Al Gorgoni was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. When he was fourteen, Al’s family moved to The Bronx, where his life was to change forever. Inspired by his friend ship with neighborhood pal, Matt D'Ambrosio, and Matt's guitar work with an uncle, Al asked his father for his first guitar. Miraculously, he was granted his wish, and a lifetime relationship with the guitar and music was born.
His earliest educational experience on the guitar was with Rico Cari a very talented singer/guitarist. This led to his first television performance, where he and three other guitarists performed the well-known Spanish song, "El Relicario." Eventually, Rico sent Al to Peter Girardi, a teacher with far more
experience, who gave him the basic tools of fine musicianship. He progressed so rapidly that soon he began to teach beginners. Not long thereafter, Pete Girardi asked Al to be his accompanist at a supper club in Greenwich Village, where they played standards and accompanied singers for the dinner shows.
Around this time a high school friend, Bobby Sandler, was writing songs and performing them with his cousin, Micky Vil, their manager was willing to finance a demo session. Bobby asked Al to play on the demo, Thus,in 1959, Al lugged his amp and guitar on the subway to Allegro Studios at 1650 Broadway. This section of Broadway was to become known as the ‘Brill Building scene’, the heart of the music business in New York. After the session, they ran into Rusty Evans, a songwriter, who suggested that Bobby and his cousin they take their demo to a publishing company in the building who were in search of new talent. About a week later, the phone rang and Bobby, with unrestrained glee, told Al: "They want to sign us, and they want to sign YOU too!!!"
As it turned out the company was owned by none other than Al Nevins and Don Kirschner. Al Nevins, who was also a guitarist, heard something special in Al Gorgoni and told him that he was going to use him as a guitarist on ALL the demos which would come out of their office. Al was to be paid a whopping $10 per hour, which, at the time, seemed overwhelmingly generous – that is, until he learned that veteran guitarists like Everett Barksdale, Charlie Macy and Bill Suyker were getting $15 per hour for the same work. This was Al’s first great lesson in the music business! In those days, it was commonplace to find talents like Barry Mann & Cynthia Weil, Gerry Goffin & Carole King, and Phil Spector writing songs and recording demos. As a result of all this work, Al began to receive calls from other publishers and writers, including Lieber & Stoller, Mickey Leonard & Herb Martin, Burt Bachrach & Hal David, Jeff Barry & Ellie Greenwich, and Paul Simon.
As was customary in those days, some of the demos led to actual recordings, but first call guitarists such as Tony Mottola, Al Caiola, Barry Galbraith, Billy Butler, Al Casamenti, and Bucky Pizzarelli were always booked for final dates. However, to the ears of the songwriters and producers, ‘something’ seemed to be missing. That something was the energy and the sound of youth! Therefore the producers wanted to use the same players who had performed on the demos. This newfound recognition vaulted Al Gorgoni, and a new generation of players, which included Artie Kaplan, Artie Butler and guitarists Vinnie Bell, Hugh McCracken, and Eric Gale, onto a far grander stage.
During these years, Al had the good fortune to play on some of the most memorable hit songs of the era, which still resonate with music fans to the present. Songs such as "The Name Game" by Shirley Ellis, "Solitary Man" and "Cherry Cherry" by Neil Diamond, "Sherry", "Big Girls Don't Cry", "Walk Like a Man" and "Dawn" by Four Seasons, "Our Day Will Come" by Ruby & the Romantics, "My Boyfriend's Back" by The Angels, "Leader of the Pack" by The Shangri-Las, and "Chapel of Love" by The Dixie Cups. One must not forget that during these years the fantastic musicians who graced all of these recordings and countless others were never credited by name. They were, in essence, faceless talents. To the buying public there was no such thing as a "session musician." But, during the late '60s, that was to change and session work was finally given the kind of respect it had truly always deserved.
In 1963, Al got called to play on a song demo for Chip Taylor, best known for writing "Wild Thing”. They seemed to have a strong musical connection and decided to try to collaborate as songwriters. Chip arranged for Al to sign a as a songwriter with the prestigious April/Blackwood Publishing of Columbia Records. One of their songs from this period was "I Can't Let Go" which was recorded by the Hollies and later by Linda Ronstadt, but the original version, produced by Al and Chip, was actually recorded by Evie Sands. From here, Al continued to do recordings during the day, and at night made the transition to writing arrangements and becoming involved on the production side of the industry. During these years, while his career transition was in full swing, Al still found time to participate on more great hits songs which included "Brown Eyed Girl" by Van Morrison, "I'm a Believer" by The Monkees, "At Seventeen" by Janis Ian, "The Sound of Silence" by Simon & Garfunkel, "Brand New Key" by Melanie, "1-2-3" by Len Barry, and "Sugar Sugar" by The Archies.
As the '70s were about to dawn, with a fine family, the lovely Camille and two wonderful sons, Adam and Julian, Al had to make the difficult decision to phase himself out of active playing, and focus his talents and energies on production, arranging, and composing for advertising and films. During these years, he found himself writing for all the major
brands, and working for the most powerful
forces in the business of "jingles" for television
and radio. Al Gorgoni became known as one of
the top writer/arrangers in this most competitive
field and garnered the respect of producers,
other writers and arrangers, and, more than this,
of the musicians who worked for him. He was
able to achieve this delicate
balance because of his warm personal attributes,
and a consistently high level of musicianship.
Throughout the '70s, Al was still working
alongside a group of musicians who came to
symbolize the New York recording scene, and with
his customary grace and kindness passed the torch
to this new generation of players which included Steve Gadd, Richard Tee, David Spinozza, John Tropea, Jeff Mironov, Elliot Randall, Bernard Purdie, Will Lee, Chuck Rainey, Gordon Edwards, Ralph MacDonald, Paul Griffin, Randy & Michael Brecker, Barry Rogers, Lew Soloff, Alan Rubin, Dave Taylor, Don Grolnick, Pat Rebillot, Steve Khan, Bob Mann. Rick Marotta, Chris Parker, and Airto (just to name a few).
In 1981, Al launched his first project studio, which was named LIGHTSTREAM PRODUCTIONS. For quite some time, the studio was a father-son collaboration with Adam Gorgoni. This business relationship lasted until 1989, when Adam felt the need to move to Los Angeles to pursue his own career as a film composer. A father's pride moves Al to share with everyone that Adam has gone on to achieve a great level of success in a most difficult industry. During these years, son Julian was also a frequent collaborator, and though a talented musician, Julian has chosen not to pursue music as full-time career. Since its inception, Lightstream Studios and Al Gorgoni's composing, arranging and production skills have attracted all the familiar clients from the world of commercials. In addition to this work, Al recently found the time to produce two Classical Guitar recordings for virtuosos: Dennis Koster and Jerry Willard. He also helped to produce and prepare all the sequences used for the play-along CD tracks of Steve Khan's very popular Jazz instruction books: "CONTEMPORARY CHORD KHANCEPTS" and "PENTATONIC KHANCEPTS".
Throughout Al's long and distinguished career in the studios of New York, Los Angeles, and Nashville, he has had the privilege of recording with following artists: R&B: Ray Charles; Aretha Franklin; Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell; Ashford and Simpson; Shirley Ellis; Dixie Cups; Bobby Hebb; and Lenny Welch; Rock & Folk: Bob Dylan; Van Morrison; Simon & Garfunkel; The Monkees; Melanie; Joan Baez; Laura Nyro; Eric Andersen; Richard and Mimi Farina; New Christy Minstrals; Peter Yarrow; Mary Travers; Pop: Dusty Springfield; Neil Diamond; Phil Spector; Connie Francis; Four Seasons; Bobby Darin; Sammy Davis, Jr.; B.J. Thomas; The Shangri-Las; The Tokens; The Strangeloves; The Trade Winds; & Jay and the Americans; Jazz and Jazz/Rock Fusion: Herbie Mann; Astrud Gilberto; Claus Ogerman; Blood, Sweat & Tears.
In recent years, Al has felt a great yearning to go back to his first love, the Classical Guitar and its repertoire. And so, he returned to his studies with Dennis Koster who offered immeasurable help in the preparation for Al's first major recital. In addition to the ongoing work in all the aforementioned areas of music, in 2001, he presented a special concert at St. Malachy's Church, where he performed works by J. S. Bach, Frescobaldi, Villa-Lobos, Tarrega, Moreno-Torroba, Turina, as well as an original Suite composed for the occasion. Al also has two recordings in various stages of production: the first is a recording of Classical Guitar pieces, and the second features Al's nylon-string guitar in a more contemporary setting.
The man who once stated, "The guitar saved my life, and opened doors I never dreamed existed for me," now finds that life continues to be rich with new and interesting musical experiences and projects which will be centered around, and realized in, the just completed new home of Lightstream Studios.
Music & Video
Music seems to come through us best, when we abandon the act of making it
Al Gorgoni -Private Side
Heard by millions while working with pop music’s most brilliant artists, Al’s private musical world has always been the classical guitar. Now he shares with us wisdom gained by decades of playing along side these great stars, in an entirely new light, utterly original performances of beloved Classical Guitar Masterworks.
Listening to these heartfelt tracks I re-experienced all the true magic which made me fall in love with the classical guitar in the first place, the intensity of personal expression that sets it apart from other instruments and for me sets Al Gorgoni’s Private Side apart from a generation of classical guitar recordings.
It’s probably all those years of recording with great vocalists that explains how Al breathes so much life into his every phrase, revealing the profundity of these classics in a unique and deeply personal way.
A highlight of the program spanning 400 years is Vivaldi’s celebrated Adagio. Al’s abilities as an arranger and composer are demonstrated by his improvisational variations on the Adagio themes.
Adding to all the inspiration Private Side delivers is a magically spacious recorded sound which brings to mind the great classic guitar recordings of the past.
Private Side is a true gift to all those who have loved Al’s playing since the 60’s, bringing the guitar in it’s most noble expression to the forefront.