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The 1970's...and the rock & roll show band...CRUIS'N

The  original "CRUIS'N"

While still in his teens, Steve started his career as the lead performer in the seminal oldies rock and roll show band “CRUIS’N”. From Northern California to the world beyond, "CRUIS'N" performed an estimated 250 shows per year for nearly 10 years, headlining their own shows and touring with the legendary Wolfman Jack and others. (ABOVE PHOTO SHOWS THEM AT CANDLESTICK PARK IN SAN FRANCISCO c 1975) They played casinos, car shows, concerts, performing arts centers, theaters, corporate events, nightclubs, restaurants, benefits/charities, fairs and festivals, as well as TV and radio.

Steve’s natural ability to mimic voices and his musical and comedic timing made him the stand-out performer of the review. His Elvis impersonation garnered rave reviews, as well as a brief meeting with Elvis himself in 1976 at San Francisco’s Cow Palace.

Steve side-stepped many lucrative offers to star in his own Elvis Tribute show, which at the time would have been one of the first of its' kind, preferring to stay with "CRUIS'N" because, in his own words "...in the Elvis show I would be doing only Elvis...and I love Elvis...but the truth is, I have just as much fun doing Buddy Holly, Johnny Cash, Dion and the other songs (a-capella do-wop, etc) plus I get to play bass and drums for a song or two in "CRUIS'N",  something I wouldn't be able to do in the Elvis tribute show."

Shortly thereafter, "CRUIS'N" released its first original 45rpm recording, the Waddington/Pepperell do-wop/rock influenced novelty hit "Vicky's Hickey".

However, as the decade waned, so did the original members' interest in the novelty/nostalgic confines of "CRUIS'N".  Co-founder Ray Pepperell left and had started a new musical venture, punk rock's "Dead Kennedys" and Steve was writing more songs "in his own voice" and needed a platform to launch his new artistic vision. It was time for something new...


The 1980's...and Steve One and the Shades

From there, Steve had even more success when he went on to form “Steve One and the Shades”, a popular and all-original power-pop concert band that shared the stage with such contemporaries as Chris Isaak, Huey Lewis and the News, Eddie Money, Greg Kihn, Eddie and the Tide, Night Ranger, and more. His experience in CRUIS'N served him well and he proved to be an energetic and charismatic lead singer/front man/guitarist .

Steve penned all the songs on their two critically acclaimed albums, “Once in a Lifetime” (produced by the band and San Francisco's Dave Denny) and “Steve One and the Shades” (produced by the band and legendary "Duroc" Scott Mathews). In fact the Gavin Report said "Steve One and his Shades possess a remarkable talent and the ambitious songwriting and personality skills which nowadays separates the 'wannabees' from the 'doers'". They played concerts, clubs, festivals, and did numerous live broadcasts and in-studio radio programs, all to rave reviews.

About this time, Steve also did a few side projects, arranging and performing lead and backing vocal harmonies, as well as rhythm guitar, at studio sessions for various artists and producers. "East Bay Ray", as he was now known in his then-new punk rock band "Dead Kennedys" (Ray had played lead guitar and co-founded CRUIS'N with Steve) had produced a few demo recordings for Steve, and by this time Ray had written a few new songs for his own solo, non-DK project and had Steve do the lead vocals. This venture yeilded the UK hit "Trouble In Town"/"Poison Heart".


the 1990's...a Studio Cat

Ultimately, Steve One and the Shades broke up at the end of the 80's. They were born of the modern rock movement of the 1980s but without strong label support or proper management, they closed with the decade. After that, Steve spent a few years in the studio writing, singing, producing and playing guitar on a couple of projects, most notably "St. Christopher's Sin" with Shades' guitarist and co-producer Terry 'T.K.' Kincannon, and "Mr. Majstyk", a solo project, both labled as adult alternative rock/pop. These sessions, as well as outtakes and demos, are still played regularly and charting on SoundClick and BroadJam, links to which can be found on the links page of this website. There were also club dates with these projects, but by this time Steve was starting to move in other directions...


"...a natural, gifted actor"

Due in part to his quick wit and an easy, natural charisma, many people suggested he try acting. Although not a priority for him at the time, and still residing in Northern California, he did join an actor's workshop where the legendary acting coach Larry Menkin proclaimed Steve to be "...a natural, a gifted actor, and a joy to work with." Larry introduced Steve to an agent with his endorsement, and almost immediately Steve was grabbing small roles here and there. He joined the Screen Actors Guild after earning supporting roles in film and television, such as “BREAKDOWN”, with Kurt Russell and “TAKE ME HOME AGAIN”, with Kirk Douglas and Craig T. Nelson, “HOLLYWOOD SAFARI” with Sam Jones, and many more. He moved to Southern California and around this time he also became one of the lead performers in actor/teacher Tim Colceri's  FULL METAL IMPROV, an improv comedy troupe in Hollywood. He also started doing voice over work for film and commercials.


An interesting hobby...

As a sideline and life-long hobby, Steve also collects, restores and sometimes sells classic American and collectible cars, as well as guitars, and motorcycles. This lead him to a brief stint in the retail side of the motorcycle and car businesses, ultimately landing him a job as a sales manager at a motorcycle store, as well as General Sales Manager at a luxury import car dealership in Beverly Hills. "It was interesting, met some cool people, but it's a whole other world. A totally different culture. One I never really cared for, nor fit into. And I really missed performing, so..."


Back to basics...

After making his decision to return to entertainment, he felt compelled to return to his "roots"...singing, guitar-slinging and live performance, but this time with an emphasis on the music that was always with him since childhood, the Great American Songbook, the great Italian-American singers, rockabilly, and early rock and roll!

While enjoying singing a lot of various artist's songs from this 'golden era', his rich, warm voice seemed particularly well-suited to the smooth, laid-back style of Dean Martin. (Besides, if you know Steve, you know that it's not exactly a 'stretch'.) Plus, at this point in his life with a more mature perspective, its a natural fit!  Out of his very first performance, he was offered the role of "Dino" in a "Rat Pack Tribute" show, as well as "A Tribute To Martin and Lewis", where he plays "Dino" to David Wolf's amazing "Jerry". (David is widely recognized as THE top Jerry Lewis tribute artist).  He gets to do a lot more improv comedy, and more of his favorite Dean Martin songs. This show is equal parts madcap IMPROV comedy and music and it moves at a very quick pace, something Steve is a natural at!

He was one of the stars of "Swinging South", a unique and original 17 piece band and latin-flavored tribute to the Rat Pack.  

He is also currently co-starring in Michael B. Levin's production of  "The Rat Pack Encore", playing casinos, clubs and special events on a national level. 

And he is one of the featured headline performers, and co-MC, at the annual "Feast of San Gennaro" every September in Hollywood on the Jimmy Kimmel Live stage.



And this...

However, as mentioned previously, his newest shows, "STEVE WADDINGTON & THE RETRO-ROCKIN' ALL-STARS", and "From Rat Pack to Rock and Roll" keep him very busy, averaging 12-25 performances each month. Swingin' from Dino, Frank Sinatra, and Nat King Cole to Johnny Cash, Neil Diamond, Elvis, Buddy Holly, Johnny Rivers, guitar instrumentals and rockabilly, these performances allow him to constantly introduce and fine-tune new material and voices, keeping the show fun, fresh and exciting! This show has more variety than any show this side of Vegas!


And every year, from mid-to-late October, his alter-ego, "Herman" emerges! And, true to form, he not only looks like Herman Munster, but he's the same height, and he sounds  and acts EXACTLY like Herman!  Trick or Treat!

Steve, Elvira and Susan Ritter at Stan Lee's ComiKaze Expo

Steve, Susan and The Munster Coach at Stan Lee's ComiKaze Expo


Sample of "Memories Are Made Of This" sung by Steve Waddington