Born in 1949 in San Jose Calif. My mom was a huge Sinatra fan and being Italian, of course, she loved Jesus and Sinatra. My dad and grandpa played instruments and after dinner on many occasions everyone sat around the dinner table and sang for hours. As a young child my mom encouraged me to sing as you can hear on one of our family recordings. She always had Sinatra and other great singers playing on the record player. I would sit in front of my own record player at the age of 3 and sing along with Les Paul and Mary Ford and many of the hits of the day. Musical instruments became an interest of course. I dabbled with the accordion, clarinet, and ukulele.
In the 60’s the Beatles came on the scene. Once again you’d find me in front of the Hi-Fi this time with a yard stick in hand mimicking the moves and singing Beatle songs. One day dad came home from work and said that someone owed him money for working on their car and wanted to know if he could trade guitar lessons for his son. That was all it took. I was 15 and I hit the deck running. I had 8 lessons and you couldn’t pry the guitar out of my hands day or night. I had my first gig 4 months after my lessons which consisted of my younger uncle Lenny on drums and me on guitar and vocals. I don’t remember how long we played but it couldn’t have been too long. We dressed up like the Beatles and sang their songs. Two months later we had a 5 piece band all rehearsed and started playing high school dances. The British invasion started a lot of young musicians that are still making music today.
At that time I was into MY kind of music Beatles and pop rock of the day. (Mom still played the crooners of the day all day. I was always hearing it in the home.) Then I heard Eric Clapton play and it knock me out and kicked me into a new journey of learning LEAD guitar. Within 2 years I learned every Clapton, Hendrix, B. B. King and blues licks I could. I was regarded as one of the top guitarist in my town for my age(17).Town by the way was Santa Cruz, Ca.
Then a fellow heard me play at a teen dance and asked me if I would like to form a band with him so we could get a steady gig playing in night clubs every week. I was 19 so I had to lie about my age but I said yes. He said you’ll have to learn some top 40 and standards. I said” no problem”, after getting Clapton and Hendrix down that would be a cakewalk. Top 40 was simple and the standards I knew because of my mom. And so it started a new chapter from playing once or twice a month for teen dances to 2-3 nights a week steady. At this point I knew what I wanted to do with my life, be an entertainer. I learned to be a commercial guitar player and singer, learning all the basic styles that folks would want to hear. I became proficient at all of them. That kept me in high demand and always working.
Some one said to me in the mid 70’s if you can play jazz guitar you can play anything. That’s one style I hadn’t mastered on guitar but I knew it somewhat vocally, thanks to my mom. So I started studying with a wonderful player and teacher, Bud Dimock. Everyone called him Uncle Bud. He was great and has since passed on. He was able to get me to understand jazz guitar and I have never stopped learning it to this day. I love teaching and playing jazz guitar style from the 50’s and 60’s. Of course, that goes along with my love of singing it as well (thanks to mom).
In1980 I went on the road for a couple years. Played Reno, Tahoe, Vegas, and up and down the west coast. The band was called Takis and Nightlife. It was a 3 piece that backed up a great Englebert style singer, Takis (a Greek boy). We had lots of fun and met a lot of great folks. I came back to San Jose in 82 when I heard about a catering facility called the Italian Gardens. They were looking for a house band. I got 4 other great musicians together ( all Italians) and we started the band The I.R.S. (the Italian rhythm section). We became the full-time house band that did all the weddings and parties. We were very busy. In the 80’s I played full time, playing all kinds of music but my love remained with Swing and Jazz.
Tired from playing too much, I stopped the Italian Gardens house band and formed a casual band called Rainbo Sky. We were quite successful playing for Amway and many other large organizations. We also played in Hawaii, Palm Springs, L.A. San Fran, and Portland.
In 1990 I moved to Redding Ca. where I played a lot less but still loving jazz. I opened up several music stores where I taught jazz guitar and played casual gigs. I played around northern Ca. Florida, Germany, Indonesia, and Russia. Then in 2000 a fellow musician came to me and said “I love your singing and playing ,why don’t we start a swing band?” Thus was born Swing City. I assembled 7 of the finest musicians and we rapidly became very popular in Northern Ca. In late 2008 the band stalled because of the failing economy. No one was hiring 7 piece bands in our price range. Sadly, we faced the fact that we were pretty much done.
Then a good friend said “You kinda look like Frank Sinatra and you kinda sound like him. You should do a tribute to him.” Feb 2009 the first of the Sinatra tributes was born. The little 6 year old boy( who is now 60) has finally stepped into his dream. “I want to be a singa!”
Enjoy and God bless you!
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