11 February 2006

At last: the Nick Lampe story

In his professional musical career Nick Lampe sang in a 50s doowop group, toured with Alan Freed, hung out with Dion and Kenny Rankin in Manhattan, recorded an album at Muscle Shoals and, incidentally, put a single onto the charts in Melbourne, Australia. After that, he quit the business, headed for the mountains for a while, and ended up studying for a degree in Psychology. For years now he's been a social worker with disabled people in New York.

Nick Lampe's full name is Nicholas Lampariello. He is a New Yorker, born in Brooklyn, whose musical career goes back to the mid-50s, when he first appeared in the doowop group The Bop Tones on Ted Mack’s Original Amateur Hour.

Out of those early TV appearances came the release of a Bop Tones single on Ember, I Had A Love (an original by the four group members) with the B-side (Be My) Pussy Cat (1958). The Bop Tones toured with Alan Freed, the original rock’n’roll disc jockey who put on shows packed with current singing stars.

(Brian Lee, at doowop site ColorRadio.com, tells me The Bop Tones were from the Bensonhurst-Coney Island section of Brooklyn and the other members, apart from Nick Lampariello, were Bob Kutner, John Ench and Dave Antebi.)

Later, in the 60s, Nick Lampe appeared at The Improvisation and The Scene in Manhattan, in off-Broadway shows, and on the Steve Allen and Pat Boone TV shows. Among his friends and colleagues at this time were Richard Pryor, Richie Havens and two of his mentors, Kenny Rankin and Dion Di Mucci, both credited as spiritual advisors in the notes to Nick's 1970 album It Happened Long Ago.

After heading for Los Angeles, where he appeared at The Troubador, Nick tried his luck with local record companies and was signed to Atlantic. In 1970 he recorded his solo album of original songs for the Atlantic subsidiary Cotillion at the legendary Muscle Shoals Sound Studios in Alabama. Flower Garden was the opening track, and it was the single that charted in Melbourne, released in Australia on Atlantic through Festival Records (above).

Nick left the music business for a mixture of artistic and personal reasons.

He had complained to Atlantic chairman and producerArmet Ertegun when he heard the finished version of his album, which added strings and chorus to his six-piece studio sessions. Nick believes his “art had been bastardized with bubblegum”, but that’s how it was released.

In the end, Nick and his first wife moved to the mountains of Northern California with their young son (he appears with Nick on the album sleeve of It Happened Long Ago, right). At this time, Nick’s wife was attempting to recover from the devastating effects of marijuana that had been covertly laced with PCP. During this period, Nick supported his family by playing in bars and on street corners in San Francisco, and later at Lake Tahoe, the Californian ski resort.

Eventually, Nick Lampariello remarried, moved to British Columbia to study for his BA in Psychology, and became a counsellor to victims of abuse.

Nowadays Nick works with disabled children in New York, helping them to develop essential life skills. He says: I don't make much money but I get a lot of love… I'm called Uncle Nicky by some 150 individuals who at one time may not have been able to speak: can't put a price on that. Musically I lead worship for three ministries and consequently I am always involved with music.

I still have my guitar, an old Martin D-18. It's about forty years old and is my love...

(Source: Nicholas Lampariello, by email.
Thanks also to Robert Thompson)


Anonymous said...

i thought i was the only one who remembered flower garden in melbourne - cannot download it from limewire.Thanks anyway.Chris Miller,Fawkner,Vic Australia.

Anonymous said...

Oh my God, Nick, it's ginger here. Hey, remember Ted Mack? I just called Cl 6-1977 to see how your mom was and then found out thru an internet friend that she passed in 2002. I'm so sorry. I always loved her. Life changes and so have we, I'm sure. I did talk to your mom about 10 years ago before I moved to Nashville. Anyhow, my son is a professional guitar player here and my daughter is a doctor in California. You can find me on facebook (if you remember my maiden name) or at farrytale@comcast.net - would love to get in touch. Does Bobby live in Staten Island? My internet friend came up with an address and phone number for him. I don't know why I have to revisit the past but I do. Hope this gets to you. peace, ginger (who can't sing anymore due to a bout with throat Cancer)but has four published Christian books and can be googled - ginger farry - author! Imagine? God bless, ginger

Anonymous said...

Found Nick! And Nick found Jesus!
What a celebration. What a joy.

Lyn Nuttall said...

Happy to hear that, Ginger. All the best!

Anonymous said...

I remember flower garden and I remember it well, though not until today I found out Nick's name and confirmed the title. Almost always had a transistor radio glued to my ear as a kid, flower garden got a lot of play, then more or less disappeared. In 1989 I heard the song again and can remember saying to my workmate that I had not heard the song for years. Alas the DJ played on to more tunes without identifying the song.
Remembering but a few of the lyrics I hopped into google and found out what i wanted to know. I've been after this song for a long time and I'm taken back, hearing it again.

Bless you Nick for the good you do for people in their times of misfortune and need.
Indeed money is important and it's good to read you mention some things can't have a price put on them.

Melbourne Autralia.

-- the song is on youtube, lyrics are provided.


john said...

I have the album if anyone would like me to burn a copy

Anonymous said...

John If you still read ths blog I would like a copy of the album if possible please Andrew

Anonymous said...

Just found the whole album on a Korean website, it's listed about halfway down the page - press play.

Unknown said...

I have a copy. Almost mint condition. Bob Promotional copy.

Anonymous said...

nicky lampariello saved my life marriage and family in the mid 1990's on staten island ny. great recovery counselor, great friend,and great musician. miss u guys! great times at the house off slosson & the one out bye the sea ! hope u guys are still together and happy ...........and as importantly, thank u peggy. we loved u guys ...........all the best love f k & j

Jim P said...

I'm here because I love Doowop music and the Boptones represent some of the best. I don't know Nick or any of the group's other members. It sounds as if Nick has done some very positive things with his life. Thanks to Youtube for making this great music available.
Jim Pennell-Fairborn, OH