Beyond Vinyl: Donald Riggio
Head for the vintage store and check out the fashions. Make sure that you find a great pair of bell bottoms, colorful shirt and even a few pairs of capezios, baby dolls and even some oxford ties. Add in my favorite those great mini skirts and some chunky high heels and you are definitely ready to take a trip back to an era when music really popped, the sounds unique and the artist filled with Soul. A time when the world was dealing with the Vietnam War, Woodstock, hippies and where 1963 started off a decade filled with sounds and music by artists who began in the previous decade and continued to soar. Elvis, Ray Charles, Dion and the Everly Brothers and what about the Beatles! The social causes, the music related to the war, the events, Kennedy and Martin Luther King’s assassinations and much more influenced popular setting the stage for the eclectic music of today. The British invasion with the Beatles, the Civil Rights Movement plus Motown, R&B, Fold and much more were just some of the fires that lit up this colorful decade. Joseph Rabinowitz takes readers back to this time period along with author Donald Riggio and relates the history, brings us the music, the wars, the deceits, the betrayals and the love that brought his family back together as he shares the next chapter of his story.
Beginning with his daughter Danielle we learn about her relationship with her parents and how she tries to be more independent and on her own. Listening to Joseph talk we take the first journey back in time to 1969 when Janet and Joseph reignite their love and they decide to restart their lives together once more. We meet him at the Majestic Theater after the Du-kanes had their reunion performance setting off a chain of events that would bring them back into the limelight. Teaming with his former partner Leo Klein, Jacob Miliewski and many more a decision was made to book more concerts for this group. The author then flashes to Janet’s life and the history behind her and a man named Ian Markham who is her daughter’s father. In Chapter 2 we meet the Du-Kanes in person Kenny, Jimmy, Bobby and their families as the take their own journeys down memory lane with readers. So, Joseph decided to do as suggested and expanded their time in NYC and booked more performances for the group.
In 1964 we meet Janet, a naïve photographer who just wanted to take some shots for her new book titled Priory. Enlisting the help of Ian Markham she thought we expedite matters. However, their business arrangement turned personal and when Janet learned she was having Danielle, Ian’s attitude was anything but supportive. Turning to drugs, liquor and other women was his solution to living his life large you might say. When Janet learned the truth about him she immediately changed the course of her life. The Have-Nots was his group and their popularity was on the rise but like the Grateful Dead they spent much of their time in front of a judge or magistrate. Using her for his own purposes he thought she would write a song for him to use for his group and send them up to number one on the charts. Her reaction normal the outcome you have to learn for yourself.
Next, we learn about the man that started Chanticleer Records, how he was discovered and the part he played and his relationship with Teddy Boyette. This is one book chocked filled with history, solid research and so much music you can hear it on every page. So, before you put those hot dancing shoes on get out that old stereo, find those 45’s and make sure you have the round piece that goes in the middle and let’s party.
From learning about the Fonz, to finding out that Boyette had a son and a stolen guitar, Joseph Rabinowitz shares many stories with readers as it continues with Danielle’s discovery. But, let’s not forget the history the author shares about the Nixon era, Watergate and of course we have to remember the Baby Boomers. Many young people who fought in many wars returned home to the U.S. and needed jobs. Some used their G.I Bills to go back to school and others hoped for employment. But, it was not easy. There were more changes as both kids and adults not only listened to the radio but with many more shows on television they were doubling hooked. Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis and Roy Orbison were the rage and they created the Sun Record Company. Learning the truth behind TJ or Teddy’s birth, finding out about his mother Dee led Joseph on a quest to learn more. What did Danielle discover? You just won’t believe it as Joseph, Dani and Janet hear the voice of Teddy and singing Elvis on some rare tapes hidden in his basement.
The author shares the truth behind Elvis, his addiction to drugs and other meds and what happened on the day he passed away and the disco scene. Bobby Vitale and the places he frequented that I do remember growing up in the Bronx. Castle Hill Diner, The Thruway Diner and Jo&Jo’s bring back great memories. Imagine learning more about the Pixies and their star performer, added in when the King died plus Danielle’s scheme to get into TJ Russell’s show and what she did when she tricked the manager into letting her and her two friends backstage. Priceless!
Demolition Night and Radiation brought in great crowds when the Chicago White Sox were taking the field. Disco music might have been on the decline disc jockey Steve Dahl’s campaign to revive it soared. Imagine detonating explosives and watching pieces of vinyl permeate throughout the air. The end result not what they expected.
Next, Janet and Danielle visit Israel. Janet is creating a new book and she is going to create a new coffee table book. Going on a guided tour with the Danielle and Janet we see many of the sites, learn a lot about the young people and security needed and of course we wish we were there with them.
On November 4, 1979 a mob of “over 300 militant students stormed the US Embassy in Tehran chanting that the building housed a “den of spies.” Taking over 60 military and civilian men and women hostage and event that is imbedded in our minds forever. The friendships gained in Israel, Dani bonding with the translator and going home with a special gift really made this chapter even more special.
The mafia does come into play in this book as they had plans of their own for their record company. Using a man named Max Seiderman an accountant to you might say cook the books. Added in TJ Russell decided to leave this group Amadeus and many thought it for the best. But, what was in everyone minds and so very present was the hostage situation and what was not being done and what others hoped would be.
Of course what would any book about this era be without including Ronald Reagan and the advent of Monday Night Football and the murder of John Lennon. Things were about to change, one member of Joseph’s team lost his life and Danielle celebrated being 16. But, on page 171 the author really brings to light the neighborhood where I did tons of shopping, the best bakeries, pizza and more Morris Park in the Bronx and it is still there and better than ever. Jimmy Stannic was part of their team and we cannot forget the information included about him working on the subway and trying to better his life. Next, comes the CD and Danielle’s time in High School. But, an incident in school might have gotten her in trouble but a date with her heartthrob definitely worth it if you ask Danielle.
What would this era be without the icon of the late fifties: AMERICAN BANDSTAND AND DICK CLARK. The 10 thousand dollar pyramid was one of my mom’s favorite shows and Dick Clark filled every living room on New Years Eve. So, why wouldn’t Danielle want to be there and meet Dick Clark. But, an encounter that evening with TJ Russell quite enlightening allowing readers to know this young lady was force in her own right.
Author Donald Riggio keeps readers and this reviewer glued to the disco label, printed page, the time period and the record companies until you turn to the very last page and find out the dramatic or surprise ending. But, a friend from Israel comes to stay with the family and a different relationship forms. From Michael Jackson to Motown and Don K. Reed, Alan Freed and of course Cousin Brucie this book has it all. Fatal shots fired at Louis Pizzeria, which is still there a few doors down from the Interboro theater where the Du-Kanes were performing really sets the tone for what is about to happen to The Seracinos, Liebermanns and Bobby Vitale who were in this restaurant at the time of the shooting. Just who did the shooting and why you won’t believe. Why would anyone emulate the Son of Sam? Who died you will have to learn for yourself.
There is much more as TJ asks Joseph for help and has to reveal information that would betray others. Racketeering, Corruption, organized crime and much more marked this time period. Loyalties, betrayals, lies, relationships that changed, family tension and a time period so volatile, so explosive and an ending that would change many lives and provide new directions. Get out those high platform shoes, turn on those tapes of American Bandstand, tease up your hair, pile it real high and get mini skirts, and falls to lengthen your hair and party. This is a must read for everyone of every age. Beyond Vinyl: Beyond the record: beyond disco: Beyond Compare!
Fran Lewis: Reviewer