NE Philly's LeCompt is king of beef-and-beer rock

Posted: August 26, 2014

MIKE LeCOMPT, a Holmesburg native son who has been rocking since his Father Judge High School years, is such a legend at Northeast Philly and down-the-Shore pubs that he'll get his first breather on Wednesday after working 74 nights in a row.

His long, hair-band locks, which flowed over his shoulders when he was lead singer for Tangier on their 1991 hit, "Stranded," is pulled back now into a Samurai-style ponytail.

His open-to-the-navel shirts have given way to tees, and he wears his jeans looser these days.

But, at 53, LeCompt's big, rough-edged voice still resonates like a cry in the night, powering his '70s arena-rock covers as well as his original heartache ballads.

Thousands of Northeast Philadelphians have been LeCompt fans for decades because he has always been a local guy with a heart as big as Pennypack Park.

"He's always the first one to step up and help out the community in any way he can - a benefit, a private party, a nursing home," said Donnie Smith, president of the Mayfair Civic Association.

Before a recent gig at Paddy Whacks Irish Sports Pub, on Roosevelt Boulevard near Welsh Road, LeCompt said, "Hey, man, if someone is in trouble and I can do something to help, I will.

"If there's cancer in a family, well, there's cancer in my family, too, so I get it," he said. "Young kids who are sick, people whose house burned down, something for a police family - I will do it."

LeCompt is the Northeast Philly king of beef-and-beer rock. That's why his fans pack the pubs he plays.

They remember him showing up in a Phillies road jersey at the 2009 Pennypack Park Music Festival, swinging his guitar like a bat while covering the Who's "Can't Explain," then smashing it to pieces on the stage.

They remember LeCompt in the 1991 Tangier video, singing "Stranded" while a pre-"Baywatch" Pamela Anderson wandered around the desert in denim short-shorts and a black bra.

He'd taken a year off from his own band, LeCompt, to tour as frontman for Tangier, a hair band at the end of the spandex era.

"By the time the tour ended," LeCompt said, "grunge had come in, and fans were screaming, 'Where's your flannel shirt? Where's your combat boots?' "

Rejecting flannel, he returned to LeCompt, and the rest is 25 years of Northeast Philly bar-band history and 12 summers at Sea Isle City's Springfield Inn.

His secret? "I never got the blown-up head," LeCompt said. "My older brother Jack is a drummer who played with a lot of big stars. He'd play on the 'Tonight Show,' and the next day I'd ask, 'Who you playing with tonight?' and he'd say, 'I'm playing with Santa Claus outside Macy's.'

"So I knew everything's short-lived. What really matters is working as a musician all these years. Northeast Philly has always been my base."

It was time to leave for the gig. "I love music," LeCompt said. "Life is pretty short. So I'm psyched. Let's get on with the show."

On Twitter: @DanGeringer

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