By Vince Chiarelli
The Rockford music community has lost some great musicians in the past couple weeks. I, unfortunately, lost my grandfather, Vince Chiarelli, on Easter Sunday, and April 6, musician Wade Hillman passed away.
First, I would like to say a couple words about my grandfather. He lived in Sicily for the early part of his life, but decided to come to America to achieve the American Dream. Like many immigrants, he came to this country with barely any money or formal schooling, but a drive to succeed in his love of music and tailoring. He did just that. He started his own tailor shop, Vince the Tailor, and his own record label, Vincent Records. This is quite a feat, considering he had only been in America for a couple years and still didn’t speak English well.
Because of the way he lived his life, he had many successes that many immigrants can’t say they’ve had. He had a successful tailoring, real estate and music career, and helped many other people along the way. With the record label, he allowed many local and regional artists to have a way to get their music heard around the world. Even if he didn’t make a lot of money by publishing their songs, he had fun doing it and loved being able to help struggling artists just like him.
There’s too much to talk about my grandpa, but that just shows how full of a life he had. He meant a lot to many people, and left a part of him with everyone he met. He never said an ill word about anyone, and because of that, he passed away peacefully and without stress. Because of his songs, his voice will never die.
I truly feel saddened by the loss of Wade Hillman. Wade was a great man and a great musician. Ironically, Wade was part of a band that actually recorded and was published on Vincent Records. When going through my grandfather’s files, I found some sheet music by Wade Hillman. I Googled his name, and found a music teacher by the same name at Voight Music in Beloit, Wis. I decided to give him a call, and we talked for a while, but then didn’t talk for a while. Then, one day, I was at Toad Hall and came across an album called Nightmarez by the band “The Dreamz,” and decided to buy it. When I got home, I saw that Wade was a member of this band, so I decided to contact him again. Long story short, I got “The Dreamz” together at Rockford College Radio and had a great interview with the members Barry Betts (singer/songwriter/guitarist), Rick Rhodes (leadguitarist) and Wade Hillman (bassist/songwriter/singer). I love “The Dreamz,” and I think their music is a gem of this town. If you want to hear some of their music, search “The Dreamz” on rockfordcollegeradio.com to hear the interview.
I hope everyone continues to enjoy the music these musicians left for us. Please continue to support local music, and I hope Wade and my grandpa are writing some great songs in paradise.
Please contact Vince Chiarelli if you have any original Rockford music or radio suggestions. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.