Written by Tony LaSelva (Ugly Melon)
“My Rock and Roll Journey” started off like most artists, with an inspiration. As a young child in the ‘70s, I discovered (and quickly became obsessed with) Elvis Presley. He was in the twilight of his short life and career, but none of that meant anything to me. I remember running home after school to watch his movies during ‘Elvis week.’ I’m not sure which network decided that would be a good idea, but I loved every minute of it.
Blue Hawaii and Fun in Acapulco were masterpieces in my mind. There was something about Elvis that just captivated me…his charisma, his looks, and of course, his voice. He truly was the king of rock and roll to me. I remember singing “Hound Dog” on a table in front of my grade 1 classmates. Elvis was my idol. I would wear out his records while singing along to the lyrics I had memorized. I still have a real fondness for him. Although the reality of his life has made my image of him less idealistic, in my eyes, he is (and always will be) “The King.”
From ‘50s and ‘60s Elvis tunes, I moved my obsession into classic rock and heavy metal. The first hard rock song that really moved me was “Carry On Wayward Son” by Kansas. Imagine my shock when my 18-year old son recently said to me…“Hey Dad, have you ever heard of this progressive rock band, Kansas?” I didn’t even know what prog rock was until he introduced me to the moniker. Rush, Yes, and even King Crimson were just great rock bands to me.
From there, I discovered Van Halen (my first concert was the Diver Down tour) Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple and Black Sabbath. My friends and I were so enthralled with Dio-era Sabbath, Rainbow, and the Deep Purple family of musicians, that we would quiz each other on the history of every detail of that group of amazing players. We would ask questions like…
“Who sang backup on ‘Stormbringer’?”
“Name the lineup on Rainbow’s Rising record.”
“What was the first song Ronnie James Dio ever wrote with Sabbath?”
We were obsessed! And with good reason. Those were some truly historic recordings. I still have those tracks on my playlists. Timeless.
I joined my first real band while in junior high. A three-piece group performed Led Zeppelin’s “Rock and Roll” in our cafeteria. I was in awe! Months later, I was the lead singer of the band. The guitar player, Lu Cacioppo, is now my other half in Ugly Melon.
The band was originally called Reign, and then eventually changed to Frost. We played a bunch of gigs in the Toronto area. Our parents had to sign waivers in order for us to play some of the clubs in town. We had a blast! We were close friends that spent so much time together, and rehearsed every day.
An interesting side note…
The video for Ugly Melon’s “Leave it all behind” brings the original members of Reign back together. Franklyn Wyles is on drums and John Liberatore is on bass. We hope to perform with this lineup in the near future.
Back to the story…
Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Rainbow, Aerosmith, and all the great bands of that era were in our repertoire. We also played some original tunes. None of them were really fine-tuned or mature sounding, but Lu keeps threatening to revive one of those early songs.
During those formative years, I spent nearly all my waking hours on my two passions, music and martial arts. I consider myself so lucky to have found my lane(s) in life so early on. As the saying goes…“Do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life.” So true!
Stay tuned for Chapter 2 of “My Rock and Roll Journey” where I share the path that I took in the metaphorical fork in the road, and the story of how Ugly Melon was formed.