Grammy-nominated guitarist and performer Rick Vito ’67 has been active in the music industry since the 1970’s, having worked as a solo artist, songwriter, session musician, and as a member of the bands of John Mayall, Bonnie Raitt, Bob Seger, Jackson Browne, Roger McGuinn and many other R&R Hall of Fame artists. He is probably best known as an official member of Fleetwood Mac from 1987 to 1991, and more recently as the frontman for the Mick Fleetwood Blues Band. Rick is also the recipient of the W.C. Handy Award and has 8 solo CDs and 2 solo DVDs in his long list of credits. Rick will be returning to the area on April 20 to play at Kennett Flash in Kennett Square.
Rick took a few minutes to sit down and answer some questions about his O’Hara experience in anticipation of his trip back home.
1. What elementary school did you go to?
St Francis of Assisi in Springfield.
2. Who were your closest friends at O’Hara?
I wouldn’t say I had super close friends in high school, but rather friends that I went to dances with and saw socially. I’m a loner by nature.
3. What activities were you involved in during high school (at O’Hara and outside of school–a job, volunteering, etc.)?
My daily routine was to go home and practice the guitar by listening to records. I listened mostly to the Rolling Stones, Beatles, Chuck Berry and, later, blues. I don’t read music, but I developed a pretty good ear this way, and I’ve been faking it pretty well ever since.
4. Which teacher/administrator/coach at O’Hara had the greatest impact on your life and why?
I was fond of Fr. Meehan, who was a friendly, sweet guy, and a good example of a happy man. I also liked Fr. Casey, (the former disciplinarian) whom I watched go through a personal transformation to became a terrific guy and friend to the boys whereas before, he was mostly just feared. I also liked Fr. Fulginiti because he was an actor and an artist at heart.
5. What was your favorite class?
6. What is your greatest memory from your days at O’Hara?
I used to occasionally entertain the guys in my class with comedy bits from Jonathan Winters. They all thought it was funny and there are many mentions of this in my yearbook. I guess the camaraderie that grew in three years of being in C2-A-2 gave you a sense of what people are like and how to get along with each other. Overall, they were a good bunch of guys.
7. If you could go back to your high school self and give some advice, what would it be?
“Rick, you have been given talents and now you have to learn to be more confident in that and not let anything or anybody tell you otherwise. Don’t waste time in self-doubt. Believe in yourself.”
8. What advice do you have for our many students who are musicians, in the band, performers, choir members, singers and have aspirations to continue this as a career?
Read my answer to question number 7. Put a LOT of time into preparation on whatever you do as a singer, musician or performer. Success will come if you are well prepared when opportunity knocks. If you have the goods, it will be obvious, and you’ll be the one who gets the job. Work on originality, no matter how simple that may be, because people recognize originality instantly. Come up with your own material, songs, bits, plays, works, etc. Look for collaborators that share your vision, and learn to recognize those who will waste your time or break your heart. The entertainment business is hard, so you have to love it, but also realize that you are presenting a product for people to consume, so be serious and as GREAT as you can be.
9. Do you keep in touch with any of your O’Hara classmates or teachers?
With Facebook, I’ve re-established ties with a lot of my old friends like Mike Tomasso, Frank Peditto, Dave Stott, Gus Breitmeyer and more. Some of my old buddies have come to see me perform in recent years. It’s interesting that after 50 years, people look a little different, but you can often recognize them by their eyes…the windows to the soul.
10. You are performing back here in April. A lot of your classmates are hoping to make the event. Anything you would like to say to them before the event?
I’ll thank you in advance any time you can come to see me. I hope I’ll get to spend a little time with everyone and hope I won’t mess up! 😉
Rick, thanks for taking the time to connect with us. We are proud to call you a #lion4life!