Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Vinnie Zummo's Beatles encounters

My quest for finding more stories of people who met the Beatles, took me to the myspace page of guitarist, Vinnie Zummo.

Vinnie's John story

This is a long story so bear with me. Back in the day my sister worked for ABCKO in NYC. ABCKO managed John, George, & Ringo and all things Apple that did not pertain to McCartney. Being such a Beatle freak, I would come up all the time hoping for a glimpse. It was after the breakup but I thought I might get lucky & see one of the three . Well one day I hit the jackpot. I went in on a Sunday and a bunch of us went up to John and Yoko's place. They had a whole floor. I wish I remembered the hotel but it was quite a while ago and I was so excited I could have been in another country and not known it. Any way we were up there to put acorns in envelopes to be mailed to world leaders as a peace effort. it was a trip writing names of these famous people on envelopes. When I first got there they told us to wait in a room where I see a guitar case. Being a player I had to open it. Well it was the Epiphone Casino! The one with the paint stripped off that he used in he Let It Be film. I freaked out and immediately played every Beatle tune I could think of. The axe was in terrible shape. Absolutely filthy! When U played a chord and took your hands off the neck, your hands were black with dirt. As if the strings had never been changed. Filthy strings extremely dead sounding. That kind of explains his guitar sound now that I think of it. I actually could have walked off with the guitar as nobody was watching but being the honest type I have always been I could not. What I did do was take his pick and leave mine in it's place. I can imagine him the next day in some sort of chemically enhanced state going to play the guitar and being puzzled by the tiny Fender jazz pick I favored in those days. I still have his pick and it's a Rotosound pick. A bit oversized, and white. In my new video "Ringo" i actually used it for some of the shots. I also took one of his cigarettes but my Mom had discovered that at some point and fearing it was something worse than tobacco threw it out!! I considered taking his bong that was right there with the guitar for the taking but having this stubborn honesty streak in me that was not going to happen. We happily spent the rest of the afternoon in a room with John and Yoko stuffing acorns in envelopes. I wanted to say something to him so bad. Tell him I played etc... but knew it would not be cool and would endanger my sister's job. It was a great day. Later that month I also got to actually talk to George but that did not go well at all. Another story for another time....

And Vinnie's encounter with George

Many of U have asked me to relate my George Harrison story so here it goes. As I mentioned in my Lennon encounter story, my sister worked for ABCKO in NYC. ABCKO managed John, George, & Ringo and all things Apple that did not pertain to McCartney.

There were a lot of percs with her job. She would pretty much come home everyday and throw a stack of new LPs to me, all kinds of Apple paraphernalia. T shirts etc... Wish I had saved it all! One of the best things was access to events. The Bangladesh Concert for one.I was in the 13th row and it was great! Well one night went with my sister to the premier of a new Apple movie called "Blind Man" featuring Ringo in a supporting role. As U may have gathered it was not exactly "Gone With The Wind". In any event there was a brief intermission 1/2 way through and that being the late 70's I went out to the lobby for a ciggie. I sit down and I'm flicking my cigarette ashes in the ashtray. About 4 inches away, sharing the ashtray was another hand with a cigarette.I look up and it's George! About 5 or 6 inches from my face dressed pretty similar to the Abbey Road cover. Direct eye to eye contact. I immediately freak out and my mouth is hanging open. I can't speak, can't do anything. At this point I notice the look in his eyes has changed from "Hmm...I wonder who this long hair is? Maybe an interesting character, a musician?? (Musos have a way of sniffing each other out!)" To "Oh no! Not again." He had a look that reflected that this type of thing happens a lot to him. I'm still pretty much frozen and he says to me in the gentlest, most accommodating voice."Can I help you with something? Can I make this easier for you? What can I do?" With all the thousands of things welling up in me that I wanted to say like: "Thanx 4 the music!" "I play the guitar and write music because of the Beatles", "I know I'm real young but I play really good and would like you to hear me" etc....All these thoughts welling up and I can't manage a sound much less even close my mouth. At this point I am totally embarrassed so all i can manage to do is scramble to my feet and run away. In the process I slam face first right into Leon Russell!!! This was all too much for me and I found my sister and told her I had to leave. The thing that struck me was how wonderful George was. How soft spoken and genuinely concerned he was. Not to mention the look of world weariness on his face. He looked like a man had been photographed too many times, been to too many of these openings, seen too many kids stare at him with their mouth's frozen open... the whole thing..Right there on his face. At least that was my take on it. A very spiritual vibe to him. So my big chance to talk to a Beatle, (my second chance after seeing Lennon!!) and I blew it but in retrospect I think my experience was a great one as I got to see the measure of the man. A great, caring guy. There are many other famous musicians who would not be half as nice in the situation

Vinnie Zummo, former Joe Jackson guitarist
I hope you will all check out my video "Ringo" It's a tribute to the Beatles but specifically to the playing styles of George and Ringo.


  1. Wow both these stories are so neat!!! Vinnie was so lucky even IF he wasn't able to say all he wanted to say! I especially love what he wrote about how kind George was! WOWOWOWOOWOW!