Eddie front & center between Walter Seiler & Larry Collins
Wm. Floyd 8th Grade May 1959
In the spring of 1961, 4 kids from Wm Floyd High, Eddie Ianetto, Pete Morano, Adolph Almasy, me and one from Mercy High, Doug Percoco who lived almost next door to me, got together and formed a little dance combo called The Islanders. Pete played tenor sax, Adolph accordian, Doug and I were on guitars and Eddie on Drum...not Drums ......DRUM.... It was a red Mastic Beach Fire Department parade snare drum just like the one in the picture below. Eddie was also in the Fire Department band. His folks could no more afford a set of drums than mine could an amplifier. I plugged into Doug's Silvertone Twin and Eddie beat on his drum and we helped The Islanders make a joyful racket with songs like "Walk Don't Run", "Guitar Boogie Shuffle" "Ghost Riders In The Sky" etc. We first got together in Tony Piazza's finished basement just behind Neighborhood Pizzaria that Tony's family owned. A few months later we would have another kid from Floyd, Bill Clausing on alto sax join us. I still remember our very first gig all too well and I wrote about it ten years ago in "If The Devil Danced" my music industry memoir. Eddie helped me get through it without throwing up from stage fright. There wasn't even a stage to be afraid of or throw up on! We were assembled in the living room of Pete Mezzapelle, a fine guitarist, and the Fire Department band director who allowed Eddie to borrow the drum for other unofficial activities. Pete was the father of Judy Mezzappelle whose 13th birthday, gave us a reason to play in front of people for the first time.
I spent a whole lot of time watching Eddie play that drum that night as I was too scared to turn around and look at the audience... He used a flower pot stand to hold it and I could tell if he ever had a few more drums to work with he was going to be real good. He eventually was able to borrow a partial set from school and our sound improved a whole lot....he also quietly helped me bolster my confidence and got me to enjoy myself playing music for others. Eddie was a very cool cat.... and the ladies loved him!!!
School and Eddie were not very compatible though (something I could relate to) and he left to join the Navy. That provided the first ever band crisis I would experience...losing a member. The band played on though with Frankie O'Shea taking his place. I only saw Eddie a few times after that like when he came home on leave. Then I left town in 1964 and the beat went on....
Fast forward to January 2003. I was up on the Island gathering stuff for the book and one Sunday morning Kenny Vitellaro and I stopped in at the Mastic Beach Fire Department to look at some old Fire Department photos. A bunch of us were sitting around upstairs at the coffee table and I was telling them about the New Years Eve job we played there in 1961-62. When I rattled off the band members names, someone said "I know Eddie Ianetto...." I said , "Your kidding me is he still around town?" That afternoon I was sitting in Eddie's living room on the corner of President & Knapp roads catching up on 40 some years of lifes stories. I knew he got hurt in the Navy when he was overseas , but I didn't know it contributed to a life long ailment that would leave him paralyzed. It was a good reunion though for both of us and made even sweeter when he called up Pete Morano and Peter joined us. I had a reunion a year prior to that with Doug and Adolph. but it would of really been something I think especially for Eddie if all 5 of us could of been there one more time.
That will never happen though, because last week Kenny Vitellaro called me with the news that Eddie had passed away. I am still greatful I got to see him one more time and if I could have one Christmas wish it's that Eddie now has a double bass drum kit, surrounded by more Zildjan's than any drummer could want and he is somewhere flailing away driving a fine 40 piece big band !