R.I.P. longtime Philly musician, filmmaker and archivist George Manney
(Update: A memorial service for George will be held on Monday, December 14th from 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm at John F. Fluehr & Sons, Inc. 3301-15 Cottman Ave Philadelphia PA 19149. Go here for more information.)
We’re saddened to report the passing of George Manney, a longtime Philly musician, drummer, filmmaker, producer, and Philly music archivist. He passed away from pancreatic cancer at Fox Chase Medical center on Wednesday evening, after being diagnosed a week ago. He was 64.
Manney was a fixture on the local music scene since the mid-60s when he was a teenager and started his first band, Stone Dawn. During the early 70s they would play the now-legendary early music clubs in Philly like The Trauma, the original Electric Factory, and The 2nd Fret. He played drums with various bands in the late 1970s and 80s including Alan Mann, Beru Revue and Kenn Kweder. Throughout the aughts he also played with Robert Hazard and Charlie Gracie. Within the last several years, Manney was also recording his band Clutch Cargo with singer Su Teears, and Rocco Notte (formerly of The A’s).
In 1986, Manney came up with the concept for a weekly jam session, The Last Minute Jam, that became an institution in the city. While The Last Minute Jam started at Khyber Pass in Old City, it moved in 1987 to J.C. Dobbs on South Street. Musicians and music fans from all over the area came to see the house band – guitarist Greg Davis, bassist Michael Radcliffe, keyboardist Wally Smith, and Manney on drums.
In 1986, Manney also formed Geo Sound, a production company and web site hub for many of his endeavors including his work as a Philadelphia music memorabilia archivist that is part of the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame and the Philadelphia Music Alliance. In 2007 George directed and produced his first independent documentary, “Pipes of Peace” the Rufus Harley story. He also produced Meet Me On South Street, The Story of JC Dobbs, and has been tirelessly working on his Philly music historical opus, a documentary Philly Pop Music.
Narrated, and co-produced with Philly DJ Michael Tearson, the documentary is Manney’s homage to Philly’s rich musical history with interviews, rare video footage and photographs. His YouTube page has dozens of clips that he produced intended to be part of the documentary. A year ago he launched a public fund raising effort to complete the documentary.
In 1992, when he was working at Tower Records, Manney was struck by a car in Northeast Philly on Roosevelt Boulevard, and suffered multiple injuries. It took him most of a year to be able to walk out of the house, and through his faith to improve the quality of his life he also sought to help improve the life of others, producing several Last Minute Jam CD compilations where he donated proceeds to Settlement Music School and the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation.
There’s been a steady outpouring of love for Manney on Facebook, since the news of his passing was announced by Michael Tearson on his Facebook page. “George was loved by everybody,” Tearson told me this morning. “Manney is one of the truly beloved folks in our music community. Let’s put it this way: there was nobody who disliked him. He was loved by everyone.”
WMGK’s Debbi Calton writes on her Facebook page: “The Philadelphia music community lost one of its own and certainly one of its biggest champions, if not THE biggest. George Manney has worked tirelessly to document the history of our city’s rich musical history while being a part of it as well, drumming with any and everybody over the years. It’s a huge loss and overwhelmingly sad.”
Biff Kennedy, who is on the Philadelphia Music Alliance Board of Directors, says: “The Philadelphia music community today must salute and say goodbye to one of the most celebrated musician’s and music fans of this city’s pop music era. George Manney’s dedication to the archiving of the music scene in the region will stand in his name for decades to come. His work for the Philadelphia Music Alliance remains invaluable, and his passion and attention to detail is an inspiration to everyone on the Board.
“On a personal note, George treated each artist, each recording, each chord with the utmost reverence and wonder,” Kennedy continued. “I stand in awe of his mission and his enthusiasm. Visiting and working in his studio was always a history lesson, and a reminder that it’s everything about being the best fan in the room. Thank you George. I’m a fan.”
This Philly Weekly cover story from 2011 tells George’s story and sheds a light on the massive amount of Philly music memorabilia he collected over the years.
George was indeed one of Philly’s biggest music scene cheerleaders. His infectious passion and love for the Philly music scene was relentless. We will miss his spirit and energy, and our thoughts go out to Manney’s friends and family. We hope the work he started on his Philly music documentary will be completed. We will keep you up to date about news and updates surrounding Manney.