Guest Post: Tony Renzoni on 'Connecticut Rock n' Roll: A History'

I was first introduced to rock ‘n’ roll music by my older brother Vince. When I was very young, Vince would bring home amazing records by such legends as Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Little Richard. I have a vivid recollection of Vince playing Side A of the 45 rpm record and then, much to my amazement, he would flip the record over and play Side B. Because of this, I was not only introduced to the popular tunes that all the kids were talking about but also some wonderful songs that were not played on the radio. In addition to Jerry Lee’s “Breathless” I was introduced to “Down The Line” (Side B). Later on, I would carry on his tradition with records I purchased. So, for example, after playing the Beatles’ “Can’t Buy Me Love”, I would flip the record over and listen to “You Can’t Do That” (Side B).
Another very early memory was when my brother asked if I wanted to take a walk down to the local cinema to see a new movie starring a singer by the name of Elvis Presley. Being very young I didn’t quite understand all the commotion surrounding the Elvis “experience”, but I didn’t want to pass up the chance to go to a movie with my big brother. As we approached the movie theater, I could not believe what I saw. There were throngs of teenagers waiting to get into the theater.
And, I will always have fond memories of watching my older sister Marie appearing on Connecticut Bandstand, as she and her partner danced across our TV screen – in glorious black and white!
Thus began my journey into this new phenomenon known as rock ‘n’ roll. Every day after school I would glue myself to my transistor radio to hear the latest songs by the rock artists of the day. I also began to have a deep appreciation and respect for many of the R&B artists and the wonderful vocal harmony groups.
Visits to the local record stores became a social event whereby I would meet friends, discuss the latest rock songs, and purchase as many 45s as my meager budget would allow. Over the years this small number of 45s grew to a record collection of over 10,000 records.
I soon developed an interest in researching the enormous impact that rock music has had on the everyday life of teenagers. It seemed to me, that wherever teens gathered, rock music was present. As I describe in detail in my book, such cultural events as Record Hops, the emergence of Record Stores, the influence of radio station Disc Jockeys, and After-School hangouts all became an important part of the rock music scene. Growing up in Waterbury, Connecticut I have fond memories of meeting fellow teenagers at hamburger joints such as Aldoron’s and the Handy Kitchen. While discussing “important” teenage crisis matters, I would always hear rock tunes in the background, usually played by one of the teens on the ever-present jukebox in the store.
The rock research that began as a hobby soon turned into a passion.  Over the course of many years, I have found myself immersed in the history of rock. Being a lifelong Connecticut resident, I have always been curious about Connecticut’s role in rock history. The more I researched this, the more I realized the important role that Connecticut has played in rock history - and its influence on the music scene.
The purpose of my book Connecticut Rock ‘n’ Roll: A History is two-fold: First, it pays tribute to the great many talented artists from Connecticut - whether they achieved fame on a national/international level, a regional level, or success on a local level. Second, it highlights the many cultural events previously discussed that occurred in Connecticut. It is important to note that these cultural events mirrored what was happening throughout the U.S. (and in other parts of the world). These were universal events that readers can identify and have fond memories of, even if they have no knowledge of the State of Connecticut. In a way, this is a book about ALL of us.

Shop Now: