Singer-pianist-songwriter John Primerano, a member of the Broadcast Pioneers, was born August 10, 1950 to Vincent J. and Anna Primerano in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Upon seeing his newborn son’s long fingers for the first time, Vincent remarked to Anna, “He’s gonna be a piano player!” Little did he know on that hot August day how prophetic his words would later become.
As a child, when the family went on vacation John would stand all the way from his row home in North Philadelphia to Wildwood, NJ singing along to the popular songs of the day on the car’s radio. Coupled with his piano playing pantomiming on the living room coffee table to Roger Williams’, hit, “Autumn Leaves”, it didn’t take too long for Vince and Ann to realize the music inside their only child. At the age of eight, John began taking piano lessons from Tony Montana, a professional pianist and teacher who was a friend of his parents.
John continued singing as well and became part of the All Philadelphia School Boys Choir, the precursor to today’s Philadelphia Boys Choir. The choir was made up of 368 elementary school students and John was fortunate, at age eleven, to be one of forty chosen from the group to sing a street scene in the opera, Carmen, at Philadelphia’s famed Academy of Music. The great Marilyn Home played Carmen and Franco Corelli, at that time the highest paid tenor in the world, played Don Jose. It was an amazing experience and standing on that famous stage, John knew that is where he belonged.
Soon, John’s voice changed and he concentrated on the piano, entering talent competitions until at the age of fifteen he got his first professional job. He was offered a position as piano accompanist for a USO troupe. This led to his playing for a second troupe and he played all the military installations in the tri-state area ----- Fort Dix, Maguire Air Force Base, Dover Air Force Base, Philadelphia Veterans Hospital, Coatesville Army Hospital, Phoenixville Army Hospital, etc…. for the princely sum of $5.00 a rehearsal and $10.00 a show.
In September of 1968, John started Temple University’s College of Music, where he would earn a Bachelor’s Degree in Music. Years later he would study piano with Alexander Fiorillo, one of five students of Vladimir Horowitz considered the finest pianist of the 20th century. In October of 1968, he joined the American Federation of Musicians and began playing weddings, bar mitzvahs, banquets, and night clubs with other musicians. A few years earlier, with his voice settled, John had returned to singing, but only sporadically as he was doing a lot of accompanying work before joining the union. In 1969, John had the opportunity to play for a singer for a summer engagement in Atlantic City. This was long before the casinos and John celebrated his 19th birthday at the Erin Show Bar on Arkansas Avenue, later a parking lot for Caesar’s.
The following summer, 1970 , John struck out on his own to make a name for himself and upon college graduation continued doing a “single “ from then on.
John had studied voice at Temple and privately with Russell Faith, the songwriter who wrote Frank Sinatra’s hit “Somewhere In Your Heart” and it was Faith who encouraged John to write songs.
Through the years John has had the good fortune to have worked with and become friends with the late Mickey Shaunessey ( Elvis’ cell mate in Jailhouse Rock), Vaughn Monroe, Woody Herman, Al Alberts, and Bobby Rydell. He has had chapter on his career included in Richard Gruden’s book, “THE ITALIAN CROONERS BEDSIDE COMPANION,” contributed essays to books on Al Jolson, Frankie Laine, vocalist/MGM actress Peggy King by Mr. Richard Grudens. John has been informed the books are now part of the curricla at the prestigious Berkely College of Music in Boston, Mass. They have been a part of Five Towns College’s Music Program in Long Island, NY for many years.
In 1993, John joined Screen Actors Guild and appeared in the motion pictures, Philadelphia, Two Bits, Unbreakable, Rocky Balboa, and the CBS-TV series Hack.
John has had national and international airplay and reviews with his CD, “Somewhere South Of Heaven” on which there are five original songs and five songs which would be considered standards.
In addition John has written a one-act, two character play called The Retirement Party. John has also written the music for a musical, “Something For Hannah” and a novel entitled “ The Rrturn Of Reno Martin.”
From the official archives of the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia
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