OSWEGO, NY – Although local music trailblazer Joe Spereno lost his battle with cancer in May, his memory will live on through a newly created scholarship that will benefit a musically gifted Oswego High School student.
According to Dan Batchelor, president of the newly formed Oswego Musicians’ Hall of Fame, Spereno was a “true pioneer” in the music industry. He played with local rock bands The Thunderbirds and The Valiants in the 1950s and 1960s.
After graduating from OHS in 1964, Spereno attended SUNY Fredonia and SUNY Albany.
Armed with a degree in business administration, he served as entertainment director at SUNY Brockport and activities director at SUNY Oswego, where he combined his business knowledge with his passion for music.
He began his work with celebrity music artists in New York City and ultimately moved to Los Angeles, Calif., where he worked with talents such as Isaac Hayes, Tom Petty, ELO, Ozzy Osbourne and Liberace.
In an effort to continue Spereno’s legacy and build the scholarship fund, his family and members of the local music community will hold a benefit concert from noon to 8 p.m. Aug. 15 at Lighthouse Lanes in Oswego.
The event will be held outside and will feature a chicken barbecue, raffles and hours of live music.
There will be face painting and a kids’ craft area as well.
The music lineup includes performances by local favorites Sam Domicolo, John Bletch, Ron Castaldo, Dan Batchelor, and John Luber, to name a few.
All guest performers will be backed by Joe’s brother Ron’s bands, Nite Life and Frequency, as well as Long Time Coming, another local band which features Jim Dillabough, who played with Spereno in The Valiants.
The Valiants are reuniting to form a special tribute to Joe as well, with Dick Guyer stepping in to play saxophone.
“This will be a great tribute to a great human being, and we are thrilled that so many local musicians are lending their talents to the event,” said Joe’s brother and event coordinator Ron Spereno. “The outpouring of support is a testament to the person Joe was: generous, kind and caring. Through this scholarship, we’re honoring Joe’s memory as well as his passion and dedication to a music-filled life.”
All proceeds from the benefit will go to the scholarship fund, which will be awarded annually to an OHS senior who plans to major in the music field in college.
Tickets are $10 for the chicken barbecue and concert, or $5 for the concert only.
Presale tickets are available by calling Lisa at 592-1780 or emailing [email protected]
Anyone who cannot attend but wishes to donate monetarily may send their contributions to John Edwards at the Oswego City School District, 120 E. First St., Oswego NY (checks should be payable to the Joseph Spereno Music Scholarship).