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Published on October 27, 2011

Patient Testimonial: Thanks to Knee Replacement, This Comet’s Desire to Perform Still Burns

Five decades ago he helped a generation to shake, rattle and roll — and became known as the ‘Walking Bass Man’ for his ability to climb atop his 80-plus pound instrument while playing. But after years of all-out performing with rock and roll legends Bill Haley and the Comets, Al Rappa’s right knee had more ache in it than shake. Fortunately for the Springfield resident, the Premier/Crozer-Keystone Orthopedic Partnership was there to help. That’s because the 84-year-old turned to their orthopedic specialists for a full knee replacement.

Successfully operated on three months ago by Stuart Gordon, M.D., co-chief of the Section of Orthopedic Surgery at Taylor Hospital in Ridley Park, the lifelong musician is grateful to be pain-free for the first time in a long time.

“I was so happy to finally take care of it,” he says. “At first it was just the one (knee) that hurt, but then my left one began to bother me from overcompensating— but rather than double surgery, Dr. Gordon replaced my right one and treated the other. Now, both feel terrific. Dr. Gordon and his team of nurses were the best.”

Once again healthy and back on his feet, the surprisingly spry octogenarian is back to performing the golden oldies in front of live audiences when called upon as the leader of “Haley’s Comets.” Of course, still playing into his mid 80s doesn’t stop Rappa from harkening back to the good old days as a member of the band best known for the classic song “Rock Around the Clock.”

Reflecting on the numerous appearances on national TV and international tours the group made throughout the mid ’50s and early ’60s, he jokingly brags that he not only had the pleasure of meeting the Beatles, “they had the pleasure of meeting me!” All kidding aside, with no more pain in his knees, Al Rappa is back to doing what he does best: entertaining ... and loving every second of it.

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