John Heinz, fiddle / violin player, lead and harmony vocalist, and all around great guy. If you missed part one, last week, please jump online to www.coconuttimes.com, click on Meet The Band. It’s worth it. I mentioned that John’s last gig here at the beach, for a while, would be this past Saturday at Jive closing party with the RandyJamz Allstar Band. If you were there, you saw it for yourself, that it was wall to wall people. By 7:30, the first available parking spot was 4 blocks away. I say that to say this ... many of Ocean City’s finest musicians showed up for the event and joined or sat in with the main band throughout the course of the evening. The music went on for 6 hours straight. There was never a lull. I mentioned to John, at least 5 times, that he could take a break whenever he felt the need. It wasn’t until about 10:30 pm that he finally took a 15 minute break after playing three and a half hours straight. John could easily have been the main act the entire time but, he took on the team player role and played his heart out with intensity and purpose throughout the entire night. Every single song that was suggested, among bandmates, as we all volleyed our turn to serve up the next offering, John jumped in, and put those sweet melodic notes under, over and in between the massive repertoire that these highly skilled artists fired out.
As people talked about it that night, and for days afterwards without fail, every single person mentioned the fiddle player, with bright enthusiasm. Then the question comes up, “where can we see him again?”
Well, from growing up in a household filled with opera, as his mother and father were both world renowned opera stars of their time, to playing fiddle, to rocket science. What? Rocket science? Yes. This past year, John accepted a premier position with NASA, at Wallops Island. He is deeply involved with every rocket that gets sent into space from that facility.
So John and Madde are currently packing and moving to Greenbackville, Va., to be closer to his day job. He promises me that he will be back to perform here at the beach from time to time. I will certainly post it all over Facebook when he is back in town.
When John speaks of his famous parents, his blessings as a musician, and his responsibilities with NASA, you can see the gratitude, emotion even, when he expounds on these topics. Nothing, however, trumps his love for his endearing wife, Madde. They are a marriage made in Heaven and they each adore the ground the other walks on. It is just so refreshing to be around them both.
So, John, tell us about your mother and father.
My mom, Lucia Evangelista Hines was born in Genoa, Italy, in 1917. She studied voice at the Verdi Conservatory in her hometown and made her operatic debut at 19 as Mimi in ''La Boheme'' at the Teatro Politeama Genovese. After touring in Italy, she moved to the United States in 1947, then sang for two seasons with the New York City Opera. Except for teaching opera to school kids and organizations, she gave up her career to raise the family. She actually met my dad in Cleveland, Ohio. I think that my be where my love for the Cleveland Browns comes from, along with one of my favorite football players ever, the great running back, Jim Brown.
My dad, was born Jerome Albert Link Heinz in Hollywood, Calif., in 1921, as an only child. In 1946, he made his debut at the Met as the Sergeant in Boris Godunov. He went on to sing forty-three seasons there, encompassing forty-five roles in thirty-nine operas. During this time he pursued further voice studies with Samuel Margolis and Vladimir Rosing.
In 1953, he made his European debut with Glyndebourne Festival as Nick Shadow at the Edinburgh Festival in the first British performances of Stravinsky's The Rake's Progress. In 1958, he made his debut at La Scala in the title role of George Frideric Handel's Hercules. From 1958 to 1963, he sang at Bayreuth in the roles of Gurnemanz, King Mark and Wotan. In 1961, he first appeared at the San Carlo in the title role of Arrigo Boito's Mefistofele. In 1962, he sang Boris Godunov at the Bolshoi in Moscow, famously for Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev on the eve of the resolution of the Cuban Missile crisis.
He was a very smart man. He graduated with a degree in chemistry. I remember, as a young kid, he had a room in the basement that he called the laboratory. I mean, he had a lot of chemistry equipment. He had a great job, as a chemist, with Standard Oil during World War II. He was able to give all of that up and pursue his passion for opera full time. He got into the Firestone Series. He was close friends with Tennessee Ernie Ford. He had Roy Rogers’ name and number in his personal phone book. That was really big stuff for me back then. My father, even to this day, as far as I know, still holds the record as the longest hired member of the Metropolitan Opera House, for 43 years. He sang until the day he died at 81 in 2003. My mom died in 2000 and they were married for 48 years.
Why is his last name spelled Hines and yours is Heinz?
There are two stories to that. One, is that we are relatives of the the famous Heinz pickle family, which is true, and something took place somewhere along the line that caused my dad’s side of the family to be not so connected anymore. He changed his last name so that there would not be any correlation to the other heirs of the family. Secondly, it made sense because, at the time, he was performing all over the world, and there was a lot of anti-German sentiment, and he didn’t want to confuse his craft with his ancestors birthright.
How fitting that you would play at Jive’s permanent closing party this week and you and Madde got married there 7 years ago.
Lauren Glick and Kathy Denk, who were bandmates at the time sang at my wedding. I was asked to sing “How Do You Fall In Love” by Alabama. Kathy accompanied me on the guitar, with the rest of the band and there was not a dry eye in the house. I almost could not finish the piece myself. I haven’t played the song out since my wedding. So, playing Jive last Saturday night, and having Tasty come over and get a picture with Madde and me was a beautiful experience.
Wrap up: As you can see, there is a deep and rich history that John carries with him whereever he goes. Madde encouraged me to go to YouTube and look up Jerome Hines. I did. I am not versed in opera, at all, but with head phones on, and watching and listening to John’s dad, immediately I wanted to learn more about opera. He brings you in by his presence, delivery and incredible deep bass vocals. I would also, encourage everyone to journey over to YouTube and do the same. You will not be disappointed.
When I first talked with John about doing an interview, I had no idea what I might be getting into. I soon found out that there is so much more to this mild and kind human being than first meets the eye. There just may be a third week interview here. Until then, be safe through the upcoming holiday seasons and I hope you can get out and hear as much local music as you can.
RandyJamz is the frontman for The RandyJamz Band and half of the duo with, The Baltimore Boyz, featuring Jay Vizzini. Available for gigs of all types as a solo, duo, and full band act. If you would like to be interviewed for a Meet The Band article, contact him at: email@example.com