Chillin' Wit' ... Sonny Forriest Jr.
SONNY FORRIEST JR., 55, a disabled veteran in Ogontz, is a tailgaters' favorite at the South Philly sports complex, cruising the parking lots in his boom-box-equipped wheelchair, singing his own Phillies lyrics to the Intruders' "Love Is Like A Baseball Game" and his own Eagles lyrics to Chamillionaire's rap, "Ridin' Dirty."
As the Eagles are getting stomped, 52-20, in Denver and on TVs throughout his house, Forriest turns his open one-car garage into a gigantic amplifier, trading guitar licks with David Hicks, while other longtime friends, Wendell Calloway on bass and Adam Byrd on drums, keep the funk grounded in beats that float down 16th Street near Conlyn into the sunlit Sunday afternoon.
The men recall their years playing with Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes by delivering red-hot jams on "Bad Luck" and "The Love I Lost."
Then Stan Laws Sr., lead singer of the Ebonys and Hearts of Stone, suddenly walks into the garage, and Forriest, wearing his "Ridin' Dirty" Eagles jersey and standing on one good leg and one artificial one, puts down his guitar and picks up the microphone.
Forriest and Laws, trading lead vocals and sharing the mic for close harmonies, do soul-searing justice to Ben E. King's "Stand By Me" and Major Harris' "Love Won't Let Me Wait."
Forriest and Laws met 27 years ago when Forriest was walking down Fitzwater Street near Broad, strumming his guitar.
The Ebonys' manager happened to drive by in his van, asked Forriest, "Can you play that thing?" and brought him to Laws' house on Catharine Street, where the two men clicked.
They are still clicking, still trading lead vocals as they have done for almost three decades, still planning future gigs with Hicks, Calloway and Byrd. As the Birds fall to the Broncos, the beat in Forriest's garage goes on.
- Dan Geringer
On Twitter: @DanGeringer
Chillin' Wit' is a regular feature of the Daily News that spotlights a name in the news away from the job.