Detroit Stories Episode 56: 'Fr. Hollywood: The Rock 'n' Roll Priest' (PODCAST)

Former students recall legendary record hops of the 1960s, '70s and '80s at Notre Dame High, and their benefactor, Fr. Bryson

(0:04) The narrator sets the scene of the 1960s, when teenagers looked forward to Friday nights at the record hops at Notre Dame High School in Harper Woods. Those legendary memories weren’t complete without the memory of Fr. John “Hollywood” Bryson, a Marist priest who rubbed shoulders with celebrities and brought in the era’s hottest acts to play sets.

(2:26) Fr. Bryson’s former students, including musician Simone Vitale, actor Dave Coulier (of “Full House” fame) and Notre Dame alum Jerry Alderman describe their memories of “the rock ‘n’ roll priest.”

(6:28) Alderman talks about serving as a DJ for Fr. Bryson’s legendary dances. Often, this led to opportunities to meet stars in the music industry — and even to pick up girls.

(13:27) Vitale recalls the impact Fr. Bryson had on his budding music career, particularly the humility he instilled in his students. Fr. Bryson’s rules helped keep students with “big egos” on the straight and narrow.

(16:47) Coulier, who played “Uncle Joey” on the hit 1990s sitcom “Full House,” talks about how Fr. Bryson identified talent in students — especially those who might otherwise be dismissed as a “class clown.”

(23:05) Notre Dame High School Alumni Association president Jim Mandl recalls Fr. Bryson’s legendary jukebox, and how he was known for playing songs in the school cafeteria.

(26:08) Alderman remembers how Fr. Bryson didn’t just understand young people — he cared deeply for his students and worked to ensure they made the most of the gifts God gave them.

(27:12) Vitale talks about the excitement of the era, the unrepeatable music and the legendary record hops that Fr. Bryson and others made famous. Vitale agrees with others’ assessment: There will never be another Fr. John “Hollywood” Bryson.

Reporting, script and narration by Gabriella Patti; production by Ron Pangborn

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