Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Seven-Inch Vinyl Excerpt -Chapter Thirty-One: Guided Missiles

(From the soon-to-be published novel Copyright Donald Riggio 2011):

Chapter Thirty-One:
“Guided Missiles”
In the summer of 1962, the United States, Great Britain and France
financed a multi-national project commissioning NASA to launch
a satellite into permanent elliptical orbit around the earth. The satellite,
designed to transmit telephone calls and live television broadcasts
around the world, was called Telstar….

…Not long after Telstar became operational, an avid space buff and
record producer in London, England named Joe Meek came up with
an infectious melody line and hard driving beat that he transformed
into a song he called “The Theme From Telstar.” He gave the song to
an instrumental group he’d formed, the Tornadoes. After the initial
session, Meek shortened the name to “Telstar.” He also added several
special effects to further fill out the sound. By overdubbing the
melody track using a Clavioline, an electronic keyboard, the song
took on an eerie, spaced out sound. The record zoomed to the top
of the U.K. record charts. Then, in December 1962, the Tornadoes
became the first English rock and roll group to top the American
charts. “Telstar” remained there for three consecutive weeks.
Greatly influenced by radio broadcasts, records, and films imported
from America, British teens became familiar with the work
of Teddy Boyette, Elvis Presley, Bill Haley and Chuck Berry. A huge
rock and roll market emerged in Great Britain.
Unlike their more affluent American cousins, aspiring musicians
couldn’t afford musical instruments so they formed skiffle bands.
The term skiffle dated back to the early 1900’s defined as good time
music utilizing simple, homemade instruments like a washboard,
whistle jug or kazoo, to create its unique sound. If you added a guitar
or banjo to the razzle-dazzle mixture, you had the makings of a real
skiffle band.
One such Liverpool skiffle band called themselves the Quarrymen.
The group honed its craft playing long hours in raunchy strip clubs
and beer halls in Hamburg, Germany. They signed as a back-up band
for singer Tony Sheridan, using the name of the Beat Brothers. They
performed behind Sheridan in many appearances and in the summer
of 1961 they recorded a song called “My Bonnie,” released on the
Polydor Record label in October attaining some moderate success
both in Germany and back home in England.
The record came to the attention of Brian Epstein, the proprietor
of the North East Music Store, a business venture his family
owned. He discovered that the band no longer provided back up for
Sheridan and had changed their name to the Beatles.
They played to packed houses of frantic fans at the Cavern Club,
a dank subterranean Jazz Club that had become a haven for the local
music scene. On seeing them there, Epstein recognized their raw talent
gave them the potential to become something special. He signed
them to a five-year contract as personal manager. Under Epstein, the
Beatles developed a new and refined look and style, wearing matching
suits and adopting uniform pageboy haircuts.
After rejections by several major record labels, Epstein had the
group audition for George Martin, the head of EMI’s Polyphone
Records. Martin signed them to a one-year contract with a royalty
payment of one farthing per record, amounting to one quarter of a
penny for each of them. Martin made some further refinements and
a personnel change at drummer. He guided them as producer to three
hit singles and an album, which hurled them to star status as they
toured all over England.
Vee-Jay Records, a popular R&B label based in Chicago acquired
the US rights to early Beatles songs as part of a licensing
agreement they had with several other EMI performers. They released
the Beatle’s single, “Please, Please Me,” and placed the record
into the rotation at the City’s top radio station WLS in February
1963. It failed to impress anyone. When Dick Clark featured another
of their singles, “She Loves You,” on American Bandstand later that
summer, the audience laughed and ridiculed the act because of their
offbeat hairstyle. In New York City, popular radio deejay, Murray
the K, played the song on his 1010 WINS record revue in October.
Once again it garnered little response.
It appeared American audience had little interest in these four
mop top, faggy looking performers from Liverpool, England.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Reprinted from The Henderson Writers Group Newsletter 11/27/10

Spotlight Author of the Week
Donald Riggio
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Upcoming Release
Some years ago, my love of the great
Rock and Roll music of the 50's & 60's
inspired me to write a novel. I called it,
Seven-Inch-Vinyl and completed it last
year. My research increased my
knowledge and enabled me to meet some
of my musical heroes from that wonderful
time. Today I have the honor to call some
of them my friends. I share excerpts from
the book, facts, anecdotes and bits of
information from those by-gone days.
Remember "Rock and Roll will never die,
it will always be." – Donald
Read excerpts from the book on Donald’s
To pre-order a copy from the author
contact Donald:

Thanks to Teresa Watts/ Publicity Chairman for HWG for posting this. It's the first "UNOFFICIAL" announcement for pre-orders. The cover price for the book is $22.95. By ordering directly from me there will be a discount price. More details will follow here and on my facebook pages: "Donald Riggio" "Seven-Inch Vinyl" and "60s Music."

Monday, November 22, 2010

Seven-Inch Vinyl Excerpt: Chapter Thirty-Two: Goodbye

(From the soon-to-be-published novel Copyright Outskirts Press 2011)

Chapter Thirty-Two:

In Dallas, Texas, on November 22, 1963, at 12:39 pm, CST, the Top 40 radio station KLIF was playing “I Have a Boyfriend,” by the Chiffons. The song was cut off mid way thru. At the same moment, television viewers across the country were annoyed when the CBS-TV network interrupted the popular soap opera, “As the World Turns.” A printed “BULLETIN” placard appeared on-screen because CBS didn’t have a camera warmed up in their newsroom in New York. The voice of news anchorman Walter Cronkite followed.

“Here is a bulletin from CBS news in Dallas, Texas, three shots were fired at President Kennedy’s motorcade in downtown Dallas. Reports say that President Kennedy has been seriously wounded by this shooting.”
Cronkite repeated the details, advising viewers to stay tuned to CBS for further reports.
Twenty minutes later he returned, this time on-camera while frantic employees monitored the wire service tickers in the background. Cronkite continued to report on whatever random, sketchy details he had. At 2:38 pm EST, someone handed the anchorman a piece of paper. He put on his glasses, read the note, and then looked into the camera.
“From Dallas, Texas, the flash, apparently official…” he proceeded to read the note, “President Kennedy died at 1 pm central standard time, 12:00 eastern standard time…” His eyes glanced up at a clock on the wall, “…some thirty-eight minutes ago.”
Visibly shaken, he fought to keep his composure. His demeanor reflected the sadness felt by millions around the country.

Less than two hours later, police arrested a suspect, a meek, frail looking ex-Marine named Lee Harvey Oswald. He worked in the building where the shots were fired. During his escape he’d shot and killed a Dallas police officer. Several witnesses saw him enter a nearby movie theater where authorities apprehended him.
During the flight that brought Kennedy’s body back to Washington, Vice-President Lyndon Baines Johnson took the oath making him the thirty-sixth President of the United States.


Like millions of others, Janet Rabinowitz followed the events of the next three days in a trance-like state. The sight of Kennedy’s widow Jackie, her raspberry colored suit and legs stained with the blood and brain matter of her beloved husband was seared in her memory. Two days later, the alleged assassin himself was killed while in police custody in the basement of the Dallas Police Headquarters, meaning that perhaps the motives behind the assassination might never be revealed.
Saddest of all was the live broadcast of President Kennedy’s State Funeral in Washington on Monday, November 25th. A solemn high mass took place at St. Matthews Cathedral attended by 1,200 family members, dignitaries and heads of state from all over the world. The flag draped casket was placed onto an Army caisson drawn by six white horses for the procession to Arlington Cemetery. As it passed the point where the Kennedy family stood waiting, the President’s son, John F. Kennedy Jr. saluted the casket. It was the boy’s third birthday.

Rock and Roll quote of the day: "Didn't you love the things that they stood for? Didn't they try to find some good in you and me? We'll be free. Someday soon there's gonna be a new way." From: Abraham, Martin and John by: Dion

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Seven-Inch Vinyl Cover Mock-up

Thrilled to unveil the first cover mock-up for the novel. Except for a few tweeks it's pretty much close to perfect (all white lettering for my name being one). I must thank the talented Michael O'Neal for designing this with me.

Michael is a fellow member of The Henderson Writers' Group here in Las Vegas. A truly talented young man, he's an author, actor, artist and now, a book-cover designer. He has been named as Assistant Editor for a new Horror magazine: ( You can also see some of his more DEMENTED art-work on his blog,

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Seven-Inch Vinyl excerpt - Chapter Thirty-One: Guided Missiles

(from the soon-to-be published novel Copyright 2010 Donald Riggio)

A U-2 spy plane flying over Cuba photographed what experts believed to be rocket-launching sites under construction. The Soviet Union had been providing Castro’s regime with arms and defensive weapons. When questioned by President Kennedy about the missile sites, Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko insisted the construction was solely for the purpose of contributing to Cuba’s defensive capabilities. Kennedy wasn’t convinced. He put the country’s military on high alert and ordered more U-2 flights.

Weeks later, new photographs showed that the missile sites could indeed be equipped with mid-range ballistic missiles and outfitted with nuclear warheads capable of reaching targets within the United States. There was no sign of the missiles themselves. The government was convinced they hadn’t yet been delivered and became determined to keep them from arriving.

Kennedy decided to go public. He addressed the nation in a news conference on the night of October 22nd. The leader who’d smiled so beamingly so many times before in his televised news conferences wasn’t smiling on this occasion. With a grim, somber demeanor he used enlargements of U-2 photographs to show the public the launching sites. He stated that intelligence reports confirmed that nineteen Soviet ships were currently en-route to Cuba. A number of them carried nuclear warheads.
“It shall be the policy of this nation…” Kennedy intoned, “…to regard any nuclear missile launched from Cuba against any nation in the Western Hemisphere as an attack by the Soviet Union on the United States, requiring a full retaliatory response upon the Soviet Union.”

He further announced a naval blockade of the waters surrounding Cuba. Kennedy ordered U.S. warships to stop and board any Russian ships for the purposes of inspecting their cargo.
The world stood on the brink of nuclear war.


“We’re fine, Joseph, just fine.” Solomon Rabinowitz told his son when they spoke on the telephone the next day. Joseph was concerned about his parents living in a house off the intercostals causeway near Miami Beach, Florida. While he never once mentioned the missile crisis or Kennedy’s speech, he knew his father was aware that this was more than a social call.
“Say hello to your mother.” Solomon instructed him.
“Hi, Mama.” Joseph said as pleasantly as he could when Myra got on the line. Janet stood close by trying to hear both sides of the conversation.
“The whole world has gone crazy, Joseph.” His mother told him sounding more angry than frightened.
“I know. All we can do is hope that Kennedy and Khrushchev keep their wits about them and somehow back away from this.”
“We can do more than that, Joseph. We can pray. We can pray very hard”
That solution didn’t lessen Joseph’s concern. “I’m going to put Janet on the line Mama.”
He handed the receiver to his wife then stepped away to give her some privacy.
“Hello, Mama.” Janet said, smiling in the comfort of hearing Myra’s voice.
“Hello, my dear. How are you holding up during this awful time?”
“We’re okay. It’s just so weird here. The whole city seems to be holding its breath waiting for something bad to happen. The streets are so quiet…there’s hardly any traffic…everyone is glued to their TV sets waiting for news.” After a long pause Janet covered the mouthpiece and spoke to Joseph. “She says we should all pray.” Joseph simply nodded.
The two women spoke for a few minutes more before Joseph took the receiver. He told his mother he loved her, and then hung up.
He told Janet that he had to go back to the studio. After he’d gone Janet sat on the couch and cried. She recalled a time when he never would have left her alone. How he would have remained there by her side to comfort her, assure her that her he-man would protect her from any harm. Instead she sat alone with the fear of the television broadcast interrupted by a news bulletin. The shrill beeping of the emergency alert system might sound, sending her down to the air raid shelter in the basement of their building. There she’d wait for an all-clear signal or bombs to fal

The situation came to a head on October 26th when the United States Navy boarded the Russian freighter Marluca. With no weapons found aboard, the ship continued on to Cuba. The action convinced the Russians that the Americans were prepared to enforce the blockade. Castro sent Premier Khrushchev an impassioned plea to allow nuclear missiles to rain down on America. But the Russian leader had no real desire for such a confrontation. He ordered any ships carrying weapons to reverse course and head home.
The two nuclear powers negotiated a deal that would see the dismantling of the missile sites in Cuba and a guarantee that the Russians would no longer send any more offensive weapons to its Latin American ally. In return, the U.S. would soon abandon missile sites they had in Turkey. The crisis in Cuba was over.

Rock and Roll quote of the day: Treat me right, must you run now. For the nights just begun now. Honey please...won't you stay awhile with me?" From: "Stay Awhile" by Dusty Springfield.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Seven-Inch Vinyl excerpt-Chapter Twenty-nine: Camelot

(From the soon-to-be published novel Copyright 2010 Donald Riggio)

...Since its inception, Rock and roll music always had a massive impact on the dance culture. Many youngsters, especially males, preferred slow dancing to ballads and love songs. These dances were called the fish and the grind where boys were said to shine their belt buckles by pressing against the bodies of their female partners.
But the most popular dance of the day was by far the Lindy Hop, a dance comprised of intricate moves, turns and flips with names like the whip, hijack and the windmill. The dance derived its name from the famous aviator, Charles A. Lindbergh, nicknamed Lindy who made his historical solo flight, or hop, across the Atlantic Ocean from New York to Paris in 1927. The dance itself had undergone several name changes over the years eventually known as, the jump, jive, boogie-woogie, and the bop.
New dances started cropping up all over the country. Cameo-Parkway Records in Philadelphia signed a new artist named Ernest Evans. A chance meeting at a recording session saw Evans introduced to Dick Clark and his wife, Barbara. On learning that his boss at a local produce market had given Evans the nickname Chubby, Barbara Clark suggested a new stage name for the singer. She reasoned, if there could be a Fats Domino why not a Chubby Checker? The big break in his singing career came when the record company gave him a Hank Ballard tune to record called the Twist.
The tune was catchy, Checker’s performance exuberant, and the dance easy to learn. One simply mimicked the action of putting out a cigarette with the balls of your feet, at the same time, swinging your arms and hips from side to side in a twisting motion as though drying your backside with a bath towel. Soon everyone was twisting the night away in malt shops, sock hops, and even posh nightclubs.
Follow-up songs and variations soon populated the record charts as companies created a new batch of dance moves and singers generating millions of dollars in revenue.
Ironically, Leo Klein came up the idea for the dance that would represent Chanticleer Record’s entry into the dance craze mania.


“We can call it the Caterpillar.” He pitched the idea at a meeting of executives one morning as they were discussing possibilities. Leo rarely ever made a suggestion with regard to creative content, so his idea caught everyone off guard. His younger partner wondered if he should take the suggestion seriously.
“And just how do you do this – Caterpillar?” Joseph wanted to know.
Overcome with embarrassment that he must demonstrate his idea to the others, Leo timidly rose from his chair. He fumbled through movements clearly making them up as he went along.
“Well, you can just sort of stand in the middle of the dance floor with your arms out, bent at the elbow like the legs of a caterpillar…”
“Maybe snap your fingers a little?” Mickey jokingly interrupted.
“Yes, certainly,” Leo took it as a serious suggestion “snapping your fingers is fine. Then you would just kind of wiggle your ass back and forth sort of in a slinky motion.”
“Do you get to move your feet at all? It is a dance, remember?” Curtis commented stifling a grin. Leo knew all the others were ribbing him.
“Of course! You can do some turns, slink around the floor…whatever a caterpillar does for Chrissake!” Leo shouted.
“You think we could get away with something like that?” Joseph asked Curtis.
“Maybe with some refinements here and there.”
“Of course it needs some refinements.” Leo chimed in, happy to sit down again.
“Who do we give it to?” Curtis asked.
“A girl group.” Mickey offered after Leo’s demonstration.
“Definitely.” Again, Leo whole-heartedly agreed.
“The Pixies?” Curtis opted. “It could be just what they need to put them over the top.”
“I agree. I’ll work up some lyrics and charts and have it all ready for you by tomorrow morning.” Joseph told him.
“Another all-nighter?” Leo asked with some concern.
“Looks like it,” he replied.
“Do you really think it was such a good idea?” Leo asked.
“The best idea we’ve had around here since…coonskin caps.” Joseph smiled.

Two days later Joseph ran through a rough arrangement of the perky little tune for the Pixies in one of the rehearsal halls.
“Is that the best you can offer us, Joseph…‘the Caterpillar’?” Evie wasn’t impressed.
“I didn’t come up with it. Leo did.” Joseph smiled.
“Mr. Klein? Mr. Klein wrote this song?”
“No, I wrote the song. Leo invented the dance.”
“I don’t like it,” Evie pouted.
“Oh, come on…” Her sister Althea challenged, as their cousin Roberta shook her head. “…Why do you have to be so danged contrary to everything? Can’t you at least think about it? What’s wrong with you, girl?”
“Yeah, Evie. The tune is real catchy. I’ll bet we could work up some real good dance movements to go with it, couldn’t we Mr. Rabin?” Roberta asked.
“Absolutely! The steps, the choreography…I’ll leave all that up to you girls. I want you to have fun with it.”
Evie wavered but she had conditions.
“Would it be too much to ask for a nice, slow ballad for the b-side?”
“Did you have something specific in mind?”
“There’s a song from Janet’s catalog, ‘Seven Ways to Sunday’?” Evie said without hesitation.
Janet wrote the song for Teddy but he didn’t live to record it. Evie asked for it once before when things between she and her boss were different. He refused her then and he thought badly of her to ask again now.
“Okay. It’s yours,” then he stressed, “on the B-side.”
“Okay, girls,” Evie preened, “let’s go find us a full length mirror and see if we can learn to shake our asses like caterpillars.”

Rock and Roll quote of the day: "Has high blood pressure got a hold on me, or is this the way love's supposed to be." From, "Heat Wave" by Martha and the Vandellas.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Seven-Inch Vinyl excerpt-Chapter Twenty-Eight: Payola

(From the soon-to-be published novel Copyright 2010 Donald Riggio)

...The year before, television was rocked with scandal. Certain contestants on some of TV’s most popular quiz shows were provided answers to questions prior to airtime. Some were even coached on how to best dramatize their response. A House Legislative Oversight Committee formed in congress. They conducted an extensive investigation, grilling network executives and former contestants. Soon, they uncovered enough evidence to prove that some of the shows were rigged. The networks tried to alibi their way out claiming the quiz shows were considered dramatic entertainment and should not be held to such a high standard of honesty. The committee disagreed. Quiz shows ratings plummeted. Many shows were cancelled.
Fueled by this success against corrupt broadcasting practices, ASCAP urged Washington to broaden its investigation to include radio. Disc Jockeys became the prime targets. The accusations were that record company executives paid radio personalities to play their records on the air. A new word entered the vernacular, a contraction of the words pay and victrola: Payola.
In all, some twenty-dive deejays and executives found themselves questioned at the hearings. Called to testify, Joseph and Leo presented their company books, open to official scrutiny. Leo’s meticulous accounting of every penny earned and spent, as well as the ability of both men to answer every question put to them impressed the Congressmen. Chanticleer Records received a clean bill.
Phil Gambetta strolled through the lobby of one of the finer hotels in midtown Manhattan with a gorgeous, provocatively dressed young, blonde party doll on his arm. They turned the heads of men and women alike as they walked along a lavender blue plush carpet to the bank of hotel elevators. They entered the next available car and rode to the penthouse floor without exchanging a glance or a word between them.
Phil was still the number two man at Alexis Records, holding the official position of Vice President. Normally, an errand such as this was assigned to an employee of much lower rank but Richie Conforti made it clear to him how important this job was. Phil assured Richie he’d take care of it personally. Exiting the elevator, Phil and his buxom companion stood outside the door of one of the two rooms on the floor. Phil knocked softly on the rich wood. Seconds later the door flew open to reveal the occupant, a tall, gaunt looking man wearing a dressing gown and rimless glasses. Strands of hair from his embarrassingly bad comb-over flew up from the slight breeze created by opening the door. His leering gaze fixed immediately on the blonde’s deep cleavage.
“Mr. Bertram, my name is Phil Gambetta. Richie Conforti from Alexis Records sent me. This here is my friend, Jo-Ann.”
“Hello, Jo-Ann.” Bertram tried to be sexy and flirtatious. He stepped aside allowing his visitors to enter. Phil looked around, surveying the lavish surroundings of the suite. An ice bucket containing an opened bottle of expensive champagne sat on a room service cart. Another empty bottle lay on the floor. The remnants of a thick T-bone steak and a partially eaten baked potato were also in evidence.
“I hope you’re finding everything to your satisfaction?” Phil asked. He couldn’t help but think to himself what a pretty penny all this must be costing the Record Company.
“Why yes I am. Thank you very much indeed.”
Phil reached into his inside jacket pocket and produced a white, business sized envelope expanded to the thickness of about one inch by whatever it contained.
“Mr. Conforti also wanted you to have this.” He said as he handed the envelope to Bertram. “Perhaps you’d like to take Jo-Ann out on the town, see a show? Then again, maybe just order up some more room service?”
“I think we’ll just go with the room service. I have rather a rather early flight back to the Capitol tomorrow. That is of course, if that’s all right with you my dear?”
“Sure, whatever you say sweetie,” came Jo-Ann’s sultry reply. “You’re so cute. We can have our own little party right here, just the two of us.”
“We’ll have a car take you to the airport in plenty of time.” Phil assured him.
“That’s very kind. I want you to assure Mr. Conforti that he has nothing to be concerned about.”
“He’ll be happy to hear that, I’m sure.” The two men shook hands and Phil let himself out of the suite. He smiled as he made his way back to the elevator. He liked Jo-Ann and didn’t envy what she had to endure for the cause. But then, he thought, what the hell, she wasn’t anything more than a common tramp. Besides she, like everybody else was well paid.
The following Monday morning, US Congressman Stanley Bertram from the state of Delaware was back in Washington DC in his capacity as co-chairman of the House Special Committee on corruption in the recording industry. The report on his recent findings indicated there was no need to call anyone from Alexis Records to testify before the committee. Payola was indeed everywhere.
The attention of the investigations soon fell on the two top disc jockeys in the country, Dick Clark and Alan Freed. Clark testified that he became involved with outside interests associated with the recording industry solely for the tax advantages they provided. He denied accepting any monies or gifts, but admitted to divesting himself of whole or part interest in thirty-three companies, after the Payola issue surfaced. This accounted for over twenty-seven percent of the records he played on American Bandstand. While his admission did not exonerate him, he escaped the hearings with his reputation intact.
The same could not be said about Alan Freed. Though granted immunity, Freed refused to admit to any misconduct. Clearly, he was prepared to be the scapegoat and take the fall.
In May of 1960, a New York Grand Jury handed down misdemeanor indictments charging Freed and seven others with receiving over $116,000.00 in illegal gratuities. Freed was soon fired from both WABC-Radio and WNEW-TV. The man credited with coining the term “rock and roll” was through in the music business.

Rock and Roll quote of the day: "Do that again, you're driving me insane. Kiss me once more, that's another think I like you for." From: I Like It - By Gerry & the Pacemakers.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Seven-Inch Vinyl excerpt - Chapter Thrity-One: Guided MIssles

(From the soon-to-be published novel Copyright Donald Riggio 2010).

In the summer of 1962, The United States, Great Britain and France financed a multi-national project commissioning NASA to launch a satellite into permanent elliptical orbit around the earth. It was designed to transmit telephone calls and live television broadcasts around the world. It was called Telstar…
… Not long after Telstar became operational, an avid space buff and record producer in London, England named Joe Meeks came up with an infectious melody line and hard driving beat that he transformed into a song he called The Theme From Telstar.” He gave the song to an instrumental group he’d formed The Tornadoes. After the initial session, Meek shortened the name to “Telstar.” He also added several special effects to further fill out the sound. By overdubbing the melody track using a Clavioline, an electronic keyboard, the song took on an eerie, spaced out sound. The record zoomed to the top of the U.K. record charts. In December 1962, The Tornadoes became the first English Rock and Roll group to top the American charts. “Telstar” went to number one remaining there for three consecutive weeks.
A huge pop music market had emerged in Great Britain, greatly influenced by radio broadcasts, records and films imported from America. British teens became familiar with the work of Teddy Boyette, Elvis Presley, Bill Haley and Chuck Berry.
Unlike their more affluent American cousins, aspiring musicians couldn’t afford musical instruments so they formed “skiffle” bands. Skiffle was a term that dated back to the early 1900’s defined as “good time” music utilizing simple, homemade instruments like a washboard; whistle jug or kazoo to create its unique sound. If a guitar or banjo were added to the razzle-dazzle mixture, you had the makings of a real skiffle band. The most successful artist of the genre was a Scotsman named Lonnie Donegan who’d scored a huge skiffle hit with an old blues song, “Rock Island Line,” about an engineer on the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railroad who smuggles a load of pig iron ore passed a tollgate.
One such Liverpool skiffle band called themselves The Quarrymen. The group honed its craft playing long hours in raunchy strip clubs and beer halls of Hamburg, Germany. There they were signed as back up band for singer Tony Sheridan, using the name of The Beat Brothers. They performed behind Sheridan in many appearances and in the summer of 1961 they recorded a song called “My Bonnie,” released on the Polydor Record label in October attaining some moderate success both in Germany and back home in England.
The record came to the attention of Brian Epstein, the twenty- seven-year-old proprietor of the North East Music Store, a business venture his family owned. He discovered that the band no longer provided back up for Sheridan and had changed their name to The Beatles.
They played to packed houses of frantic fans at the Cavern Club, a dank subterranean Jazz Club that had become a haven for the local pop music scene. On seeing them there, Epstein recognized their raw talent gave them the potential to become something special. He signed them to a five-year contract as personal manager. Under Epstein, The Beatles were given a new and refined look and style, wearing matching suits and adopting uniform pageboy style haircuts.
After being rejected by several major record labels, Epstein had the group audition for George Martin, the head of EMI’s Polyphone Records. Martin signed them to a one-year contract with a royalty payment of one farthing per record, amounting to one quarter of a penny for each of them. Martin made some further refinements and a personnel change at drummer. He guided them as producer to three hit singles and an album, which hurled them to star status as they toured all over England.
Vee-Jay Records, a popular R&B label based in Chicago acquired the U.S. rights to early Beatles songs as part of a licensing agreement they had with several other EMI performers. They released the Beatle’s single, “Please, Please Me” and placed the record into the rotation at the City’s top radio station WLS in February 1963. It failed to impress anyone. When Dick Clark featured another of their singles, “She Loves You” on American Bandstand later that summer, the audience laughed and ridiculed the act because of their offbeat hairstyle. In New York City, popular radio deejay, Murray the K played the song on his 1010 WINS record revue in October. Once again it garnered little response.
It appeared American audience had little interest in these four “mop top,” “faggy looking” performers from Liverpool, England.

Rock and Roll Quote of the day: "Oh there you are, high above. Oh, God, send me a love. Oh there you are high above the sky. I need your love oh me oh me oh my." From Little Star by The Elegants.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Rock and Roll meets The Muse:

This weekend I had the pleasure of being the first featured author on a great new Blog: “Slaves to the Muse” created by my writing buddy Tami Snow. The following is an interview we conducted and an excerpt from Chapter Twenty-five of “Seven-Inch Vinyl: A Rock and Roll Novel.” - Genius At Work. My thanks go out to Tami. It’s an honor to be associated with you and your cast of talented writers, artists and poets. You can visit “Slaves to the Muse” by clicking the new link feature "Other Blogs that dig Rock and Roll." On the right side of the scroll.

“The Torture Chamber would like to announce the capture and detainment of Donald Riggio our resident Rock and Roll fiction writer. “
Donald Riggio is the published author of several short works of fiction as well as some magazine and newspaper articles dealing with his favorite topic, rock and roll music. “Seven-Inch Vinyl: A Rock and Roll Novel,” is his first novel. He is currently working on the sequel, Beyond Vinyl.”
Q: Seven Inch Vinyl is a work of fiction that carries the reader into the real world of music history. What gave you the idea to write it?
A: I’ve always had a great love for the music of the 50’s and 60’s and I’ve always had the dream of writing a novel, so it seemed natural to combine the two. I began researching the book and creating the characters some ten years ago. I finally settled on the time period between the years 1953 and 1969 and completed the book last year.

Q: What is your musical back ground?
A: like most guys my age The British Invasion inspired me to learn to play guitar and form a rock and roll band. We got to be pretty good and played school dances, parties and local clubs. Our drummer was a guy who loved the R&B and street-corner harmonies of the mid-fifties so we incorporated those into the act. The more I learned the more I grew to love it as well.

Q: What are you hoping your readers will experience through the eyes of your main characters?
A: Well, Tami, beyond the love story between Joseph and Janet, the novel is a journey through history. The teenagers of the 50’s were the first generation to really have “their own” music. Through the development of the 45-RPM record and the transistor radio, music became a big part of their lives. The teens of the 50’s became the college kids of the 60’s. They became more socially relevant and brought about great changes like integration of the races, the woman’s movement and protesting what they felt was an unfair war. They developed technology that made the world a smaller place and put a man on the moon. I like to think Seven-Inch Vinyl takes the reader along on that journey.

Q: How much of Donald Riggio is in Seven Inch Vinyl?
A: Wow. A lot I think. Like I said, I had a band. I lived in a Housing Project like my later characters. Many of those later characters are based on friends and people I knew. Certainly, like any author, the motivations and attitudes of the characters are rooted in my psyche. My first girlfriends’ name WAS Janet but that’s where the similarity ends. I am NOT Joseph (lol) more, Johnny Seracino MAYBE. Let’s just say the names have been changed to protect the innocent and leave it at that.

Q: What’s your writing space and routine?
A: Now, it’s fabulous. Think Elton John in concert behind his keyboards, monitors and such and that’s me. Years back I’d write at work, hidden behind tall partitions with my desk chair facing the opening so I wouldn’t get caught dawdling. I used to use pen and legal pad then transpose to computer. The book was NOT written in continuity, but short snippets of ideas and dialogue exchanges that were pieced together later. Some dialogue was written as conversation (script style) with tags and narrative added later. But, I must say, the first page has changed very little from the first draft.
My routine: first thing everyday is my daily Rock and Roll trivia post on FB, sometimes the same post on as many as 20 pages for optimum exposure to get the name “Donald Riggio” out here. I then check and answer e-mails. In a couple of weeks I’ll have the edits from my editor and I’ll be busy with that and through the publishing process.

Q: What is your opinion about music today?
A: That’s an interesting question. In the late 50’s and early 60’s much of rock and roll came out of the urban centers of New York, New Jersey, Philly and L.A. just to name a few. Groups of all ethnic backgrounds would gather on street corners to sing. Back then they called it DooWop or Street Corner Vocal Harmony. Today it’s known as Rap or Hip Hop. But it’s still just a younger generation kids singing about life in the city. It may not be pleasing to MY ears, but it’s valid and representative of what they are experiencing.
Thank you so much Donald for being our very first Featured Author. We were thrilled to have you.
-Tami Snow & Joann Buchanan

Here’s an excerpt from Chapter Twenty-Seven “Genius At Work:”

On the morning the Du-Kanes joined the orchestra in the studio there was a real sense of excitement and anticipation. Many of those associated with the sessions realized something magical was happening. Joseph positioned Kenny and Hector behind a baffle at one end of the studio, alongside The Pixies and several other background singers to form a vocal choir. A large GE microphone on a boom extended above their heads. He then took Johnny and Bobby to the opposite end of the studio where they too stood behind a baffle, each of them on either side of an RCA 77-A multi-directional microphone. There, Joseph gave them last minute instructions.
“Just remember everything I told you, soft and slow at first and then you begin to build. Heading into the middle section you alternate the lyrics, Bobby first and then you Johnny, point, counterpoint sometimes only one word each…got it?”
“Yeah, Mr. Rabin, we won’t let you down.” Bobby told him.
“I know you won’t, fellas, just give it all you’ve got no matter how long it takes.”
Despite the assurances, when the session began there were flaws and re-takes made necessary by the young vocalists or the musicians.
Finally, Bobby got them soulfully through the first verse. His voice, rich in tone and timbre, traversed the lowest end of his vocal register intoning the woeful lyric that lamented the male lover’s situation. The song was borne along by a strong, throbbing backbeat of drums and percussion. A choral whisper moved them into the first chorus.
Kenny, Hector, and the other background singers blended with the string section that was now, note perfect. They provided an underlying musical wave that propelled them crashing forward. Then, like the ebb tide, the choir drifted into the background for a second verse. Johnny took over the lead as the wave once again gained momentum, to repeat the chorus.
Now came the middle section. This was more than just the standard musical bridge linking the verses. This was Joseph’s masterstroke of an idea. As Curtis called for quiet from all except the bass guitarist playing a single note pattern of ‘C, Am F, and G,’ Bobby and Johnny prepared themselves for the point-counterpoint exchange of lyrics Joseph had pounded into their heads. They fed off one another’s energy. Bobby’s growling tenor answered by Johnny’s wailing falsetto. The intensity of the music increased.
Violinists finger plucked eighth notes while percussionists used tambourines, cowbells, sleigh bells or simply drumsticks on wooden blocks to accentuate the beat. Kettledrums rolled like thunder while rim shots on snare drums or tom-tom riffs punctuated every line as cymbals crashed.
Curtis unmercifully drove the orchestra to an extreme frenzy. Joseph was on his feet in the control room completely immersed in the magnitude of what he was hearing. He bounced on his tiptoes, hands raised above his head like a cheerleader at a football game.
Mickey’s eyes darted back and forth across the soundboard watching the needles of the level meters. He hurried to adjust any that seemed dangerously close to crossing over into the red, which could distort the sound and ruin the take.
Things in the studio rose to a fever pitch. Voices strained to hold notes, fingers ached on strings, breath grew short while playing horns. Curtis glanced over his shoulder looking for direction from inside the booth. Joseph nodded his head and the musical director froze his arms high in the air signaling the musicians and singers to hold for one last note. When the crescendo was reached, the studio fell into a stunned silence save for the audible release of tension felt by many.
“I assume you don’t want another take?” Curtis asked Joseph who stood on the other side of the glass looking at him.
Joseph keyed his mike, “No. That’ll do it.”

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Seven-Inch Vinyl: A Rock and Roll Novel Excerpt - Chapter Four: Memphis.

(From the soon-to-be-published novel Cpyright 2010 Donald Riggio)

The place was filled with the daily lunch crowd. Teddy sat at one of the last remaining seats at the counter. The waitress, Dee, approached him.
“I’m afraid your toast got cold, sweetie,” she said.
“I’m real sorry about that ma’am.”
“And I told you about that ma’am business too, didn’t I?
The sullen young man didn’t respond. Just one look told her he was stewing over some crisis. Dee slipped back into the kitchen and when she returned she was carrying his guitar case. She gave it to him over the counter.
“I put this in the back for safekeeping.”
“I appreciate that…Dee.”
The waitress smiled that he used her name this time. “You look a might on the used side. Would a burger help maybe?”
“I’m afraid I’m a little off my feed.”
“Well, sugar you can’t be sittin’ there during the lunch rush without ordering something. How about a coke at least?”
“That’d be fine.”
“And don’t you go runnin’ off on me again, its bad manners. You nurse that pop for as long as you like. When things thin out in here later, you and me are gonna’ have a little talk and you can tell me all your problems, okay?”
“Alright.” He managed a smile that made the waitress quite happy.
As she walked toward the soda fountain, a tall, balding, badly overweight gentleman came into the luncheonette. He wore an outrageously colored sports jacket and matching trousers. He took the last counter seat, next to Teddy. He looked to be in his forties and smoked a cheap, fat cigar that sent lines of smoke right passed Teddy’s nose. The boy fanned the air around his head, but the heavyset man took no notice.
“What’s your pleasure, Cap?” Dee asked the man when she returned and placed Teddy’s Coke in front of him.
“How’s the meatloaf today, little darlin’?”
“Same as usual,” she replied with a shrug.
“Well, I’ll have it anyway with mashed potatoes, peas and iced tea…extra gravy for the potatoes.”
“Coming right up.”
At about the same time two other men entered the luncheonette and sat in a booth not far from the counter. They were the two yes men from Artie Franklin’s office. When they recognized Teddy they let out a hearty laugh. The sound caused both Cap and Teddy to look around. Seeing the men made Teddy squirm. Cap offered no reaction, probably because Dee placed a heaping plateful of food in front of him. He looked around for some ketchup, and noticed a bottle just beyond his reach on the other side of Teddy.
“Excuse me, son, would you pass me that there ketchup?”
Teddy picked up the bottle and handed it to him.
“Better watch out how you talk to that boy, Cap.” One of the record company men called out from his booth.
“How’s that Billy?” Cap seemed more intent with tapping the bottom of the ketchup bottle until the contents flowed out over his meatloaf.
“He’s the cat that told Artie Franklin that if he took his head out of his ass he’d learn something about the music business.” He and his lunch mate enjoyed another laugh.
“That right, son?” Cap asked so that only Teddy could hear him.
“Afraid so.”
“No need to put yourself on a cross over it. Fact is, there’s plenty of people in this town wish they had the stones to tell Artie Franklin off. That includes them two hyenas over yonder.”
“Well, all the same, I wish it hadn’t been me that done it.”
“Can you play that thing?” Cap asked pointing his fork at the guitar case on the floor.
“I can if I ever get the chance. Are you in the record business?”
“Records? No, I’m not a record man. My name’s Cap Stewart. I put on road shows. The Cap Stewart Cavalcade. You ever hear of it?”
“No, I can’t say as I have. I’m Teddy Boyette from Kentucky.”
“Pleasure to meet you Teddy.” Cap put his fork down long enough to shake the boy’s hand. “We do a lot of local shows hereabouts, sock hops, stock car rallies and such. I got one getting ready to go out next week. You looking for work?”
“Me?” The question stunned Teddy.
“I got a feelin’ I could use a looker like you to draw in all the teeny boppers on the road.”
“Well, if this don’t beat all? Less than an hour ago I got thrown out of Artie Franklin’s office and now you offer me a singing job and ain’t neither one of you heard me sing or play a single note”
“Oh, I’ll hear you sing soon enough. You interested?”
“Heck yeah I’m interested. I’d be crazy to turn down a paying job!”
“Well, son, let me explain a few things about that.”
Cap went on to detail how his shows worked. The Cavalcade would be out touring for several weeks. They’d play small towns in Tennessee doing one show per night, perhaps two on weekends. Several acts were on the bill, each act performed onstage for about twenty minutes. The artists all began the tour on equal footing with the more experienced of their number at the top of the lineup. However, that could easily change once the show was out on the road. Audience reaction would determine future billing on the next stop on the tour. This way Cap ensured the performers wouldn’t become complacent. They’d work harder and do their best in the hope of moving up in the pecking order.
It was all geared for the big final show at The Regency Theatre in downtown Memphis when the Cavalcade got back to town. The performers would be paid for that show depending on where they appeared on that final bill.
“I know it ain’t the big time you been dreaming about,” Cap wrapped up his sales pitch as he finished his lunch. He took one last gulp of his iced tea. “But a lot of young performers starting out look at it as a good way to get some experience, polish up an act. It might stand you in good stead for the next time you went to see one of them record company fellas.”
It made good sense, but Teddy had reservations.
“I understand that, Mr. Stewart. It’s just… I was counting on making some money.”
“We’ll pay for your food and lodging and such while we’re out. If you do real good there’ll be some cash in it for you when we get back here to Memphis. You might even make enough to buy yourself a car.”
“I already got me a car.” Teddy informed him.
“You do? Why didn’t you say so in the first place, son? If you’d be willing to haul some of the gear, I’ll pay you three dollars a day and gas money.”
“So, I don’t get paid for singing but you’ll pay me for the use of my car?”
“That’s right.” Cap said.
“This music business is sure nothing like I expected. Mr. Stewart, you got yourself a singer and a driver.”

Rock and Roll quote of the day: "I wake up in the morning and I wonder. Why everything's the same as it was? I can't understand, no I can't understand, why life goes on the way it does." From: The End of the World, by: Skeeter Davis.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Seven-Inch Vinyl Excerpt: Chapter Sixteen: The Pixies

(From the soon-to-be-published novel Copyright 2010 Donald Riggio)

Convincing Gladys Rhodes and Elenore Johnson to sign a recording contract for their daughters would be no easy task. Joseph sat across from them in a diner in Spanish Harlem. Both women eyed him suspiciously. He recognized Mrs. Johnson as the one who picked the girls up after they sang at the school recital. She didn’t remember him. The stout, stern faced women drank iced tea even though Joseph offered to buy them lunch. Fearing it might be a short meeting he ordered coffee.
They’d agreed to meet with him only after speaking to Curtis’ mom. She’d told them what she knew about Joseph helping the young boy from down south and about his plans to make records with other local kids. Now, he was telling them how talented their girls were and how he wanted to offer them a contract. When he finished, Gladys Rhodes acted as spokesperson.
“Listen, Mister, my sister and me have been raising these kids on our own for a long time. Elenore is a widow and my man…he just up and left us. We all live together, two grown women and three kids in one apartment. I work two jobs, day and night shift. That’s why I couldn’t be there at the school to hear my girls sing.” She choked back a tear. “Evie and my niece graduate next June, but Althea got one more year to go. They need the best education they can so they can get a high school diploma when they go out in the world to a get a job. How can I be sure all this foolishness about singing on records is good for them?”
“I understand your position, Mrs. Rhodes. There are a lot of talented young people making good money by making records. The girls can make more money working for me than by working in a bank or in an office. And I assure you both that singing for us will never interfere with their school work in any way.”
“And you’ll pay them for singing now?” Mrs. Johnson wanted to know.
“Yes. But, because they’re minors, you’ll be in charge of their money. They won’t be able to go on tour or anything until after Althea graduates. But they can make records right now and probably earn enough money so that you can get a bigger place or maybe even a place for each of you.
Gladys looked at her sister whose gaze begged that they accept the offer. She decided it was worth the risk.
“Alright, Mr. Rabinowitz, you have a deal,” she said. Her sister smiled.
With Mickey away on his honeymoon, it fell to Joseph and Curtis to put Evie’s trio through their paces. On their first visit to the studio, the girls listened to the raw material from Teddy’s audition tapes. Joseph worked up some vocal harmonies and Curtis helped arrange the songs they planned to record when Teddy got back.
During a break in the session, Evie drifted into the control room. She hovered over Joseph’s shoulder and didn’t wait for him to acknowledge her.
“So, the plan is for us to sing back- up for this Teddy guy?” she asked.
“For now, yes.”
“And then what?”
“Maybe back- up some of the other acts we sign. I don’t know yet.”
“My mama said you had a lot of nice things to say about us. Did you mean it or was it just a way to get what you wanted?”
“I meant what I said.” Joseph looked up at her.
“Why can’t we make our own records right now?”
“You will, in time. Like I told your mother, you’re too young for that. If you had hit records, you’d have to go out on the road, and you can’t do that until you finish school. Till then you’ll have to be content being…”
“Pixies?” Evie interrupted. “Flittering in the background on our little pixie wings?”
Joseph liked the image. “Pixies? Exactly! In fact, I think that’s what I’ll name your group. The Pixies.”
“You’re not having any of my nonsense are you?” she asked.
“Is that what this is, nonsense?”
“You go ahead, have your fun. I can be patient. But, don’t make me wait too long. I got big plans for my future.” She smiled and walked off. Joseph believed she meant every word.

Rock and Roll Quote of the day: "I love how your heart beats, whenever I hold you.
I love how you think of me, without being told to." From: I Love How You Love Me." By: The Paris Sisters.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Seven-Inch Vinyl Excerpt Chapter Nineteen: Johnny and Bobby

(From the soon-to-be-published novel copyright 2010, Donald Riggio)

Bobby cocked his head to the side to indicate that Johnny should follow him the rest of the way down the hall to his room. Once inside, Bobby closed the door.
“Pop a squat.”
Johnny sat in the only chair in the room. It looked like it belonged to the kitchen set. The room was small and square, furnished with a single bed, and a three-drawer clothes dresser with an oblong mirror attached. A crucifix hung on the wall over the bed and two other pictures adorned other walls. The air was stale from cigarette smoke.
Bobby set up a small, portable record player contained within a suitcase type carrying case. When he turned around he had a stack of forty-five’s in his hands. He gave them to Johnny.
“You know the words to any of these?”
Johnny looked through the records “This one, I guess.” He said, giving it to Bobby.
“Alright, I’ll put it on and you can sing along with it.”
“Sing along with it? You mean out loud?” Johnny seemed shocked by the suggestion.
“What the fuck? Of course out loud!”
“I…I can’t do that. I’d be embarrassed.”
Bobby found that funny. “How do you expect to sing in the choir if you’re embarrassed?”
“In the choir I don’t have to sing by myself.”
“Dufus! You’re gonna’ have to sing by yourself at the tryout.”
“Yeah, I know, but still…” Johnny was out of excuses. “…Maybe if you sang it first?”
“I’m not trying out for anything.” Bobby soon relented. “Okay, it it’ll make it any easier for you. I’ll do it first.”
Bobby affixed a small, yellow plastic disc to the center of the forty-five so that it fit properly over the nipple-like spindle on the record player. He turned the machine on, moved the tone arm to the beginning of the record, and then lowered it. The four-inch speaker crackled and hissed before giving way to an instrumental introduction.
Bobby stood, raised his eyes to the ceiling and belted out the lyrics of the ballad in perfect unison with the singer on the record. His presentation and poise impressed Johnny. Bobby’s voice was full and he exhibited great range. When the record finished Johnny felt like applauding but he didn’t.
“ Feel better now?” Bobby asked
“ Okay, but don’t expect me to be as good as you.”
“Oh, believe me, I don’t. You ready?”
Johnny rose from the chair and took up position as his friend had done. Bobby started the record again and plopped down onto his bed. When Johnny opened his mouth, very little came out. Bobby burst out laughing.
“C’mon, C’mon that ain’t singing, that’s whispering! Open your mouth so they can hear you all the way up on Tremont Avenue!”
Johnny hesitated, and then composed himself enough to catch up to the lyrics being sung on the record. The two boys laughed together after it was all over.
“How was that?” Johnny asked.
“You sucked!” Bobby blurted out without hesitation and a hearty laugh.
“Aw, c’mon man. It wasn’t that bad, was it?”
“All right, I take it back. But you need a lot of work, man. You were off key in a lot of spots. Oh, if anyone ever asks you again, you’re a tenor.”
“Is that good?”
“Well, I’m a tenor myself so I might be able to help you with some things. You wanna’ try it again?”
Johnny thought for a moment. “Yeah, yeah I think I’d like to.”

Rock and Roll Quote of the day: "My arms are empty, my nights are long and lonely I miss you so. Each new tomorrow can only bring me sorrow, I love you so." From: "Have You Heard?" By: The Duprees.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Seven-Inch Vinyl: A Rock and Roll Novel Excerpt - Chapter Twenty-five: Tragedy

(From the soon-to-be published novel Copyright 2010 Donald Riggio)

In the summer of 1956, a young disc jockey in Philadelphia named Dick Clark became the host of a televised afternoon dance party show called Bandstand. It proved successful in part because of Clark’s uncanny understanding of his teenage audience and his non-threatening demeanor. The show featured local boys and girls, neatly dressed and well-behaved dancing to records Clark played. His sponsors sold toothpaste, hair cream and acne medication. Kids watched the show religiously to see the latest fashion, learn the newest dances and hear their favorite singers and groups, many of whom went on to even greater popularity after being on the show. The formula worked so well that one year later, the ABC Television Network took the show national. It premiered under a new name, American Bandstand, and aired five afternoons a week from three o’clock to four thirty. Clark, realizing the importance of his national broadcasts, went to great expense to snare Teddy Boyette as one of his first guest stars.
The singer thrilled the audience by lip-synching his way through his current number one single and previewing his next upcoming release.
Afterward, Clark conducted an interview seated next to Teddy on a grandstand bench located in the middle of the studio audience. Girls giggled with excitement at being so close to their teenage idol.
“Teddy, you are without a doubt the most popular rock and roll singer in America today. But, how do you feel about the other guys, your competition so to speak. Elvis and Buddy Holly and the others whose style is so similar to your own?”
“Well, I don’t lay claim to owning this type of music.” Teddy hated questions like this, being asked to compare himself to other popular singers. He worried his answer might make him appear conceited or snobbish. But, he was now polished enough to know that if he simply flashed a snarly, sexy grin, he could stall long enough to come up with an answer that wouldn’t embarrass him. “Those other fellas’ love rock and roll just like I do, I reckon. I listen to their songs and I enjoy them just like any other fan.”
“Now Elvis is making movies. They say he’s going to be a big star. Is that what the future holds for you, Teddy, you going to make movies?” Clark asked.
This was a much easier question for Teddy.
“No. Elvis is welcome to all that as far as I’m concerned.”
The host and the studio audience erupted into laughter. Dick Clark had one more question.
“Okay, no movies for you. But, seriously Teddy, where would you like to be in say… five or ten years?”
Teddy thought for a moment, no stalling sexy smiles now, just a straightforward, honest answer. “Well, if I’m lucky enough that my records are still selling, I’d like to keep on singing I suppose. But I would like to be able to slow things down a might, not have to work as hard as I do now. That way I could have more time for myself, settle down, raise a family.” Then came the smile. “I guess I’d just like to have a normal life if I could.”

Rock and Roll quote of the day: "Do I want you for my baby, do I want you by my side? Do I wanna run and kiss your lips and say you're my loving guy." From - Do I LOve You? By: The Ronettes

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Seven-Inch Vinyl excerpt: Chapter Six: Laughing Sal

(From the soon-to-be-published novel, copyright 2010 Donald Riggio)

...It had been raining all day. A severe band of thunderstorms swept in eastward off the lake. The air grew heavy; a warm breeze preceded each new downfall. Inside, they listened to the radio, a favorite new pastime. Raindrops clattered against the windowpanes when the downpours were at their heaviest. Flashes of lightning accompanied rumblings of thunder, distant at first, then closer and, in time, distant again as each cell moved off.
“Do you still want to read more of my poems?” Janet asked.
Joseph nodded and smiled.
“C’mon, I keep them up in my room.”
She skipped up the stairs ahead of him. Joseph arrived on the upper landing pausing at the doorway to her room. He inched forward, taking note of the scent of her favorite perfume, the stuffed animals and dolls positioned neatly atop her dresser and the two posters on the wall across from her bed.
He found Janet on her hands and knees, partway under the bed like some burrowing gopher. When she came out she held several tattered composition notebooks she’d squirreled away. She stood clutching the books close to her body.
She motioned for Joseph to sit with her on the edge of her bed. She seemed unsure as to whether she wanted to carry through with her offer. Joseph sat down, finding her mattress girlishly soft. Janet held the books out and he took them.
“If you laugh at me, I’ll never speak to you again, I swear.” An idle threat, she knew she’d never be able to carry out.
“Can’t I laugh if I think they’re funny?”
“See!” Her reaction was girlish. She hopped to her feet, placed her hands on her hips and stamped one foot on the floor. Punching him hard in his arm, she tried to yank the notebooks away but his grip wouldn’t allow it. When Joseph realized she was serious he offered the books back to her.
“Indian giver,” he teased.
“No, go ahead. You can read them.”
As he opened the first book, Janet shimmied away to the head of the bed. She picked up one of her pillows and held it in front of her body like a shield. She bit on the edge of pillowcase, eager yet anxious for Joseph’s reaction.
She passed time focusing on the pitter-patter of the rain on the roof as Joseph read the book cover to cover. He found a wonderful mixture of lighthearted, teenage observances told in short, melodic verse about things like dragonflies, sleeping cats and sad eyed puppies. Other, longer pieces were more mature, encompassing deep, emotional feelings like the dream of falling in love or the heartache of losing someone very near and dear. The poems seemed to sing to him from the thin blue lines on which they were written.
“Just a lot of silly girl stuff, huh?” she asked.
He looked back at her over his shoulder. “Some of it is, yes. But all of them are really wonderful, even the silly ones. I’ll bet you could have these published in a book someday.”
He put the notebook on the bed, inched closer to Janet and took her into his arms. He kissed her deeply. Joseph gently moved her down flat on the bed, and then positioned himself almost on top of her.
They took a big risk. If Vince came home early to discover them, there was no telling what he might do. They were both beyond caring.

Rock and Roll Quote of the day: "If I were a queen, and he asked me to leave my throne. I'd do anything that he asked, anything to make him my own." From: "He's So Fine" BY: The Chiffons.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Seven-Inch Vinyl:A Rock and Roll Novel - Prologue

(From the soon-to-be published novel copyright 2010 Donald Riggio)


In the 1950’s, the whole world expected an explosion.
The atom bomb, the devastating, destructive device used to bring World War II to an end less than a decade earlier was a weapon in the arsenal of both the United States of America and the Communist regime of the Soviet Union.
After the armistice was signed in 1945, the five victorious allied nations along with forty-five other countries formed the United Nations, an organization whose hope it was to prevent any further hostilities by using the combined armed forces of member nations as peacekeepers. At the time, most of Europe remained occupied and divided forming an “iron curtain” between the democratic countries and Soviet Russia. The German capital city of Berlin was divided east, governed by the Russians and west under the control of the allies. In 1948, Russia pushed for reparations from West German industrial plants located solely in allied sectors. The American President, Harry Truman denied this claim and the Russians retaliated by closing off their section of Berlin declaring it a Communist State.
The following year, things became more complicated. Nearly all of Mainland China fell under the Communist rule of Chairman Mao Tse Tung. Early in 1950, Russia and Red China entered into a thirty-year mutual defense treaty creating a huge monolithic Communist bloc that many believed threatened the free world. The power of the UN was soon tested.
On June 25, 1950, 135,000 Communist troops crossed the 38th parallel and invaded South Korea. In Washington, Truman believed this to be the beginning of World War III. He immediately ordered General Douglas MacArthur to prepare a counter-assault. In September, UN forces conducted an amphibious landing at the Korean City of Inchon placing 40,000 troops, artillery and tanks onto the Korean peninsula. The Red Chinese responded by hurling thirty-three Divisions into the fray. MacArthur requested enough men and material to push the Communists back and invade China. Truman refused knowing full well that to do so was risking war with the Soviets. The “police-action” in Korea would drag on.
As the Presidential election of 1952 approached, Truman’s popularity waned. He was forced to fire MacArthur when the General began to publicly criticize his Commander-In-Chief. The fighting soon reached a stalemate and it became obvious that the hostilities would not reach a clear conclusion militarily. The Republican candidate for President was former General and war hero, Dwight D. Eisenhower. A poll named him the “most admired living American.” In his campaign he promised to clean up the mess in Washington and end the war in Korea. As a result, Truman decided not run for re-election and, in November, Eisenhower won in a landslide. He became President in a time of ideological conflict known as ‘the cold war.” Communism became the new enemy.
At home, Americans were seeing “Commies” under their beds at night. A mass hysteria brought on by the threat of Communism and the fear of Atomic War swept the nation. Homeowners built fallout shelters in their basements. School children conducted “duck and cover” drills in their classrooms, hiding under their wooden desks to protect themselves from radiation poisoning.
With the stage set, people all over the country listened to feel good songs with innocent and inoffensive titles like, “(How Much Is) That Doggie in the Window,” and “High- Lilly, High – Low” they held their collective breath waiting for the inevitable explosion to come.
But it wouldn’t be the kind of explosion anyone expected.

Rock and Roll quote of the day: "How much is that doggie in the window? The one with the waggly tail. How much is that doggie in the window? I do hope that doggie's for sale." From: (How Much is) That doggie in the Window? by" Patti Page.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Seven-Inch-Vinyl: Blurb page

(From the soon-to-be-published novel,copyright 2010 Donald Riggio)

1953 -
Six counties in South Carolina pass legislation outlawing
Jukebox operation at anytime within hearing distance of a church.

1954 -

WDIA Radio in Memphis, Tennessee offers on-air disclaimers:
“WDIA, your good-will station, in the interest of good citizenship, for the protection of
your morals and our American way of life does not consider this record (Song Title),
fit for broadcast on WDIA. We are sure all you listeners will agree with us.”

1955 -

Officials cancel rock and roll concerts scheduled in New Haven
and Bridgeport, Connecticut; Boston; Atlanta; Jersey City; and Asbury Park, New
Jersey; Burbank, California; and Portsmouth, New Hampshire.


“My only deep sorrow is the unrelenting insistence of recording and motion picture companies upon purveying the most brutal, ugly, degenerate, vicious form of expression it has been my displeasure to hear and naturally I’m referring to the bulk of rock ‘n’ roll. It fosters almost totally negative and destructive reactions in young people. It smells phony and false. It is sung, played and performed for the most part by cretinous goons and by means of its almost imbecilic reiterations and sly, lewd --- in plain fact --- dirty lyrics, it manages to be the martial music of every side burned delinquent on the face of the earth.”

Frank Sinatra - writing in the November issue of “The Western World” magazine.

“Rhythm & Blues had a baby and they called it Rock and Roll.”

--- Muddy Waters

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Seven-Inch-Vinyl: A rock and Roll Novel, excerpt from Chapter Ten: "The Southern Tour"

(From the soon-to-be-published novel Copyright 2010 Donald Riggio)

The southern tour kicked off in the town of Senatobia, Mississippi two nights later. The sellout crowd cheered all through Teddy’s act. He sang raucous, upbeat tunes like “Lawdy Miss Clawdy” and “Hard Luck Blues”. Female hearts fluttered as he whispered lyrics to sexy ballads like “Harbor Lights.” Even the male members of the audience tapped their feet to “Blue Moon of Kentucky” or the song that had become his signature tune, “Move it on Over”.
More of the same followed in Sardis and Batesville. In the larger city of Tupelo, Teddy appeared at a local drive-in theater. He sang from the roof of the refreshment stand between showings of a double feature. A large crowd surrounded the building. Others watched and listened from inside their cars. They showed their appreciation by blowing their horns and flashing their headlights in a combination of sight and sound that delayed the start of the feature attraction for almost an hour.
The entire tour proved to be one success after another. Then, some miles south of Meridian they came to the town of Castlehurst.
Often, the local promoter would be on hand to meet them when they arrived. This time, the person waiting didn’t appear happy when Cap got off the bus.
“Mr. Stewart?” The slim, middle-aged man in a rumpled suit stepped forward to introduce himself. “My name is Earl Wellington. We’ve spoken over the phone.”
Cap recognized the name and shook his hand. “Why, sure Mr. Wellington, right nice of you to come out to meet us.”
“Mr. Stewart, I’m real sorry to have to tell you this but there seems to be a problem with the show tonight.”
Before he could say more, their attention was drawn to a siren from a dark sedan with Sheriff’s markings that came to a stop not far from where they stood. A scrawny gent in an ill fitting tan uniform got out of the car and approached them.
“Sheriff Tyler,” Wellington addressed the law officer with both respect and fear.
“Earl.” The Sheriff nodded a greeting. He looked passed the two adults. Teddy and his band were off the bus, standing in the street. The Sheriff’s gaze was from friendly.
“Sheriff, this here’s Cap Stewart.
“Afternoon, Sheriff.” Cap smiled through his growing sense of anxiety. He extended his hand to the official who shook it with little enthusiasm, “Mr. Wellington was just telling me there might be some problem with the show we’re doing here tonight?”
The Sheriff’s response was terse, almost venom-like. “Ain’t no ‘might be’ about it. The show’s cancelled.”
“Then, just what is the problem?”
“News travels fast in these parts. We’ve been hearing that your boy there is fond of singing that jungle music the coons like so much. That may be okay in some places, but here in Castlehurst, we’re decent church-going folks. We don’t want our young people exposed to that kind of vile trash even if it is a white boy singing it.”
“But Sheriff, young people everywhere love Teddy’s music.”
“We don’t give a rat’s ass about everywhere. We won’t stand for it here.”
“But I have a contract…”
“Mr. Wellington here realizes he made an honest mistake…didn’t know what he was getting into when he booked your show. You’re both reasonable businessmen so I expect you can resolve this thing to your mutual benefit.
“Would you have any objection to us at least spending the night here before we continue on?” Cap asked.
“You’re more than welcome to enjoy our hospitality. But I wouldn’t give much thought to continuing on. You see, I’ve been in touch with some of the other places you plan on playing, they feel the same way about things as we do. They don’t want you either.”
Cap’s heart pounded and the blood rose to his cheeks. If he lost control and lashed out at this arrogant bigot he’d only be buying trouble for his entire troupe.
“Sheriff, I have solid commitments all the way down to New Orleans.”
“Suit yourself, but it’s a long way to the Louisiana state line. Some of these country roads can be real treacherous, lots of wrecks, rollovers and such. Best advice I can give you is come mornin’, you turn this here safari of yours around and head on back the way you came.”

Rock and Roll Quote of the Day: "How I'd like to look, inside that little book. The one that holds the lock and key. And know the boy that you dream of,the boy whose in your diary." From: The Diary by: Little Anthony and the Imperials.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

A Memo to my editor: Please be Kind to them.

Sometime this week I'll be handing over the manuscript for Seven-Inch-Vinyl to my editor. I realize that for the first time, my characters will be under the red pen of someone other than myself. I'm casting them adrift, Joseph and Janet, Teddy, Johnny and Bobby and all the others. Their actions will be open to criticism. Their words subject to change and their motives questioned. They will be out from under my protective wing. I feel angst, guilt and sadness.

I've met my editor. He's a nice guy. He says he's looking forward to working on the book and I believe him. Will he call me if he thinks Cap Stewart is too overbearing? Can I count on him to hear the wonderful lyrical rhythm of my prose? Will he overlook a bit of passive voice, author intrusion and not tell me I'm telling and not showing? I hope so.

Take care of them all while they are in your charge. Phil & Richie curse a lot, I hope you don't mind?

Be kind to them.

The Author

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

I have a publisher!

I'm thrilled to announce that today, June 1, 2010. I entered into a verbal agreement to publish Seven-Inch-Vinyl. Once contracts are signed the manuscript will go to an editor. A mock -up for the cover is already in the works and will be posted here soon. We are shooting for a December 2010 release date. Going forward I will post all news and information here on the blog to keep everyone advised as to the status on our road to publication.

This book is for all of us. anyone, any age who has an interest in the greatest music of all time, the fabulous music of the 50's and 60's. I want to thank all my facebook members and followers whose paricipation on my personal and Seven-Inch-Vinyl group page played such a big part in exhibiting to the publisher that the book had a viable audience world-wide.

I shall continue to post daily, the rock and roll trivia so many people enjoy. I'll be expanding to the social networking sites of Twitter and Myspace. I ask everyone to spread the word about the book.

The first order of business was to expand the title which will now be known as: "Seven-Inch-Vinyl: A Rock and Roll novel."

Thanks again.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Seven-Inch-Vinyl Excerpt: Chapter Eighteen: Alchemy

(From the unpublished novel, Copyright 2010 Donald Riggio)

The process of putting sound onto vinyl can be compared to the same type of medieval alchemy that caused individuals to be burned at the stake for witchcraft. Wizards were required to perform such magic.
Leo delivered the package containing Teddy’s master tapes to the Berliner Record Processing Plant in Newark, New Jersey, a small company with a good reputation and affordable prices. The package also contained the necessary information and logos required for the labels.

The first step in manufacturing a record was to create a lacquer-coated disc called an acetate. A disc recorder with a stylus made of sapphire to ensure superior recording quality, captured the audio signal fed from the tape. The stylus moved across the disc at the exact speed of forty-five revolutions per minute cutting precise spiral grooves as it went along. After painstaking inspection through a microscope, the acetate was then test played. If approved, it became the ‘Master Disc,’ and never played again.
An electroplating process then bathed the acetate in silver, nickel and then copper to create a second metal disc called a ‘mother.” This disc was plated a second time, resulting in a ‘stamper copy.’
Bags of powdered vinyl heated into soft, soggy clumps called ‘biscuits’ were placed on a hot tray next to the operator of an automatic hydraulic press. The press contained two molds mounted face to face with a hinge at the rear. The stamper disc for the “A” and “B” side of the record was placed one above and one below the molds. After the labels were positioned, the powerful machinery was put into operation. Steam heat forced the vinyl material into every tiny groove. The result was an audio equivalent of a photograph negative identical in every way to the first. The same machinery trimmed the ragged edges of the record, affixed the labels and punched the hole in the center. The record was then bathed with water, which instantly hardened it. The process was repeated, pressing records at the rate of one every fifteen seconds.
And so it was that a thirty-nine year old factory worker held the record with the bright yellow label featuring the logo of a strutting cockerel. It was her job to randomly listen to a number of newly pressed records looking for defects or imperfections before passing them on for shipping. She was the first person to ever hear Teddy Boyette’s voice on a seven-inch vinyl record.

Rock and Roll quote of the day: "How can you tell me you really miss me? When the last time time I saw you, you wouldn't even kiss me. That rich guy you been seeing must have put you down Sly Welcome back baby, to the poor side of town." From: Poor Side of Town by: Johnny Rivers.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Seven-Inch-Vinyl Excerpt - Chapter Eight: "Christmas"

(From the unpublished novel Copyright 2010: Donald Riggio)

In the second week of December, Joseph took Janet to see the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center. Throngs of tourists and native New Yorkers alike flocked to the midtown area to take in one of the most famous seasonal attractions the City had to offer.
Big, wet flakes of snow flurried down between massive skyscrapers, taking forever to reach the pavement, where they melted on contact. Janet was bundled in a heavy, navy blue pea coat. Joseph had on a black leather jacket with the collar turned up around his face, his bare hands buried deep in both side pockets.
They entered Rockefeller Center through the public space between two of the buildings that made up the commercial complex. The approach to a sunken plaza was lined with life-sized figures of angels blowing trumpets, wooden soldiers and gingerbread people. Onlookers crowded along the railing to the perimeter of the plaza to peer down on the ice skating rink, where dozens of skaters of all ages moved in a slow, wide circle.
The couple squeezed their way into a space at the railing. Joseph stood behind Janet, his arms wrapped around her waist.
Directly across the way, the spruce evergreen towered some sixty feet high in front of the seventy-story RCA Building. The tree was adorned with assorted colored lights, garland and other decorations. White clumps of freshly fallen snow gathered on the ends of the branches. Though Janet craned her neck back as far as she could, she still couldn’t see to the top of the building whose uppermost floors disappeared into low-lying clouds.
“Oh, Joseph isn’t it all just so wonderful? She wiggled free of his embrace and turned to him, her arms reaching around his neck. “What kind of a tree can we have at the apartment?”
“We don’t put up a tree, honey. Jews don’t celebrate Christmas.” It was a detail she’d somehow forgotten. “I’m sorry sweetheart,” Joseph continued. “You know if it were up to me, we’d have all that stuff. But it’s my parents’ home and, well, we have to respect that, right?”
Janet twisted her mouth into a comical frown that made Joseph laugh, then brightened in that pixie-like way he’d come to love. She scooped up a mittenful of loose snow from the railing and tossed it into the air over their heads. Most of it came right back in her face, but she didn’t mind a bit.
“Know what? It doesn’t matter.” She spun around and raised both hands out and upward in the direction of the giant spruce. “This can be our Christmas tree! We can come back on Christmas morning and exchange our gifts right here. We can exchange gifts with each other, right?”
“Yes, silly, of course we can. But I already have the best gift any man could get. I got you, babe.”
Sometimes her man said such wonderful things. She stood on tiptoes to kiss him hard on the lips.
Christmas Day services at the First Baptist Church of Harlem on West 125th Street and St. Nicholas Avenue was always a joyous occasion. The all-Negro congregation filled every pew. Everyone was dressed in their holiday finery proclaiming their adoration for Jesus Christ in a reverent celebration of his birth, complete with hand clapping and singing that shook the walls.
They were led in their singing by a superb choir of men and women ranging in ages from teens to senior citizens. They wore long, flowing, red satin robes and sat in an area set aside for them near the altar railing to the left of the preacher’s pulpit.
After a stirring sermon by their white-haired pastor, three young female members of the choir rose and stepped forward. They were teenagers from the neighborhood, two sisters and a cousin. The three of them appeared awkward and shapeless in the robes that dragged along the floor when they walked and covered their hands almost to their fingertips. But they were confident and sure in the way they handled themselves vocally. As they sang the traditional hymn, Just A Closer Walk with Thee, their voices blended in close harmony and perfect pitch keeping a moderate beat to the accompaniment of the church organ.
The rest of the congregation sat quietly at first, with only an occasional utterance by someone who called out, “Sing it, children…” or “amen.”
By the time the youngsters reached the third verse, the rest of the choir had joined in a hushed, harmonic background. Soon the entire congregation stood and swayed to and fro with the singers. Inspired by the reaction to their performance, Evelyn Rhodes, whose strong contralto voice anchored the soloists, extended and bended her notes. Her voice soared in strength and volume leading the others to a rousing crescendo finish. Her heart pumped proudly. Though she was certain it was a sin of pride, Evelyn loved the attention.

Rock and Roll Quote of the day: "What a bright time, it's the right time,to rock the night away. Jingle Bell time,is a swell time, to go glidin' in a one horse sleigh." From: Jingle Bell Rock. By - Brenda Lee.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Seven-Inch-Vinyl Excerpt: Chapter Four: Memphis

(From the unpublished novel, Copyright 2010 Donald Riggio)

Memphis, Tennessee was a bustling city south of the Kentucky border on the banks of the Mississippi River. Born out of the 1930’s depression era hardships that befell whites and coloreds alike, both races came together in an integrated, urban environment quite unique to its time. Those who settled there brought their culture and their music with them.
W.C. Handy, a self taught Negro musician, songwriter and bandleader, sometimes referred to as the “father of the blues,” helped transform the city into one brimming with promoters, publishing houses and record companies as early as 1910. In the downtown area, blues clubs lined both sides of Beale Street, a predominantly colored section of town.
Teddy Boyette drove passed the Memphis city limits around midnight, completing the trip of over 500 miles. He pulled the Desoto onto a railroad siding and parked between two freight trains. There, he stretched out in the backseat for a few hours of much needed sleep. He had a big day ahead of him. Despite what his parents and Chanticleer thought, he did have a plan.
Teddy knew that the three top record executives in Memphis were Lester Bihari, Sam Phillips and Artie Franklin. Bihari ran Meteor Records out of a small store on Chelsea Avenue. Sam Phillips owned and operated Sun Records out of a similar storefront operation on Union Avenue. Teddy had decided to make his first stop Artie Franklin’s hugely successful Myriad Music Corporation on the third floor of an office building on North Main Street.
He freshened up in a service station restroom, putting on the only pressed white shirt he’d brought with him. By ten in the morning he stood in front of the receptionist’s desk at Myriad Music.
“May I help you?” The receptionist greeted Teddy with a polite smile as he stood on the other side of her desk, his tattered guitar case dangled from one hand.
“I’d like to see Mr. Artie Franklin, please.”
“Do you have an appointment?”
“No ma’am I don’t.”
Her smile faded. “I’m sorry, Mr. Franklin doesn’t see anyone without an appointment.”
“Well, you see ma’am I’m a singer and I… ”
“I can see that young man. But, if you don’t have an appointment, I’m afraid I can’t let you in.” She looked down, hoping the annoying youngster would go away.
“Okay then, how do I make one?”
“Excuse me?”
“An appointment, how do I go about making one?”
“Do you have a manager, someone who represents you?”
“No ma’am I don’t got no one like that. I just want Mr. Franklin to listen to me sing.”
“If you’d like to leave your name and phone number I’d be happy to have someone from our staff set up an audition for you.”
“Audition! Yeah, that’s what I want. But I’d like to audition for Mr. Franklin himself, if you don’t mind?”
“Mr. Franklin doesn’t conduct personal auditions. Now, why don’t you just go away before I have to call the police?” She punctuated her threat with a less than friendly grin.
Chastised like a troublesome child, Teddy turned and walked away. He stormed out of the building and paced the sidewalk. Stewing in his anger and disappointment, he resisted the urge to go back inside.
Teddy wandered up the street. On the corner across the intersection he came to a luncheonette. He went inside.
The late morning breakfast crowd was breaking up. Teddy walked to the counter to the right of the entrance and sat on a vacant stool. He peered out the front window that offered a good view of the office building down the street. A waitress arrived across the counter to take his order. She was an attractive woman in her mid-thirties. Her dark auburn hair was done up in a tight, fashionable style that flipped up at the back. Make-up accented her deep green eyes. The extra button she kept opened on her brown waitress uniform called attention to her ample bosom.
“What can I get for you, honey?” She asked.
“I’ll just have a cup of coffee and some toast.”
“White or Rye, the toast?”
“Comin’ right up.”
“Thank you, ma’am.”
“You can skip the ‘ma’am’ talk there darlin,’ my name is Dee.” She cast a flirtatious smile Teddy’s way making him blush.
The waitress made her way through swinging doors to the kitchen. She put two pieces of white bread into a toaster. A second waitress, pudgy with peroxide blonde hair joined her.
“Hey, Paula. Did you see the smile on that cat at the counter?” Dee asked.
They peeked through a diamond shaped cutout window in one of the doors.
“Yeah. He’s got the whole package don’t he?” the peroxide blonde said.
“You got that right.”
“You looking to housebreak a new love puppy, Dee?”
“He might be good for a few kicks.” Dee observed. The two women giggled naughtily bumping shoulders. The toaster popped two pieces of browned bread upward. Dee prepared the toast and returned to the dining room.
The young man was gone. She caught sight of him through the luncheonette window as he walked up the street. Dee didn’t know what she admired more, the Gary Cooper-like determination in his gait or the way his tight ass wiggled as he walked. Her blonde co-worker stood next to her.
“You must be losing your touch, sweetie you let that one slip right off the hook.” The blonde kidded her.
“He’ll be back,” Dee replied.
“How can you be so sure?”
“He forgot something.” She motioned to the guitar case leaning on the opposite side of the counter. The girls shared a leering smile.

Teddy’s stomach turned flip-flops. As he sat in the luncheonette, he decided he’d given up far too easily in his quest to see Artie Franklin, allowing himself to be shooed away by his secretary. He’d come a long way seeking his big chance. If he gave up now he might as well head back home and work on his family’s farm or find a job somewhere else. Before doing that he’d give Artie Franklin one more try.
As Teddy approached Franklin’s office, the secretary caught sight him and picked up the telephone. Teddy guessed she was calling the authorities.
Just then, an office door behind her opened and three men walked out. The man out front was older and did all the talking. Teddy assumed he was Artie Franklin. The other two followed their boss; hanging on his every word, eager to carry out orders.
“I’m going out for a while Tammy.” Franklin told his secretary.
She tried to warn him about the young troublemaker but Teddy was already within earshot of the men.
“Excuse me, Mr. Franklin, can I have a word with you please, sir?” Teddy asked.
The three men stopped walking. The yes men shrunk backward leaving Franklin face to face with the youngster.
“Okay, kid, what’s this all about?” Franklin demanded.
“My name is Teddy Boyette. I’d like to sing for you.”
“You plan on auditioning for me right here in the hallway?”
“I know you’re a busy man, Mr. Franklin, but my singing is different. If you’d only give me a chance, I…”
“Don’t bother…” Franklin cut him off in mid-sentence. “ I don’t have the time to listen to every one of you greasers who manages to bully his way into my office.”
Several other people were gathering in the hallway to watch the confrontation. Franklin took the opportunity to lash out at Teddy.
“Look kid, we promote clean talent here not juvenile delinquents. That slicked back hair and tough guy look may work on the other side of the tracks, but not here. You must listen to the radio? You know what kind of songs are getting all the airplay, Johnny Ray, Dean Martin, people like that. Go get yourself a haircut and clean up some, then maybe you’d stand a chance.”
People stared at him, some giggling at Franklin’s chiding words. Teddy’s embarrassment turned to anger.
“And if you’d take your fat head out of your ass you might see that things are changing in music and its people like me gonna’ make them changes!”
This outburst by such an upstart against one of the most influential record executives in Memphis shocked everyone within earshot. Now, Artie Franklin was embarrassed.
“What did you say your name was?” Franklin asked.
“Teddy Boyette.”
“Well, I’m sure gonna’ remember that.”
Two uniformed Memphis police officers arrived on the scene. They took hold of Teddy, one on each side of him.
“No need for the strong arm fellas, I’ll go quietly.” Teddy said.
Despite his surrender the policemen pulled him toward the stairway. Once outside they were content to send him packing with a swift kick in his backside and a strong warning for him not to return. They stood sentry to make sure he heeded them. Head down, Teddy walked back to the luncheonette.

Rock and Roll quote of the day: "Her home is on the south side, high upon a ridge, just a half a mile from the Mississippi bridge." From - Memphis, By: Chuck Berry.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Seven-Inch-Vinyl Excerpt: Chapter Nine: "Down The Aisle"

(From the Unpublished novel. Copyright Donald Riggio 2010)

Joseph Rabinowitz and Janet Cavelli were married on April 10, 1954 in a traditional Jewish service at the Beth Shalom Synagogue on West 100th Street. The guest list was small. Solomon and Myra were all that remained to represent Joseph’s side. Though invited, Vince Cavelli did not attend his daughter’s nuptials, but he did send a generous gift. A handful of friends from the neighborhood, along with Joseph’s boss from the shoe store and his wife, were also in attendance. Solomon treated the gathering to dinner in the private room of a nearby restaurant.
The bride and groom spent their wedding night at an inexpensive midtown hotel, where they were free to be playful and noisy in their lovemaking.
Their financial situation dictated a move. Since they couldn’t afford to live in Manhattan, they rented a one-bedroom apartment on McLemore Avenue, in the Bronx. They furnished their new home with Joseph’s back pay from the army and money they’d received as wedding gifts.
Though it was something of a sparse beginning, they were determined to get by.
“I mean it Joseph,” Janet told him, “I can do my part. If I get all dolled up, fix my hair and make-up, I can look older and get a job waiting tables.”
“Hey… I don’t know if I like the idea of my wife getting dolled up to go to work. I know how guys flirt with sexy waitresses.”
“Quit that, you! You’re not gonna be stuck selling shoes all your life. With me working, if something comes along in the music business, you won’t have to worry about changing jobs.”
“I’m not having any luck finding anything, Sweetheart. Maybe it’s not in the cards for me to even be in the music business.”
His sudden self-doubt bothered her. “Careers don’t just happen overnight.” Then, she caught him grinning at her. “Joseph Rabinowitz, are you laughing at me?”
“No, not laughing…just trying to figure out how I could be so lucky to marry the most beautiful, sexy and intelligent woman in the world.”

Janet made good on her offer to go to work. A new hairstyle and more make-up did indeed make her look older and she dressed in a way to highlight her good figure. She got a job as counter girl at a small Greek coffee shop near the entrance to the IND subway line. Her morning work hours saw her serve commuters stopping in for their first cup of coffee on their way to work. Tips were good.
One morning, after the breakfast rush, a man dressed in a wrinkled suit sauntered up to the counter.
“Hi, what can I get you?” She asked with a smile.
“Is the owner around anywhere, sweetheart?”
Janet half opened the swinging door behind her. “Mr. Yanitz, there’s a man here to see you,” she called out.
The proprietor, Tom Yanitz, came through the door. With his curly hair, thick black moustache and stubble chin, the Greek-American looked more like a cook than a restaurant owner. Janet busied herself by refilling sugar shakers, remaining close enough to hear the conversation between the two men.
“Good morning sir,” the salesman began his pitch, “I represent the Sebring Jukebox Company and we have an exciting offer for you to consider today. I can put our top selling model, M100B in here in less than a week. It’s the only machine on the market right now that plays those 45’s the kids go crazy for. One hundred selections at the push of a button.”
“Ahhh, if I put a record machine in here, I’ll have a gang of no good kids hanging around not spending any money,” Yanitz complained.
“They’ll be spending money all right. They’ll be feeding it coins like they feed peanuts to elephants at the Bronx Zoo.”
“Some of the kids they got in this neighborhood belong in the zoo. Where would I put the damn thing anyway?”
The salesman looked around the main dining room.
“How about up against that far wall back there where you got that rickety old piano? Is there an outlet on that wall?”
Yanitz and Janet both looked at the upright piano standing beneath a painted mural of Greek ruins.
“Yeah, there’s a plug back there.” Yanitz said.
“Perfect spot for it.” Janet interjected.
The two men laughed.
“Well, if the help likes the idea…I guess it’s settled.” Her boss’s remark sent Janet off with a blush in her cheeks.
Yanitz had Janet serve the salesman a free cup of coffee while they sat filling out the order form for the new jukebox. Before he left the diner, the Sebring salesman put a three-dollar tip on the counter. Obviously, he thought her comment to her boss helped make this sale.
Later, Yanitz surveyed the area where the jukebox would go.
“Pepe!” He called out.
A short, well-muscled Puerto Rican man in his twenties appeared in the doorway of the kitchen. “Yeah, boss?” the dishwasher asked.
“When you see the sanitation men, ask them when we can put this piano out for pick up?”
“Sure thing, boss.” Pepe went back into the kitchen.
Janet approached her employer. “Are you just going to throw it away?”
“Yeah, I got no use for it. I’m not even sure the stupid thing works.”
“Well, then, can I have it?”
“Do you play the piano?”
“No, I don’t. You see, my husband and I don’t have a lot of furniture in our apartment. I think a piano would look great in our living room.”
“Yeah, sure, go ahead. If you can get it out of here before the garbage men take it.
As Yanitz walked off, Janet realized the enormity of the task she’d given herself. She wanted the piano to be a surprise for Joseph, so she needed some way to get the instrument home. She hurried into the kitchen to find Pepe again.
“Pepe, I need your help.”
“What you need, sweet pea?”
“Mr. Yanitz says I can have that piano but I don’t have any way of getting it home”
Pepe looked up from a metal sink filling with steaming hot water, “Where do you live?”
“Not far… McLemore Avenue,”
“That don’t sound too bad. We got the dolly we use to take the garbage cans out at night. We could put the piano on that. But if the boss found out, he’d be pissed.”
“Tomorrow is banking day. Mr. Yanitz leaves early on banking day.”
“Yeah, yeah, that would work. But we’ll have to be quick like Speedy Gonzales. I’ll get my cousin to give me a hand and we’ll wheel the damn thing right through the streets. What floor do you live on?”
“Third,” she said, hoping her answer didn’t kill the whole deal.
“ Dios mio!”
“Please, Pepe, I really need your help. I can give you a couple of dollars… please?”
“You’re a nice girl Janet. Okay, I can get another guy to help us drag it up the stairs. Just give us a few bucks for some cold beer, okay?”
“Oh, thank you Pepe. You’re a doll!”

Joseph arrived home the next night to find an upright piano against one of the bare walls in their living room. Janet beamed as she waited for his reaction. When he smiled, she had great fun telling him the story of how it all came about.
Joseph tried a couple of the keys. The sound it produced was quite sour.
Janet scrunched her nose. “I think it might be a little out of tune?”
“I’ll say.”
“Your father can fix it though, the next time they come over, right?”
“If he can’t, nobody can.”
“You’re not mad at me for doing this without telling you, are you?”
Joseph took his wife in his arms. “No, honey, I’m not mad. I think having a piano in the house is a pretty cool idea.”

Rock and Roll Quote of the day: "The preacher said will you take this woman to be your wife, to love and to cherish for the rest of your life?" From - Down the Aisle By: The Quin Tones