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“It’s partly natural ability and watching. Instead of going to school and learning, I went to real life and learned. Experience is great.”
Raised in Philadelphia, Joseph Renzetti came of age in the musical era of Dick Clark’s American Bandstand. During the 1960s in Philadelphia, Renzetti became Cameo Records’ house guitarist, playing on hits such as “Let’s Twist Again," "The Mashed Potato," "South Street," "The Bristol Stomp," "The Limbo Rock," "Palisades Park," and "Tallahassee Lassie.” Renzetti moved from Philadelphia to New York to pursue his interest with recording techniques and processes and worked on arrangements of top-ten hits such as “Sunny” by Bobby Hebb, “Ninety Eight Point Six” by Keith, “Apple, Peaches, Pumpkin Pie” by Jay and the Techniques, and “Mandy” by Barry Manilow. From there, he headed west to Hollywood to pursue his love of films and interest in film music, a move that paid off when he was called on to adapt Buddy Holly’s songs and compose original music for the film The Buddy Holly Story, released in 1978. Renzetti taught the actors portraying Holly and his band how to sing and play their instruments live, which was a first for a movie. His efforts were rewarded when he won the Oscar for Best Adaptation Score in 1979. Outside of his film work, Renzetti composes music for orchestras, chamber groups, and solo artists. He composes his music in a state-of-the-art recording studio he created in an 18th century log cabin that he lives in, located in Erwinna, Upper Bucks County, Pennsylvania.
Education, Teachers and Influence
Renzetti was inspired to pursue music at the age of six, when he saw a guitarist at a wedding. Renzetti credits an uncle, who was a sculptor, for inspiring him to pursue a life in the arts.
While Renzetti is not a formally trained musician, he studied composing and orchestrating under Nicholas Flagello. He studied guitar with Dennis Sandole, Joe Sgro, Sal Benigo, Lenny Payton, and Frank Tacconelli, a disciple of the Eddie Lang School.
Connection to Bucks County
In the 1970s, Joseph Renzetti bought a cabin in Erwinna, Upper Bucks County, Pennsylvania, using it as a hideaway haven to retreat from the hectic pace of the West Coast. After years of bicoastal commuting, Renzetti now lives full-time in the cabin, which now serves as his home and studio.
Major Film Scores
The Buddy Holly Story, 1978
Child's Play, 1988
Fatso, commissioned by Anne Bancroft, starring Dom Delouse
Elvis, commissioned by Dick Clark
Vice Squad and Poltergeist III, commissioned by Gary Sherman
An episode of Tales from the Crypt and Child's Play, starring little Chucky
Top Ten Record Arrangements
“Sunny” by Bobby Hebb
“Ninety Eight Point Six” by Keith
“Apple, Peaches, Pumpkin Pike” by Jay and the Techniques
“Mandy” by Barry Manilow
Other Arranged Albums and Singles
The Intruders, Cowboys to Girls
Spanky & Our Gang
Flash Cadillac & the Continental Kids
Jerry Butler, I Dig You Baby
Dee Dee Warwick, I Want to Be With You
Jim Cappaldi, Traffic
Danny And The Juniors
Sam the Sham & the Pharaohs
Recorded Guitar On the Following Songs
"Let's Twist Again"
Academy Award, Best Adaptation Score, The Buddy Holly Story, 1979
Gold Record, "Mandy" by Barry Manilow, 1974
Gold Record, "Sunny" by Bobby Hebb, 1966
Central Bucks Chamber of Commerce Lifetime Achievement Award in the Arts, 2004
Algonquin Film Festival Hoopla! Award, The Buddy Holly Story, 2005
Razzie Award for Worst Musical Score, Under the Rainbow, 1981