August 27, 2010

Ok, I know. It’s been kind of like “the boy who cried wolf”! I’ve announced (prematurely) several times over the last year “Hey, everybody, I just finished my first solo album! It’s coming out soon!

Oooops.  Didn’t happen.

Why? Well, for all of those predictable “artistic” reasons….”Oh, those artists!“….No, seriously, we added songs, subtracted songs, mixed and remixed, our producer Warren Hibbert went off on a safari….(ha,ha!), I lost my shoes on the way to a session, an elephant ate my lyrics, a monkey named Fred stole (borrowed) my Felix guitar   … er….  uh….   uh…  well….

Actually, we just weren’t really finished.  But, hey, if you are still interested, it’s done!!!! And it’s on iTunes for your listening pleasure, if you are so inclined.  It’s a compendium (I think that’s the word that means a varied selection) of many styles of songs I’ve written and performed along with the help of many of my friends and OUTSTANDING musicians: Elliott Randall, Laurence Juber, Jimmy Young, Bob Babbitt, James Montgomery, Gloria Gaynor, Karl Latham, Lance Quinn, Rachel Allyn, Maci Schneider, Chip Davis, Chris Leuzinger, Larry Franklin, Russell Velaquez, Daniel Sadownick, Polly B, Kevin Humphris, Charlie DeChant, Heady Hustla, Pat Severs, Mike Franklin, Kirsten Thien, Susan Didrichsen, and me…. I feel blessed to have them all playing on the record.  It was mixed by Warren Hibbert and Grammy winners John Seymore and Obie O’Brien (Bon Jovi’s engineer). After so many years working as a writer, musician, producer, arranger, publisher, and chief bottle washer on so many other artists’ ‘records’ (an older person’s name for CDs), I decided to take the plunge and do a solo album, if for no other reason, for posterity and for my friends and family… aw, how sweet…..Actually, I’m expecting to sell millions and go on tour with Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr…  I’d even sit in with them if they wanted!  LOL …. All kidding aside (I know you’re saying “yeah, right“), really, I am proud of this record and all of my friends who helped to make it come to fruition.  Warren Hibbert (The easiest man on Earth to agree with) did a fantastic job producing the record.  The list of who’s who who (when have you ever seen ‘who’ three times in a row?  For that reason alone you should listen to the CD) are playing on these tracks read like a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame menu.  You can preview the songs on iTunes, if you like it you can order it.  If not, you can just keep playing the previews over and over again.  Not the easiest thing to do at parties, but, hey, it’s been done.  Trust me!  Ha,ha….

So when you get a chance, let me know what you think about my album WHEN YOU GOTTA GO, YOU GOTTA GO …and yes, that is me on the cover, and that’s my sister Joan looking and laughing from the passenger seat of my Dad’s ’51 Studebaker.

Peace through music

Don O


Best Wishes from the NAMM Show!

June 23, 2010

When I was a kid, my Dad took me to see Walt Disney’s Pinocchio.   I remember three distinct emotions:

1. I felt so special that my father took me “all by myself” to the movies.

2. I instantly fell in love with Cleo the goldfish…(no seriously, I had a major crush on Cleo! What can I say, I was a weird kid.)

3. When Jiminy Cricket sang “When You Wish Upon A Star”, I not only got an incredible rush of emotion from the shear beauty of the song and Cliff Edward’s voice (he was the voice of Jiminy Cricket), but I also started wishing upon the first star of the night  ….every night  …until  ….well, actually, I still do.  You could call it praying, wishing, hoping, or desiring.  Besides the obvious wishes, (like wishing the best for your family and friends and for world peace, etc.) I use to wish that some day I would be able to make my own guitar.  I always loved guitars from the moment my cousin Judy let me strum her Stella guitar (which I still have! ha,ha!)  in the attic of my Uncle Nicky and Aunt Anna’s house.  I was about 7 or 8 at the time.  I’m here to tell you that dreams can come true.  If you want it bad enough, and if “it’s supposed to happen”, then I truly believe anything you can think of can happen. So, if you’re waiting for teleportation like on Star Trek… well, hang around! It will happen! haha!

What am I trying to say with all of this???  I’ll tell ya…We, along with our incredible art department,(Rod, Jenn, Andrew, Aaron, Vinnie as well as Felix, Gennifer, Roderick, Noraa, and Drew) came up a whole cool new line of guitars! Below, you can read the article written about the guitars, and look at some of the pictures from our first ever NAMM show! Music is already fun, but we’re going to bring fun back into PLAYING music!!!!!!  So HAVE FUN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Don O

Felix goes to Washington

May 3, 2010
Ok….So Felix was the first image to be broadcast on TV…Lindburgh carried a little Felix doll as a lucky charm on the Spirit of St. Louis…Felix was loved by Felini, Queen Margaret, and Steven Segal, just to name a few.  He’s merchandised in just about every country of the world….t-shirts, hats, coats, bicycles, motorcycle helmets, dolls, etc. etc.  But one of the coolest things that has happened to our most wonderful, wonderful cat was…..


Drum roll please….tatatatatatatatatatatCRASH! He was invited to the White House by President Obama to participate in the Easter Egg Roll! We received a wonderful letter from the First Lady thanking us for being part of the festivities.  What an honor!  By the way, there were a few other…er…uh… “characters” present at the event and our fabulous feline had the longest lines all day long of fans wanting to shake his hand.  Personally speaking, I am really proud to have such a close pal as Felix.  How many other cats do you know that was invitied to hang out with the Pres??? I guess I’m acting like a proud brother, but I can’t help it….but to Felix, my humble friend, it was just another beautiful day in the neighborhood.

Enjoy the pictures.

All the best,

Don Oriolo

Felix and the Summer NAMM show

April 16, 2010

Well, it’s getting closer and closer….what, you say??  The launching of Oriolo Guitars.  We have been developing a line of ukes, electric, and acoustic guitars for the last year or so.  It’s all pretty exciting I have to say.  It’s combining my two favorite things (aside from my kids, and my dog, and my horses and…well, you get it!) ….Felix the Cat and guitars.  I get all warm and fuzzy just thinking about it….

I didn’t just say that did I????

Yup… a lot of the designs will be adorned with all brand new wacky Felix art… as well as having some very unique body shapes and colors…and on and on.  Here’s a picture of the new three-quarter size Felix electric guitar and you can click on the photos for videos of Warren and I playing it.It plays as good as it looks.  We’re actually displaying all of the guitars and ukes at the Summer NAMM show this June in Nashville, Tennessee.  By all means, if you’re down there around the 18th of June come in and visit our booth.  I know that both Felix fans and guitar players of all ages are going to want to have one of these guitars to play…and/or just look at.  That’s what I do with them!  In fact, I’m running out of wall space between guitars and paintings hanging all over here in the studio and at home….But then again,  I can’t think of any better use for wall space…can you?  Haha! I mean,  it is only a wall!  You can visit our website at www.oriologuitars.com or join us on Facebook at Oriolo Guitars.  I’ll keep you posted as things progress…


Don O

Mr. Tayk Kim

March 18, 2010

I first met Mr. Tayk Kim about 35 years ago.  We were both only 3 years old at the time..ha ha!NOT! He was working for Mr. Song, a famous animator in Korea at the time, and he had just single handedly animated a little one minute short of Felix the Cat going into a haunted house.  He came to  NYC just to show it to my father and I as well as the rest of his demo reel containing much of his work…I remember he didn’t speak English at the time so our communication was strictly through drawing out various situations.  Pretty funny… my father, Mr. Kim, and I drawing as fast as you might be talking in a conversation.  I WISH I had those drawings today!!!!  Oh well…maybe we should try that again later today (although now Tayk speaks perfect English..with a Brooklyn accent no less)…. because, you see, Mr. Kim is in my studio working with our animators, giving his words of wisdom and experience.  Mr. Kim and I have done tons of things together through the years.  One of my favorite projects is the Squishees, a full length animated film we did together several years ago.  Mr. Kim is doing a whole line of merchandising in Korea based on characters from the show.  I saw the t-shirts at the licensing show and they were great!  They use a new, patented 3D effect that’s amazing.  Mr. Kim has worked on some outstanding films through the year, not the least of which are: Heavy Metal,  Muppet Babies, Flinstone Kids, Aeon Flux, Lord of the Rings, Opus and Bill, Ferngully, Chip and Dale, Monsters, Gobots, Peter Pan, American Pop, War Wizard, etc. etc. etc. etc. Check out his website at Luk films….you’ll like what you see.  Now it’s time for lunch.  I’m gonna cook up a batch of Kimchi for everyone in the studio….ha ha ha….Righty-O!!!!

Visit to TFC in Tokyo

March 15, 2010

When we were in Tokyo recently, we visited our licensing agent TFC to press the flesh and talk about “everything Felix”.  I painted a Felix painting for the Banjiro-san, the chairman of the company, and wanted to surprise him with it…which I truly did!   As you can see, the meeting was really serious!  LOL! Really, we had a great time and everyone was extremely pumped over the future of Felix in Japan.  They’ve been doing a wonderful job getting tons of new licensees in Japan.  Banjiro-san suggested at the meeting that we do a “History of Felix the Cat” documentary.  TFC, incidently, owns the History Channel in Japan.  Well, we agreed and the documentary, which was recently completed, takes us from the creation of Felix to the present day and to our future plans.  It aired on the Japanese History Channel to rave reviews.  Of course, it contains interviews with Otto Messmer, Joe Oriolo, and myself, and also has all kinds of cool info about the most wonderful, wonderful cat.  So here’s a picture of all of us as I presented the painting to the chairman, Banjiro-san.  He was so excited with it (great art collector that he is – ha, ha) that he had it hung in the lobby of the building immediately.  That’s this picture here.  So if you’re in Tokyo, visit the TFC offices and you’ll see the painting of our smiling pal greeting you as you enter.  Go through the revolving doors (I don’t actually remember if it was a revolving door…but that would be cool) and say…. “Hi. I’m a Felix fan.  Don sent me!”  LOL! Oh yeah, I painted another painting for him after that, and that one’s hanging in his office. Righty-O!

Don O

Growing up in the Oriolo house

February 23, 2010
Growing up in the Oriolo house was an unforgettable experience to say the least.  A very creative environment…lots of art, music, singing, dancing….my father, Joe Oriolo, was an amazing cartoonist, animator, musician, and all around talented guy.  Anything pertaining to hand-eye coordination was within his realm of expertise.  He was so good at target shooting, the cops in our town made him an honorary policeman so he could shoot in their tournaments.  And pool?  If you missed a shot you had better sit down, cause he would run rack after rack, performing shots that you only see on TV.  “I’m gonna bank it off of the 2 ball, jump the five ball, off of three rails….”  Bang…in the pocket….  Ping pong, pitching baseballs….hand-eye…hand-eye….Of course, his designing skills were second to none (am I sounding overly proud?).  He created Casper the Ghost, Chiquita Banana, Poindexter, Vavoom, Rock Bottom, the Professor, and on and on….
Here’s a picture of him at his drawing board when he worked at the Fleischer Studios.  As you can see by the character charts in the bg, he was working on “Mr. Bug Goes to Town”.  While he was there, he animated Popeye, Superman, Gulliver’s Travels, et. al.  Good looking guy too…no?  Ha ha!
Getting back to growing up in that household, as you can imagine, the parade of creative people who came in and out of our house was amazing.

Bob Guccione

I remember Bob Guccione coming over to our house on one snowy night to get some pointers on his cartooning abilities.  I can recall as a little kid being amazed because he and his equally beatniky girlfriend were wearing sandals without socks walking through the snow…funny what you remember.  In any event, I was always there watching and listening… learning and laughing.  I remember Bob said to my father that he also took pictures.  My father looked at them and said…”Ya know, Bob….you’re good…you should do more of this.”  Bob said he was thinking of moving to England, and taking pictures of beautiful women….”Wow…what a great idea!”  I was thinking “You can do that for a job?”  Ha ha! Anyway, it wasn’t long after that Bob started the internationally successful Penthouse Magazine.  Kind of a “Back To The Future” scenario: What if my father didn’t give that extra support, etc….who knows?  Maybe that’s stretching the point a bit, but stranger things have happened.  Many, many artists through the years have told me that my father influenced them in one way or another.  He was an amazing guy to say the least.  I’m thankful for the house of many thrills that was my home base as a child.  My sister Joan was an amazing piano player, playing pipe organ in church when she was 14.  I would turn the pages for her in the music book.  She was also an incredible artist.  My brother Joe was a drummer who could do a drum roll with one hand and could paint like Monet.  We had a wonderful mother who was valedictorian, and who did my homework in Catholic school.  We had dogs, cats, gerbils, fish….you get the picture.  I remember barbeques at our house that were like an animation festival!  All of the Fleischer animators and others would be there: Nick Tafuri, Steve Mafotti, Johnny Gent, Rube Grossman, Otto Messmer, Johnny Walworth, Dave Enders, Win Sharples, Dave Tyler, etc. etc. etc.  It was great fun.  As an homage to my father’s animation studio in NYC, our studios have different color doors for every room in the building.  It’s like walking into a rainbow every day!  Not a bad place to hang your hat.

At the January 2010 NAMM show !

January 15, 2010
Well, it’s another year in Anaheim when musical manufacturers from all over the world merge and converge at the convention center across the street from Disneyland to show their best musical instruments to gear hungry musicians … Guitars, basses, drums, cellos, bassoons, etc., etc… it’s a veritable smorgasborg of musical instruments…
Oh yeah, in case you wanna look it up, it’s called the NAMM convention.  It stands for National Association of Musical Manufacturers.  We have been here year-after-year representing the guitars we designed for Martin Guitars.  By the time the summer NAMM show rolls around in July, we will be displaying our very own new brand of guitars and ukes called Oriolo Guitars!  We’ll have both acoustic and electric guitars and they’ll be in various sizes and shapes and …oh yeah, most of them will have that most wonderful cat on them…
Who’s that??? Why Felix the Cat of course!
HAHAHA!  Righty-O!

My brother Joe

December 8, 2009



My Stella guitar


I miss my brother Joe tons and tons…I miss him because a year ago he passed away after a courageous battle with cancer.  Joe was named after my father, Joe Oriolo. My sister Joan was born first, then my brother Joe, then me.  I learned so much from Joe…he was an excellent artist, musician, and overall great guy.  He was his daughters’ soccer coach, and of course, had winning teams year after year.  As kids, we built and flew kites, model airplanes, took flying lessons, boxed in the PAL, and played every sport imaginable.  We lived in an old-fashioned neighborhood where block parties and talent shows were commonplace, with clambakes on labor day and our own parades on Memorial day.  Of course, we all decorated our bikes with crepe paper.  Joe played the drums.  He had a set of Slingerland silver sparkle, which he bought with his own savings.  They sparkled like diamonds because he kept them polished like mirrors…Periodically he’d add to the set, and on occasion I’d save up my paper route money and buy an additional cymbal or drum.  We started playing music together when I was around 10 and he was 15.  I have great memories of those times.  This picture below was the day after I got that bigger-than-me Gretsch Anniversary model.  It was a dream come true…a present from my father, Joe.  I remember it like it was yesterday, as I ran up to the bus stop to meet my father coming home from the city.  He was carrying one of those gray and black cardboard guitar cases.  I said, “Hey Dad….what’s that?”  He picked it up like it was light as a feather and said….”I got you a guitar case…you needed one right?”  I was stoked, because I didn’t have a case for my old Stella guitar (a guitar I was borrowing from my cousin, Judy).  You can imagine my surprise, when we got home and I opened it!  Holy Moley!!!!!  The most amazing guitar I had ever seen ….the exact guitar I dreamed of…the same guitar Bo Charles (Bob Chicino of the Knickerbockers) played, one of my local guitar heroes!  I almost fell over.  The next day, this picture was taken of my brother and I practicing in our living room in Bergenfield NJ.  Part of the deal for getting the guitar was that I play and sing for my mother’s sewing circle….INDEFINITELY!  What a deal….I took it!  I loved playing for my mother and her friends anyway, so it was a win-win.  I still have the guitar, and every time I look at it, I think back to my family, all gone now, and the beautiful music we made together as a family.  Brother Joe…I will say your name every chance I can….and you will live on and on with every breath I take.  


Don Oriolo

Joe and I, with my new Gretsch.

Felix Electric Guitar

December 7, 2009


Well…you’re seeing the premiere, Felix fans….the first-ever production made Felix the Cat electric guitar.  It’s a three-quarter size solid electric guitar with whammy bar, unbelievable pickup and a secret Felix Meowsound® switch. You’re gonna love it…As with the previous Felix acoustic guitars, both guitar players and Felix fans all over the world will want to have one of these.  The guitars will be released under the ORIOLO brand name, and will be individually inspected and given the ‘yea or nay’ by master luthier, Tony DiDomenico!!!!  How Felixy cool is that????  I actually drew the guitar and headstock shapes, and the graphics were a collaborative effort between one of our animators Aaron Repko, and I.  We used the Otto Messmer Felix design to give it a more retro look.  Tony D built the prototype for the guitar and we all played it and critiqued it before we handed it over to the factory.
…I’m probably going to write or draw something on a few of them before they’re sent out for distribution.  We did that with the acoustic guitars…I wrote little messages on the label inside the guitar…like “hope you like this guitar…if you do email me at don@felixthecat.com on April 1, 2007”….and sure enough, I got an email…ha ha…it was very cool…there were many like that…Bottom line is….with this guitar…you will have both a wonderfully playing guitar and a beautiful work of art (if I do say so myself, ha-ha) to display in a prominent place that will create tons of oohs and ahs…As always, I look forward to blogging (sounds like an illness, sorry) with you all in the very near future…
Don O