That mane of thick, black, curly hair! Those rich vocals! I wonder if Gino Vannelli still thinks about those nights in Montreal? Do you remember the lyrics to his smash hit "I Just Wanna to Stop?" The song was released as a single in August of 1978 and it remains Gino's biggest hit to date, his signature song.
"I Just Wanna Stop" climbed to Number 1 on the charts in his native Canada and reached Number 4 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100. Gino produced the recording, along with his older brother Joe Vannelli, and his younger brother Ross Vannelli. The song was composed by Ross and earned Gino a Grammy Award nomination for Best Male Pop Performance.
Gino Vannelli was born on June 16, 1952 in Montreal, Quebec to a family of Italian background .His father, (Joseph) Russ Vannelli, was a cabaret singer who performed with Montreal dance bands. Gino originally had dreams of becoming a drummer. His idols were Gene Krupa and Buddy Rich. As a high school student, he became the drummer for The Cobras, an East-End Montreal band.
In 1969, before his 17th birthday, Gino signed his first recording contract with RCA Records of Canada, using the pseudonym "Van-Elli." He released a single entitled "Gina Bold." Determined to make his mark in the music industry, Gino lived on and off in New York City, knocking on the doors of record companies and publishers.
In 1972, Gino and Joe headed for Los Angeles. The brothers were desperate and broke. They made one last stop at the studios of A&M Records in Hollywood, before having to head back to Montreal. The brothers waited patiently for Herb Alpert, co-owner of A&M to emerge from the building. Gino handed Alpert a demo tape before being chased away by a security guard. A&M signed a record deal with Gino, and released his debut album, Crazy Life, in the summer of 1973.
It was not until 1974 that Gino had his first hit, "People Gotta Move." for A&M. In 1974, Gino became one of the first Caucasians to appear on the television dance program Soul Train. He was invited to tour with Stevie Wonder.
“I grew up in a more singer-songwriter generation. People want instant success today. They are fed that kind of diet. There’s a little less substance and a lot more bling. But I’m not a cynic. Every decade has its strong points and its weak points. The strong points today are people know how to present themselves, they’re more accomplished, more precocious. You see a lot of younger singers who are better singers than there used to be 30 years ago. The weaker side of it is they’re not as well-rounded and don’t understand the humanities as well. They’re not interior-oriented like [performers] were in the 1960s and 70s, like [Bob] Dylan.”
- Gino Vannelli, Montreal Gazette, 2013
* Gino Vannelli studied music theory at Montreal's McGill University,
* Gino has received seven Juno Awards (to honour Canadian artists for their achievements in all aspects of music). He won for Most Promising Male Vocalist of the Year (1975) and Male Vocalist of the Year (1976, 1979). In 1979, Gino and his brother, Joe, shared a Juno for Best Production for the1978 album Brother to Brother, which included "I Just Wanna Stop." In 1986, 1987 and 1991, Gino and Joe also won Junos for Best Production.
* Gino is married. He and his wife, Patricia, wed in the 1980s and had a son named Anton. The couple first met in Portland, Oregon. According to The Oregonian, Gino arrived in Portland to perform as the opening act at a concert, in the early 1970s. The show was cancelled due to a lack of ticket sales, so Gino had some time to walk around the city and met Patricia, who was working in a jewellery store.
When the couple tired of Los Angeles, Patricia's Northwest Pacific Roots led to them to move to Oregon in 1992. They resided in Portland's Mount Tabor neighbourhood four eight years before settling in the Columbia River Gorge, near Troutdale, Oregon, where. Gino teaches music in his studio. Troutdale has a population of about 16,000 people and Gino avoids the spotlight there. He enjoys relative anonymity and seldom performs in the city, choosing to have his concerts elsewhere.
* Gino's mother, Delia Vannelli, died of COVID-19 in 2020. She passed away in a Montreal nursing home just shy of her 93rd birthday. Gino and his brothers could not see their mother in her final days due to the pandemic.
* Gino's published an autobiographical book is called Stardust in the Sand. He spent a few years in the Netherlands seeking new inspiration for his music before returning to Oregon. While away, he assembled a band of local musicians. The result was a recording entitled The Best and Beyond Released in 2009, the album features new interpretations of Gino's most well-known songs. The linear notes from that album eventually became Stardust in the Sand.
SOURCES: Montreal Gazette, "All Those Nights in Montreal with Gino Vannelli," by News Desk, November 1, 2013; The Oregonian (www.oregonlive.com,), "Gino Vannelli avoids spotlight in Oregon where he lives, but draws crowds elsewhere," by Eric Apalate, August 28, 2013; Gino Vannelli Official Website; iHeart Radio. "Canadian singer Gino Vannelli Loses Mother to COVID-19,:" by John R. Kennedy, May 8, 2020, Wikipedia.