Fresno Beehive

Fresno accordionist Dick Contino gets a New York Times tribute

Accordionist Dick Contino died April 19 in Fresno at the age of 87. His death was felt across the nation and included a tribute from the New York Times.+
Accordionist Dick Contino died April 19 in Fresno at the age of 87. His death was felt across the nation and included a tribute from the New York Times.+

Furthering my argument that the late accordionist Dick Contino is one of (if not the) most famous musician to come out of Fresno, there is this obit from New York Times writer Richard Sandomir.

The story, which ran in yesterday’s print edition, proves Contino had a reach well beyond his hometown, or even Las Vegas, where he spent much of his heyday. There’s some good history here; from Contino’s early days as a heartthrob musician (Elvis with an accordion), to the controversy surrounding his time in the Army. He spent close to five months in jail after ditching out on his induction. He was was later pardoned of the charges, but still labeled by some as a draft dodger.

There’s also some choice quotes from James Ellroy’s novella, “Dick Contino’s Blues,” including this line: “Critics marveled at how I hipsterized the accordion — I said all I did was make schmaltz look sexy.”

Indeed.

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