Crosby, Stills Nash – Joe Walsh -Neil Young – Dan Fogelberg – The Eagles
Peter Frampton – Ted Nugent – Buffalo Springfield – Steven Stills -
The Joe Vitale Band
By Linda Mitchell
If you’ve been a rock and roll aficionado over the past several decades, and are familiar with the top bands during that time, then you know Joe Vitale – Drummer Extraordinaire and yes, all around great guy.
Joseph Anthony Vitale was born into his very Italian family in Canton, Ohio in 1949. His Mom and Dad were both musicians: Mom played sax and Dad played accordion. For Joe, his older brother Frank and younger sister Joanne, family life was filled with loud stories, laughter, and good food and of course, music.
If you meet Joe today, you can’t help but notice his vibrancy and dynamic energy. Now just picture him as a youngster – middle child and full of mischief. In an effort to save their pots and pans from being destroyed by his wooden spoon drumsticks, his parent had the foresight to present him with a new drum at his first Christmas! His fascination with drums was only going to escalate.
Over the years watching his Dad play with other musicians, and listening to his stories about various gigs, Joe became more determined to follow in his musical footsteps. His first official drum lesson was after his family moved to Fort Lauderdale, Florida in 1955. On a personal note, during a recent conversation with Joe, we discovered we attended elementary school together and only lived a few blocks apart in Ft. Lauderdale! Small World!
Back in Ohio by fifth grade, he had his first gig under his belt, a school performance with this brother Frank. Performing in front of an audience solidified his resolve to pursue a drumming career. By sixth grade, and being an “active kid” and prone to pranks, Joe’s parents felt more drum lessons would be an outlet for his energy and creative nature. For his eighth birthday he got his first full kit – Blue & Silver Ludwigs. Imagine his excitement!
In time he was playing in his Dad’s band – The Tony Vitale Band, with his brother. At age fourteen he joined the Musician Union. You would think the direction of his musical path was laid in stone by that time. But that all changed on February 9, 1964 when he, along with millions of others saw The Beatles for the first time on the Ed Sullivan Show. Joe set his sights on Rock and Roll!
In his book BACKSTAGE PASS, written by his wife Susie, you will read more details about Joe’s childhood in the first few chapters. It is a personal look into his family life and his antics and activities as a youngster. You will find yourself chuckling out loud at some of his stories.
Through the pages you’ll follow Joe’s climb up the ladder of recognition as a drummer. You’ll appreciate his drive and focus to see his dreams come true; from hearing his first recorded song on the radio as a teenager, to getting picked up by his first national act, Ted Nugent. And then…there’s Joe Walsh! Imagine those two Joe’s together! What stories there are during that period! One can only imagine the hotelier’s dread seeing Joe Walsh walk through the lobby with a guitar in one hand and a chainsaw in the other!! The book is worth this section alone!
You will also get a firsthand account of what it took back before computers and electronic equipment to produce a recording or edit it for that matter! The endless hours in the studio, laborious retakes, and the steady handed precision of cutting the tape for undetectable edits. Those were the musicians in the trenches of technology ‘back in the day’.
BACKSTAGE PASS takes you on a journey over thirty years through the various bands with which Joe performed, co-wrote songs and co-produced albums. A versatile musician, not only as a drummer but flautist, keyboardist and singer, Joe was an integral part of numerous top selling albums with numerous individual musicians – Rock and Roll Hall of Fame musicians! His conversational and candid stories make for easy reading and a feeling that you are there sharing his experiences. These are exclusive, inside, personal and funny stories about some of the most influential and successful musicians and bands in rock and roll history. Plus there are over one hundred pages of personal color photos along with dozens of black and white shots dispersed throughout the book.
Today Joe is just as energetic and enthusiastic as ever. Would you expect anything less? He continues to write, has formed two labels: Hit Records and Marinara Music and Publishing; has produced one of his son Joe Vitale Jr.’s albums and released his own third solo CD “Speaking in Drums”. He is also a counselor at various Rock and Roll Fantasy Camps in Las Vegas. Additionally, he and Susie produced BACKSTAGE PASS! To learn more about Joe, or to order a personalized, autographed copy of BACKSTAGE PASS, go to http://www.joevitaleondrums.com.
It is one amazing story!