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Johnny Sansone

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Johnny Sansone was born in Orange, New Jersey. His father was a schoolteacher, and played saxophone. “I was about eight years old when I started taking saxophone lessons and understanding music,” he says. “I also know that an alto saxophone was almost as big as I was, and I had to carry it to school every day, and I thought, hmmm, I don’t know about this. ” What persuaded the younger Sansone to follow his father’s example is a version of a scene straight out of Audrey Hepburn’s classic film Sabrina. “He ran a swim club, and they used to have these parties, and they’d bring in bands. The guy up the street was a sax player, and they had a band called the Wakinians. I never got to go with him to any clubs or anything, but these pool parties, they’d have all the tiki lights and scotch bottles on all the tables, and all these people going nuts over a Louis Jordan or Louis Prima tune. I’d climb up a tree and watch this and be amazed that at how my father would just walk out there, and he could dance and he could play, and it was pretty cool.”

Sansone stuck with the saxophone, but was also drawn to the harmonica and guitar. “I had Jimmy Reed eight-track tapes,” he remembers, “and I wanted to play guitar like I heard on these old records.

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