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Gorgoni, Al (1939-Present)

Guitarist born in Philadelpia, Pennsylvania, and later moving to The Bronx with his family, who helped shape the soundscape of pop rock music by performing on many of the most popular songs of the ’60s.  Al did not start playing the guitar until he was fourteen years old, but he was a natural.  He studied with Rico Cari and Peter Girardi, and before long was tutoring other fledgling guitarists.

Al Nevins, who was Don Kirschner’s business partner, heard Al and gave him a full-time gig playing on demos.  This opened doors for Al, who started getting offers from big-time songwriters like Jeff Barry, Burt Bacharach, Hal David, Jerry Lieber, Paul Simon, and Mike Stoller.  Then the session work started rolling in.  Al performed on an impressive string of hits that could easily comprise their own greatest-hits package.  Some of the highlights from this era include “My Boyfriend’s Back” by The Angels, “Sugar, Sugar” by The Archies, “1-2-3” by Len Barry, “Lightning Strikes” by Lou Christie, “Hair” and “The Rain, The Park and Other Things” by The Cowsills, “Red Rubber Ball” by Cyrkle, “Cherry Cherry”, “Kentucky Woman”, “Shiloh” and “Solitary Man” by Neil Diamond , “Chapel of Love” by The Dixie Cups, “The Name Game” by Shirley Ellis, “Big Girls Don’t Cry”, “Candy Girl”, “Dawn (Go Away)”, “Let’s Hang On”, “Rag Doll”, “Sherry” and “Walk Like A Man” by The Four Seasons, “My Heart Has a Mind of its Own” by Connie Francis, “I Got Rhythm” by The Happenings, “I Think We’re Alone Now” by Tommy James, “I’m a Believer” by The Monkees, “Brown Eyed Girl” by Van Morrison, “Our Day Will Come” by Ruby & The Romantics and “Leader of the Pack” by The Shangri-Las .

Other artists and groups with whom Al has worked include Eric Andersen, Joan Baez, Ray Charles, Bob Dylan, Duane Eddy, Mimi Farina , Marvin Gaye, Bobby Hebb, Jay & The Americans, Carole King, Trini Lopez, Herbie Mann, Laura Nyro, Claus Ogerman, Bernadette Peters, Sonny & Cher, B.J. Thomas, Stevie Wonder , and The Yardbirds.

In the ’70s, Al gravitated toward composition, as it better fit his lifestyle as a husband and father.  He started out small, arranging, composing, and producing commercial jingles, although he had scored a couple of films, including I Never Sang For My Father and Step Out Of Your Mind.  By 1981, he had the capital and the street cred to open Lightstream Productions, in tandem with his son Adam.  Al returned to film in the late ’80s, writing music for Midnight Crossing and Million Dollar Mystery.

Recently, Al changed gears again, producing albums for classical guitarists Dennis Koster and Jerry Willard.  This spiked his interest in classical music, and he enlisted the tutelage of Koster and eventually performed his first recital in 2001.  Al continues to record; he appeared on Evie Sands’ 2003 release, Women in Prison; and has two other albums in the works, one classical, and one contemporary.

Simon & Garfunkel recordings
The Sounds of Silence (Paul Simon )

Nancy Sinatra recordings
It’s Such a Lonely Time of Year (Al Gorgoni/Chip Taylor )

Here’s “I Can’t Let Go” by Gorgoni, Martin & Taylor..