My brother Joe



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.


One Response to “My brother Joe”

  1. david niewolski Says:

    Greetings Don,
    It’s great to find your site. I knew your brother Joe on the phone, only on the phone, for many years. I was buying canvas from Joe and we always got business done and went on to politics and other issues in our lives. Joe and I were very much in tune. I miss those conversations.
    Thanks, David Niewolski

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