the News at Seven Springs resort in Champion, PA
Huey Lewis Photos
A few classic photos of Chuck over the years.
Chuck’s Induction to the Uniontown Area High School Hall of Fame
Uniontown Area High School, Uniontown, PA celebrated its “inaugural” Hall of Fame induction on Oct. 24-25, 2013. This is where Chuck attended high school. The Hall of Fame committee selected the inductees, from all graduating classes 1938 – 1993. The categories were academics, arts and sports. Chuck was one of the five accomplished individuals, chosen for the arts.
The inductees were first introduced at a pre-game ceremony at the football game between Uniontown Area High School and Laural Highlands High School. After the game, inductees, family and friends gathered at Rizzs for an after party.
On Saturday morning, the Inaugural Induction Ceremony for the UAHS Hall of Fame was held at the Uniontown Holiday Inn. The 17 Inductees were presented with Hall of Fame Plaques and Citations from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.