Part one of Ronnie I's R&B party, a radio show that was on the air for 20+ years.
From The book. We Need More Love Songs;
By Tommy Petillo
RONNIE I's legendary CLIFTON MUSIC and his more than twenty years producing the United Group Harmony Association, provided a permanent historical record of doo wop for all fans of the genre. Ronnie with his Publishing label produced and recorded over 150 CD compilations, 50 LPs and over 100 – 45's… to say he was a force for doo wop in the tri-state area and especially New Jersey is a huge understatement. Over the years, Ronnie I produced and hosted 354 plus live shows at various venues. Ronnie I’s passion for the music he loved far exceeded anyone else’s that I ever knew. He was responsible for many a vocal group or singer in finding their place in the business. He brought back many of the ageing groups for a final curtain call in the many concerts he produced. He also co-hosted on the Jersey Spotlight and, with his vast knowledge and enthusiasm of the music, he shined on some of my favorite shows. He was my friend and a mentor to many. He played a pivotal role in my return to The Duprees in 2002. I knew about him for many years as our paths crossed only in a mutual love for the music at his store or UGHA before we became good friends. My real friendship with him was much too short but I got to know and appreciate his commitment to the music and the mutual respect of our friendship. Ronnie Italiano afectionitly known to all as Ronnie passed away March 4th 2008.
In the front of Ronnie I’s Clifton Music is a 2,000-pound granite tombstone dedicated in 1988 to the pioneering rock ’n’ roll singer Frankie Lymon of the Teenagers — bought with $3,000 in donations and then never used when his widow decided she did not want it.Attached to the tin ceiling are old LPs and 45s, hanging overhead like shiny planets from some forgotten galaxy.
In the bins of CDs, LPs, 45s, and 78s are thousands of reminders of the music invariably thought of as the soundtrack to the 1950s — the Five Satins, Ink Spots, Spaniels and Harptones, the Cardinals, Wrens, Orioles and Larks.
What is not there, not anymore, is Ronnie I — Ronnie Italiano, the indefatigable, happily obsessed fan, promoter and entrepreneur of early group harmony rock ’n’ roll who ran the store from 1972 until he died in 2008 at 67.
Ronnie I, who grew up in East Rutherford, hated the term doo-wop, which he considered an inauthentic parody of what he preferred to call vocal group harmony. But for the music forever associated with its intricate harmonies and bops, pows, yips and other vocal filigrees — “Earth Angel,” “Why Do Fools Fall in Love,” “Sh-Boom” — it is the term people know, hence those Doo Wop University sweatshirts on sale at the shop.
If Ronnie hated the term, he loved the music with a manic passion. So when the local record store came up for sale, he ditched his job driving a soda delivery truck and jumped in. For a few years he maintained a general music business. Then he went all-in on the sound he loved.
There’s no replacement for Ronnie I.He was a Legend… And then came a bout with cancer, a final trip from the hospital to host the group harmony association meeting and show No. 354, and then we lost Ronnie, March 4, 2008.