Bucky Pizzarelli was born in Patterson, N.J. on January 9, 1926 and was given an introduction to the guitar at the age of 9 by two of his uncles who were both guitarists. By the time Pizzarelli was 17 he had signed up with Vaughan Monroe’s popular dance band.
After leaving the military in 1946 Bucky Pizzarelli rejoined Vaughan Monroe’s band and performed with them till 1951. In 1952 he decided to move back to his home town of Paterson, New Jersey where he played in a local trio led by Joe Mooney. He was then offered a full-time gig by NBC as staff guitar player for a five days a week television program. He found that he was also able to do jazz club and recording work.
Pizzarelli played with varied groups on the East Coast including The Les Elgart Band. From 1956 to 1959 he went on the road with a group called “The Three Sons”. After that gig was over Bucky returned to studio and recording work, performing with most of the leading East Coast studio guitar players consisting of Al Caiola, Tony Mottola, and Mundell Lowe. By chance in 1967 he heard George Van Eps playing his 7 string guitar in a New York club. Amazed by the extra harmonic possibilities obtained with the additional low “A” bass string, Pizzarelli was now on a mission to master the 7 stringed instrument.
While developing his technique on the 7 string guitar Bucky Pizzarelli renewed an old relationship with guitarist George Barnes, whose regular guitar duet partner Carl Kress had just recently passed away. Together they formed a new and outstanding guitar duo discovering they had a fantastic musical connection with each other. They played lots of concerts as a duo and made a number of outstanding recordings.
In 1970 Pizzarelli chose to accept an offer to join The Benny Goodman Orchestra and except for a break in 1971, stayed till 1974 with this popular band. Ever since that time Bucky has actually played and made lots of recordings with diverse jazz artists consisting of Joe Venuti, Stephane Grapelli, Red Norvo, Zoot Sims, Bud Freeman, Slam Stewart, and others.
Bucky Pizzarelli has gone on to appear at many famous worldwide jazz celebrations and played solo recitals in jazz clubs and concerts on the 7 string guitar throughout the USA. Bucky also performs some classical guitar pieces on a nylon string guitar when he plays places by himself. In the last couple of years he has actually appeared and tape-recorded frequently with his son John Pizzarelli Jr. His son, a skilled jazz guitar player in his own right, has become a very famous singer in recent years.
One of Bucky’s recordings, Green Guitar Blues, featured playing from his daughter Mary who is a concert classical guitarist. Since then his two boys, John Pizzarelli and bassist Martin Pizzarelli, have regularly appeared with him and he has likewise performed with singer Jessica Molaskey who is his daughter in law. At nearly 90 years old, Bucky Pizzarelli still continues to be rather active in the jazz guitar music scene playing clubs regularly!