Joe has over 30 years experience in the entertainment industry.
Joe is a Lead Singer, Musician, Songwriter, Arranger and Producer and has toured; Canada the U.S.A., the Caribbean, Europe and Australia as a featured act.
Passion is also an Actor for TV, Stage, and Voice Overs and Jingles. He has also worked in TV Post Production and as a Post Secondary Music Educator.
INTERNATIONAL FEATURED THEATER ENTERTAINER PORTRAYING:
JERRY LEE LEWIS – JOHN LENNON – BARRY MANILOW – DION DEMUCCI
LEGENDS IN CONCERT (USA & Autralia), 1996 - 2000
STARS IN CONCERT (Europe), 2001 – 2004, 2006
MEMORIES THEATRES (USA & Canada) 2002 - 08
LEGENDS ALIVE (Canadian tours), 97, 98.
ROCK & ROLL HEAVEN (dinner theater Canada) 95- 97
MASTER OF CEREMONIES - THE TORONTO BEATLE BASH 1998
PIANO – ORGAN – SYNTHESIZER, GUITARS – BASS – HARMONICA & PERCUSSION, and MUSIC PROGRAMMER.
PERFORMED LIVE WITH;
THE WHO, PROCAL HAREM, DEVINE, THE BAND, JOHNNY WINTER,
SHA-NA-NA, HOT CHOCOLATE, BONNIE TYLER, MELANIE, POCO
and JIM MESSINA.
Performed in & with Canadian Recording acts,
ICARUS, SOUTHCOTE, STUDEBAKER HAWK, NEW CITY JAM BAND, SHOOTER, BOUNTY, PLATINUM BLONDE, DAVID WILCOX and the SPOONS.
A&M “Virginia Storey”
CASINO REC. “SHOOTER - Reloaded”
SMILE REC “Southcote”
K-TEL “Studebaker Hawk” K-TEL(Greatest Hits) “New City Jam Band”
INDIE – ARCTIC EAGLE - JOE PASSION
NEW AGE - “Spirit Lake” “Spirit Mountain”
ROCK - “Pandora’s Keys I & II” -“Count On Me” –
CHRISTIAN - “Omni Present” –
ROCKABILLY - “Ballz a Fyre” –
COUNTRY - “Gone Fishing”
POP - “Let’s Keep Doing it”
ORIGINALSONGS PUBLISHED by;
WARNER/CHAPPELL, MUSICAL FRIENDS & GIBBON MUSIC.
ACTOR for T.V.
VOICE OVER “Society of Financial Analysists’ voice of BOB.
SHELL TRAINING VIDEO – role of OSCAR, chief officer.
VOICE OVER – “ SINBAD” the series
VOICE OVER -“COUNTRY STYLE DONUTS” & “SAM RADIO Jingles”
“MADONNA THE EARLY YEARS” (special skills)
“VANITYS’ MIRROR” FRIDAY 13th the series. (special skills)
“FAST TRACK” (organist for gospel choir)
COMMMERCIAL - as “Raggedy Joe the Scary Crow” for Chudleigh’s Theme Park,
Fall 96 , 97.
“Rainmaker” for the film “Vivid.”
POST INDUSTRY for TV - FOLEY assistant on the following TV SERIES;
“TOP COPS”, “COUNTER STRIKE”,“SWEATING BULLETS”, “HIDDEN ROOM”,
“KUNG FU” & “ROBO COP”.1994 - 95
Produced and directed Virginia Storey video “Mind Over Matter” aired on Much Music.
MUSICAL DIRECTOR of;
“SPRING THAW” Toronto Bayview Playhouse Theater &
“ROCK N ROLL HEAVEN” at La Cage Dinner Theater, Toronto 1995 – 1997
for SHORT FILM; “Charlie” - shot in Barcelona 2004
Theater Production “Thankyou For the Music - ABBA a biography in Concert.” 2003 - 2008
CHILDRENS SHOW PUPPETEER –
“Raggedy Joe the Scary Crow & Crackers” for CHUDLEIGH’S FARM 1996-97.
Tooned In! Stevie Vallance Cartoons 101 for AdultsEllen Ray Hennessey
Vocal Studio “The Method” Seth Riggs
Joe has been a tribute artist for the last fifteen years performing as Jerry Lee Lewis, John Lennon, Barry Manilow, Dion Demucci of DION and the Belmonts and most recently as Bobby Darin.
Joe has been a full time professional musician – entertainer since he was 19.
His main instruments are piano and guitar.
Joe's portrayal of “The Killer” combines the energy and excitement of the young Jerry Lee Lewis with the humor and bravado of Dennis Quaid featured in the film ”Great Balls Of Fire”(complete with flaming Piano!).
For Lennon, Joe recreates the Icon by performing songs from the Beatle Catalog as well as John's solo years.
The climax of the show is “Imagine” and a medley of “A Day in the Life”/ “Strawberry Fields”/ and “All You Need Is Love” that runs in conjunction with a slide show of 140 slides of Johns’ life.
In the Barry Manilow character all the favorites are performed from “Mandy” and “Copa” to “I Write the Songs”. (Very Broadway meets Vegas and perfect for pop music lovers and romantics everywhere.)
Performing as Dion Joe brings alive the fifties doo-wap songs of Dion and the Belmonts with favorites like “The Wanderer”, “Runaround Sue”,”Teenager in Love” and the all time folk classic “Abraham Martin and John.”
As the iconic Bobby Darin, Joe brings to life the meaning of “COOL” set down by the immortal Bobby himself. King of the pop charts and Vegas Lounges through the fifties and sixties Darin set eclectic milestones with many of his hits such as; Splish Splash, Dream Lover, Things, If I Were a Carpenter, Mack the Knife, Beyond the Sea and many many more Jazz and Swing classics.
LIVE PERFORMANCE; (CONCERT,THEATRE and CLUBS)
*ROCK n ROLL HEAVEN;1996-2000 TOR. ONT. as John Lennon & Jerry Lee
*LEGENDS ALIVE; Canadian tours, and corporate events as Jerry, John and Barry
*THE REALLY BIG SHEW; Atlantic City Jan.2000 as Jerry Lee Lewis
*THE MEMORIES THEATRE, Pigeon Forge TN. USA; Aug.2000 - 08 Jerry Lee
Woodbridge ON. 2008 Jerry Lee, Dion.
*LEGENDS IN CONCERT;
Daytona Beach Fla. Nov.97-Feb.98 as Jerry Lee
San Antonio Texas(Six Flags Park) May -> Aug 98 as Jerry Lee
Myrtle Beach S.C. Aug. –> Nov. 98 as Jerry, John & Barry
Tour of Australia May –> June 99 as Jerry Lee
Imperial Palace Biloxi Miss. July –> Nov.99 as Jerry & John
Myrtle Beach S.C. Sept.2000 -> Dec.31 Jerry Lee Lewis
Myrtle Beach S.C. Sept 2005 Sept Dec 31 Barry Manilow.
Branson Missouri 2001 Feb – Dec. as Jerry Lee Lewis, John Lennon and Barry Manilow.
STARS IN CONCERT Jan 2002 – June 2007 Germany, Switzerland, & Greece
as Jerry Lee Lewis.
Below is the Article on Joe Passion written by Carol Hunter and published on Lady Luck.com
Joe Passion was born in Toronto, Canada. He learned to play the accordion at age 9, followed by his main instruments: piano and guitar. He’s been a professional musician for over 20 years and a tribute artist since l996. He is also a singer, songwriter, actor, arranger, engineer and producer. Opening for acts such as The Who, Procol Harum, The Band, Johnny Winter, Poco, Bonnie Tyler, he’s also recorded and published his original songs for established record labels and publishers -- covering everything from rock, metal, rockabilly, pop and new age styles of music.
So, how did he become an impersonator/tribute artist, you may ask! Well -- here’s the story!
Back in the mid-‘90's, Joe was working as the musical director/bandleader at Rock & Roll Heaven, a well-known and very popular Toronto dinner theatre which featured “legends-type” acts. As he says, this was his “first steady gig in a career of one-nighters.” Joe was playing boogie piano for the Elvis impersonator and was hamming it up. The band was off to the side and he was in front, so the audience could see what they were doing. People would come up at the end of the night and say, “You play just like Jerry Lee Lewis. Why don’t you do him in the show?”
As Jerry Lee
As John Lennon
As Barry Manilow
So, Joe approached the show’s producer about doing Jerry Lee Lewis. At that time, the cast consisted of Elvis, Ritchie Valens, Buddy Holly, Roy Orbison and Big Bopper. As Joe tells it, the producer looked at him and said, “Joe …Jerry Lee is still alive! This show is called Rock & Roll HEAVEN!!!“ But the flame was lit and Joe continued on with his idea (in fact, as a youngster, the very first rock and roll songs he ever learned on the piano were Jerry Lee’s “Whole Lotta Shaking” and “Great Balls of Fire”).
Undaunted by the producer’s reaction, Joe designed and built, with some help, a prop piano which his electric grand piano would fit into. And, because Jerry Lee was known for kicking the stool and destroying pianos, the front leg of the prop piano was designed so it would collapse as the finale to his act. Then he took his invention to a local pyro-tech company and had the piano fitted for fire. As he says, “ITS GOTTA BURN!”
Shortly after that, Joe heard the show was looking for a John Lennon and planning to bring someone in from Vegas. He recalls, “I saw my second chance. I had played in a Beatle Band in my earlier club days so Lennon was already a part of my repertoire." And, coincidentally, years back, the first songs Joe had learned on his guitar were “Twist and Shout,” and “Hard Day’s Night." Joe says, “I went out, bought some wigs, clothes, a Rickenbacker guitar, and did a demo of Lennon songs in my studio, playing everything myself. Then I walked into the theatre office in full costume as Lennon and I said in my best Liverpool accent, ‘Yeh - um, I’m - ah, here to apply for the John Lennon role in your show, man….yeah, it’s what I do, yeah….so how about it?’ They talked to me for about 2 minutes and didn’t know it was me. Then we all had a good laugh and they let me audition.”
“Everything worked out and I got the gig. I also managed to sneak Jerry Lee into the show. They covered it by saying, 'This is as close to HEAVEN as the Killer is ever going to get… ladies and gentlemen, Jerry Lee Lewis'."
Thus began Joe’s new career as a Legends tribute entertainer!
Joe stayed at Rock & Roll Heaven on and off for 4 more years. He was also part of the Legends Alive troupe which toured across Canada. In addition, he’s worked extensively in the United States at venues such as Memories Theatre in Pigeon Forge, and many Legends in Concert venues including Branson, Biloxi, Daytona, Myrtle Beach, San Antonio and Toronto. He has toured Australia for Legends In Concert and he has recently been a feature performer for Stars in Concert in Germany, where he was based for 30 months. Currently, Joe is at Legends in Concert, Myrtle Beach, where he will be performing as Barry Manilow until the end of December.
Joe continues, “My main character these days is Jerry Lee, then Lennon and, most recently, I have added Barry Manilow to the roster. All my life people have said, ‘You know who you look like?' Being an artist in my own right, I never appreciated that much but, nowadays, I think it's fun. I look at this whole impersonator business as an acting gig. I am a member of ACTRA and I’ve always focused on Music in the Studio and Performance on Stage. So re-creating these characters and adding my own slant is not much different than doing Hamlet or Twelfth Night…well, not too much!"
“I went to see Jerry Lee in concert some years back. I met the band, Kenny Lovelace, James Burton (of Elvis fame) and Slim Jim Phantom of the Stray Cats. They were hot! Jerry had already left the building by the time I got to the dressing room but I still keep in touch with Kenny. I think Jerry Lee is great and very under-rated as a piano player, but then … I’m a fan.”
Joe was also kind enough to answer a few more questions that I had for him...here, he gives some encouragement to fellow tribute artists/musicians and insight as to how he approaches the characters he portrays:
How did you initially come to the attention of Legends in Concert?
I sent them a video tape of a cross-Canada tour that I was on. It was a Canadian company called Legends Alive. We played hockey arenas from Winnipeg to Whitehorse. – all the major cities and larger towns in between.
Can you tell me a bit about your recent experiences in Germany with Stars in Concert?
I played in Berlin, Essen, Hamburg, Dusseldorf, Zurich, and near Munich at a summer resort. I was in Europe for over 30 months. It was an amazing show with stellar production and a great revolving cast. The legends performers came from the States, Canada and England, dancers from England and Australia. We also had several German cast members portraying American stars. Everyone was top notch. The audiences were really interested and keen to be entertained by live North American pop music.”
When doing Jerry Lee Lewis, John Lennon, and Barry Manilow, what are the characteristics you try to bring out, or even exaggerate a little, to make the characters believable?
I do the wild Jerry Lee -- the over-the-top, unpredictable, arrogant, and yet vulnerable boogie-woogie man from Tennessee. My Jerry is a combination of "the Killer," with the humor of Dennis Quaid, then I add some piano techniques from Jason D. Williams and more humor from Justin Wilson, a Cajun comic, plus a bit of Mark Twain’s and Will Rogers’ philosophies, just for flavour! I see Jerry Lee as an American folk legend as well as a rock ‘n roll Hall of Famer. Jerry is self-made and self-destructed. He’s totally responsible for his own fate. I have a lot of fun doing Jerry Lee because, even though I have it tightly choreographed, anything can happen at any time. I like audience involvement or hecklers and I just roll into it and with it, but look out -- “The Killer” is dangerous!
With John Lennon, I deliver his rock edge with 3 Beatle tunes: “Revolution,” “Hard Days Night,” and “Help” - songs that epitomize John’s iconic undercurrent. Then, I make a right turn with “Woman,” and “Starting Over,” from his last album “Double Fantasy” - songs of hope and optimism. I follow this with an acoustic version of “Imagine” which is always a spiritual experience for me. Then, I end with either Lennon’s version of “Stand By Me” or “Twist and Shout” depending on the crowd.
Barry Manilow to me is more “Broadway Meets Vegas” -- big songs, big arrangements, expensive clothes, and some funny shtick. Barry never takes himself too seriously and that, for me, is the fun in doing the act. He's a great singer and entertainer in more of the classical show business tradition. So I do my best to deliver that.
These stars all had so many defining songs its hard to pick just three or four songs, so I go with medleys as much as possible. I think people want to be reminded of their favourite songs but, in most cases, you don't have to deliver the whole three or four minutes of a song to connect with them.
Who have you been told you look the most like when you are "yourself?"
Barry Manilow, Gene Wilder, Marty Feldman!
You’ve given us some of the highlights of your career...any “lowlights?” Some struggling artists out there might be encouraged to know you’ve had some struggles also.
WELL, I remember working as a construction worker, a shipper in a chemical plant, selling oil paintings door to door, selling shoes, selling water filters, mowing lawns --playing in 20 different bar bands, doing a single act in restaurants with a guitar a keyboard and a computer.
Please, that's enough, I need to lie down!!
Compliments you’ve received?
Sometimes the most cherished compliments come from fellow workers, people I admire and I'm just thrilled to be in a show with. People who are as good as the originals, sometimes even better.
Now that may sound ridiculous to some, but the way the music "business" works isn't always that talent gets rewarded. I've worked with people who should have been huge stars but, for one reason or another, luck or opportunity just missed them. And now they're pretending to be someone else -- oops, sorry -- I mean impersonating celebrities for a living. But it really is pretending -- musical acting. That’s why they call it play, right? It’s possible to be extremely talented and still not be famous, or rich. “But if you try sometimes you might find you get what you need.” (Thanks, Mick!)
What makes a good tribute artist?
Someone who is believable and entertaining -- charisma , eye contact, posture, timing and delivery. And the guts to get up on stage even when the audience doesn't give a damn. Turn that crowd around, and then you've done something! The real artists go out on stage and do what ever they want and the crowd is thrilled because it's the real guy. Being an impersonator is harder. We have to do what people remember or expect -- otherwise, we're no good. By the way, this means no surprises. Boring! The trick is to re-create the icon and add your own twist. Not all impersonators will agree with that -- but it's my view.
And finally -- any advice for aspiring musicians/singers/tribute artists?
"Do what you love to do and get paid for doing it."