JOHN A. “BIG ANGE” MANZI……………7/18/2010
Many of you reading today’s blog most likely will not recall the name “Andy Jackson,” who was known throughout Rhode Island radio broadcasting as “Big Ange.” I for one, do remember him well. Ange passed away this week at the young age of 67.
Midway through my radio broadcasting career, which was on the rise back in the late 60′s, I joined the staff of Providence radio station WPRO. The format was strictly rock and roll, which was in it’s heyday at the time with groups such as the Beatles, Rolling Stones and of course the giant Motown sound.
My shift was midnight to 6am. “Big Ange” who’s real name was John Manzi held down the air shift before me. He catered to, as he would often say on the air, the “ladies of the night.” He of course meant “ladies” and not hookers as one might think.
Andy and I had our clashes, as most radio personalities do at one point or another. But we endured each other, with our own distinctive on air styles, for over two years. Andy with his robust laughter and sometimes fast paced delivery. Working all night after Andy, I was a bit more subdued but catered to my own particular audience, the late night insomniacs and a lot of really weird creatures of the night.
Along with Andy and I was the late Salty (Walter) Brine, Charlie Jefferds, Vik Armen and Joe Thomas.
I left WPRO back in the late 60′s after two years and never saw any of my co-workers again, with the exception of Andy at a friend’s birthday party in the mid 70′s. We barely spoke to one another.
Occasionally I would hear word of the rest of my coworkers via a news blurb or an old radio friend. Time passes, we all get old, move on with our lives, and age….until, sadly, we pick up the paper and read about someone’s passing, such as in Andy’s case.
As I’ve mentioned before in previous blogs, I’ve written a book entitled, “I Could Have Been Famous But Sex, Love and Life Got In The Way.” Within the pages of that book, my years at WPRO are chronicled along with a few words about Andy and I. I think I may have been a little rough on my comments about Andy in my book, but it was how I remembered him back then and from our brief encounter at that party.
I think if I had the opportunity to face him alone on a one to one basis away from the ego driven environment of broadcasting, we may have hit it off, both realizing that our time in the limelight had passed, and it was now time to bury the hatchet and have a laugh about it all. The passage of time tends to mellow even the most hardened of individuals.
Sadly, we never had that opportunity to meet again. In my own way I will miss him. For he was a part of my life that remains forever imbedded in my heart and soul.
Spin those old 45′s for the, “angels of the night” Big Ange.
Copyright 2010 MisfitWisdom RLV