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Don Arnone

ARNONE-Don, 84, "A Founding Father of the New York Session Scene." A gifted guitar player, often the first call of many of the most well-known musicians in New York, Don Arnone passed away peacefully at home on June 16, 2005 after a long illness. Mention his name to today's jazz and classical guitarists, and the common response is, "One of the greatest guitarists in New York City." Before his own death this year, guitar legend Tony Mottola said, "Don was not only one of the best musicians in New York, he was also was one of the nicest guys I have ever known." Born in Elizabeth, New Jersey, Don was given his first guitar by his father at the age of 13. Mostly self-taught, Don's two biggest influences were the late guitar geniuses, Wes Montgomery and Joe Pass. He began his professional career in the 1940's while he served his country in the U.S. Army, where his music was known to entertain his fellow soldiers. Upon returning home, Don played with the Tune Toppers Quartet then made his way to New York City. Due to the generosity of his dear friend Al Caiola, who recommended him for sessions when he was unavailable, Don's career as a respected recording artist began. Don primarily focused on studio and television work, where he appeared as a regular on the Mitch Miller Show and a variety of other popular shows, such as Arthur Godfrey, Fred Waring, Jackie Gleason, Ed Sullivan, Jack Paar and others. Many of Don's recordings were done with great artists such as Al Caiola, Tony Mottola, Bucky Pizzarelli, Al Casamente, Barry Gailbrath, Gene Bertoncini, Vinnie Bell, Howard Collins, Artie Ryerson, Alan Hanlon and Tal Farlow. Don can also be heard accompanying Frank Sinatra, Buddy Holly, Frankie Avalon, Sarah Vaughn, Aretha Franklin, Quincy Jones, Stan Getz, Bette Midler, Barbara Streisand, Dinah Shore, Percy Faith and Julie Andrews. In addition, Don recorded and arranged many popular television jingles. After his studio career, he contributed to several movie soundtracks including Broadway Danny Rose, The Godfather I, Purple Rose of Cairo, Where the Boys Are, Wise Guys, Lenny and The Year without Santa Clause. Don was known to his family, friends and fellow musicians as a serene, gifted man whose first priority was his family. He was admired as a kind, gentle person who had a commanding presence and an effervescent personality that effortlessly drew people to him. Don was always humble of heart and ready to help his fellow man in any way possible. He instilled in his loved ones a profound respect for human life and was able to convey that which truly mattered - people, not things. Above all, he was guileless and soft of spirit. Don is survived by a loving and adoring family, his wife Eleanor; daughters Lynn, Leslie, and Elise; grandchildren Gregory and Leslie; and sister Angie Palmieri. He was the cherished son of Joseph and Vita Arnone and the loving brother of the deceased: Sue Parinello, Sophie Michna, Marie DeFreites, and Gus Arnone. He will be sorely missed by those who were truly blessed to have known him.
Published in Newsday on July 14, 2005
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