Great new music is discovered in myriad ways, as experience has taught me throughout life. Perhaps the most unusual introduction took form in the shape of two sons’ praise for their father. Given that the sons in this case were none other than Hicksville natives Brian and Michael D’Addario, better known as the Lemon Twigs, my curiosity was instantly piqued. Ronnie D’Addario has been quietly recording and releasing music for the past four decades, and may well have escaped my radar altogether if not for his sons’ recognition of their father as a primary influence upon their prodigious songwriting talent. With the discovery process now underway, I soon realized two things: first, that I needed to thank Brian and Michael for the recommendation; second, that their father is a songwriting wizard whose sense of melody, harmony and arrangement calls to mind both Paul McCartney and Brian Wilson. That’s no hyperbole; that’s fact.
D’Addario’s musical journey began on a pivotal date in 1964. At age 10, he witnessed The Beatles’ debut performance on the Ed Sullivan Show. He recalls nothing but “amazement, like everybody else who was my age—or younger or older—the music just went through me. You know how when you were a kid, the way that music goes through you and you get that feeling? You seldom get that again when you’re older. Well, once in a while you do, maybe because you’re more educated musically or things aren’t as good, but when I saw them, the way they looked, the way they played that type of music…it knocked me out. I did nothing but think about it. My mom bought me a guitar that summer. I figured everything out with three chords, got everything wrong; learned some licks.”
Growing up, it was hard to find others to jam with. In fact, D’Addario says he was “usually the only guitar player in my school, because it wasn’t as prevalent then.” After graduating high school, while working in a Manhattan recording studio, D’Addario met fellow Long Island-based musicians and ended up forming a band with them. He remembers this time fondly.
“I would get picked up at the Wantagh train station; every weekend, I would stay at [my friend’s] house for two days, and we’d rehearse all weekend,” he reminisced. “We did The Who, The Beatles, The Hollies, all those bands. We also did Bowie and that kind of stuff. We never played out much, we were just a basement band.”
Going through various iterations of many of the same musicians over the years, D’Addario counts at least four bands among his musical pedigree.
“Now, I’m still in a classic rock band. I was in an original band; we tried it, but nothing happened,” he explained. “I’ve been in this band for 30 years and we used to play every weekend, doing the same songs. We didn’t want to get heavy, we didn’t want to be this major cover band that had this great equipment [and] had to rehearse and learn every latest song. We just did the same songs we’ve been doing since fifth grade. Mostly ‘60s and ‘70s, some ‘50s stuff like the Everly Brothers and Chuck Berry, not the Doo-Wop stuff.”
Of his career as a songwriter, spanning more than 40 years, D’Addario reports that the Muse began to visit him when he was 11.
“I’ve got the whole list. I used to write [them] down. I don’t do it much anymore, but I have a list of every song that I’ve ever written, what year it was, how old I was. My first songs were just kind of ridiculous.”
Fast-forward to 2018 and D’Addario’s sons are being hailed worldwide by fans and critics alike as perhaps the “next big thing.” In their interviews, the boys consistently cite their father as a primary musical influence. As a result of this newfound attention, Ronnie D’Addario—aka Papa Twig—has found himself with an independent record label deal with You Are The Cosmos Records and a re-release of his life’s work.
Fans of the Lemon Twigs—and of great songwriting—will want to check out the rich catalog of Ronnie D’Addario, where a wealth of musical treasures awaits. Check it out at www.ronniedaddario.com.