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Bucky Pizzarelli

Jazz guitarists Bucky and John Pizzarelli at the Village Jazz Lounge in Walt Disney World
Background information
Birth name John Paul Pizzarelli
Also known as 'Bucky'
Born January 9, 1926 (1926-01-09) (age 84)
Origin Paterson, New Jersey, U.S.
Genres Jazz
Big Band
Occupations Guitarist
Instruments Guitar, Banjo, Electric guitar
Labels Arbors Records
Chesky Records
Victoria Records
Savoy Records
Challenge Records
Associated acts John Pizzarelli
Martin Pizzarelli
Jessica Molaskey
Stephane Grappelli
Soprano Summit
Notable instruments
Benedetto guitar

John Paul "Bucky" Pizzarelli (born January 9, 1926) is an American Jazz guitarist and banjoist, and the father of jazz guitarist John Pizzarelli. Pizzarelli has also worked for NBC as a staffman for Dick Cavett (1971) and also ABC with Bobby Rosengarden in (1952). The list of musicians Pizzarelli has collaborated with over his career includes Les Paul, Stephane Grappelli, and Benny Goodman. Pizzarelli acknowledges Django Reinhardt, Freddie Green, and George Van Eps[1][2] for their influences on his style and mode of play.



Pizzarelli began his professional career at 17 when he joined the Vaughn Monroe dance band in 1944.[3] Near the end of World War II, while in Austria as an infantryman fulfilling wartime military service for the Army, Pizzarelli was absent from Monroe's band (though he rejoined the outfit in 1946 and played for another five years with them). While in the military, he played in an unauthorized dance band.

In 1952 Pizzarelli became a staff musician for NBC, playing with Skitch Henderson.[3] In 1964, he became a member of the Doc Severinsen band on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. During his time spent performing for the Tonight Show, Pizzarelli accompanied guest bands and musicians playing through a variety of musical genres, even playing with Tiny Tim (after tuning the performer's ukulele) on the day that Tiny Tim married Miss Vicki on Carson's show.[3] While self-professedly not a big fan of rock and roll, Bucky performed on seven hits with Dion and the Belmonts during this period.

From 1956–1957, Pizzarelli performed with The Three Sounds trio along with bassist Andy Simpkins and pianist Gene Harris. He toured several times off and on with Benny Goodman up and until 1986, the year of Goodman's death. Beginning in the 1970s, Pizzarelli began recording as a leader, performing many tributes to musicians of the 1930s era. Bucky has performed at the White House in Washington, D.C. with artists such as Benny Goodman, two performances for President Ronald Reagan and one for President Bill Clinton. He also played a private birthday party for former First Lady Pat Nixon at her home.

"Jersey Jazz Guitars" was the name of a 1985 concert held at the Rutgers University Nicholas Music Center in New Brunswick. The ticket featured Bucky, Les Paul, Tal Farlow, and Bucky's son John. The concert was aired on New Jersey's PBS station as part of their 3-part New Jersey Summerfare Series. Bucky and Les Paul had performed together before with one another, as they were neighbors and cordial friends. The show aired for one hour in August 1985, with son John adding his vocals on two selections. [4]

Personal life

John Pizzarelli was born January 9, 1926 in Paterson, New Jersey, learning to play the guitar and banjo at a young age. His uncles (Pete and Bobby Domenick) were professional musicians, and sometimes the extended family would gather at one of their homes with their guitars for jam sessions. Pizzarelli cites Joe Mooney, a blind accordion player who played with his uncle Bobby, as his inspiration.[3] During high school, John was guitarist for a small band that performed classical music. [2]

In addition to his son John, Pizzarelli's son Martin Pizzarelli and daughter Mary are also professional musicians. Martin is a bassist who has recorded both with his father and brother. Mary is a classical guitarist who appeared on her father's second album as leader titled Green Guitar Blues, as well as other recordings. Pizzarelli has also appeared on three albums of his daughter-in-law (John's wife), Jessica Molaskey.

Today Bucky Pizzarelli resides in a home on the banks of the Saddle River in Saddle River, New Jersey with his wife Ruth. An avid amateur painter, Pizzarelli's home is filled with his own artwork.

Pizzarelli's guitars

Pizzarelli's first guitar was an archtop Gibson, an expensive instrument at the time. He plays a Benedetto Bucky Pizzarelli Signature seven-string guitar, made by Robert Benedetto, who also makes guitars for Howard Alden and Frank Vignola, among others. He learned to play the 7-string from George Van Eps.[3] The extra string on Pizzarelli's guitar provides him with a bass line during performances.


  • June 23, 2005 - ASCAP Jazz Wall of Fame Induction
  • 2002 - Mac Lifetime Achievement Award




Album Release date Label
Five for Freddie 2007-02-13 Arbors Records
Around the World in 80 Years 2006 Victoria Records
Lost Songs of 1936
Generations 2006-04-10 Arbors Records
Moonglow 2005-07-19 Sindrome Records
Hot Club of 52nd Street 2004-05-25 Chesky Records
One Morning In May 2001-06-05 Arbors Records
April Kisses 1999-09-14
Contrasts 1999-02-09
Midnite Mood 1960-12-06 Savoy Records

With Jessica Molaskey

Album Release date Label
Make Believe 2004-10-05 PS Classics
A Good Day 2003-05-20
Pentimento 2002-06-04 Image Records

With Martin Pizzarelli

Album Release date Label
Triple Play 2004-05-24 Victoria Records


External links


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