24 August 2009

Music Underground

"The compact, one-story house at 121 Meadowbrook Drive is, except for its color, identical to all the small homes that line this street just off Route 206. But No, 121 has a magical difference..."

That is how the reporter for The New York Times began his 1973 feature story about Hillsborough-based record producer Tony Camillo. Camillo, who was profiled in the Beacon last week, grew up in Somerville and moved to the Country Club Homes development in 1957 - after a stint on the road as trumpet player during the waning days of the Big Band era and a stalled career as a music teacher in the Flemington and Middlesex school districts.

Camillo hooked up with fellow Somerville native Tony Bongiovi and the two built a recording studio in the Lyric Theater building in Bound Brook. They began to make a name for themselves, merged with a New York studio, and then were off to Detroit to produce records for Motown.


Tony Camillo in 1973 at his Hillsborough basement studio. Check out the hair! Tony was in his early 40s when this photo was taken.

By 1973, Mr. Camillo was well established as a producer and arranger, scoring a huge hit with Freda Payne's "Band of Gold" in 1970, and was on the verge of another smash with Gladys Knight and the Pips' "Midnight Train to Georgia".
The "magical difference" was that many of Tony Camillo's biggest hits were recorded right here in Hillsborough, in the $150,000 (1973 dollars!) basement recording student he built under his house.
Check out these Tony Camillo-produced hit songs.






1 comment:

  1. And... if you didn't already know, Tony Bongiovi is related to Jon Bon Jovi and they are both related to the owners of the Bongiovi Funeral Home in Raritan.

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