Saturday, July 21, 2012

Beyond Vinyl: The Saga Continues - Chapter One

The wait is over. Though publication of the sequel to Seven-Inch Vinyl is still a couple of months away, I decided I wanted to start a buzz about that upcoming event. What better way than to post the first chapter of the sequel here? BE WARNED: there ARE spoilers galore contained here so if you haven't finished Seven-Inch Vinyl, DON'T read this yet! Your comments are most welcome. You can reply and comment here or on Facebook or both. As always, thanks for your support.


Chapter One:
“Reunion- Revisited”

October 18th 1969

The din of a dozen conversations resonated throughout the backstage area of the Majestic Theater in mid-town Manhattan. It neared midnight. Moments earlier the venue played host to “An Evening of Solid Gold,” a sold-out Rock and Roll reunion concert. The show featured an array of performers who recorded for Chanticleer Records, one of the most successful independent record labels of the fifties and early sixties.

             It was a re-birth of sorts for Joseph Rabinowitz, the thirty-four year old entrepreneur and co-founder of the label. His life had been in shambles for the past five years. An idyllic marriage ended in divorce. The music empire he created with his business partner Leo Klein came crashing down around his ears. The onslaught of the British musical invasion very nearly destroyed the American music industry.

The success of this show gave Joseph a sense of vindication. It provided a rare, happy moment in his professional life that now spilled backstage. Still, more personal disappointments tempered his enthusiasm.

Then, in what seemed like the very next instant.

“Hey, look who I found wandering around!” Somehow, the voice of Curtis Tinnsley, the show’s musical director managed to gain the attention of some of those gathered, Joseph among them.

          He was stunned when he saw that Curtis had his ex-wife Janet in tow. Excusing himself from a conversation with a reporter, Joseph made his way across the crowded area. Janet smiled and lowered her head as he drew near.

          “You know this woman, Joe?” Curtis asked.

          “She looks vaguely familiar.”  He joked taking both of Janet’s hands in his. He resisted the temptation to kiss her. “Thanks.”

           “No problem,” It was nice seeing you again, Janet.”

          “Same here, Curtis.”

           Weeks before, she surprised Joseph by showing up at his apartment with her five year old daughter. It was the first time the couple had seen one another since Janet moved to London shortly after their divorce. Janet’s love affair with a British rock star named Ian Markham produced her daughter Danielle. Although Joseph invited Janet to the concert at that time, she told him that she wouldn’t be able to attend. Now, he felt more than happy to see her backstage.

          “Why didn’t you call me? I would have sent tickets.”

          “It was a last minute thing. There was a change in plans so, here I am.”

          “You’re alone?”

          “Yes, I am.”

“My, my,” a voice said from behind them. They turned to see Leo Klein approaching. His was another familiar face from her younger days. “Joseph told me you’d been in town, but he didn’t expect you to show up.”

          “It was a last minute thing,” she repeated. Janet tilted her head to accept his gracious kiss to her cheek.

          Leo turned to Joseph. “We should wrap things up here.”

          “Yes,” he responded, and turned to Janet. “We’re having a party at Monahan’s on Sixth. You’ll join us?”

          “Oh, I think not. I just wanted to come back and congratulate everyone.”

          “Nonsense,” Leo said.

          “Leo’s right, you’re coming with us.” He thought for a moment before adding. “Unless…where’s Danielle?”

          “With her nanny, she’s fine.”

          “Then it’s settled. You can ride with us. I’ll get this crowd started. Leo will you take Janet and get us a cab?”

          “Certainly,” Leo happily agreed.


          Monahan’s Irish Pub was a chain of taverns throughout New York City. Their location on East 59th Street featured a large downstairs banquet room which seated close to a hundred people. It had a low, wood beamed ceiling, rich oak paneling and soft, muted lighting. More than a dozen long tables set up side by side lined both walls. The room reached near capacity by the time everyone from the show arrived. Many who knew Janet from the old days monopolized her time swapping stories and catching up. People like Johnny Seracino and Bobby Vitale from the labels most successful male group, the Du-Kanes or the two remaining members of the Pixies, Althea Rhodes and Roberta Johnson. In her songwriting days with Joseph they’d written many hit songs for them and others.

She enjoyed a long conversation with Mickey Christie, an old friend and Joseph’s sound engineer. Mickey’s wife Linda had been her closet friend and confidant. Now they lived on the west coast with two children of their own. They had fun looking at snapshots of their kids.

          Joseph too found himself otherwise occupied with matters, business matters.

     “People are going to be talking about tonight’s show for a long time.” Jacob Miliewski offered in a soft voice. The well-known New York disc jockey was the evening’s Master of Ceremonies. He sat with Joseph and Leo at a smaller table off to one side of the room.

“Jacob’s right,” Leo said. “This was beyond our wildest dreams.”

“Listen, kid,” Miliewski told Joseph. “You gotta strike while the iron is hot. First thing tomorrow morning, you start making plans for the next one.”

“Next one?” Joseph asked with surprise. “Jacob this was a one shot deal.”

“Sure, sure, when we thought it was a risk that’s the only way you could look at it. But you beat the odds…proved it could work. If you don’t follow up on it you can bet your ass somebody else will.”

Leo’s eyes widened at the thought of another money making project “Joseph, we should at least discuss it.”

“Okay,” Joseph relented, “but not tonight. Let’s sleep on it.”

“That’s the ticket,” Jacob beamed.

As the festivities wound down, many partygoers headed home. Joseph and Janet finally had time to sit together and have a quiet conversation.

She told him of her relationship problems with Markham, especially drug related incidents which had become public. “I’m not returning to England,” she told Joseph, taking him by surprise. “I will not expose Dani to all that.”

“How do you think Ian will react?”

“He’ll be angry…hurt. He does love his daughter very much. He just doesn’t have a place in his life for us anymore.” Joseph looked away. “Sorry,” Janet added, after realizing she once said the exact same thing about him. “I don’t think I’ll have an easy time of it.”

“Janet, I want you to understand that you won’t have to go through this alone.”

She managed a smile and a single thought entered her mind, ice cream.


          The first thing Janet saw when she opened her eyes the next morning were two empty one-pint ice cream cartons on the night stand. Sometime while living abroad she acquired a taste for strawberry ice cream over butter pecan. Rather than quibble about it, they bought a pint of each. The first thing she heard was the deep breathing of Joseph asleep next to her. He looked so peaceful, a combination of relief from the nervous tension of the concert the night before, and satisfaction from their session of torrid lovemaking.

          The decision to go back to the apartment with him was impulsive to be sure.  Caught up in the exhilaration of the events she couldn’t refuse his invitation. In this afterglow moment, she felt no regrets. Joseph still loved her. She knew this from the first time she visited him with Danielle weeks before. As to her own feelings, she wasn’t sure.

Joseph woke and turned to face her. She responded by lying flat on her back. He reached his arm across her belly.

          “Should I make us breakfast?” he asked.

          “Goodness, Joseph it must be lunch time by now.”

          “Alright then, lunch.”

          “I really should be getting back. I don’t leave Dani with her nanny overnight often.”

           “Can I call you later…dinner?”

          “Not tonight.” Then, before he could protest, “tomorrow perhaps…we’ll have time for all this, Joseph, I promise.”

          “I need a shower and coffee.”

          “Go ahead. I’ll make the coffee.”

          He kissed her on the cheek before getting out of bed.

           She lay there listening to the shower running, and thought about what she told him. Was she ready or even willing to renew a relationship she fled just a few years before?

 She left the bed and walked to the closet. There she found several neatly pressed white dress shirts hanging in a row. She put one on, buttoned a single button across her breasts and headed toward the kitchen.

Once the coffee was brewing, she took the time to look around the apartment. Last time she noticed a new addition to the furnishings, a bookcase standing some eight feet high in the middle of one wall of the living room. As she approached to inspect its contents, she wondered how he ever found the time to read. She scanned a row of titles and found them, standing side by side, the four photo books she published abroad. The first two contained pictures from the English and Scottish Countryside. The third featured photos from Germany and the fourth from the Netherlands, both done while she toured with Ian’s band, The Have Knots. Seeing her work on his bookshelf gave her a warm feeling.

Joseph was fully dressed as he entered the living room. “Coffee smells good.”

“Should be just about done.”

“Better hurry if you wanna shower before all the hot water is gone.”

“Interesting collection you have here.”

“For show mostly. I never seem to have any time to read these days.”

Janet smiled.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Radio Host Colin Lively's Promo For the Seven-Inch Vinyl Interview

Colin Lively is a New York based Raconteur, beauty expert and the "Hairdresser to the Stars." He recently conducted a live radio interview with me. It was an unforgettable experience. Here is the promo he did prior to the show - Thanks Colin.

Rock and Roll, Murder Hair and Woodstock

by Colin Lively

It will be a bittersweet Colin Lively Show this week. Colin will be taking a walk down Memory Lane as his guest on this week’s show takes him down his. Colin Lively, a country boy, was growing up in the shadow the Appalachian Mountains in West Virginia. Donald Riggio, a city boy, was growing up in the Bronx in the shadow of the Throg’s Neck Bridge. A typical Sunday morning for Colin was having biscuits, red eye gravy, and grits..then off to the Rainelle Methodist Church, and lunch with the proper folk at the Pioneer Hotel. A typical Sunday morning for Donald was having a bagel, with a schmear, and maybe sneaking in an egg cream before heading off to Saint Helena’s Catholic Church, and then Nonni Riggio’s house for spaghetti and gravy(which is what the older generation of Italians called tomato sauce).. Two lives of young men, dreaming and dreaming big. Who could possibly make comparisons of these two totally different young lives being lived? BUT …… (aha moment) …TELEVISION.
The environments may have been totally different, but the impact of the technology of right there in the living rooms of all American homes, rich or poor,was scorching imprints into our psyches . Then there was that night. No, not that night . THE NIGHT!!!!….The event that changed the world.Sunday, September 9th , 1956. The Ed Sullivan Show. And paved the way for extraordinary music. In the time it takes to blink an eye, the youth of America was totally changed. Fashion changed. Sexy changed. Music changed. Dance changed.
Soon, Colin was old enough to move out of the shadow of the Appalachian Mountains, Donald was old enough to move out of the shadow of the Throg’s Neck. It was time to Live That Dream. In itself, sounds like an old TV show. Colin may not have known what he wanted, exactly, but hedonism was quite natural. But, Donald wanted to have a band of his own. Maybe like another Italian guy from the Bronx, Dion DeMucci and his Belmonts. Dion was from the Bronx and he was BIG!! really BIG too…
But the luminous skies overhead weren’t to be blue very long. A greater , darker shadow was moving in . A shadow looming so large, that not even Elvis,the Beatles, or Dion, or even our beloved President could control. The world had just gone from an innocent, safe place to be to being a very scary and heavy place. Vietnam. Life. Love.Marriage. Paycheck. Mortgage. BABIES!!! … Divorce. Alimony. Ulcers. New marriage. Two mortgages. No paycheck . BABIES!!!…geeze… who can dream big under these conditions!!
Yes, the 60s were a tough 10 years for young adults. But would I exchange them ? NO WAY!!!.. War Protestors..Long Hair.. Woodstock..the Kennedys.. Marilyn Monroe..The Supremes.. Man on the Moon.. Women’s Rights.. Race Riots.. YOKO, oh no!!.. and the music…the amazing amazing music. The music that defines a time that is no more. Real voices. Real music. Real words. That conveyed messages. Subliminal. Direct. Refined. Urgent.
No, Donald Riggio, did not end up with his own band. He is not compared to Dion. But, has Dion written a novel that takes us back to the most amazing decade that has ever been? I don’t think so!! SEVEN INCH VINYL.
Seven-Inch Vinyl is Donald Riggio’s dream come true in the form of an amazing fiction novel. It is something of a history book. The characters are familiar. So familiar that I found myself trying to guess which real life people the people who live in Donald’s imagination and now in mine. That seems like Elvis. Yes, Elvis because there’s the manager, Cap Stewart..hmm. CAUGHTCHA…Colonel Parker!!
There’s the record company called Chanticleer Records where stars are made, and unmade.
There’s the Sex…The Drugs…The Rock and Roll….The Sex….The Murders…….yes, in between the music is MURDER!!!!
Amazing plot development makes me love this book.. Never one dull page..It is truly a “Rock and Roll” murder mystery novel, with a twist, and maybe even a boogaloo.. and Donald Riggio, if you can bear with his Bronx accent, is one amazing guest for this week’s Colin Lively Show.

Seven-Inch Vinyl: A Rock and Roll Novel (from Good Reads):
In 1953, the entire world waited for an explosion. The United States and The Soviet Union both possessed a weapon that could blow the planet to bits. But when the explosion finally did come, it wasn’t from an Atom Bomb blast-but from the birth of rock and roll music. Seven-Inch Vinyl chronicles the evolution of rock and roll between the years 1953-1969. An interesting array of fictional characters takes the reader on a remarkable journey from the rural landscapes of Kentucky where Rhythm and Blues is on the rise to the juke joints of Memphis as R&B meets country to create the Rockabilly sound. From there travel north to the bustling metropolitan cities of Cleveland and New York where the vocal harmonies from singing groups seems to occupy every street corner.
The British Invasion of performers in the mid-sixties threatens the very life of the American music scene. But bolstered by the founding of Motown, and the emerging folk scene from Greenwich Village to Haight-Ashbury, a rock and roll revival rejuvenates past careers and re-kindles the popularity of its early days. Told against a backdrop of racism, political unrest, war and assassination, the narrative blends actual historic events with music history to demonstrate how rock and roll changed the lives of generations of young men and women to forge the course of the nation and the world
Join Colin Lively ((LIVE)) Friday, 2-3 pm EST, online at
Listen by phone at
Chat-in or call-in 877-500-ZEUS (9387)
Replay: Friday 11pm EST
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Saturday, January 14, 2012

Seven-Inch Vinyl expands to a trilogy.

The first post of the New Year is a Moldie Oldie. First published last August, It serves as a reminder of what's happening with the sequel and my writing efforts. I've made a resolution to add to the blog on a more regular basis so..err...we'll see. Anyway let's get the journey to "Beyond Vinyl: The Saga Continues," on its way.

As the creative juices flow over me and I turn things up a notch in writing the sequel “Beyond Vinyl: The Saga Continues” a whole new set of ideas, characters and events propelled me beyond the planned parameters of book two. What choice do I have but to plan for a third, “When Gold Turns To Gray.”

The title was determined by the results of a poll conducted on Facebook recently. By way of explanation, it exemplifies the GOLDen tunes of the past as they and their fans turn GRAY. I want to thank those who participated in the poll. The book will take readers into the new millennium but will remain faithful to the music of the 50’s and 60’s as the baby boomers start to collect Social Security.

But let’s backtrack to book two.

Chapter one begins sixteen years after the events depicted in Seven-Inch Vinyl into the year 1986. Chapter two will flashback to the very minute when Book one ends to follow the life of Joseph Rabinowitz as his amazing journey continues. Flash backs and flash forwards will be the essence of the saga as we return to characters and events we merely touched upon before. We’ll learn more about Chanticleer and his young adult life. Janet’s travels through England will be explored with more in-depth detail. Surprising new characters will be introduced to carry the narrative forward. Other musical genres will come on the scene, Progressive Rock, Hard Rock, Southern Rock and Disco just to name a few will take their place on the record charts but the oldies revival era will continue to grow and flourish both with live shows and on radio and television.

As we did in the first book we’ll traverse the years using real life events that demonstrate how Rock and Roll impacted history and vice versa. The chapter “John and Tricky Dick” will deal with the way the Nixon administration waged war on former Beatle John Lennon when the latter sought to become a spokesperson for the anti-war movement. “Greetings From the Children of Planet Earth,” will continue our fascination with space travel. And in “.44” we’ll see how a deranged killer almost single-handedly destroyed the New York nightclub scene in the seventies.

There will be moments of great joy and sadness within the pages of “Beyond Vinyl,” another treasure trove of emotional memories for those who lived it. The ending will leave readers clamoring for more.

Look for “Beyond Vinyl: The Saga Continues” coming in 2012.

In case you haven’t caught on to the Seven-Inch Vinyl experience you can order your copy today by using the instructions on the right-side scroll of this blog. Take a look at prior blog posts to see what critics and readers alike have to say.

Much Love,

Donald Riggio