Angelo was born and raised in the Whitechapel district of East London to an ebullient East End mother and a P.O.W. Italian father. His family was forced to live in the Jewish quarter of the East End because of racial threats and bigotry against his father.
“My dad learned how to speak Yiddish in about a week, then he taught me how to speak it rather than Italian, because it was safer”, Angelo says, “which is why I can still speak Yiddish today.”
As Angelo got older, Blues music became his calling. “When I heard the blues, it became a constant tapping on my shoulder, a constant shadow that I moved through.”
His early musical experiences were influenced by performers such as Robert Johnson, Bob Dylan, Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly. Angelo has a special affection for Elvis Presley, and remembers the King “turned a black and white musical world into Technicolour”.
Later he was influenced by the guitar talents of players like Micky Green from The Pirates and Steve Cropper (from Booker T and the MGs). Angelo’s tastes in music extend to many of the greats on the Blues, Rock and Roll, Jazz and Contemporary stages, as well as the talents of the Roots musicians who gave inspiration to many of the great writers and performers of today.
Angelo’s career as a musician has taken many roads. He spent his formative playing years in South Wales either leading or being part of various musical ventures that led to limited local recognition. These experiences in South Wales, and also for a time in the South West of England, cemented in Angelo’s mind that music would be his calling and what he would do for the rest of his life.
He gained confidence in his both his songwriting and guitar-playing abilities and he realised that musicians like Buddy Holly and Bob Dylan wrote, and were actually writing their own music and lyrics. This revelation inspired Angelo to produce and perform his own songs which he has done to this day.
The death of Angelo’s father in 1975, when he was 25 years old, was a turning point for him. He returned to London in 1976 and stopped playing guitar for about two years and took various jobs as a dockworker and a roof asphalter.
But in 1978 he felt the yearning to play again. He bought new equipment and soon formed the Angelo Palladino Band which played the era’s legendary venues The Bridgehouse, Dingwalls, The Speakeasy and a memorable appearance at The Hope & Anchor opening for Eddie & The Hot Rods. Along the way the band gained rave reviews from such music papers as the NME and Melody Maker.
Around this time Angelo met his future wife, Alice. She was singing with Jerry Richardson of Last Exit, who Sting was also a member of at one time. They married and moved south of the Thames to Brockley in SE London. Angelo and Alice started playing with a band called Get Out of Jail Free who played a range of New Orleans-style jazz including much of Fats Waller’s work.
Angelo & Alice eventually split from that band to form their own group called Barflies. They played all their own original material, along with some cover tunes, that were sometimes drastically rearranged to fit the both the band’s playing style and Angelo’s musical vision at the time.
Barflies played, at least to begin with, rough areas of South London like Deptford and New Cross. Deptford, in particular, had a thriving independent music scene at that time and spawned bands like Squeeze and Dire Straits. In fact, Barflies played the same venues that those bands had played.
But it was Barflies’ once-a-month residency at the Royal Albert in New Cross that cemented their reputation as one of London’s best pub bands of the era with their electrifying performances attracting attention from fans and music industry luminaries alike.
After five years of constant touring around the UK and Europe, and also such recordings as “There’s A Fire/You’re So Alright” on 45, the cassette-only album “Down to the Bone,” that sold 1,500 copies at gigs and the vinyl “Live at the Marquee” 4 song, 12 inch E.P., Angelo decided to change musical direction and split the band up.
After relocating to the West Yorkshire village of Rawdon, near Leeds in 1989 the band that was to give Angelo his biggest audience to date was born.
The Palladinos, managed by Miles Copeland and signed to Sting’s Pangaea record label, released their debut album “Travelling Dark” in 1994. More acoustic than his previous ventures, The Palladinos toured with Sting around the UK, Europe and the US, including concerts at London’s Royal Albert Hall with The Chieftains and at New York’s Madison Square Garden.
The album sold well on the other side of the Atlantic, helped in the most part by the song “(I Won’t Be) Going South for A while”. The track was included on the soundtrack to the Nicholas Cage, Elizabeth Shue movie “Leaving Las Vegas” which was voted best film soundtrack by readers of Empire magazine for two years running.
During this period, he supported Squeeze at various dates around the UK and Europe. The band’s reputation soon spread and they went from strength to strength. The band played shows alongside Jools Holland, Sheryl Crowe, the Chieftains, and Steeleye Span. Angelo also wrote songs for and with such diverse musical talents as Carole King, Ted Nugent, Jeff Beck and the Bangles.
After a few years, Angelo had had enough and decided to call time on The Palladinos to continue writing, teaching guitar and recording as a solo artist.
In 2004 he reemerged with a new album called “Blood, Blues & Bad Dreams.” After the layered, some would may over-produced nature of “Travelling Dark,” this nine-track album was as raw as it gets.
Produced by former New Model Army drummer Robert Heaton, it was the most representative recording of Angelo’s playing and writing style up to that point. A lyrically dark and musically stark journey, “Blood, Blues & Bad Dreams” is a collection of stories set to music based on characters that live in shadows, but are constantly pursued by ghosts from their past or their imagination. Angelo, at the time, remarked that the songs could also be construed as being about the life of Robert Johnson – albeit loosely – and he dedicated the album to the King of The Delta Blues singers.
The album gained a great deal of positive attention from the music press, especially Stateside. Rolling Stone gave it a 3 1/2-star review commenting that Angelo “can sure mine beauty out of gloom.” Blues Review’s Hal Horowitz
called the album “striking” and a “sonically and psychologically memorable listening experience.” Reviews by Alabama’s Birmingham Weekly and Hartford Courant, based in Connecticut, also weighed in with positive takes.
By 2008, Angelo had put together a backing band called The Skeleton Crew, made up of local musicians and gigged locally around the north of England to great audience receptions and excellent live reviews.
Reviews for his live shows, both solo and with the Skeleton Crew, were enthusiastic. When Angelo performed at the Isle of Man Guitarfest in August 2009, John Gregory from IOM Newspapers noted … “Angelo Palladino is a performer who is instantly likeable. Armed with just a Fender Telecaster – he usually performs with a band – he played a series of bluesy tunes with great riffs and vocals. In addition to his own great numbers such as Two Crows and Another Mystery Train he threw in a handful of covers which he made his own. These were absolutely stunning and really gripped me”
In 2010, Angelo took the Skeleton Crew over for a visit to the Guitarfest and IOM Newspapers were there again … “Probably the best live rock/roots band you will ever see. Angelo Palladino and the Skeleton Crew are the real deal with an uncompromising approach to their music. Roots music rocked up; their live gigs have been described as “ritual bloodletting.” Raw, emotional and gritty, this is music that you won’t forget.”
The band also recorded reworkings of five songs from the “Blood, Blues & Bad Dreams” album in 2010. Titled “Five,” the CD has versions of “Just Can’t Sleep” among others and includes an 11-minute reinterpretation of his “Twilight Blues.”
Angelo subsequently released his first album of new material in seven years in the form of “Broken Hearts Still Beat.” Produced by Angelo, along with Martin Gardiner, the album was not so much a continuation of “Blood, Blues & Bad Dreams” as a marked progression.
Lyrically the songs all display the dark story-telling that Angelo is known for, but musically there’s a tangible shift going on. Electric guitars are back in the mix, albeit subtly, and a plan to not only play these songs solo, but to bring a full band back are witness to that progression.
Angelo released another album of new material in 2012 to keep things rolling, followed by radio appearances and many more shows before forming a new band, Streethawks, that included drums, bass and saxophone. Their one album, Streethawk Diaries Volume 1 was released in 2016. Following artistic disagreements and the loss of their drummer to Her Majesty’s pleasure, the band was eventually dissolved a few years later.
At that time, Angelo was considering giving up playing live. He returned to playing and composing on his acoustic guitars. This resulted in a raft of new songs. In 2019, Angelo began collaborating and playing with accordionist and percussionist Chris Taylor. This led to the self-produced 7-track album “This Be Blues” that gained a good response among Blues DJs especially from IBBA members here and in Europe.
Angelo’s latest album is the 11 track CD “Blango”. It was recorded and produced by legendary producer Jhon Ravenhall during the difficulties of lockdown in 2021/2. It is due for release 1st August 2023 together with videos of the songs, “Sunrising” and “Knucklebones” that is very much a reflection on the times we are in.
Angelo Palladino Biography https://www.last.fm/music/Angelo+Palladino/+wiki