Today's Featured Biography
Budd Di Stefano
I was born on VJ Day (Victory in Japan) which marked the end of World War II. They declared armistice on the 14th of August,1945, and the bill was signed on the 15th, the day I was born.
On the 16th, a local Doctor who knew my adopted mom wanted a child, called and said I was available. It took two weeks and $10,000 later, I was brought home to an apartment over a Beer Joint in the bad section of Utica, NY. My new folks had a 4th and 6th grade education. My father would brag about being thrown out of the 4th grade at the age of fifteen and everyone thought it was so funny. I was never amused. As I like to put it, I was born the day World War II ended and haven't had a moments peace since!
My singing talents were discovered at Pomeroy School. In the second grade I would sing from the Hit Parade Magazine at lunchtime under an old Elm tree. The teachers heard me and before I knew it, I was performing at fashion shows, PTA meetings, card parties and dinners. That turned into performing in local haunts like the Moose, Eagles, Elks and VFW on weekends. My Parents would proudly sneak me in the back doors. On Sundays, I would be asked to perform at many of the local churches.
OK, on to my High School experiences. From the age of twelve I fronted bands full time. I averaged 3 to 4 days a week in school, never opened a book and drank heavily 3 to 7 nights a week. My grades were barely passable. I was very bold on stage because that was my outlet to be totally free. In class, I wouldn't say s*** with a mouthful! Every time I took an Iowa Test, the counselors would call me in the office and want to know why my grades were so poor and my test scores were so high.
Then, I think it was my Junior year, I won an award taking the New York State Regents Scholarship Exam. I was the first person below the last full Scholarship given. Mr. Gee called my parents to his office for a meeting. He said to them that he knew it was impossible for anyone to cheat on the exam, but I must have cheated and could they please try to find out how?
In my Senior year, 1963, I got hold of a blank report card and forged my grades to make my parents think I was doing well in school. Friends would write in the grades every 10 weeks and I was caught 3 weeks before finals. I spent 3 days in Mr. Gees' office being grilled. I told him the truth about everything from drinking to masturbation, but would not rat out my friends. Of course, he knew who they were and wanted proof so he could suspend them. I failed one course and went back half days to make it up and graduate. He showed a great deal of respect for me after that and we remained friends.
In that last half year at Cortland High, I got one last slap in the face. Of all the show Biz things I have done successfully, I still have not been able to get an original song published. My writing talents have been recognized for which I am grateful and I am still trying to get published. When I repeated History in 1964 with Mr. Healy, I did a term paper and ended it with an original poem. He was convinced I plagiarized the poem, brought it to Mr. Baldwin and they kept searching for the original. It didn't exist. So, instead of an A, I was given a D-. Nice!
Enough of High School! In 1975, I read a book (yes, a rarity for me, but a whole book) and it inspired me to write a song. I submitted the song to American Talent International in New York and they submitted it to be the main theme song for a Motion Picture. The speculation was that it would star Paul Newman and Richard Thomas. As a result, ATI thought if I had some success it could lead to a book on my bizarre life. So, they hooked me up with a ghost writer from South Philly. He wrote for the Philadelphia Enquirer at the time. I would make overnight trips on the weekends when I could. His wife would be fixing dinner and he and I would sit on their bed while he recorded our conversations. Anyway, the man with the rights to the movie died and so did the projects for the movie and the book.
In my early days in Manhattan, I formed a Duo with Mark Wissing known as Ivory Tower. We played the same nightclub circuit that began the careers of Bette Midler and Barry Manilow. We had performed several times at Kellys Village West in Greenwich Village and as a result, Kelly hired me to audition, choose acts, host and emcee live shows in her nightclub. This led to my scoring a National Broadway Tour where I replaced Meatloaf as lead singer. My leading lady was Ellen Foley. She's the gal with the GREAT voice you hear on the "Bat out of Hell" album. We sang to each other every night for 6 months touring the US and Canada. Our musical director, who also played piano for the show, was Jim Steinman. He wrote the "Bat out of Hell" album.
Oh yes, I found a blood sister when I was 19. She's a Benedictine Nun in a monastery in New Mexico. Another bizarre life story all its own.
As a result, I appeared on To Tell The Truth as the real person who found his sister 2 years later.
In 1979, I married a Persian Princess while living in LA. I am widowed from that marriage and have a stepson, who at the time, was 14th in line for the throne under the old rule of the Shaw of Iran. We co-wrote a hymn together which I sang at my Mom's funeral. She would ask me to sing it for her every day during that last year.
I am fortunate to have a daughter and stepdaughter, Lisa and Tara. I am so proud of both of them. One grandson so far. Life is good!
I am currently working in a recording studio in Marathon, NY.
Budd DiStefano whose pseudonym is John Arthur Foster (the name my birth mother gave me at birth)
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