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Legends of Vinyl Founder/CEO Luis Mario O. Rizzo Celebrates Disco Music Spun by Deejay Greats Through His Annual Awards



During this December, noted deejay Tony Smith would have celebrated his latest birthday. Unfortunately, lung cancer took his life earlier in 2021. Though the Sirius XM radio host and veteran dance song spin-ster — who worked at such legendary clubs as Xenon — is gone, I had an opportunity to be at an event which honored him.

More than 40 years ago, during disco’s heyday, we had known each other and had re-connected a few years ago. Thanks to his husband Mike, I attended the recent Legends of Vinyl™ DJ & Artists Hall of Fame annual award ceremony.

As a perpetual outlier, I have long identified with music that reflected my outsider nature: punk, new wave, hardcore on the rock side of things; funk, blues and jazz on the Urban side of it all.

Somewhere in the middle of this was disco, dance music — in all its permutations such as drum & bass, EDM, etc. — and deejaying. Back in 1983, I learned about mixers, Technics 1200 Mk2 turntables and the joys of playing live. From then on, I started doing gigs, first at private parties and then, regularly in clubs. Probably my most significant gig was being the Friday/Saturday night China Club turntablist. I also played a hell of a lot of parties, weddings and bar mitzvahs.

While I loved cutting-edge music, most of it you couldn’t dance to — unless you were tripping and then it didn’t matter anyhow. Okay, there was moshing and pogo-ing to punk. But from the blues, rockabilly and bluegrass on, music that came from the streets meant it was for dancing — or at least could be. First it was R&B, then rock, soul, funk and ultimately, disco. But of all those genres, disco was all about dancing brought by a deejay to an audience in a club. And by the late ’60s and early ’70s, it became a worldwide phenomenon.

I deejayed for 13 years until I was burned out and decided that because of problematic club owners and the wretched conditions they offered, I couldn’t take it anymore. Unfortunately for me, I chose to stop just as digital equipment was coming in. That change eliminated the need to move heavy boxes of records and big equipment. Bad timing but C’est la vie.

I never became a great deejay but the work brought me into another arena and closer to actually making and performing music. I thought I would turn to remixing and started doing it, but got sucked back into writing. Then I launched a music magazine which led me into a new phase of my life.

Recently I got a chance to be immersed in a world I’d left behind. Once again, I appreciated the joys of getting people up to dance and of seamlessly segueing music based on the beat and texture. 

At this year’s annual ceremony, honorees included Mark S. Berry, Sal Abbatiello, DJ Richie Rich (recipient of the Legacy Award), Lisa Nocella-Pacino (recipient of the Golden Circle Award), and the recipients of the 2021 Icon awards, the first lady of Salsoul Carol Williams as well as the incomparable Smith.

Musical artists such as Pattie Brooks, Pamala Stanley, Phil Hurtt, Cyre, Unlimited Touch and all of them performed with dance tracks. DJ Jeff Yahney and DJ Jimmy C provided the tunes for the late night dance session.

The entire event was produced by Luis Mario O. Rizzo who had founded the Legends of Vinyl™ LLC Organization and the L.O.V. DJ/Artists Hall of Fame years ago. Now he’s working on a book to capture his memories and the special people he’s met along the years. He expects it to be published next year as “My Life, My Music, My Love” by Luis Mario Orellana Rizzo. So this offered a great occasion for Rizzo to enthuse on his love of this music and its impact on his life and the world as well.

Q: What made you decide to do these awards?

LMOR: About 20 years ago, I thought about giving thanks to my peers in one very special way, creating a Hall of Fame for DJs. This was a dream for me. It became much more than that as I presented the idea to my friends. Immediately it became something amazing because there were so many individuals who had never received the recognition that I believed was necessary, and that no one had ever thought of providing for many reasons.

One of the requirements of legendary attainment is remaining committed, consistent and passionate about turning dreams into reality. I had that commitment for L.O.V.

And now, over 12 years later, we’re the only organization fully engaged and responsible for keeping the musical legacies of our industry in the forefront and alive. I take pride in having created this magnificent entity and am confident that it will continue for years to come.

Q: Who selects the awardees and how are they chosen?

LMOR: When I created the Hall of Fame for the industry in general, I put together a Board of Directors who are part of the industry. They can select/nominate those who are deserving of the acknowledgement for their contributions to our industry.

I have no involvement in these choices. That’s because I, as the founder and CEO, must remain neutral while allowing my Board to make these very difficult choices.

Each year we update some of the Board membership to provide an opportunity to others with fresh ideas. Even more importantly, I need a proactive Board to keep the organization alive and moving forward. It’s my responsibility to keep Legends of Vinyl™ relevant and interesting to the world. We are the Legacy keepers, doing our best to leave our history intact so that future generations can learn from our success and or mistakes.

The Board of Directors are from each city we’ll visit and bring the awards event to. These individuals all have incredible personal histories. They themselves know the “who’s who” in the business, from DJs to Recording Artists. They spend months studying each bio and then vote in a democratic process to finally send me a list of awardees. Only then, as executive producer of Legends of Vinyl, do I begin production of the whole event.

Q: What is your role in picking the award-winners who appear each year?

LMOR: I’m the last to review the honorees as I give primary responsibility to my Board of Directors. They are usually right on target!

Q: What about the Icon awards in particular?

LMOR: The Icon award was created to celebrate those who are multifaceted in our industry. They stand out for obvious reasons.

Q: And as to this year’s Legends of Vinyl Awards?

LMOR: There was no 2020 celebration and as time passed so did a lot of our legends. 2021’s celebration proved that although time took away some of us, time also left a lot of us here to make this year’s gala awards event an unforgettable evening of honoring those with us along with, unfortunately, a longer than usual “In Memoriam” segment. We attendees all saw many peers and friends in person after such a long period of time. A feeling of victory over the pandemic won out, with hope and gratitude for the legends who are still here.

I began to move forward to include artists of the ‘80s freestyle. We don’t want time to further pass them by as has happened over the past two years. The inclusion of Phil Hurtt, music achiever since the ‘70s and younger artist Cyre, was seen as the beginning of going into the future with a full recognition of ongoing music history.

Q: You honored DJ Tony Smith, in particular, to whom you recently gave a posthumous Icon of Music Award.

LMOR: As far back as I remember, Tony was a creative and generous peer to everyone he came in contact with. An impressive quality about Tony was that he would talk with you as if he had known you forever without the “ego” that was so predominant and still is in our industry. I considered Tony to be a purist to the fullest extent of the word. Friends like Tony are very few. I’ll always remember those precious moments when we saw each other and interacted.

Q: What made Tony an Iconic Legend in music history?

LMOR: Icons are people who break barriers because their voice/image and talent is so captivating. I believe an icon is someone who uses their talent to introduce a new concept into their field, all while knowing how to display their image and music to the public. This describes Tony perfectly! He’s widely acknowledged to have been a major factor in the historic rise of Disco, for example.

Q: What prompted your passion for music?

LMOR: I believe it’s a natural passion that I was born with. I feel blessed to have inherited a natural love and understanding of music in general.  In my home there was always music of all genres. Growing up, my ear was always tuned to old and current melodies, compositions and songs.

Q: What were your favorite clubs?

LMOR: In the late ‘60s and early ‘70s I can recall The Electric Circus, The Haven and The Sanctuary as the home of my favorite schooling. They created a valuable source of interest for me. That is how I became a DJ and part of the generation of pioneers during the inception of the Dance Music Culture.

Q: And what was your favorite song?

LMOR: Too many to mention. It wouldn’t be fair to just pick one song. I have a library of so many genres of music in my head that only a few in the world can understand.

Q: Favorite group?

LMOR: Growing up in the ‘50s listening to a vast range of music from both my parents and family, I will also restrain myself from choosing just one favorite group.

Q: Okay. But how about your favorite deejay?

LMOR: Francis Grasso who was my mentor and friend. He created the movement through which we, the DJs/Vinyl Spinners, came to present our talent to our audiences. They reacted on the dance floors to evenings of non-stop seamless change from one song to another, with music and dance flowing continuously for hours on end. Francis took charge of the dance floor to drive people to ecstasy night after night!

Q: Do you still have your vinyl collection? How many records do you still have?

LMOR: I started collecting vinyl as a child in the way that most kids collected toys. When I immigrated to the United States, years later I went back to my homeland for a visit and I brought back those records. After returning to the States, I started to collect vinyl prior to becoming a DJ. Then, as a DJ my collection became a lifestyle.

To this day I can proudly say that I still have my personal vinyl favorites to the last days of vinyl production. I have about 25,000 records of 78 RPM, 45 RPM, LPs & 12”. They’re approximately 75% Promotional Copies from Motown, Doo-Wop, Standards, Rock n’ Roll, Opera, Classical, Show Musicals, Jazz, Latin, Reggae, etc.!

Q: Have you ever used digital equipment?

LMOR: As a consistent performer, I had to adapt to the changes around me. It was not my preference to do that, because technology presented itself as cold and indifferent compared to the feeling of listening and playing analog on Vinyl! But I was naturally curious. And in order to continue to be relevant to my profession, I had to adapt to a new era. To this day, I can confidently play Vinyl to Digital without missing a beat and Loving It! 

Q: How did you get your first gig?

LMOR: Non-paying in the late ‘60s doing house parties, then as a paid professional DJ it all started in 1970. 

Q: I lean towards deejay but which term do you prefer — deejay or DJ?

LMOR: I’m fortunate to have grown from a DJ to a Producer. That being said, I use DJ.

I have many “firsts” in my career. I have traveled both nationally and internationally, representing myself at first. Now I represent the company which maintains the legacies of all those legendary pioneer DJ’s. They include those who have and have not been recognized by their peers. These achievers include artists, sound & lighting engineers, club promoters, producers, etc. I call the program Legends of Vinyl™ with the goal of helping their legacies to live on into perpetuity.

Artists Hall of Fame

Pioneer DJs



The Glorious Corner



G.H. Harding

HERE’S BEKKA — (from Rolling Stone)  Bekka Bramlett grew up around John Lennon and George Harrison, but nothing could prepare her for joining Fleetwood Mac in 1994, during one of the rockiest periods in the band’s history.

In the summer of 1994, Fleetwood Mac hit the road without Stevie Nicks, Lindsey Buckingham, or Christine McVie. In the three singers’ spots, drummer Mick Fleetwood and bassist John McVie placed Traffic’s Dave Mason, rockabilly singer Billy Brunette, and Bekka Bramlett — the 26-year-old daughter of late-Sixties/early-Seventies rock icons Bonnie and Delaney Bramlett.
“We ended up with a bunch of talented people playing good music, but they should not have been touring as Fleetwood Mac,” Mick Fleetwood wrote in his 2014 memoir Play On. “There were too many essential pieces missing from the machine this time. We were a totally different band, with only the original drummer andbass player, and our original name.”

The Bekka Bramlett incarnation of Fleetwood Mac released a single album, 1995’s Time, before dissolving the next year to make way for a lucrative Hells Freezes Over-style reunion album and tour by the classic Rumours lineup. This period of the band may seem like little more than a footnote to some rock fans, but it was a pivotal time for Bramlett, and she looks back on it without any regrets.

“I knew my job was to get Stevie back,” she tells Rolling Stone from her home in Nashville. “I wasn’t a moron. I also knew this was a dangerous job when I took it. I knew I was facing tomatoes. But I didn’t want to wear a top hat. I didn’t want to twirl around. I wanted to be me. I even dyed my hair brown just so people in the cheap seats would know that Stevie wasn’t going to be here. I didn’t want anyone to be discouraged or let down.”

Joining Fleetwood Mac at 26 would have been a shock to the system of most singers, but Bramlett had been living in close proximity to rock stars her entire life. When she was very young, her parents toured and recorded with George Harrison, Eric Clapton, and many other A-list rock stars, winning renown as Delaney & Bonnie and Friends. Those artists also spent a lot of time at her mansion in the Hollywood Hills.

Bramlett didn’t realize any of this was unusual until she boarded the school bus one morning gripping her Disney Princess lunchbox. “This other little girl had a Beatles lunchbox,” she says. “I said to her, ‘I know him. He’s on our couch right now.’ I pointed to George Harrison. ‘I know him too.’ I pointed to John. She started hitting me since she thought I was lying. I was petrified and confused. I thought they were just Daddy’s friends that had accents.”

When she was just four years old, her father recruited Bekka and her sister Suzanne to sing background vocals on his song “California Rain.” “My mom had to get some gaffer tape to keep the headphones on my head since I was so little,” she says. “I used to hate the way it sounds, and now I love it so much. It’s so endearing.”

Right around this time, her parents split up, and she went to live with her father and grandmother. “It was weird, since mostly the moms got the babies back then,” she says. “But my parents were alcoholics. My grandmother never even smoked cigarettes or said cuss words. She brought us to church every Sunday, Wednesday, and Monday. We were in safe hands with our grandmother. I think both of my parents trusted that.”

Delaney and Bonnie both struggled to find solo success in the Seventies, and they dealt with significant substance abuse issues, but Bekka inherited their talents, and she knew from a young age that she’d devote her life to music. “I briefly thought I’d be a lawyer, but I thought I’d be a singing lawyer,” she says. “Then I wanted to be a jockey since I love horses, but I thought I’d be a singing jockey. Music is just what I’m good at.”

As a teenager with a fake ID in the early Eighties, Bramlett spent many nights checking out bands on the Sunset Strip. “I remember standing on the side of the stage as Guns N’ Roses played,” she says. “Seeing it up close, I was like, ‘This is why you never try heroin.’ But then I’d go into the audience and be like, ‘This is why you join a rock & roll band!’”

Just a terrific story and interview from Stone’s Andy Greene. You can read the rest of the interview here:
Interestingly enough, I found that Fleetwood Mac Time album very, very enjoyable – not only for the new members of Mac, but for Dave Mason’s reflective “I Wonder Why,” Christine McVie’s perfect “Nights in Estoril” and the track “These Strange Days,” which features Mick Fleetwood’s first-ever vocal.
It certainly wasn’t the hit Rumors was, or even Tusk for that matter, but reflected a re-jiggering of the group; which was pretty good in my book.
Billy Burnette and Dave Mason replaced Buckingham, which led to the oft-spoken comment: it took 2 guitarists to replace Lindsey.
Great piece by Andy Greene.

SUCCESSION — (via Deadline) The Roys are back with a vengeance. The Season 4 premiere of Succession drew an audience of 2.3M on Sunday across HBO Max and linear telecasts, which is a series high for same-day viewers. Total viewing for Sunday night was up 62% compared to Season 3’s premiere viewership of 1.4M in October 2021. At the time, that marked the best premiere night performance of any HBO original series since HBO Max launched in May 2020. Sunday’s viewership is also up about 33% from the Season 3 finale’s 1.7M. Season 3 averaged about 7.2M viewers per episode, according to HBO.HBO also says that all previous seasons of succession saw a 4x increase in viewership in the week leading up to the Season 4 premiere, compared to the week prior.

The Roy family saga picks up as the sale of media conglomerate Waystar Royco to tech visionary Lukas Matsson (Alexander Skarsgård) looms. The prospect of the seismic sale provokes existential angst and familial division among the Roys: patriarch Logan Roy (Brian Cox) and his four grown children, Kendall (Jeremy Strong), Siobhan (Sarah Snook), Roman (Kieran Culkin) and Connor (Alan Ruck). A hopefully Roy-esque power struggle will ensue as the family weighs up a future where their cultural and political weight is threatened.

Succession has 13 Emmys including Best Drama Series wins for its Season 2 and Season 3, the latter of which premiered in 2021.

We had mentioned earlier that most of the  advance reviews said the writing was the star of the premiere episode and I definitely agree. Creator Jesse Armstrong wrote it and delivered just a stellar job. The episode began with a grumpy-Brian Cox at his birthday and took a few moments to develop into the powerhouse it has become, but it was very, very enjoyable.

Sure some of the dialogue  and plot harked back to earlier episodes, but it’s so good, you hardly noticed. And the ending with Shiv and Tom, alone at at home and contemplating their futures, was just splendid and reeked of the amazing emotion the show almost always conjures up. A class act all around.

SHORT TAKES — London’s Guardian gave the new Keifer Sutherland steaming-series Rabbit Hole a pretty stellar review. Love Keifer and love Charles Dance. And newcomer Meta Golding received a rave as well. Check it out here: Ant-Man and Creed III star Jonathan Majors has a major problem. Saturday night he was arrested for violence with his supposed girlfriend in a cab going from a bar in Brooklyn to NYC. A commercial he did for the Army has already been pulled. The papers in Manhattan have been all over his story and one poster said: Innocent or not; the damage is already done. Sad for sure. He portrays Kang in the next several Marvel-movies, so we’ll see what happens. I wonder what bar in Brooklyn he was at? There are some rough ones out there for sure …
Donnie Kehr’s terrific new album Beautiful Strange is out now on CD …

Jennifer Coolidge

Variety confirmed this week, that the locale of the next White Lotus, from Mike White, will be Thailand. Now, if we could only get Jennifer Coolidge back … Congrats to New York Independenteditor Keith F. Girard on his second novel –

Keith F. Girard’s The Curse of Northam Bay

just out: The Curse of Northam Bay …PR-pasha David Salidor was interviewed by Charles Rosenay for Monkee Mania Radio … Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer open July 21 and it is indeed 3 hours.

Cillian Murphy

It stars Cillian Murphy and the trailer looks rather stupendous. Check it out here:

Happy Bday Steven Tyler and Diana (Miss) Ross!
NAMES IN THE NEWS — Alex Salzman; Jeff Smith; Dino Danelli; Bill Amendola; Maria Milito; Steve Walter; Melissa Davis; Anthony Noto; Deb Caponetta; Christine Nagy; Jim Farber; Kent Denmark; Jane Ayer; Toby Mamis; Howard Bloom; Brad LeBeau; and BELLA!
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indieplazaoutdoor Music Festival is Coming to Rockefeller Plaza



Get ready for the second annual indieplazaoutdoor music festival coming to Rockefeller Plaza this September! The first indieballroom show will kick of the music series on Sunday, May 7 at 7p.m., featuring SQÜRL, Bria, and a special guest (for tickets click here).

Rough Trade first partnered with Rockefeller Center back in the summer of 2021, and they featured artists such as Megan Thee Stallion, Mary J Blige, Father John Misty, and Japanese Breakfast.

The festival is part of a larger four-part concert series that includes quarterly indieballroom shows at the Rainbow Room, featuring three artists, two stages, one ballroom, and a full bar, all tied together with jaw-dropping views of NYC.

The indieplazaoutdoor music festival will be held at 30 Rockefeller Plaza.

Last year’s show featured 20+ musical guests including Claud, Yaya Bey, The Muckers, Say She She, Cola, and more.


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Hoodwinked from Heaven Looks At Alzheimer’s



Hoodwinked from Heaven makes its NYC debut at Leonard Nimoy Thalia at Peter Norton’s Symphony Space, 250 W 95th Street on Sunday, May 7, 2023 @ 3:00 PM

Elisa Brown wrote Hoodwinked from Heaven for her late father Bill who suffered with Alzheimer’s. In this heart-warming, knee slapping, one woman show, Elisa kicks up her heels and spins some Tall Texas tunes and tales inspired by true family stories. This show celebrates the deeply American music that kept Elisa’s family alive with hope and laughter and continues the legacy of her father’s character and love.

Originally trained as a classical singer, Elisa’s  has been thrilling audiences around the globe for decades. She sings a wide range of vocal styles – from country to pop to Spanish musical theater and opera. Elisa now  takes her to solo performances on Off-Broadway, The Bitter End, and Carnegie Hall, as well as to concert venues in South America, Spain, and China, and onwards. She had her own show on PBS, The Heart of Art with Elisa Brown. Her CDs, The Ave Maria Experience and New World, was co-written and co-arranged with Grammy winning producer Barry Goldstein, and has garnered worldwide praise.

If you know or have someone suffering from Alzheimer’s this show just might help lighten the load.

For Tickets ($45) and more info:

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