My Best of The ‘Burgh: A Q&A with Donnie Iris

The rocker shares his favorites about the city where he's been an icon for more than five decades.


Donnie Iris first conquered the billboard charts in 1970, as part of the locally based rock outfit The Jaggerz. Their hit “The Rapper” went to #2, launching a career that would also see Iris join “Play That Funky Music” hitmakers Wild Cherry.

In the 1980s, Donnie Iris & The Cruisers hit the airwaves with anthems such as “Ah! Leah!” and “Love Is Like a Rock.” Iris just celebrated his 80th birthday with a show at the UPMC Events Center; he’ll join Foreigner and Loverboy on July 24 for a summer showcase at the Blossom Music Festival in nearby Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio.

As a Pittsburgh icon for more than five decades, we wanted to know: What’s Donnie Iris’ Best of the ’Burgh?

What’s your Pittsburgh “hidden gem,” a place that you love that doesn’t get the attention it deserves?
“Right now I live in Coraopolis. There’s a place here called Anthony Jr’s — little Italian restaurant. I like it a lot, man.”

If you could only eat one local meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Wedding Soup from Il Pizzaiolo

If Pittsburgh had a theme song, what would it be?
“I guess ‘Love Is Like a Rock.’ That’s the one.”

What’s the annual tradition that you wait for every year?
“I would definitely say opening day for the Pirates — mainly because I’m doing the anthem there this year! Andrew [McCutchen is] coming back. I’ll finally get a chance to meet him.”

Favorite Pittsburgh appearance in a movie or on television?
“Striking Distance”

What’s your unpopular Pittsburgh opinion? What is something you think about the city (or a famous aspect of it) that won’t win you any friends?
“The only thing I dislike about Pittsburgh is the wintertime … It’s just awful. I know that there’s places that are worse than Pittsburgh, but I just can’t take the winter anymore.”

Where’s the first place you take out-of-town guests?
LeMont Restaurant, Mount Washington

You get one Incline ride with any Pittsburgher, living or dead. Who is it?
Willie Stargell

If you could bring back one Pittsburgh place or restaurant that’s no longer there, which would you pick?
“Forbes Field. I saw Roberto Clemente there; my uncle used to take us kids to Forbes Field during those days in the ’50s. We sat in the cheap seats, up in the bleachers … Me and my cousins would go there and we had a blast.”

Categories: Best of the ‘Burgh