Here are some fun facts about Chico:
When Chico was in high school, he was involved in many different activities. Dance, marching, and concert bands. Orchestra. Vice President of the Gilbert and Sullivan Boys’ Glee Club. Mixed chorus. Allied Youth. Ski Club. Tom Dooley League. Arlington Youth Council. Minutemen (his band). Boys’ Club.
His favorite color was blue. Hence the blue shirt he always wore, the blue and white bass with his name on it, and his blue bird costume in the Birds And The Bees skit on the show.
Chico was 5’10″ and weighed 150 lbs during the TV show era.
Chico used KY jelly to grease his hair on the show. It took about three minutes or less for him to grease his hair back which is amazing because that man had a lot of hair!
Chico smoked Camel cigarettes.
Chico was a big fan of Paul McCartney. A really big Beatles fan. Back in the 1960’s he had a Hofner bass because if you were a bass player you had to own one of those.
Chico played Fender guitars. He played a Fender Precision bass.
Chico played a Fender Jazz bass during the show and he was endorsed by Music Man which is affiliated with Fender.
He once picked up his friend Mal Gray in a limousine at the airport with a crate of champagne. As Mal said, the boy had style.
Wrote a song once called “I’d Rather Ride A Brahma Bull Than Spend One Night With You”. Can’t help but wonder what girl inspired that ditty.
Referred to as “the cutest kid on the block”. He sure was!
Chico would write down song lyrics while driving. He wrote his version of “I Can’t Be 50″ on the way to Al LoRusso’s house. It was an hour drive.
Bill Haley encouraged Chico to wear his leather jacket on the tour he did with Bill, although most of the time, it was strictly Comets uniforms. Bill’s record company at that time, strongly objected to Chico wearing his ShaNaNa trademark leather jacket. But he wore it anyway with Bill’s agreement, apart from on TV shows. Hey, Chico was a tough street greaser.
Chico sported a beard when he was on tour with Bill Haley. Yeah, he covered up that cute mug of his with a beard. Naturally you know it’s him when that smile appears!
Pamela Myers once did an interview with TV Guide and stated that Chico had the best body out of all of the guys. I concur. He looked great in a bikini.
She also said they had a kissing booth set up on one of the show’s episodes and he was the most bashful about kissing her. Is that cute or what?
First gig with Sha Na Na was at Chico State University and the name “Chico” stuck.
In 1977 as part of Sha Na Na, he got to do an opening set for Alice Cooper. A documentary film called “Alice Cooper And Friends” was released with that concert footage.
Chico enjoyed writing and recording music with others even though a lot of it never was released due to contractual obligations. He wrote and recorded three songs with Bill Haley and Mal Gray for a record that unfortunately didn’t come out due to Bill’s untimely passing. Chico also visited the U.K. to record with Mal Gray, Pete Wingfield (’18 with a Bullet’), Mick Grabham (Procol Harum), and Steve Murray (the Comets), John Paiva, Danny McBride, and Johnny Contardo. He wrote and recorded around 30 songs with Mal Gray. It was their intention to release this material and tour the States. Unfortunately that material was never released and their touring plans never materialized.
When Mal met Chico they got on quite well and Chico organized a recording session in Boston with Danny McBride (Dirty Dan) and Jim Baker and along with Mal recorded some music together. Chico was always full of ideas and encouraged Mal to write songs. Their first release written by Chico and sung by Mal was a song called “Tonight” which was released on Decca Records.
Chico worked on a solo album project at one point. He wrote the songs and had intended for it to be his first solo album. He traveled to England and Mal Gray booked some musicians for him and had some participation on the tracks. Chico didn’t finish it and left the tracks with Mal in England. Chico’s wife Sue had phoned some friends in the recording industry to tell them about it and they were looking forward to hearing the material. Unfortunately that material is now lost.
Chico knew Mal was an American car fan and arranged for him to have a Chevrolet, courtesy of a friend of his, a guy called ‘Big Ed’. It seemed everyone thought the world of Chico. Together they gatecrashed several bands in Boston and Mal said working with Chico was always fun.
Chico, Dirty Dan, Bob Henderson (from Rockin’ Ramrods fame) and Doug Kupper (producer at Tapeworks) recorded some of Doug’s original songs together in Hartford, CT.
Chico was always looking for the next good gig which would become Sha Na Na. He would remain in the band until his untimely death in 1998.
Chico and Sha Na Na would have a couple of gigs in Connecticut during their tours and Doug would party with him until the wee hours. Chico was a very fun loving guy. Doug described him as affable, hard working,and positive.
Chico enjoyed touring with people when he was off the road or the show was on hiatus. He once stated that he played bass with Sha Na Na for money and guitar for fun.
Chico got Dirty Dan his audition with Sha Na Na. He also brought Glenn Jordan into the band to replace Dirty Dan when Dirty Dan had to leave Sha Na Na.
Prior to joining Sha Na Na, Chico had been in a variety of bands starting with The Minutemen (as far as we know), The Rockin’ Ramrods, Puff, and The Happenings. Interestingly enough he at one time had auditioned to be the vocalist for The Bourbons but because he didn’t sound like their original vocalist who had committed suicide, The Bourbons decided to break up the band.
Chico lived in Woodland Hills, CA during the TV show.
Chico’s wife Sue is British.
He met Sue in 1979. They married on September 20th, 1980.
Chico’s daughter was born on January 8th, 1984 and shares a birthday with Elvis Presley.
Chico produced “It’s Late” on Sha Na Na’s 25th Anniversary CD.
Here are some fascinating facts about Chico from his family and friends:
Loved Indian food. He and Johnny Contardo would eat Indian food when they were on the road together.
Chico loved to play pranks on people.
Loved to laugh.
Had a great sense of humor.
Was very generous.
Was a very devoted family man.
He and his family faithfully watched Jeopardy every night when he was home.
He went to every soccer game that he could to support his daughter Kim and her team.
He liked tennis and enjoyed playing the game with his family.
Chico liked basketball and was a huge Celtics fan. He would take his daughter to games in Boston. He also took his daughter to see the Celtics play a lot at the Garden. He lived in L.A. at the time of the Lakers and Celtics rivalry.
He liked playing golf and was very good at it. He played all the time when he wasn’t on the road.
He enjoyed watching the Red Sox games on TV.
He took Chinese cooking lessons and would make terrific meals for his family.
He brewed beer in his basement.
He collected hotel keys from the road.
He loved traveling to England and exploring.
He loved mowing the lawn and found it therapeutic.
His favorite food was curry and the spicier the better.
He was a big fan of Brian Setzer and Dave Edmunds. He loved Emmylou and Gram Parsons and all the country rock music.
Len Cirelli recalls having a conversation with Chico about how much they both dug Buffalo Springfield. Chico was also a fan of The Beatles who were really big at the time Chico joined the Ramrods and people were talking about the British sound. He loved it when The Beatles would do something really creative like playing tracks backwards and whatnot.
Thank you Len Cirelli!
On the album cover for Whole Lotta Sha-Na-Na, he and Scott Simon are making signs with their right hands for a “little bit of soul” from the song “School Is Out” by Gary U.S. Bonds.
Here are some personal facts about Chico:
Born April 9, 1948 in Arlington, MA.
Has one brother and one sister.
Graduated from Arlington High School.
Enrolled at Boston University.
Transferred two years later to Emerson College.
Attended New England College Of Broadcasting.
Graduated in 1969.
Bachelor Of Science in Media.
Was proficient at –
Acting roles –
Had a variety show with Sha Na Na.
Had a part in the movie “Grease”.
Had a role in The Fall Guy episode “Beach Blanket Bounty”
Worked as a deputy excise tax collector for his brother’s business.
Married for 18 years to a lovely lady named Sue.
Has one daughter named Kim.
Got married in Martha’s Vineyard.
Died on July 26, 1998 – heart failure due to a choking incident.
Chico was cremated.
In October of 2001 Sha Na Na did a tribute concert in honor of Chico in Lynn, MA. On the PA they played all the songs Chico sang lead on.
In 2002 Sha Na Na did a benefit concert in MA for Chico’s family.
The Greasers Wrestling Team:
Rachel Holland is a professional wrestler and is managing a tag team called The Greasers.
I thought I would share this with all of you. I am a professional wrestler and I just put together a tag team called the Greasers. I named one of the guys Chico and the other Dirty Dan. I am in fact their manager. I have Chico of course in a Black leather studded vest with his light blue tights and blue wrestling boots, and Dirty Dan, is in a levi cut off jacket, but I just couldn’t make him wear the pink wrestling boots, so I put him in white boots with black tights. They actually look pretty cool. We’re taking them on the road for the first time in a couple of weeks when we go on tour.
Sounds like a fun venture based on the characters of Dirty Dan and our favorite Greaser Chico!