I started playing the piano at nine years old and then to accordion since my father Aldo use to play accordion when I was a child growing up. There was a time my 4th grade Catholic school class that one of the 12 pupils in my classroom stood up and played his accordion. His name was Gregory Sinclair and I noticed how he instantly became the focus of everyone’s attention. I thought that I had that same advantage since my dad played the same instrument. I asked my dad to teach me. later, when I went to Boynton Beach Junior High School, I wanted to be in the marching band. The conductor, Mr. Richards, told me that no one plays the accordion in marching bands. He pointed out that I had two choices-the trumpet or French horn. I like the way the French horn looked so that became my new instrument. I didn’t realize how small the mouth piece was nor how difficult it was to learn. I kept at it and did progress with it into high school securing the forth seat, French horn in the Florida State band.
At 13 years old, my brother David and I started a “rock” band. It consisted of a trumpet player named Eddie Gardner, with me on accordion and David on a snare drum. Our first song was “When The Saints Come Marching In”. We played our first public performance from our family’s rooftop. The neighbors must have been thinking that this was the end of the neighborhood and home prices would be going down. We “progressed” to playing more rock-type songs like Black Sabbath’s; Iron Man. Audiences at the senior centers would have to give us credit. You would never see and instrument lineup nor performance like that anywhere else in the world. It was unique to say the least.
One thing became obvious-I didn’t get much attention playing either the accordion or French horn in my social age group. I put a microphone in my accordion and played the bass keys through an amplifier with my left hand and played a Farfisa keyboard with my right hand. My parents bought my brother a full drum kit and a guitar player name Rick Freed join us as a three piece. We practiced every day in the Florida room of our house. My parents were very supportive to say the least.
After a year of practice, we believed we were good enough to try our luck at the West Palm Beach Country Fair’s Battle of the Bands. With our parents in attendance we gave it our all but most notably when we ended our performance we could mostly hear mom clapping and some bonehead yell out “You SUCK!”. That was very embarrassing and at that point I was seriously considering a new profession.
Mom and dad told us to keep practicing and that we will only get better. We were mad, but got to practicing. The very next year’s Battle of the Bands, we won. It was bitter sweet. All the work and family support paid off.