Rockford musician Vito J. Dangelo, 93, who was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 21st Rockford Area Music Industry (RAMI) Cocktail Party and Awards Ceremony April 13, died Wednesday, May 9.
Born June 13, 1918, Dangelo played alto saxophone in area dance bands for more than 70 years. His tenure included time with Rockford’s Bill Engberg Orchestra, Kay Howard Band, Mark Rose’s Old Towne Band and the East Bank Commanders.
Over the years, Dangelo’s musical groups performed at many venues, including Rainbow Gardens in Belvidere, various hotels, and high school dances and reunions. He also played in bands at the old downtown location of the Tebala Temple known then as the Sodatorium, the Rockford Armory and events at the Faust Hotel and Landmark.
By day, Vito worked at Cotta Transmissions for 42 years and played his sax along the “kerosene circuit,” which included many nighttime area dances. He once performed during an NBC nationwide broadcast with the Bill Engberg Orchestra in 1946 at the University of Wisconsin at Madison.
Dangelo recalled being involved in a car accident on the way to a dance in Beloit, Wis., and playing with a busted lip that evening. He also appeared in a band on his wedding night in 1944, as his very understanding wife looked on.
Dangelo and his late wife, Gladys, had three children, Carey, Cynthia and Jim. He graduated from Rockford High School in 1936.
From the May 16-22, 2012, issue