Rockford Rocked Interviews: Catching up with John ‘Brizz’ Brizzolara of 96.7 The Eagle

John “Brizz” Brizzolara
John “Brizz” Brizzolara

By Todd Houston

Following is an interview with John “Brizz” Brizzolara from 96.7 The Eagle.

Rockford Rocked Interviews (RRI): Good morning, John, and thanks for taking time to chat with Rockford Rocked Interviews.

Most people know you as the afternoon DJ that does the 4 p.m. Mash-up on the radio station 96.7 The Eagle. Tell us about how you got to Rockford from Arlington Heights (and don’t tell me by car).

Brizz: I did grow up in Arlington Heights and moved to my dad’s in Palisade, Colorado, to finish high school (strongly suggested by the dean and my mother). I moved back to Illinois and received an internship for Diane Banks at Y108 in suburban Aurora. I returned to Colorado, where I worked on the radio in Grand Junction, Aspen and Vail. If this was a Dr. Phil interview, this is where I would talk about the reasons why I moved back to Illinois in 2001. Thankfully, it’s not. I was hired as a morning co-host at Y95 in Rockford in early 2001. And here we are.

RRI: You have a vast knowledge of classic rock bands and a lot of worthless information. Does that just come from years of listing and reading album liner notes, or were you just always a music nerd (like myself)?

Brizz: I was lucky to have parents who were pretty hip when it came to rock ’n’ roll. When I was a little kid, I would pore through their albums and read the liner notes, inner sleeve notes, and everything. I still do. I did play a little piano (it was actually quite large, but you get it) when I was small. I didn’t start actually playing guitar until I was 19.

RRI: What’s in your MP3 player, eight-track or iPod? In other words, what are you grooving to when you’re not playing Steely Dan and Blue Oyster Cult in the studio?

Brizz: There are a few artists that I always keep close by in the car: Dylan, Neil Young, Tom Waits, Grateful Dead and John Hammond Jr. Other favorites include Black Sabbath, Warren Zevon, anything with Peter Rowan, Lennon and Harrison, Hot Tuna, Roy Orbison, Robert Johnson, Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, and Elvis’ gospel stuff and early Sun Records stuff.

RRI: Rumor has it that you’re a pretty fine guitar player! Were there ever any aspirations of taking the show on the road?

Brizz: That is just a rumor. I’m a competent guitar player, but never took a lesson. Not because I’m naturally gifted. It’s actually because as a disc jockey, I’m notoriously cheap.

RRI: The whole Cheap Trick and Rockford affiliation hype thing … overblown? Be honest.

Brizz: I think if you’re going to be known because of a rock ’n’ roll band hailing from your city, you couldn’t find a better one than Cheap Trick.

RRI: What was the very first album you bought and where did you buy it?

Brizz: As a little kid, I had glasses, and Elton John was at the peak of his popularity. So, I’m sure the first album bought for me was probably Honky Chateau or something like that.

RRI: Favorite Alfred Hitchcock movie?

Brizz: North By Northwest. Seen it at least 100 times, no joke.

RRI: First concert you ever attended?

Brizz: Ozzy Osbourne and Mötley Crüe at the Rosemont Horizon in May 1984 — 15th row, and it rocked.

RRI: Best concert you ever attended?

Brizz: So many good ones for different reasons. Bob Dylan in DeKalb on Halloween in 2004. Went with my dad, and we stood 15 feet from Bob. He smiled at us and gave us the thumbs up!

RRI: Favorite local restaurant?

Brizz: Marc’s Fusion Café.

RRI: Favorite adult beverage?

Brizz: I do enjoy tequila, so a frozen strawberry margarita on a really hot day. That or Old Style.

RRI: OK, let’s do word association! I say a word and you say whatever pops into the ol’ bean first. Neil Young equals …

Brizz: My biggest influence as a guitar player.

RRI: Johnny Rude equals …

Brizz: Nicer than his name suggests.

RRI: The Who Live at Leeds album equals …

Brizz: The gold standard of live albums (along with Budokan, too, of course!).

RRI: The Vegas Gentleman’s Club in Darien, Wisconsin equals …

Brizz: My second home.

RRI: People who call the studio and request a song by The Almond Brothers instead of the Allman Brothers Band equals …

Brizz: They request only ‘Ramblin’ Man.

RRI: Favorite thing about Rockford equals …

Brizz: Rockford accepted me immediately and warmly. I still have many listeners that have been with me since the day I started in 2001. It may sound cliche, but the people of Rockford have treated me extremely well and I am always grateful for it.

RRI: One thing you would change about Rockford if you could equals …

Brizz: The big-city crime.

From the Sept. 17-23, 2014, issue

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