Johnny Articles

A little treat for all you Contardoholics out there! A friend from the Sha Na Na Yahoo group sent me photocopies of some SNN articles from old teen fan magazines, including a couple about Johnny himself. So I've typed up the text of those two for you, plus another one that appears to be from some unofficial SNN fan club newsletter. Not sure of the exact date on these, but most likely early '80s. Enjoy!

ROCKLINE TALKS TO JOHNNY CONTARDO!


WHAT IS YOUR REAL FULL NAME?
It's an Italian name- John Pasquale Contardo. I like to be called Johnny - but the guys in the group dubbed me "The Kid" because I was the youngest member for a long time.

WHEN IS YOUR BIRTHDAY AND WHERE DID YOU GROW UP?
I was a Christmas present on December 23! Because of my Italian background and Sha Na Na's image, people think I must have been born in Brooklyn, New York. The truth is I grew up in Brookline, Massachusetts! It was a small city with lots of big lawns and older houses - we lived in a brick townhouse built in 1897.

WHERE DO YOU LIVE NOW?
I have a fairly large, four bedroom house in Studio City near Hollywood. It's made of stucco, like a real California place - and we're putting a jacuzzi in! But, I'd like to move out to the beach someday and have more open space around me again.

CAN YOU GIVE US YOUR VITAL STATS?
Sure. I'm 5'7-3/4" - I'm a little too honest to say 5'8" - and I weigh 138 pounds. My hair is black (I don't dye it) and my eyes are brown.

TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOUR FAMILY
My mother is Carmella - she's a real trouper, has supported everything I've ever done. I'm named for my dad John. I have two sisters - Roseann is 32 and married, and Angela is 30 and single. Both sing, but not professionally - my whole family is a little "tune" happy!

WHAT WAS YOUR CHILDHOOD LIKE?
In one way it was hard. We were poor and I had to work from the time I was 12 years old - first as a busboy, fhen as a stockboy. But it taught me responsibility - and that's helped me a lot in my career. The great part about it was the closeness of my family. We were always together - uncles, aunts, cousins - and we had the biggest holiday feasts you can imagine!

NOW THAT TIMES ARE EASIER, DO YOU HAVE ANY SPECIAL POSSESSIONS?
Yes! I have a beautiful silver '79 Volvo and a huge black '36 Cadillac - it's like a tank - and I'm really looking forward to buying a Mercedes. But the best is my darling little Lhasa Apso. We just celebrated his first birthday a couple of months ago. I love animals and I would have four or more if I had time for them.

WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE PASTIMES?
For exercise I snow or waterski, swim, ride a bike, or play basketball, softball or tennis! To relax I read the newspaper, watch TV ( I like Taxi and Bob Newhart), or tend to my roses. I love puttering around in the garden more than just about anything else!

DO YOU COOK?
I do - but no one else could eat it! But I love to eat - I'll put away that Italian pasta 'til it comes out of my ears!

COULD YOU DESCRIBE YOURSELF?
I'm a happy person - I'm grateful for my family and all that's happened to me. But I'm also very realistic about the world and my place in it. You have to keep plugging at your work but also take lots of time to enjoy the little things in life.

WHEN DID YOU FIRST GET INTO SHOW BIZ?
My mother likes to say it was from the time I was six. She was always taking pictures and I would get in every one - even if it meant climbing over a chair! I've also been singing since at least that age - in choirs, around school, in small clubs, anywhere!

DID YOU GET ANY SPECIAL EDUCATION IN MUSIC?
Yes, I went to the Boston Conservatory of Music.

WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST REAL SINGING JOB?
The lead (Claude) in the Boston company of the musical Hair.

WHAT DID YOU DO AFTER THAT?
On the last night of Hair, I audtiioned for Sha Na Na - I'd heard they were looking for a replacement for one of the guys, a teen idol type - and two days later I was in New York with them!

HOW DID SHA NA NA COME ABOUT?
They started as a glee club with 12 men at Columbia University in New York City. Someone thought of singing '50's music, so they dressed like greasers and played for the students. An agent spotted them and got them jobs at other campuses, in the Woodstock film, and doing an LP for Buddha records. They were underway for two years when I joined them in 1971.

DO YOU ENJOY WORKING WITH SHA NA NA?
Absolutely! We're as popular as ever - the show is on TV five days a week now in Los Angeles! And we get tons of mail from our fans! Sha Na Na has been very good to me - but I don't intend to grease my hair back all my life. That's why I have a few solo projects going lately.

TELL US ABOUT YOUR SOLO ALBUM
I'd love to! It's called Changeover and it's been out for a few months now. I recorded it last spring and early summer - it was quite an experience working on my own after being with a big group for eight years.

WHAT KIND OF MUSIC IS ON IT?
It's a collection of light rock tunes that I really love - Billy Joel's "Until The Night," Johnny Mathis' "Twelfth of Never," and Marvin Gaye's "Ain't That Peculiar" are a few. It was recorded on Becket Records, so if anyone has trouble finding it, they can write to the company at 1790 Broadway, New York, New York 10019.

DO YOU HAVE ANY OTHER SOLO PROJECTS?
As a matter of fact, I do! I've been playing in some clubs in the east - states like Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Boston in Massachusetts - with my own band! And I'm working on a new record - I've already got three tracks down and I'm really excited!

WHAT ARE YOUR FUTURE PLANS?
I'm looking forward to success with my record! I'd also like to do a TV special someday - and act in movies (I've had bit parts in Grease and Sergeant Pepper's finale)!

GIRLS ARE CRAZY ABOUT YOU - DO YOU HAVE SOMEONE SPECIAL?
No, I don't. It's so hard to get close to someone when you're on the road or in the recording studio constantly.

WHAT FIRST ATTRACTS YOU TO A LADY?
Her looks! I forgot to mention that girl-watching is one of my favorite pastimes!

WHAT KEEPS YOU INTERESTED?
I'm romantic, so I look for that in a girl too - plus sensitivity and compassion. I also like it if she's energetic - I spend a lot of time on my feet!

WHAT DO YOU LIKE TO DO ON AN EVENING OUT?
I love plays - and I already told you about my appetite. Any good Italian or Spanish restaurant is a welcome sight. And quiet evenings cuddling in front of the TV suits me just fine too!

WOULD YOU LIKE TO GET MARRIED?
I'd love to get married someday when the right girl comes along. I'm not in a big hurry about it just yet - but I've always got my eyes wide open!

IS THERE ANYTHING YOU'D LIKE TO ADD?
Yes. I love my fans - all their letters and support - and I try to answer as many of their letters as possible. The only ambition I ever had was to sing - and with their help my wish is coming true every day!



16'S FAMILY CORNER -
SHA NA NA'S JOHNNY!
HIS MOM SPILLS THE BEANS!


WHAT KIND OF BOY WAS JOHNNY?
He was always a happy child. He had a glad-to-be-alive kind of personality.

WERE YOU CLOSE?
Yes. Like water and earth (ha ha! How's that for an answer?) All joking aside, I'll give you an example. When Johnny wanted his own apartment, he didn't say "Ma, I'm leaving" - he asked me if he could! That's respect for me! And close too!

AT WHAT AGE DID HIS TALENT APPEAR?
At about the age of six. Johnny was a real ham, with a voice like a canary!

WHAT WAS THE FUNNIEST THING HE EVER DID? THE WORST THING?
I would take many pictures of the family and friends, and when it was time to pick them up and sit back and see how well I did, there was Johnny with his head sticking out from behind a chair, under the table, or from a door! I told you he was a ham! The worst thing was when he lost fifty dollars of mine - but it was funny too!

DID HE GET ALONG WITH HIS SISTERS ROSEANN AND ANGELA?
Johnny loved teasing his sisters, but if anyone else did he would become very protective. I don't recall any fighting, just a lot of teasing - maybe because Johnny was younger!

WHAT KIND OF STUDENT WAS HE?
A little better than average. Johnny was and still is good in math.

DID YOU EVER HAVE ANY DISCIPLINARY PROBLEMS WITH HIM?
Johnny took punishment like a trooper!

WHAT DID HE SPEND MOST OF HIS TIME DOING?
He loved games, playing records, playing ball with children from the neighborhood, swimming, tennis, watching TV (mainly sports), photography, and sitting in the park talking to an older person - or just listening. He loved gardening too!

WHAT DID YOU ARGUE ABOUT MOST?
There wasn't one thing or two. There were many things that all famlies argue about - things that didn't amount to anything. "Ma, what happened to my brush." or comb, or pants, or books - no big deal!

HOW DID YOU FEEL ABOUT JOHNNY BECOMING AN ENTERTAINER?
Wonderful! Because that's what he wanted. When I see his face light up like a Christmas tree - what more can a mother ask for?

HOW HAS HIS SUCCESS AFFECTED YOU?
Johnny's success hasn't affected me. I'm still the same because I was proud of him at birth and I'm proud of him today. Recognition? I get some, but it's not important. My home was never very private - I had an open door policy. I don't mind it. If that changes I'll let you know!

ARE YOU CLOSE WITH HIM NOW?
Nothing's changed!

HOW DO HIS SISTERS FEEL ABOUT HIS SUCCESS?
The're very happy, and real proud of their brother!

WHAT ADVICE DID YOU GIVE HIM WHEN HE WAS GROWING UP?
Don't forget where you came from, and 'Row, row, row your boat gently down the stream." He didn't forget!

AT WHAT AGE DID HE START TO DATE? WHAT KIND OF PEOPLE DID HE GO OUT WITH AND HAVE AS FRIENDS? DID YOU APPROVE?
At a young age, Johnny was more concerned about his career. But I remember when he was doing Hair, he changed. He said 'If God made anything better than women and good food, he kept it for himself!' As far as friends are concerned, Johnny knows people from all walks of life, but he chooses his friends carefully. You asked if I approved. Yes, eighty percent of what you teach at home stays with a child. Once he or she goes into the world, the other twenty percent he picks up from the outside - and that's called experience!


Here's an article from what appears to be some "unofficial" SNN fan club newsletter, another interview with Johnny's wonderful mother!

WHILE JOHNNY WAS GROWING UP DID HE ALWAYS PLAN TO PURSUE A CAREER IN MUSIC?
Not until Johnny was about fourteen - then he fell in love with everything concerning the theatre and music.

WAS JOHNNY INVOLVED IN DRAMA AND MUSIC WHILE IN HIGH SCHOOL? WAS HE SUCCESSFUL?
Johnny wasn't involved in drama until his last year of high school. In the school play "Guys and Dolls," the audience thought Johnny was a professional, and said it wasn't fair to do a thing like that to the other kids. When they found out he wasn't, they were in awe.

WHAT OTHER MAJOR PERFORMANCES WAS JOHNNY INVOLVED IN OTHER THAN THE LEAD ROLE IN "HAIR?"
None.

HOW DID JOHNNY FEEL ABOUT HIS ROLE IN "HAIR?"
Johnny loved every moment of it - he couldn't get enough. And I wish you were there to see it, he had everyone - including the cast - spellbound.

WHAT EVENTS LED UP TO JOHNNY JOINING SHA NA NA?
"Hair" closed on January 7, that was a Saturday. The next day a phone call came from one of the boys asking for Johnny (he had gone out to play ball because he was unhappy about the show closing - he loves working!). He was hired the next day.

HOW DOES JOHNNY FEEL ABOUT HAVING TO TRAVEL SO MUCH?
He didn't mind it so much before - but it's hard now because there's the taping of the television show and recordings. But he's still in love with it all.

JOHNNY JOINED SHA NA NA AT A YOUNG AGE. DID THAT CAUSE ANY PROBLEMS FOR YOU OR HIM?
Like I said before, he was so happy working - he accepted being with Sha Na Na. He came highly recommended. Whatever makes Johnny happy makes me happy. No problems for him or me. He was happy - what more could a mother ask for?

HOW DID YOU FEEL ABOUT JOHNNY GOING INTO SHOW BUSINESS? HAS IT AFFECTED YOU OR HIS TWO SISTERS?
You say did it affect me or his sisters? Well, the only thing I can say is that when I look at him I see and feel the same things you do. I still don't believe it and I'm totally happy for him. I love him and I'm proud of him (but I've always been proud of him). His sisters feel the same way.

IS JOHNNY DOING ANYTHING TO PROMOTE HIS ALBUM?
No - but the single of "Are You Happy Baby" is going into production again.

DOES JOHNNY HAVE HIS OWN HOME? IF SO, WHAT IS IT LIKE AND WHERE?
Yes, he just bought one and can't wait to get back and settle in. It's so new I don't know anything about it yet myself. He called to tell me he's sending pictures.

WHAT DOES JOHNNY DO IN HIS SPARE TIME? ANY HOBBIES?
When Johnny has spare time, he loves playing basketball, tennis, taking pictures of nature. He loves doing gardening (roses). Johnny is pretty much like me - I love almost everything.

WHAT TYPE OF GIRL ATTRACTS JOHNNY'S ATTENTION?
A girl with a sense of humor - who enjoys cooking. A girl with a fresh look like spring. That could be any girl! (ha ha)

WHERE DOES HE LIKE TO GO ON DATES?
Many places: Plays, ball games, movies, out to dinner - but he loves being in his home most of the time, I guess because he travels so much.

IS THERE A SPECIAL GIRL IN JOHNNY'S LIFE?
No - He always said it wouldn't be fair to the girl - always waiting for him to come home.

AND FINALLY - WHAT CAN WE BE EXPECTING FROM JOHNNY IN THE FUTURE, CAMILLE? DOES HE HAVE ANY DEFINITE CAREER PLANS?
Everything! His going on tour with his own show; making movies; television show; albums. What else can I say? Johnny is glad to be alive, he loves life and everything it has to offer And might I add - He really loves everyone who takes the time to write him. He wishes he could answer them all but it's impossible. I'm his mother and I don't see him that often, he calls a lot but I'm just one of the girls. I hope I've answered all your questions.

BACK TO CHERYL'S SHA NA NA PAGE!

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