Donnie Iris, the once and forever King of Cool, rocked the House of Blues (308 Euclid Ave., 216-523-BLUE) Saturday night. Iris is the Michael Stanley of Pittsburgh — not much of a national name, but album-rock conissuers including Alice Cooper recognize him as a true great. Even though he's a 'Burgher, Cleveland loved him first, and he loves Cleveland back.
His 1981 single "Love is Like a Rock" was an early favorite on MTV, and these days he's best known for 1980's "Ah Leah," a minimalist classic-rock classic. Cleveland's WMMS was the first radio station to play the song, even before it took root in his hometown. Soon, it spread around the country and peaked at #29 on the Billboard charts. Over the years, he's kept the Cleveland connection strong.
Iris recruited the Cavalier Girls to star in the video for "Little Black Dress" from his new album, Ellwood City. One more Clevo link is Iris' longtime producer and keyboardist, Mark Avsec, a Cleveland-based lawyer who played with the James Gang on their summer tour.
Iris is a Rustbelt hero, but his cult has taken root around the world. The best example of his semi-icon status is the video clip a couple Canadian art dudes made last year (see above).
It's weird and vaguely homoerotic, but sometimes these things take on a life of their own. If you'd rather see something closer to a conventional notion of sexytime, check out this recent fan video.
If you need to get those images out of your head when you're done, check out the original. — D.X. Ferris