Forecast remains sunny for Stormy Weather and founder
March 19, 2013 3:42PM
Henry Farag, 68, is a Crown Point resident who was raised in Gary. He is a concert producer, singer and founded the a capella doo-wop group Stormy Weather in 1974. | Provided photo~Sun-Times Media
Updated: April 21, 2013 6:06AM
“Goodnight, sweetheart, well, it’s time to go
Goodnight, sweetheart, well, it’s time to go
I hate to leave you but I really must say
Goodight, sweetheart, goodnight.”
— “Goodnight Sweetheart,”
written by Calvin Carter and
James “Pookie” Hudson
Henry Farag, 68, lives in Crown Point, but was raised in Gary. Like his brother Omar, who appeared in this column several years ago, he produces concerts. Henry is the divorced father of three adult sons and also sings and is the founder of the a capella doo-wop group Stormy Weather.
Our interview took place on the top floor of the Star Plaza Theatre in Merrillville.
* * *
In what section of Gary were you raised?
“Tolleston — 11th and Whitcomb. Gary, back in the ’50s, was a mix of all kinds of music and races. It was predominantly steel workers. My dad worked at U.S. Steel. I worked at the openhearth full time and attended Indiana University Northwest full time for about four years.”
Did you earn a degree?
“Yes, in political science.”
“I was one of 11 kids and the oldest son.”
“My mother was from Paris and my father was from Cairo.”
“France and Egypt. They met at the World’s Fair in Chicago back in 1933.”
Were you raised Catholic or Muslim?
“Catholic. We attended Sacred Heart; I was an altar boy. I went to Sacred Heart Grade School, started out at Bishop Noll Institute and graduated from Tolleston High School.”
In other words, you were kicked out of BNI.
“How did you know that?”
I run into that a lot, guys who started high school at Noll or Andrean, but end up graduating from public schools.
“The Tolleston Blue Raiders had some great football and basketball teams.”
What kind of music did you listen to as a teenager?
“I grew up on The Spaniels, Jerry Butler and The Dells — a lot of the Chicago-Gary groups.”
Jerry Lee Lewis also was quite the rage back in that era.
“I’ve booked ‘The Killer.’ He was a wild man.”
Name a few more world-famous artists you’ve booked.
“Chuck Berry, The 4 Seasons, Carl Perkins, The Drifters... .”
Henry, we’ll get back to all of that in a second. You worked as a private eye for years.
“Yeah, insurance investigations, robberies, accidents, fraud ... ”
When was Stormy Weather formed?
“In 1974. Stormy Weather is not my business, but it’s what I love to do. We entertained the troops in the Balkans, Bosnia and Kosovo. We’ve performed at the White House four times. We did the Olympics in Atlanta. We’ve sung on the street corner in Vienna, Austria. But like I said, Stormy Weather is more of an avocation.”
Are you and Omar business partners?
“No, he does his thing and I do my thing — sometimes we work together.”
Tell me more about your career producing concerts.
“My first one was at the Greek Hall right over here. Then started doing some at the Bridgeview theater in Valpo. Then the Star Plaza up in the ’80s and I produced concerts there.
“When this place first opened in February of 1980, we had the Moonglows, Danny and the Juniors and four of five other acts.”
Have you produced doo-wop concerts only?
“Through the years, I’ve produced rock-n-roll, blues, salsa and even classical concerts.”
Your headquarters are here in Northwest Indiana, but you go all over.
“Yes, we always travel with the shows that produce for various theaters across the country. We have shows in New York, L.A., Houston, New Orleans, Seattle, Naples, Fla. ... ”
* * *
The indefatigable brothers Farag had a blue-collar work ethic instilled in them at early ages. They personify Northwest Indiana. At one time or another, all five of them worked in the mill like their father.
Henry told me he has no thoughts of retirement, that he’s loved doing what he does for a living from the start.
Could this be magic?