WEIRTON - Rick Witkowski has been accepted as a member of the Class of 2013 of the Weirton Hall of Fame in the category of music and fine arts.
In his youth, Witkowski played drums and guitar for a number of local bands and in the 1970's, he was the co-founder of the progressive rock group, Crack the Sky, for whom he continues to write and produce music.
In 1980, he married Deborah Kucan with whom he wrote "Vitamin L" performed by B. E. Talyor. The song became a No. 1 hit in Pittsburgh and No. 66 on Billboard's Hot 100. In the 1990's, he went on tour with contemporary Christian artist Kathy Troccoli where he opened for Pope John Paul II in Central Park in New York City in 1995.
On several occasions, Witkowski has performed with Bruce Springsteen and, with Crack the Sky, opened for bands from Journey to Supertramp.
Witkowski opened Studio L in Weirton in 1986 where he and his wife Deb wrote, produced and used local talent in a number of songs for local businesses including Gus's Goodies, DeeJays, Hausers, The Health Plan and theme songs for WTOV-9's "What Would Deb Do?" "Sports Friday" and "Summer of Fun." They even sang the "Shop Around in Your Hometown" for the Weirton Area Chamber of Commerce.
National clients have included Old Navy, Nabisco, Spike TV, MTV, VH-1, Bravo Network, TBS, Razor and Tie and TNN.
Throughout the years, Witkowski has done many book-to-tape projects for Macmillan and then Macmillan-McGraw Hill Publishing Company and Scholastic Publishing out of New York City using local talent. Studio L has also had a relationship with Nickelodeon over the years as Witkowski has written and produced theme songs and been involved with music and vocal talent for the Kids' Choice Awards, "Guts," "Global Guts," "My Family's Got Guts," "Kablam!," "Action League Now," "Double Dare 2000" and "Family Double Dare," "Figure It Out," "U to U" and "The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron Boy Genius." Two projects for Nickelodeon were also recorded at Studio L, "Peanut Butter Jam" and "Songs From the Backseat." He was also a creative force for Nick at Nite and TV Land by creating a variety of theme songs using local talent for vocals and instruments.
In 2009, Witkowski teamed up with St. Paul School's music director, the Rev. Larry Dorsch to write and record for the original musical written by Dorsch called, "I, Paul."
In 2010, he was involved in a project in Atlanta, Ga. called "Elf Magic" where he and his wife created a CD of songs that became part of a package for a company's Christmas elf tradition that is still popular today. He created the theme song and supplied music for the television series "Bar Karma" which aired on Current TV in 2011.
Witkowski created music and songs for the PBS pilot, "SCIENTASTIC," which picks up production again in the coming spring and will feature his music. In February, INOCENTE won the Oscar for Best Documentary Short where Witkowski, along with Beaver Falls, Pa. native Vanessa Campagna, wrote the music.
Now, at the age of 60, he continues to sport his signature Chuck Taylor All-Stars as he helps book local talent at concerts and festivals. He is a voting member of the ASCAP and votes on the Grammy's and is a member of the Screen Actor's Guild and votes on the SAG awards each year.
Witkowski is always proud to talk about his hometown wherever he goes proclaiming it truly is "almost heaven."
The fifth-annual Weirton Hall of Fame induction ceremony is set to take place at 2 p.m. on Aug. 4 at the Knights of Columbus.
Tickets are available until July 31 for $25 each at the Weirton Area Chamber of Commerce, Marsh's Pipe and Supply, R.E. Saxon Jeweler and the Weirton Municipal Building. Approximately 250 tickets are being sold and will not be available at the door. The event is open to the public.