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Joe Lala

Joe Lala
Lala (Manassas, TopPop 1972)
Born Joseph Anthony Lala
(1947-11-03)November 3, 1947
Ybor City, Tampa, Florida, U.S.
Died March 18, 2014(2014-03-18) (aged 66)
Tampa, Florida, U.S.
Cause of death Lung cancer
Occupation Actor, voice actor, drummer and percussionist
Years active 1966-2014
Spouse(s) Ginny McSwain (divorced)

Joseph Lala (born Joseph Anthony Lala; November 3, 1947 – March 18, 2014) was an American actor, voice actor, and musician. In 1966, he co-founded the rock band Blues Image.


  • Life and career 1
  • Filmography 2
  • References 3
  • External links 4

Life and career

Joseph Anthony Lala was born in Ybor City, Tampa, Florida,[1] to parents from Contessa Entellina (one of the Albanian minority communities in Sicily). His father was Sicilian, and he left the family when Joe was a little kid, so he was raised by his mother on her own. Lala’s mother, an avid dancer, would take her son to as many shows as she could. Lala spoke fluent Spanish and Italian.[2] He started out playing the drums in several Florida bands, before forming the band Blues Image. He also occasionally sang lead vocals, most notably on the song "Leaving My Troubles Behind". As a drummer and percussionist, he worked with Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Manassas, The Bee Gees, Whitney Houston, Joe Walsh, Andy Gibb and many others. He played the trademark congas that drove the Bee Gees' 1976 US chart-topper You Should Be Dancing, subsequently included on the multi-million selling Saturday Night Fever soundtrack. Lala provided the wide selection of percussive effects on Barbra Streisand's 1980 worldwide No. 1 album Guilty, and contributed to Whitney Houston's eponymous 1985 debut album.[1] Throughout his career, Lala accumulated 32 gold records and 28 platinum records. He played on the movie soundtracks of Saturday Night Fever, Staying Alive, D.C. Cab, Streets of Fire, All the Right Moves, Breathless, Defiance, The Lonely Guy and Airplane!. A severe case of carpal tunnel syndrome[1] ended Lala's career as a percussionist. It kept him from performing full time, but he continued to record with Stephen Stills, Graham Nash, the acoustic band Firefall, Dan Fogelberg, Dolly Parton, Rod Stewart and many others.[2]

He made the most of his Italian-American background and his mastery of Spanish, Cuban and Puerto Rican accents with TV roles in Miami Vice, General Hospital, Melrose Place, Seinfeld,[1] Hunter, and Who's the Boss?, and starred in a summer replacement show named Knight & Daye. He portrayed another native of Ybor City, Dr. Ferdie Pacheco, in Ali: An American Hero, and co-starred with Andy Garcia in For Love or Country: The Arturo Sandoval Story. His films included Active Stealth, Sugar Hill, On Deadly Ground, Deep Sleep, Havana (with Robert Redford), Out for Justice, Marked for Death, Eyewitness to Murder, and Born in East L.A., plus many more.

Lala also guest-starred on several animated shows; Batman: The Animated Series, Pinky and the Brain, Quack Pack, The Angry Beavers, The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius, Johnny Bravo, Ozzy & Drix, Superman: The Animated Series, The Woody Woodpecker Show (the 1999 version), and many more.

More recently, as a voice actor, he dubbed Kun Lan of the video game Killer7.

He had ultimately walked away from the entertainment business in the mid-2000s in order to care for his mother who had dementia. Lala coached young actors at the Italian Club in his native Ybor City.[3] Joe Lala died suddenly from complications of lung cancer on March 18, 2014, at approximately 7:00 AM, at the age of 66.[4]


Year Film Character
1995 Pinky and the Brain
1997 An American Tail: The Mystery of the Night Monster Bootlick
1999 Our Friend, Martin Reporter #2/Demonstrator
2000 Demolition University Carlos Ramos


  1. ^ a b c d Perrone, Pierre (May 7, 2014). "Joe Lala: Sought-after percussionist who switched careers when illness struck to become an actor and voice-over artist".  
  2. ^ a b Meacham, Andrew (March 19, 2014). "Legendary Tampa percussionist Joe Lala dies at 66". Retrieved April 15, 2015. 
  3. ^ Jeff Giles (March 19, 2014). "Drummer Joe Lala Dead at 66". Ultimate Classic Rock. Retrieved April 15, 2015. 
  4. ^ Drummer Lala, who teamed with a generation of rock stars, dead at 66

External links

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