From a young age, Priscilla Pinches knew she was enamored by rock ’n’ roll. Now, she’s living her dream as an industry vocalist performing across the West Valley.
An East Coast native and Glendale resident, Pinches is a singer and keyboardist for the Priscilla Rose Band. The group, combining a unique blend of classic rock and pop, is largely comprised of Pinches and her Sun City counterpart Rich La Rose, a vocalist and lead guitarist, and at least two other alternating members.
“Priscilla and I are the main parts of the band and have been together since the beginning,” La Rose explained. “We have a regular bass player and drummer — sometimes we have to replace them — but we are the mainstays of the band.”
The band will perform from 7 to 10 p.m. Friday, July 16, at the Fountain Park stage in the Westgate Entertainment District, located at 6770 N. Sunrise Boulevard.
With free admission, Pinches encourages audience members to bring their own seating if they prefer. The venue is also packed with plenty of dining and shopping options, she added.
“I would describe us as your favorite dance band,” Pinches said. “That’s what our aim is, to get people dancing and to lighten their hearts and bring them joy.”
La Rose echoes Pinches sentiments, saying the Priscilla Rose Band covers bands like the Beatles and the Rolling Stones.
“I like to call it family-friendly rock ’n’ roll,” La Rose added.
Pinches and La Rose will be joined at the Westgate Entertainment District by Surprise resident Charles “Spanky” Lake on the drums and vocals and Rich Alfano on the bass.
Pinches, a self-described “Army brat,” grew up with a colonel father in the military and spent most of her childhood in North Carolina, Virginia and Pennsylvania, she said.
Joining her church choir at 6, and then picking up the piano at age 9, she recalls developing a passion for rock ’n’ roll early on.
“The beat and the variety of melodies that are available, it’s not all the same. It uses many notes to make common couples, and they don’t seem to repeat,” she said, adding, “They tell a story and they are complex.”
Pinches continued to sing for her church choir and play the piano throughout high school, she said.
It wasn’t until her senior year in 1968 that she realized she wanted to pursue rock ’n’ roll professionally.
Pinches skipped her school’s prom to attend a Rolling Stones concert in North Carolina, she explained.
“I saw Billy Joel’s first gig ever at Appalachian State University in North Carolina,” she said. “I knew when I was in high school and the choir started singing contemporary songs that I wanted to play music for people to sing and dance to.”
The aspiring vocalist started teaching vocal and piano lessons before moving to Arizona with her husband, where she continued to teach.
In October 2015, she ran into La Rose at a local “jam session” in Surprise for other aspiring musicians.
“I finally met Rich at this jam session and I knew I wanted to play in a rock ’n’ roll band — it was my life’s dream,” she said. “I started pretty late, but I had all of this experience behind me.”
La Rose, who hails from Upstate New York, was also bitten by the musical bug during his youth.
The self-taught guitarist first picked up his brother’s guitar in junior high school after his sibling lost interest, he said.
“In the ’70s my brother had a guitar and he lost interest, so I picked it up,” he said. “The first song I learned to play was ‘House of The Rising Sun.’”
La Rose formed his own rock ’n’ roll band, called Infinity, in high school. The band, comprised of La Rose and several of his friends, landed its first paid gig in 1977 — marking the beginning of his professional career.
La Rose attributes Kiss as his inspiration.
“I used to watch the midnight special every Saturday, and I remember seeing Kiss and I was mesmerized,” he said. “It looked like they had so much fun on stage, and in that moment, I said I want to do that.”
La Rose continued to play throughout high school and into his college years, in which he studied music at SUNY Oswego.
The musician moved to Arizona with his family, where he continued to play locally on the side while taking care of his mother in Sun City.
La Rose formed the Jan Petrie Band before meeting Pinches at the Surprise jam session — and then the rest was history.
With Pinches and a few other performers, La Rose created Mixed Company in October 2015. Around two years later, the group evolved into the Priscilla Rose Band.
“I already knew the other band members, so four of us teamed up, and we had the keyboard now and I got to play — and it just took off,” Pinches recalled of Mixed Company. “We started doing more complex songs, and we do some of the standards.”
Now, the Priscilla Rose Band performs at least biweekly on the weekends across the West Valley.
With COVID-19 on the decline, La Rose said the opportunities to perform are “picking up” and that the band couldn’t be more grateful.
“Watching the reactions of the audience and to see the joy in their faces,” La Rose said.
“That is the most satisfying element to me.”
Pinches agreed with her partner’s sentiments, expressing that performing for crowds is “thrilling” to her.
“I feel same way about the joy of the crowd. When you have a crowd up there dancing, it’s just the most thrilling thing,” Pinches said.
The group even plays original music, the duo shared.
The inspiration for their songs, in which they hope to eventually copyright, comes from their everyday lives and conversations, La Rose said.
“One song is called ‘He Said, She Said,’” he explained. “It goes back and forth about how men and women view each other and put that together into an original rock ’n’ roll tune.”
The Priscilla Rose Band also performs for private events such as weddings and other gatherings.
To book a performance, or to learn more about the group, head over to its Facebook page @PriscillaRoseBand.